Mrs Jones took me out for a picnic yesterday as a birthday treat.
I chose the venue – Coventry’s War Memorial Park – and she packed the cool-bag full of my favourite picnic treats.
It was a beautiful sunny day – the hottest day of the year – with temperatures hitting well over 30 degrees.
We drove there in my convertible, parked up and soon found a shady spot to lay down our blanket.
It was lovely to see groups of all ages out enjoying the park, a bit of a sign that things were getting back to normal.
There were families together, young kids playing football, students in groups listening to music and loved-up couples sunbathing.
We had thin bagels filled with cheese and pickle and ham salad, Doritos, pork pie and and Victoria sponge cake all washed down with a bottle of prosecco.
It’s a few years since we’ve had a proper blanket-on-the-ground picnic and we are out of practice. Sitting up with nothing to rest your back on hurts after a while and our flute-style wine glasses kept nearly toppling over as we tried to place them on the uneven grassy surface.
After we’d eaten, more like people aged 16 than 60 we lay there a short while cuddled together looking up at the sun blazing through the branches of the majestic oak that was giving us much needed shade.
The Memorial Park is special to me. It’s the park I first went to as a child with my mum, in my late twenties and thirties I had a spell there playing tennis once a week in the summer. I then moved away and didn’t go for maybe 20 years but now it’s the venue for my weekly parkruns.
Sadly they are not taking place at the moment what with coronavirus so it seemed particularly timely to pay the park a visit and relax rather than run.
It felt just like ‘starting over’ enjoying this ‘perfect day’ picnic in my home park with my 60th birthday very much on the horizon.
I often think we take our municipal parks for granted. The Memorial Park is particularly beautiful, its also really big, some 48.5 hectares in the posh south of the city.
It opened in July 1921 as a tribute to the 2,587 Coventrians who died between 1914 and 1918 fighting in the First World War. In 2013, the park was Grade II listed as is the war memorial, the most prominent building in the park.
Next year it will celebrate its centenary. Seems strange to think I’ve been visiting it for more than half of its life.