Sunday, 22 November 2009

Park life

I have been very lax about taking photos of things recently and also not felt as if I've had much to say (loud, disbelieving guffaws at this remark from C presumably). Hence the lack of blog action of late. However, when trudging back from the city centre in the drizzle last week I was experimenting with the dreaded i-phone (which I think I am keeping ..... probably ..... almost definitely..... unless I change my mind.) I took some photos of the remaining autumn leaves on the trees on 'The Meadows'.

For those of you who don't know Edinburgh, The Meadows is a large expanse of parkland just south of the city centre, lying between the University and Marchmont. We are so lucky to have such a generous green space so close to our flat. The Meadows is one of those great amenities you find in some cities. Yes, it's a park, but it's more relaxed than that.  It does have a children's playground and tennis courts at one end, but generally it's just a big flat piece of grass for people to use.

On summer evenings, it is thronging with people - having picnics, walking, walking dogs, walking children, jogging, playing frisbee, footie, tag, rounders etc, reading, sleeping, talking, sunbathing and smooching. And there's always at least one group of people sporting dreadlocks and playing drums, or juggling or even fire-eating. (There was actually somone walking down the path on a pair of stilts last week! In this wind, I have no idea how they stayed upright.) During the Edinburgh Festival in August, there's a funfair and sometimes a circus, and also, rather wonderfully, it's where the 'Ladyboys of Bangkok'  pitch their tent (I am sure there is some joke here about 'camping' but I can't think of it just now). Even in the winter, at weekends there are groups of hardy - or maybe foolhardy - men playing muddy bouts of rugby or football, and the die-hard joggers.

When I moved to Edinburgh, after years living in a small village in Cumbria, I hadn't realised just how much I'd missed the availability of shared 'civic' space - i.e. parks and areas of countryside, owned and maintained by the local councils, on behalf of the local population. In the countryside, you are always on some farmer's land, so you have to stick to paths and keep an eye on your dog and watch out for marauding cows. Ironically, living in the city, there are green spaces where I feel much freer.

One of the great joys of the Meadows, is the paths lined with cherry trees. In May, they are festooned with frilly, marshmallow pink blossom, which drifts across the park like extravagent confetti. And on a wet November afternoon, in the drizzle and gloom, they were still resplendent in their orange leaves.

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