“… be sooo good!”
Regular readers of Talk Northern Ireland will be well aware that the weary editor is accustomed to taking the air with a stroll around the old estate. In the past this activity has been known to stir the creative juices, get the typing finger working again and generally led to a vague feeling of well-being. Regular readers will also know that, my ancestors having fallen on somewhat hard times when the English invaded Ireland a wee while back, my estate is somewhat…ah.. how shall I put it now… curtailed? So when I tire of trekking to the bottom of my small garden I venture out to partake of the Derry City Council Park delights.
At this point you are rushing for the archives of Talk Northern Ireland to read about my previous experiences but less haste there, good reader, for I shall save you time! In September I wrote on the rivetting subject of The Little Urban Park that Could…. and what a response I got to that piece! Having pointed out its existence to all the local politicians, well you have to do what you have to do.. right, I found that no one was interested save for the Honourable Mark Durkan MP who took time to write to me and advise that he had fired a verbal rocket off in the direction of Derry City Council and the Housing Executive who apparently jointly hold responsibility for this wee park. Sadly, Mark’s pushing has got as far as mine and the paths are still flooded… only, given that it is December, they are even more flooded than before! Put it this way. Templemore Sports Complex could advertise an outdoor extension and they would not be pulled up for bad advertising!
So I planned an excursion, a new challenge to test my puny body to its frighteningly low limits, a new circuit designed to bring me to the absolute peak of physical fitness ready to face any medical emergencies that the on-coming winter months might bring – Yes… you’re right! I went in search of another city park that could!
Now, all the recent HoHa about the Fort George site, where Derry’s planners intend to stick a miniature version of Dallas beside the beautiful river, reminded me that the city boasts a riverside park which runs right down by the River Foyle and allows splendid views of the imposing structure that is the Foyle Bridge. Even across cyberspace I can hear you agreeing with me that this sounds a marvelous place for a park and somewhere well worth a visit!
Finding an hour when the sky wasn’t leaking was not easy but eventually even the Irish weather lifts the curfew and allows citizens to take some air. With a spring in my step and in bright, if weak, December sunshine I approached the park. Having negotiated the somewhat dangerous entrance – they are building close to the park and the builders seem to have a desire to make life difficult for pedestrians – I wandered the first 200 metres of the park pathway and was pleasantly surprised by the conditions underfoot. Damp but not bad… the odd puddle but passable. Bird calls drifting from trees as various species checked out which mates had survived 5 days of incessant rainfall lent the day a pleasant quality. A nice day to be alive for both bird and man…..
How can anyone pass this way! Welly boots aside this path is impassable! Sadly, any attempt to leave the path would result in the instant use of the mobile phone to call the emergency services to rescue an idiot from the quagmire that is the surrounding area. So circumnavigation is not an option unless the indomitable Foyle Search And Rescue happen to be on hand but I figure they have better folk than me to save!
Any reader who is thinking I immediately made a beeline for the nearest pub to rethink this exercise regime is not aware of the stern stuff used in the construction of Talk Northern Ireland staff! We didn’t get where we are to-day by letting small obstacles get in the way of a good story! In the true spirit of innovation and exploration steps were retraced and an alternative path was found. It lead to……
Whemmmm .. now the trek to the river was getting a wee bit difficult. A thirty metre swim in near freezing conditions was not something I’d trained for on my “Blogging for Fun” course at the University of Life.
In the distance I could see the other side of the river, I could hear seagulls calling but, against the backdrop of the high spanning Foyle Bridge, it looked like there was no way to reach the riverbank without getting wet… very wet! I…ah.. took the plunge and was rewarded with a lovely, peaceful scene with the River at low tide, the mud flats populated with sea birds and the sight of the bridge and its flying cargo reflected on the still water.
Something else…. to behold on a December day…
Why does the council make this sooooooo difficult to enjoy! What ought to be a pleasurable walk is turned into a water wading expedition worthy of any NI outdoor adventure center. What should be an easy walk designed to encourage people to get out in the open air is spoiled by poor maintenance. I mean… guys.. there is a giant river to drain all this water into! It cannot be rocket science to get paths cleared and ready for use by the public, can it?
So.. come on Derry City council Maintenance Department! Time to show your mettle, skill and dedication. Can you solve this problem and get the park usable for the winter?
Go on… we’re all rooting fer ye!