Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published May 23rd 2013
You can feed the Squirrels, but not the Ducks
The closest I have come to visiting Carshalton before is passing through on the train on the way to Sutton. On this occasion, however, I decided to get off one stop early, and see what the town had to offer. As I walked down the street, I came across a bookshop called The Bookworm, which was piled high with interesting old books, children's annuals, and comics. It looked like a place I might like to visit again, but my hopes were immediately dashed when the owner said that she was closing down next month and becoming just an online store.
I continued down the street, and saw a small pedestrian walkthrough to the other side of town. Upon reaching the end of the path, I suddenly realised that this was not my first venture into Carshalton after all. Although it had been many years, I recognised where I was immediately: right opposite, Grove Park, where my Grandma used to take me as a child. I had to pay a visit, if only for old times sake.
A coot in its nest.
Grove Park is a conservation area, and very popular with wildlife. The village pond that divides the area, is bird central. You'll find ducks, geese, swans, coots, and even a heron or two.
Although you are not allowed to feed the birds, it is great fun to watch them on the bridge. I used to love this bridge, walking along the wall, and scaring Grandma that I might fall off.
Another woodland creature you'll find in abundance at Grove Park are squirrels. On our way to the park, Grandma and I used to stop off at the shops to buy monkey nuts, and then we would kneel down on the ground, sit very still, and wait for the squirrels to come and grab them from our hands.
Could this be Lantern Waste?
As a child, I thought Grove Park was a magical fairytale land, and visiting it again, I can see why; it has a gas lamp that reminds me of Narnia. I suppose it is Narnia in a way. Just as like Lucy could only enter the wardrobe when she was not trying to find the enchanted kingdom, I only rediscovered Grove Park when I was not looking for it.
The magic does not stop there; a beautiful running waterfall flows through the park, and can be quite mesmerising. I could happily stand there for ages, listening to the water rushing by.
Who's king of the castle?
No magical kingdom is complete without a castle, and I used to be queen of Grove castle, as I climbed the rocky play area. On the occasions that I went with my cousins, we would play make believe, and try to defend our territory.
There used to be a sandpit too, but that's now gone. The playground, however, looks just as good as it always did.
One of my favourite things to do at Grove Park was play crazy golf, before having lunch in the cafe. Although both are still there, they are looking rather worse for wear, with many of the golf obstacles missing.
Most of my visit was all about rekindling memories of the great times I used to have with my grandma, but I also had the chance to learn something new. Unsurprisingly, the history of the park was little interest to me back then, but now I found it quite interesting. Back in Medieval times, the parkland was mainly meadows and part of the Stone Court Manor estate. The manor was rebuilt in 1710, and later in 1826, renamed Grove House, when it was owned by the village rector.