One year ago…I published this post. I was very pleased with it. So here it is again.
(By the way, I did make it back there at the start of June, I needed to)
I am about to go on holiday for two weeks. I will be visiting various family members and friends. I hope to take lots of photos and share them in posts. Two weeks of pleasure seeking and seeing loved ones – cannot wait!
But before I go, I want to get something out of my system. It has been looming over me…so I am going to tackle it aggressively! Well…I mean face it head on without shutting it out of my mind.
The park I went to that night. It is a beautiful place. One of my favourite locations in London. I had been there hundreds of times in the five years I had lived in London. I want that park to be beautiful in my mind…not a place I associate with a traumatic event. Since that night, I have been back three times.
This is where it happened. There is nothing outstanding about this spot. But I do remember sitting on one of the benches that night. This is a photograph taken from the bench I sat on that night.
When I first arrived at around 10.30pm, it was still fairly light. There were people walking their dogs, there were joggers, there were teenagers sitting on the grass listening to music and chatting. There were people sitting on other benches nearby.
As I sat there, I became engrossed with my own thoughts. I remember tears rolling down my face because I did not know what to do about my ex-flatmate who seemed to be sucking all of the life and joy out of me. I did not notice that all of the sunlight had vanished and I was sitting in the dark. I did not notice that there were no more dog-walkers, no more joggers and no more teenagers listening to music.
I remember a man sitting next to me. I remember a lot of other things which I am choosing not to write about because I don’t see why those details would be remotely helpful to anyone else. What he did does not pain me anymore. It is the situation with my ex-flatmate that pains me still.
The first time I visited this location after that night, I remembered something else. The trees in this part of the park – they are brilliantly easy trees to climb. I had been at this precise location a few weeks earlier with a friend and her sons. We had been teaching the boys how to climb trees. So much fun.
It was ever so helpful to remember that. Such a beautiful park, I want the happy memories to be the ones that dominate.
When I first moved to London I bumped into a friend from Wiltshire who just happened to be visiting one of my neighbours. She wanted to go out for a coffee and a chat. It was a beautiful sunny day. I still did not know the area very well. But my neighbour took us to this park. There is a house, part of which is now a café. We sat outside in the sunshine, before having a wander around the park. I fell in love with the park that afternoon. I would frequently visit over the next five years.
It is very helpful to remember that. This beautiful park, full of happy memories I have shared with friends. I have taken many friends who were visiting me to the park and we have had long walks followed by coffee and cake in the café. I want those to be the memories that dominate.
These are the ponds where people can swim. I had always wanted to go for a swim in these wild ponds, but I was a bit nervous of going alone. A few days before I was attacked, a group of us came down to this park to do our keep fit class. One of the regulars was moving abroad to get married and he wanted to have a special class as it was his last week with us. Everyone used to call the class “fat-camp”. I was too vain to call it that, so I called it “boot-camp”. It was lots of running and exercises designed to train the parts of our body we did not even know were there. Anyone was made welcome, but if you loved pushing yourself you would exult in the class. We normally met once a week near to where we worked so we could go straight from work.
However, a few days before I was the victim of a crime, we drove up to this park and started running. We ran together down to the ponds and then went for a swim. Afterwards we ran back up to a grassy area near to where the cars where and followed the instructions of the guy who took the class – stomach crunches, leap-frogging, press-ups etc. Then we nipped into the pub for a beer before heading home.
I remember loving every moment of that night. It was perfect. Perfect in every way. The delightful summery evening, the friends I was with, the exhilaration of running and swimming at a beautiful location, ending the evening with a laugh and a few tears as we said goodbye to our lovely friend before he moved.
It is very helpful to remember that. This beautiful park, the location for some of my happiest hours doing what I loved with people that I loved. I want all of those memories to dominate.
So there it is…this has really helped to get this out of my system. This is the park where it happened. A tiny blip in an otherwise wonderful treasure chest of happy memories of one of my favourite places in London.