Parks and recreation

One of the great things about living in SW London, especially with young kids around, was the preponderance of some lovely parks – many folks will know our love for Bushy Park which we overlooked from our balcony, the great Richmond Park, and even in gritty Brentford we had easy access to some cool parks like Lammas up in Ealing, Gunnersbury Park, Syon Park (with its great indoor play area) and a little gem we uncovered Boston Manor Park.

So it was the some trepidation that we headed over to here wondering where we might keep the boys entertained outdoors without it being highly organised or costing a bomb.  Well to be honest we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of decent parks around. Our nearest is Marcus Garvey Park just east of us. He was a journo/activist noted for his views on Pan-Africanism. They sure do like to honour their political heroes round here.  Heaven only knows what they’ll find to re-name in honour of a truly decent man, Barack Obama, probably Manhattan. Maybe they’ll call it Obamanhattan.

I digress. The park is a rocky little island which was the original watchtower for fires in Harlem. The flat bits surrounding it have been turned into two children’s playgrounds, an amphitheatre, swimming pool, leisure centre, mini baseball pitch, dog run,  gardens, basketball area, chess tables lawns etc. It’s like a mini-town and quite typical of how they organise things here. What’s more on our first visit I got talking to some woman who’s President of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance (which is like a local residents association) and wouldn’t you know it, I’m now signed up for the garden committee to restore some old flower beds. I’ve already attended the first meeting of the garden committee and I’m seconded to the fund-raising team. Me and my big volunteering mouth.

The point is the boys really like it even though there’s an ever-present sense of grittiness with more than a few down-and-outs sat around, the odd crazy person ranting away (they do a lot of shouting here) and more of those exotic odours wafting through the place. I was here the other day and some school girls were having a shouting match. Some boys joined in and before you knew it 20-30 cops steamed into the place and chased all the kids off. It seemed a little excessive but I guess these things have a habit of getting out of control.

Anyway here’s some shots of the place…

Well the next park we visited was Morningside to the west of us in the shadow of Columbia University. It’s a slither of green and because the area’s hilly it’s quite picturesque. The playground facilities are great again but because it’s near two housing projects the area was really busy when we were there. As the boys were happy enough Carol gave me some time off and I shot over the hill to have a look at the University campus and it was very striking…

From there it was a short hop to go and visit Grant’s Tomb. He was a military leader (for the Union in the north of course) and later President and because he was one of the significant players fighting for the abolition of slavery, he became something of a hero figure to the Afro-American community. His mausoleum is the largest in America and it was partly-funded by thousands of small contributions from the many people who were freed from slavery and made new lives in places like Harlem.

It’s a handsome building and often overlooked compared to the stunning Presidential monuments in Washington  but and I’m glad I visited it.

Anyway and finally for this posting it’s on to Central Park.  Everyone’s heard of it of course but it really is a jewel within the core of Manhattan.   The first time we tried to take the boys there we used the subway – it’s only two stops but Elliott in particular loves using the train. However when we got out at 110th st right at the top end of the Park, it was absolutely pouring down. We took cover. In a cafe for a couple of hours before writing the day off…

However the next few visits there have been in glorious sunshine and what a park it is. There are fish-stocked lakes, rocky outcrops, miles of walkways and cycle paths, formal gardens, some great little playgrounds and even a sandy beach alongside Harlem Meer. At week-ends it is so busy but you can see the attraction for New Yorkers. Both we and the boys love it as you can see why from these shots I hope…

Next posting a visit to a super Museum.  I hope it takes me less time than the week and a half that this damn posting’s taken!



4 thoughts on “Parks and recreation

  1. Like your blog, mate. It certainly doesn’t take you long to suss out a place and relay your thoughts and pros and cons of an area in an interesting and entertaining way. Both SheIla and I look forward to your future episodes. Love to Carol S, I and boys, Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah many thanks Lol. It’s taking me ages to write the bloody postings on this mini iPad as it can’t handle the editor function. Anyway lots more to come I hope if I can find a faster machine. All’s well but tiring. love to all FBP

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Paul,
    This is great, really enjoying the blog.
    I’ve always wanted to visit New York and hopefully will do one day but for now this is such a super insite , keep it up geez x


    1. Oh many thanks JP. It is a great city – you must visit. I’d say come and stat with us but it’s not my apartment! Plus you’d be sharing bed bunks (with the boys). Not great with the jiggy stuff. But hey come out here; it’s brilliant for city scapers. hope you’re well


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