Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Shutting swings in the Summer (not even Sundays)

Now certain communities in Northern Ireland and Scotland would have a reputation for strict Sabbath observatance that goes so far as locking children's swings in parks on Sundays. It's not that common, but sometimes gets into the news.

This year, Northern Ireland councils have taken it to a new level. Holywood Council decided that June would be a good month to replace the swings on the common overlooking Belfast Lough. So when the heat wave hit us mid-June and we went down to Holywood for a swing, we were faced with a big metal fence enclosing the site of the old swings.

The very next day - in similarly piping hot weather - we tried out the play park at Lady Dixon's. The swings were in action, but most of the other climbing frames had been removed, and metal fences surrounded the new colourful treats that were still being erected.

Not that a fence round a pile of building material would stop the average NI parent from making a gap and pushing their kids in through it to play on the half-finished frames and slides. The Council Parks staff could only look on - unable to stop the libertarian revolution.

I throught that Portrush was going to complete a hattrick of closed play parks. The Ramore Head park gate was padlocked - though the sign said it was open all day May to September. After starting to ring the council to complain - kind of them to put the phone number on the sign - we noticed another obscure entrance around the other side. A good swing was had by all in the empty park - and the adults enjoyed the slide too!

Update: Just back from the beach - left the house in the dry, arrived back soaked to the skin. A few nice sandcastles built, some rearrangement of the streams through the sand, lots of standing watching the tide come in around our feet. Oh and some screaming at the hailstones (late June?) hitting an 18-month old face.

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