Friday, 20 February 2015

Nostalgia: it can be as good as you remember it

They (yes, the enigmatic, ubiquitous they) say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. They also say that you shouldn’t go back to places you loved years ago, because you’ll be disappointed with what they’ve become.

Well, I’m glad to say I was able to prove “them” wrong last weekend.

When we last lived in England we used to enjoy walking around Stockgrove Park in central Bedfordshire. Taking our kids there, taking our dog, enjoying the woods, the hills, the valleys, the lake. But I hadn’t been back since we returned to this area, until last weekend.

What did I find? The park has grown. It’s merged with Rushmere Country Park to produce something far bigger, with walks that have grown still more impressive because they’re still more extensive.

I always loved the lake in Sotckgrove Park,
and it's unchanged
But the things I loved are still there. The lake where our wonderful border collie Bess, alas long since gone, would always swim.

Our friend Sarah in Stockgrove Park, 1988
The photo still adorns her parents' hallway
I'm told that Nicky, then four, is hiding behind the bench
The bench where I took one of my more successful photos. They’re all there and all as charming as ever.

Danielle and Emese on the same bench in 2015
In addition, though, the other bit – the Rushmere bit – has added at least one great new feature: a terrace overlooking a steep sided valley with water at the bottom, with trees in which herons congregate to nest at this time of year. The authorities that run the place have even set up a camera with a continuous feed to a screen inside the building to give us a close up view of what’s going on.

A heron. Minding its business. Unaware that I'm minding it too
Not good for heron privacy (a clear abuse of heron rights, in fact) but wonderful for us human.

The building housing the screen also has a rather better cafe than the one in the Stockgrove bit, so it feels to me the place has noticeably improved. A good place to pause with Danielle and our guest for the weekend, Emese, at the end of our walk.

No. “They” were wrong. Nostalgia was all it was cracked up to be. The new park is even better than I remembered it. And all the more enjoyable for the company.


Awoogamuffin said...

I remember this place! I'd love to see it again. A plan for my next visit, perhaps?

David Beeson said...

Indeed. Let's hope you can get here in the spring or early summer, and really enjoy it...