I Love Aylestone Park

There is a park in Hereford which is four minutes walk away from my flat.  This park comprises two large fields/meadows, a canal, an orchard and a gravel path which snakes its way round in an irregular loop.  The trees are fairly sparse so it always feels breezy, and on a day like today there is a good chance that hat-wearers would go home hatless.  Over the past few months I have become indebted to this open space known as Aylestone Park.  As I feel the wind seize my hair by its roots and flutter against my face I can’t help feeling moved, for I am in no doubt that I am in the presence of something beyond words.   This presence stirs, and seems to manifest itself in the tumbling wind.  When I stand still in Aylestone Park I feel bonded to nature, I feel humbled by the elements, I feel mortal, I feel free.
Simply by rooting myself to the ground I am reassured.   The earth still breathes and moves beneath me but my feet are still.  My mishmash of worries becomes lighter, and my restless spirit starts to calm.   Hope revives herself within me.  I love this park because it has not been unduly tampered with.  There are no landscaped flowerbeds and no ornamental ponds guarded by stone goddesses.  Humans have their rightful place, as does the long grass, and the scuttling mammals.  Dogs bound everywhere, sniffing out the mole hills and splashing in the canal.  Some people find Aylestone Park “boring” because it is themeless and its only “facility” is a large car park.  But to me this park is freedom itself.  Just planting myself in the lower field and allowing the wind to absorb me breaks open the ties which bind my spirit.  I feel so fortunate to have such freedom.
Trudy my Guide dog adores this park.  It gives her freedom too, as here is where she sheds her harness and tears around being a Labrador.  This time of year she goes scrumping in the orchard and I’m often showered with leaves as her snout sends them flying into the air.  All I can hear is the rustling of twigs and leaves as Trudy pursues the myriad scents which arouse her snout.  She befriends two or three pet dogs every time we visit, and eagerly joins in their games.  If I take her to the canal she throws herself into the brown-blue water and doggy-paddles back to me snorting like a pig.  The snorting is even louder if she’s carrying something in her mouth, and little jets of water spurt out of her nostrils.  Sometimes a regular group of dog-walkers whom I’ve nicknamed “the Labrador Convention” arrives at the canal and Trudy mingles with the black, yellow and chocolate Labradors teasing and chasing them.  She steals their frisbees and dives in after their treats.  She is in Labrador paradise.  When it’s time to go Trudy pretends not to hear the whistle and I have to use all my cunning and skill to lure her back to me.  Even with her smelly water-logged fur I am relieved when she comes lolloping back.

We amble back home through the tall stems of prickly grass, Trudy is usually munching weeds or thrusting her snout into the hedgerows.  Before I put her back on harness we often stand for a few more minutes savouring our freedom.  I turn my face towards the wind and feel it tussle my hair.  I inhale its freshness and allow all my anxieties to melt into the air.  They disperse like paper petals.  Trudy has a final nose-dive and then drums her tail against my legs ready for the four-minute stroll home.  I never leave the park with an ounce of stress or fear lingering.  This magical place renews and invigorates me.  It makes life seem even more precious, and I arrive home eager to make the most of everything I have.

How to Feel Totally Free in Two Minutes

One day last week I experienced  what it is like to feel totally free.  Free from worries and concerns, free from everyday life, free from my body.   Although it was  not an outer-body experience as such, I literally did soar into the sky.

The Black Fly is a ride in the small(ish) amusement park  at West Midland Safari Park in Bewdley, Worcestershire.   This impressive man-made structure gave me the gift of pure freedom.  Some people may consider The Black Fly to be their ultimate nightmare.  It rears up into the air, spinning and tumbling in all directions at lightning speed.  A metal clamp is all that holds you in as you’re offered up to the gods.  You become pin-sized and insignificant as the die is cast to determine whether you live or die.

Whilst clamped inside The Black Fly for the second time I tingled with the thrill of abandoning myself to Fate.  If I were to die there and then, I reasoned, it would not matter.   All my fears surrounding cancer and its implications vanished.  I genuinely felt that whatever happened to me was immaterial, for I was truly and tremendously happy.

The screams of my ride-mates sounded shrill on either side of me.  As we raced with the wind, the wails of terror and excitement were tossed into the air.  I could feel the wind’s coat-tails fluttering against my face.  I inhaled and felt utterly intoxicated.  .But unlike my ride-mates I did not feel the need to scream.  In fact I was  paralysed –  not through fear, but ecstasy.  I wanted to stay there forever.  If only I could trap those two minutes in a jar and replay them for the rest of my life!

The world was far below me, continuing its relentless grind.  I really had no desire at all to go back to it.  I felt removed from reality, almost invincible.  Who needs illicit drugs when such an incredible buzz can be gained from a theme park ride?  I am now an adrenalin Junkie, and I’m intending to feed my addiction in a few weeks with a return visit to The Black Fly.

Having said that, the buzz which shot backwards and forwards through my entire body was not simply due to an adrenalin rush.  I honestly felt as if all my worries had been lifted away from me.  All I had to do was to sit back and let the huge metal pendulum hurl me through the air.

As I twisted and dipped over and over again, I was only vaguely aware that I was still me.  If it wasn’t for the ear-shattering screams telling my brain I was still among humans, I might have begun conversing with Angels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_NRlcU5pqY