As part of the 80 Days project I wanted to have a map of my own. I’m thinking that I want each post, or some of the posts to focus on specific areas of the park, maybe even tackle the running path that circles the Park in sections. From Lodge Gate to Whitehouse Gate, for example. I wanted the names of the gates to be on the map, and the names of the Ponds. I suppose because we don’t really think of them by name. I like knowing the names of things. Like plants and trees – I’ve never been good at that. Maybe at some point I’ll focus on the names of the trees in Clissold Park.
Back to the map. I can’t draw, so I enlisted the help of an illustrator. There’s a website where you can find illustrators, so I went there and I found Ross Hendrick. He’s never been to Clissold Park. He lives in Exeter. So I took some pictures and sent him whatever maps of the Park I could find online, and he came up with a sketch. I like that there’s something impressionistic about it, that we don’t have to honour the scale of things. It also made me aware that we probably each have our own idea of the Park, that the way we think of the Park depends on how we experience it. So it was a surprise when Ross’s sketch arrived and there was no running path. It was as if the park was stripped of the bit that means the most to me.
It wasn’t always that way. The Park has always been a favourite place to run, but for a long time it was a favourite place to write. Now I almost never write in the Park. I would say never, but a few weeks ago when I went back to running regularly in the Park and thought of doing this project, I told myself it would be a good reason to go back to writing in the Park. So I did. I stopped there on my way to or from somewhere – I can’t remember where – and I wrote for a bit. A park bench is a nice place to write.