Hi, I feel I should introduce myself. I’m Chris Brown and work in Stewart PArk for Askham Bryan College as a Horticultural Technician. I was based at the Guisborough Centre for a long, long time, but I have been given “time out” for good behaviour and have moved to Stewart Park. Guess what – I absolutely love it. I have the pleasure of working with loads of fantastic people in such a wonderful, big, beautiful park. I’m here waiting for more staff to bring students in September when the renovation to the Central Lodge will be complete. I can’t wait!
I mainly look after the walled gardens and courtyard areas, but can’t help escaping every now and again – mainly led by the Friends Of Stewart Park – to visit the park as a whole, and as I said before, it is wonderful.
It’s got something for everyone. Playgrounds for families, open areas for children to run, scream and generally let off steam. Areas of quietness and thought, places to meet up, chat, have a cuppa, and , yes, education is even squeezed in there too.
This all reminded me of last year, early autumn it was, and I was barrowing the final load of manure of the day to spread amongst the Hostas. A well dressed elderly gentleman walked in quietly behind me, “Hello” I said. “Well, young lady, that’s a fine barrow load of black gold you’ve got there” Well, we instantly hit it off; my Dad used to call well rotted manure “black gold” too – allotment holder you see. He explained he hadn’t been in the walled garden before. When he used to come with his wife and dog a few years ago, it had always been closed. Now it is as open as much as we can, I explained to him. He stopped coming to the park when his wife died, closely followed by the dog, a double blow, and since he really hadn’t had the heart to return. I enquired if he had thought of another dog. “No,” he said, “perhaps too energetic for me”. “Perhaps an older dog, they often get passed by in the shelters, they just want a little company and a cosy fireside” I said. “I’ll see,” he said, then “time to move on” and he turned to go. As I locked the gates behind him, he looked and said “thanks for the chat, haven’t spoken to anyone for about 4 days.” Well you could have knocked me down with a feather.
This is it in the park – it’s got it all. Space to run, play, find solitude and, perhaps, even find some company.
I don’t mind admitting that I went home that evening with tears welling up in my eyes. I will be watching out for an elderly well dressed man this spring, with or without a little dog.