I think we are very fortunate here in Southend with its number of green spaces, freely accessible to the public, spearheaded by (imho) three outstanding parks: Priory, Chalkwell and Southchurch, even though in recent years the money available by the Council to be spent maintaining these green areas have reduced, being soft targets for austerity measures. I am unashamedly a frequent visitor to one or other of these green spaces, although I no longer can give the excuse of having a youngster in tow who I consider would benefit.
One of my earliest blogs (just over two years ago) was as a result of a visit to Churchill Gardens (see here for my report). I made a similar such visit today to one of our lesser known parks: Southchurch Hall, which I have been visiting irregularly from time to time, ever since my boyhood, expecting a similar reaction. Part of the reason was after having eaten my breakfast in Deb’s diner I felt some exercise was in order (inspired by a primary school initiative to subject their pupils to a one mile walk each day to help combat obesity).
Going back to my Churchill Garden visit, I recall that while I was impressed with the early vision and natural beauty of the place I was disappointed there was a fair amount of litter around and some of its features where not being shown at their best, especially some of the water areas that had a depressingly stagnant feel. I expected the same for my visit today and was to an extent proved right, although there was less litter than I thought there might be, but even so still too much, especially given the number of waste bins around.
But in all it was a pleasurable experience. Checking it out on the Internet, it appears more space is given to the fourteenth century house (now a museum) that is the centre piece of the park itself, than what I consider to be an area of natural beauty. The park is lovely and I can imagine spending time on a fine day sitting on one of the benches by one of the non stagnant water features, watching wild life (ducks etc.), enjoying mother nature, reading my book, meditating on all sorts of things and maybe working out the contents of my next blog. After my brisk walk around the park, I did that for a short time and was particularly drawn to observing the antics of three small turtles that barely moved while I was seated.
I think we Southenders are lucky to have so much greenery that we can enjoy and while I recognize the challenge to take a lead on the matter, I can see areas where there is room to improve. Even so, we should count our blessings and be grateful for what we can enjoy amidst a busy, urban environment.
Update 28/01/18: I was invited by a friend today for an event that was held in the Hall itself. The idea was to introduce the Park and Hall and all it had to offer and its history to the local community. It was a pleasurable experience and the few who attended enjoyed a nice buffet, a guided tour of the Hall and a fascinating history lesson by one who knows. One of the delightful discoveries is a friends group that have took it upon themselves to clean up the park and rid of certain unsocial elements. The one disappointment is the community response was low, which as always is a shame.