Last Sunday I had to pop in to my parents place to pick something up and, as I was down that way, I decided to go for a drive. I had no destination in mind but had all afternoon to kill and made my decisions as they came to me. So it was I came to find myself at Levengrove Park, the memories flooded back as I parked the car…
… bumping over the low kerb onto the pavement, my hand poised on the seat belt release in anticipation. As the car eases to a stop, I push the latch to freedom. I reach over and do the same for my sister and we clamber out. Behind us, Sintra paces the back and forth, she knows where we are now and is excited to be released. She has only one thing on her mind.
It’s same every time we visit. The minute the hatchback is opened she’s off, leaping out, already turning towards the park before she lands, a blur of gold and elated doggy smiles. We run after her – leaving parents behind to gather up coats, a frisbee, and whatever else that adults think we might need – knowing where she’s going to be as she disappears off down the hill.
Four legs versus two is never fair and try as I might I can’t match her. I lag behind, stopping now and then to let my sister catch up, then taking off again in the vain hope that I’ve suddenly turned into Alan Wells. We run across the grass and down to the water.
By the time we arrive at the top of the steps she’s already waded out, up to her shoulders in the icy water. We call her back and she dutifully obeys, but only because she knows we have only just got started. We clamber down the worn stone steps and from the sandy shore we start lobbing stones out into the water beyond, the mighty River Clyde, and she gamefully tries to retrieve them, over and over again, snapping at the water in vain.
Eventually we tire, our arms are heavy, and after a final swim Sintra returns to us and a new game begins. We run away. Knowing she’ll only shake herself dry when she’s near us we deploy the usual tactic, head for Mum and Dad and hope Sintra stops there so we can run beyond them and remain dry. It rarely works of course, never underestimate an excited damp dog who wants to join in the fun.
The beach explored, we head up across the grass to the swings…
… the wrought iron roundabout is gone now, as is the old metal train and the big slide. There is no concrete to fall on, and everything looks safe and modern.
Beyond the swings are further memories, times spent in the park with friends, but as I walked around the ghosts gently followed me, calling out my childhood, and all the vivid recollections of sunny days, and snowy winters came flooding back. What a wonderful childhood I had, full of joy and happiness.
And a salty wet dog panting in my ear on the car ride back home.