You find yourself exploring parks you’ve never really explored before, working out their boundaries and the links between each park as you make your way. You spot streetlights right in the middle of one park, which seems odd. You think people probably use these paths as handy cut-throughs from one street to another. There are the old tennis courts, some neglected, some with new play furniture built upon them.
Some people are using the parks, but not many, considering it is a sunny day. A group are sat together on the grass, chatting, sunning themselves. You don’t want to look at them too closely. A little further on two lads are practicing their throw-ins over a path. A girl sits on the path, in between them, obstinate or oblivious.
You take a particularly overgrown path. Find a doorway hidden in the undergrowth, realise it leads to someone’s back garden, so you better not try the handle. This is the only sign that you are in the suburbs, not the country, the path is so secluded, quiet, flanked by bushes, plants, trees. The end of the path is blocked by a big dog, drooling and grunting, that looks a little like a bear. Well, a teddy bear.
You see metal cows installed in another park. The plaque tells you they are referring to the use of manure in brightening silk, an old trade in the town. They are a monument to cow poo.
Another day, another park. Far busier. You head to a favourite spot, a clearing perfect for a game of cricket, if you don’t mind sharing it with a few dedicated footballers. You see the footballers have increased in number since the last time you were here. They are far more organised than they once were. They have erected full-size, portable goals. No more jumpers-for-goalposts for them. The teams are wearing proper kits. There is a referee, linesmen (albeit with leafy twigs for flags), supporters watching, even a man up a ladder filming the match. They have even brought their own bins. So, while they are being fairly inconsiderate in taking up such a huge area, especially as grown men who could afford to hire a pitch, at least they will be tidying up after themselves.
You leave them to it, head off elsewhere. You play cricket on an empty football pitch, funnily enough. A proper game of cricket is played nearby. They even bring out sandwiches for the players at tea. You drink a warming can of beer and watch.
Another day. Back at work. Lunchtime is obviously an opportunity for escape. There is one park you like to sit in. There are always benches free. The branches of trees hang handily over the park, offering welcome shadow in the heat, and vague shelter in the rain. It makes for a good place to read, or to try to sleep, or to just stop for a while. Today the park is full of dogs fighting, playing, sniffing, charging at each other, at anything, at nothing, everything. The park looks like a fun place to be, if you’re a dog. You move on.
The post itself was inspired by Steven’s suggestion.