On Sunday, I joined Birmingham Internationals for a walk in Sutton park, picnic and pub. The Event notification came through my mailbox – Until then, I did not know of this group, nor looking for a MeetUp to join, but two things attracted my attention: Walk, and Sutton Park.
I signed up straight away, despite that I already did a walk with John on the day, which was Saturday and danced the night away at a family party in Derbyshire in the evening.
Here is the thing. I LOVE Sutton Park - it is the reason why we have made Sutton Coldfield our home in the last twelve years, the longest we have stayed in one place.
During the years I’ve spent in my adopted country, I have lived in various cities, either as a student or working. Except London, I have sampled a few English and Scottish cities, including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow. I liked most of them, for different reasons, but it is Birmingham where I feel most at home.
In the summer of 2002, John got a job in one of the universities in Brum, as Birmingham is sometimes referred to. He spent a couple of weeks, camping and staying in B&Bs in the West Midlands, searching for a possible area for us to relocate to (from Manchester). He saw Sutton Park, and that was it.
We moved house a couple of times since, but the main criteria has been the same: somewhere close to the park.
500 years ago, Sutton Park was one of the favourite hunting grounds for Henry VIII when he made his frequent visits to Warwickshire. He was known for his love of boar hunting and this area was full of wild boar.
Sutton Coldfield was founded by Bishop Vesey and granted Royal Town status. As part of the deal the area which is now Sutton Park was given in perpetuity to the town for the leisure and wellbeing of its population. Over the years, the park has lost some of its trees, gained seven lakes, built and lost its swimming pool; and continues to evolve. The lakes are all artificial and were created with dams to enable fish farming, or the powering of water mills. These lakes are now used for sailing, fishing, and home to flocks of wild birds.
It’s never the same. Whenever we visit, there is something different to see, hear or smell. Besides the roaming herd of cattle and the wild ponies there is an abundance of birds and wildfowl. Squirrels and rabbits scatter as you walk through the woods and meadows.
In winter, the park is quieter, although it’s a favourite to walk off Christmas dinner on Boxing day and for the dog owners to exercise their hounds. Joggers and cyclists make the most of the traffic free environment and fresh air.
In Spring, when snow and frost have melted, everything wakes up from its winter sleep. The ducks started to chase each other, buds break out on the trees and strange red mushrooms appear in the undergrowth. Oaks, birch, beech and pines are scattered across the park, many with their own identifying tag.
In Summer, the park is sometimes packed, but it’s so big that it seems to absorb the numbers without difficulty. Sometimes the park is full of runners raising money for charity and there are plenty of family fun events designed to get people away from their computers into the open air. Meanwhile, water lilies quietly burst into flower.
In Autumn, we like to kick our way through the rustling fallen leaves en route to a steaming hot English breakfast at the Blackroot Bistro next to the second biggest pool; there is that wonderful sweet sadness of the approaching winter.
There goes another year, and another cycle, where we trace our footsteps through the ever changeable seasons and appreciate the awesome beauty of Nature!