Monday, 29 August 2011

To Carshalton for a stroll down memory lane...

Jon and yours truly on Woodmansterne Green, Saturday August 27th 2011.
Sunday, 2137hrs: Andy's back in the UK after his ride to Paris and NVL will be reporting on his adventures just as soon as he tells us more about what happened. He set off on Saturday, spent the night in Newhaven, then took the ferry over the channel and rode all the way to Paris.

Round at mum's - this shot taken in the kitchen.
I cycled every day of the bank holiday, first going to mum's on Saturday, then to Woodmansterne Green on Sunday and today, Bank Holiday Monday, I rode through suburban streets to Grove Park in Carshalton. On all three occasions I met with Jon and we talked a lot about dad. Now that I have a full-time job again, I've had some time to reflect a little more on dad's passing away.

These steps in Grove Park I used to climb when I was very, very young. What
they were used for, I'll never know.
Each ride this weekend was roughly 12 miles, meaning I rode the best part of 36 miles. The best ride was today for some reason. I think it was because we were in Grove Park, doing all sorts of things, revisiting old childhood haunts, like the old mill, the riverbank where we went fishing with nets on the end of a strip of bamboo, the big lakes opposite the church where mum and dad got married. Jon recalled an occasion when the lake opposite the Greyhound Hotel was frozen over and how he and a mate walked on it.

The Mill Pond in Grove Park - it lets the rest of the park down.
Grove Park is very nicely landscaped, there's the River Wandle, that runs through the park and, well, it's a great place, but one bit of it let the rest of it down: the mill pond. While the park as a whole looks good, the mill pond is a complete disaster; it looks like something out of an eco-disaster movie. In short, people have used it as a rubbish dump. There's old tyres, discarded drinks bottles, you name it, it's in there and that's just not good.

Jon and I stood around looking at the mess, having enjoyed the rest of the park. We met an old woman with a dog who said she'd lived in the area for 17 years. She told us how the park authorities seem to let the offenders get away with murder: they torch motorcycles and generally make a mess, presumably in the dead of night.

The Old Mill in Grove Park. Rumour has it that a young boy
met with an accident here and died.
We cycled around the park and it brought back many memories. I was amazed to find the old changing room and the playing field where we used to play football during 'games' lessons, or PE as it was known. The pitch looks much smaller than I remember it, but then again, I was much smaller.

One of two large lakes close to Carshalton's High Street.
We larked around in the children's playground, which was deserted. Jon had a go on the aerial ropeway - and there's video evidence as you've probably already discovered. We drank our tea by the side of one of the big lakes where a strange man with a plastic bag full of bread fed the ducks. He was obviously trying to cultivate some kind of Birdman of Alcatraz thing, but later we realised he was a bit nutty and gave him a wide berth.

Dad's presence was quite strong all weekend. He was definitely in the park and round at mum's and, while there was a strong sense of sadness in the air, it was good to ride around the park and find spots that brought back fine memories of an excellent childhood.

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