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My Secret Garden

Posted on Wednesday 2nd May 2007 at 00:00
As sunny day fades into sunny day, I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of furniture in our garden. Unlike my house last year, it seems that here the landlords & in their infinite wisdom & have decided not to include the usual garden chairs and table. While I'm not bothered about the table so much, the lack of anything to sit on is thoroughly frustrating; especially in this beautiful weather.

For countless years our garden played host to a pair of apple trees which, until last summer, dominated the garden and made it feel quite enclosed. However, these trees were cut down, and in their place a lawn has begun to spring up. It is a virgin lawn and although it is becoming increasingly thick and strong, there are still many patches of exposed soil between the clumps of grass. Since it was not properly laid but grew as a result of neglect, it is also on thoroughly uneven ground, the result of all this being that I can't really sit on the grass as an alternative to having a chair.

This irritates me no end, not least because there are few things I enjoy more than sitting out in the sun on a hot day reading a book. I guess it was for that reason that I left the safety of the garden this afternoon and preceded on foot along the road, mainly just for the purposes of walking, but also with the hope ever present in the back of my mind of finding somewhere to read my book in peace.

J had suggested I walk through the park that runs round the back of our road. I'd never been down there, but from what I'd seen of it from the main road it seemed to have a bit of the green space I was craving, so I figured it was worth a try.

To say it has a bit of green space is something of an understatement. The park in question (although I didn't know it at the time) is the Oldbury Court Estate; a huge plot of land in the middle of the urban sprawl that rivals St James? Park in London for both size and beauty. The site used to be private land, presumably belonging to a Lord Oldbury, but that was back in the day and now it is open grassy field after open grassy field; each one bordered by a range and quantity of trees I've never before seen in a built up area. Not that built up really describes it, for although there is city on all sides, it feels like you are miles from anywhere.

There are paths all over the place, and you could probably kill several days if you were to try and walk each one. For those who may tire of the bright sunlight on the open greens, the River Frome is not too far along the path, and with it comes the shady seclusion of a river valley lined with foliage. Down here it is peaceful and, aside from the odd fisherman or dog walker, not many people are about.

I spent some time walking the banks of the river before I eventually ascended once more, tiring quickly as I climbed the steep path back into the main park area. Once there I did indeed read my book, on a small bench in the middle of an open green with nothing around me for yard after yard, where I remained for at least an hour before I had to leave.

What amazed me so much wasn't the place itself, although it is thoroughly beautiful and well worth spending time exploring, but the fact that for the last year I've been living barely a minute's walk from this incredible place, yearning for a touch of the countryside I miss so much when I'm in Bristol, and I never knew the place existed, despite having walked and driven within a few feet of it more times than I care to imagine.

It is ironic that I should find the park so soon before I leave and so my message to you is this: wherever you live, however long you have lived there, whether you love it or hate it, do not underestimate the place you call home. Everywhere has secrets and you will never uncover them by sitting in your living room or at your computer, wishing you were somewhere else. Take a walk around and see what's out there. For all you know there may be a little piece of paradise just round the corner, waiting to be found.

P.S Although as usual I have Googled the picture here, unlike usual, it is actually a genuine picture of what I'm talking about. I stood for a full 5 minutes next to this sign trying to work out where on the map I was supposed to be.

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