Regular readers of this blog, and my twitter feed, will know that one of the things that pleases me most is seeing public open space being used in a constructive manner. Spending time in Brighton, where the seafront lawns are used by folk doing fitness classes, or playing basketball or volleyball, having barbecues by their beach huts, or just sitting and reading, made me very envious.
It made me wonder why we don't have anything like this seemingly happened in the various open spaces we have around Newark.
Well now we do.
I have just taken part in my first Parkrun, a movement that seems to have been going in the UK for two or three years, but has only just found its way out to backwoods of my home town. It is free, well organised, and takes no more that 5 minutes to register for. You turn up with - in my case - a well sat on printed barcode and run.
So there was no time to take in Devon Pasture, with its attractive water irises in the meadow by the river, as I hurtled past nursing an unaccountable hangover and slightly achey tummy. I was taking it seriously, as I am a competitive fellow by nature, but other folk were just out for the walk, or taking their children round the course. There's no apparent conflict between runners and casual park users, and there's a nice little cafe for afterwards. Which I was too shattered to use, actual competitive running takes so much more out of you than running around the lanes looking at stuff, as I normally do.
But as I keep saying, especially in the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics, it shouldn't be just about sport. I wish folk could be out there running painting classes, or nature photography, or perhaps organising little star parties to have at night - I've vaguely tried to have a go at this - or perhaps just having folk sitting out talking about books, or heaven knows, playing boules while drinking pastis!
There's so much we can do, that needn't cost a thing.