Tag Archives: abington park

Simple pleasures are easily ignored

Six-year-old Billy and I decided spontaneously to stop at Abington Park and introduce Bonnie to the joys of the horse chestnut harvest. 

I know it’s a cliche, all this running about being at one with your kids, but it’s memory of my childhood that’s still vivid. 

It was an annual treat for my brothers and I, skiving off on a Sunday morning to the conker trees with Dad, fighting over the best ones. 

They might not be allowed in the playground any more, what with the paranoia of Health&Safety, but there’s still plenty of pleasure in finding conkers. 

From the anticipation of carefully breaking open a fat prickly windfall, to scouring out that perfect, polished brown ball, it was a satisfying and absorbing hour’s play for all three of us. 

Bill and Bonnie with their haul of conkers


Bonnie ran back and forth, utterly engaged with the task in hand, filling her pockets. She now insists on carrying around a handbag stuffed with them. 

Still, this means I avoid stabbing myself with a skewer trying to get a piece of string through them.

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A dog, in a hat, on a bike. Singing.


WE had a great day on Sunday, just by going to the park. We saw one of the most surreal things I’ve ever encountered.

Yes, we’ve been to Abington Park, in Northampton, hundreds of times. If you get time this holiday, I’d recommend it. And it’s free.

We’ve had picnics before, bought an ice-cream from the Park cafe, listened to a brass band play on a sunny Sunday, visited the birds in the aviary, looked around the museum, played football, wandered around the rose garden and fed the ducks.

But never, in all my years, have I seen the dog on a trike.

The boys were very casual. I asked what they were peering at through the trees. They answered: “A dog on a trike.” Naturally, I thought they were joking.

I blame Bloke. I’m so used to his surreal statements that I am instantly sceptical and dismissive of anything that sounds a little odd. Like, “Oh look, there’s a dog on a bike.”

But they explained further. It was a blue dog, actually RIDING the trike, unsupervised.

Shush kids, enough now, this is silly and you shouldn’t tell fibs.”

Then I saw it. A blue dog, wearing a bowler hat, riding a trike. Singing “Who let the dogs out.” With no sign of anyone controlling it remotely.

The Chron actually came up with the answer: He was a remote controlled robot dog owned by a local who hires him out. His roaming was controlled by a headset from a distance. Brilliant!

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