Returning again to a time gone by…

Returning again to a time gone by…
Highfields Park at Nottingham University June 2011

Many nests around

Lovely views through the trees. Years ago we could not walk that side of the lake

Heron standing in the stream where I took my first photograph 65 years ago

We stood where only students were once allowed.

Through the trees, over the lawns to the white University building.

Years agom we used to see students strolling and sitting on the lawns in front of the stately white building. My brother was one of the early students there — rare for a working class boy who left school at fourteen!

Highfields Park Lake. It was here that my brother fell from a boat and lost his glasses. His suit shrank and he arrived home dripping wet! So much for celebrating the end of term!

As we (my husband and I) entered the café at Nottingham University’s Highfields Park, the theme of the music being played was about ‘going home’. How appropriate! I was visiting once more the ‘playground’ of our youth where so many memories come flooding back.
The only time I met any of our cousins was when they visited our home in Beeston during the war, and we all went to that particular park. The adults talked while we rolled on the sloping grass.

As a teenager I walked there with my brother and youths laughed at the red spot I had on the tip of my nose. (When I reached home, against all advice, I squeezed it until its contents flowed with blood).

At fourteen, on the lake I turned into a Boadicea by fighting boys off with an oar when rowing on the lake. On the little island, under the Wishing Tree, I wished for a first kiss. Under the willow trees I met with a friend who drew boys like bees to nectar (hoping some of it would rub onto me but never did!)

As a family we occasionally walked there on Sundays — my dad was stung on his lip — his lips and face swelled and turned purple. (I was scared stiff!)

It was in the park lake that my brother, celebrating the end of term with his student friends, fell from a boat and lost his glasses. He arrived home dripping water from a suit sodden and quickly shrinking to several sizes smaller.

I saw the little stream where I took my first photo with a box camera. I took a photo of a heron in that very stream — but now with a digital camera.

I looked up at the elegant University building and recalled my brother taking me to a ‘going down hop’ — he’d pressed his trousers with a damp cloth and spent much time scratching at his buttocks!

It was in this park that I walked with my husband to be, and now after 58 years of marriage little had changed, except for growth of trees and loss of paddling pool. Less flowers and more weeds. More students in more university buildings but not affecting the park. One important change, it is now possible to walk ALL the way round the lake AND there is a cultural centre (complete with café) replacing the pavilion.
The huge Nottingham Queen’s hospital has appeared over the years. My mother had an operation there in 1987 to remove a cancer from her stomach.
It so happened to coincide with a conference for Apple computer users. I was able to share a two-bedroomed apartment with my son in the residential buildings within University park. From there I was able to freely visit my mum for the whole weekend. To me, staying amongst the Apple enthusiasts was like going to a ‘Revivalist’ conference — enthusiasm and excitement combined with a friendly welcome and warmth of spirit. In fact I have been to religious conferences far less friendly! Here I was invited to join in with the talks and demonstrations etc but I declined and visited a sister a few miles away. The walk, part of it through the park, did me good. Apart from eating and sleeping, the rest of the time I was with my mother.
Close to (or within?) the Park there used to be Highfields Lido. Alas no more, it went years ago. I never did learn to swim at the Lido but memories of Eric the cad still linger!

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