A place very close to my heart is Central Park. I grew up just two streets away and played for hours and hours on end as a child back in the 70s & 80s. When you visit memories flood back, however much has changed and much hasn’t. The rocking horse, the witches hat and the roundabouts where you held on for dear life as a mate pushed or pulled it to its limits along with a huge slide of which, yes I stood on the top (please don’t tell my mum!) are now long gone. They have been replaced with a modern playground with swings and climbing frames and a fenced off area which makes it safer for your children and keeping an eye on them.

A path runs all the way around the edge of the park and is approximately 1km, so great for walkers and joggers. (Junior park run every Sunday) Walk over the grass towards to public toilets in the centre and you’ll come to a small 3-4 inch high paddling pool, as a youngster of 4 or 5 years I could swim across! LOL. Now that it has been renovated children can also enjoy a viking ship and sandpit, again fenced off for safety. Across the path and you’ll also find a quite space and sensory garden.

In centre position, standing proud, you will find an enormous willow tree which has stood here for over 60 years, isn’t that amazing. You will also find the new-ish ‘Willow Tree’ cafe and restaurant. It’s ideal for a hot drink, ice cream, lunch or cake stop. The back extension has also now been fully utilised into a wonderful restaurant serving up a great Sunday lunch and weekday offers. You won’t be disappointed, but you may need to book.

For those looking for something a little more sporty; there are both soft and hard grass tennis courts, many a game played here, an area with exercise machinery and a lovely bowling green and even an old-fashioned croquet lawn all for minimum hire charges.
The rest of the park is full of lawns, trees as old as the years and a wonderful sunken garden. The places to stop and relax and pass the time of the day are endless. It also houses an aviary which many colourful birds. Something I loved visiting as a child. Budgerigars, love birds and others you will recognise.

There are a couple of items of interest within the park for you to find; one of them is the grave of Jimmy the Donkey which you’ll find on Park Crescent area– a Scottish wartime mascot who worked in World War One and who helped to raise thousands of pounds before he died. The other is the stone archway at Broadway entrance which was from Great Northern Railway in 1913.

Did you know that when the park was originally created in 1877 you had to pay to go in with a subscription! Thankfully you don’t have to today, it’s free for everyone to use and on a hot sunny day the park overflows with families, walkers and old folks sitting on the benches chatting, oh and don’t forget the friendly squirrels which come to see what scraps they can grab.

Throughout the year are several events going on like photography competitions, music events, proms evening, fitness workshops, dementia walks, dog shows and more. However, even when nothing is on, it’s a beautiful place to be all year round whether it’s budding flowers, golden-brown leaves or snow scenes. (Covid has obviously disrupted some events so please check their website: centralparkpeterborough.co.uk)

This was the Spark Magazine article for January 2021