Howard's Endz

Howard’s Endz

Barnard Park

By Howard Spring

IMG_4146There is a little park that we sometimes go to, which is attached to a big park. The big park is called Barnard Park. And the little park is across the street. But the little park doesn’t even seem to make it onto the maps, even though it is in fact one of the only dedicated dog parks in the whole area. The main park is just over 9 acres, but it is mostly playgrounds and sports pitches and gardens. So it is not really fun for zoomies or walks. In fact, there is little more than a path through the park for us. The rest is off limits.

So there is another little park, just for dogs, across the street. The little dog park is quite small, maybe an acre (but none of us got our measuring tape out). But at least it’s nice and grassy. To us dogs, this is Barnard Park. The rest is just the doorway.

IMG_4156Because of its size and because of Aubrey’s love for long-range, high-speed zoomies, we don’t tend to go to this park as much as some of the other parks in the area. To be honest, we all get a bit bored. But in summer, when everyone has their picnics out in all the other parks, it suddenly looks a whole lot bigger and better. Because it is very difficult to do zoomies when humans have dropped like flies all over your park. Even if we plot out an agility course through all the bodies, it is almost impossible to get up to top speed. And in summer a lot more dogs turn up to play in Barnard Dog Park, so it is a bit more fun.

IMG_7243A long time ago, long before it was Barnard Park, the area was mostly full of animals eating grass, but there were some gardens called pleasure gardens that everyone from all over London would visit. Apparently this is where humans invented cricket (although a lot of different stories take credit for cricket). Cricket is a game where they throw a ball that is too heavy and hard for a dog to fetch. They do things called runs but no-one really runs very much. Cricket also takes a very long time. Days and days. They must eat a lot of cheese.

But back to Barnard Park … eventually the whole area got quite crowded with houses and as pollution got worse the pleasure gardens became less pleasure and more plod. And the gardens fell into disrepair.

But during WWII a lot of the area was bombed so badly in December 1940 that whole streets were completely destroyed. But, just like Shoreditch Park, a park grew out of the destruction. So when we walk through the main park to the dog park, we are walking over what were busy neighbourhoods and whole streets that have since been buried under the park. It’s hard to imagine.

IMG_7265They took a while to clear the rubble, but they started in the late 1960s and work began on what is today Barnard Park. The new park opened in 1975 and was named after an Islington Councillor, George Barnard. He really liked sport, and wanted to knock down even more houses to make football pitches, but the locals resisted. There is quite enough football.

And today it has adventure playgrounds, and a little hall for events, and an ampitheatre, and bouncy castles, and a little wooded area, and fruit trees, and big all weather pitches for games (but not quite as much football as Barnard wanted!), and even community gardening projects. In fact a lot of community gardens were built on places destroyed by the Blitz. People can be amazing.

Unfortunately we can’t visit all these exciting things, but at least there is the dog park.

IMG_4173The dog park is fully fenced, unlike all the other parks we go to, which are all open. That said, if I got bored with the lack of zoomies space I could probably squeeze out between the bars. And Jeff could probably squeeze out underneath, if he hasn’t had lunch already. But it is still pretty safe. And recently they have added some agility obstacles. So far they have added some hurdles (in different sizes for all the different dogs) and some weaving poles. That’s pretty fun! In the next stages I would like a tunnel. And of course I would definitely want a water jump (because I love swimming, although I think technically that’s not going to be a clear round!). IMG_4144The main park has water play features, so I think they have the technology. And Aubrey, of course, would like some of his favourites, like an A frame, and a dog walk, and a table. I think you can probably see a pattern when it comes to what Aubrey enjoys.

But what I would really like to see in the dog park is a fountain or even just a tap. Even short zoomies are thirsty work.

So Barnard Park is a pretty good park, even if we don’t always reach ludicrous speed in the zoomies.

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