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Follow the brown signs

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Walk, don’t run, around Norman Park

Today I felt both fenced in and lethargic. New year’s hangovers hang around man. Living in deepest suburbia means it’s pretty hard to just skip out of your front door and have a big walk in the countryside to blow away the cobwebs, also unfortunately for me I can’t afford to insure the pile of crap that is my car so I couldn’t even drive off to the nearest heritage trail.

So my sister and I took a walk around the streets of Bromley. Luckily I could also do some brown signing because this sign directs you to my local park. Wicked.

Norman Park holds some hard memories for me, for 2 reasons: 1) I did most of my marathon training here, so I was sweating and crying around it for hours on end only a few months ago and 2) it also contains an athletics track where I went to train with the Bromley and Blackheath Harriers when I was 14. I was identified by my PE teacher as “the best of the worst long distance runners” in my year and subsequently entered for a gruelling cross country race, which (no surprises) I lost.  So it was refreshing to visit knowing I wouldn’t have to count my laps and brilliant to do just the one. Here it is…

After I got back I looked up why Norman Park is so named and found that the family Norman had been big cheeses around Bromley Common for hundreds of years. They owned a lot of land, were highly educated and learned, they used to ride to work in London on horseback (if I could do that I’d consider getting a proper job) and were magistrates, poor house founders and all round do gooders in the community. Charles Darwin referred to his contemporary Mr Norman as “my clever neighbour Mr Norman” (impressive) and a later Mr Norman was a partner in the ill fated Baring Brothers bank. The Norman family no longer live in the area as the house on their estate burned down (to be replaced by Bromley College) in 1946. Sad to think they no don’t walk in the park that bears their name and feel proud of the only large green space around where dog walkers, runners and bored people can come and do their thing, leaving the trafficy streets behind them in this little oasis of calm.

Another highlight of today was simply being able to enjoy where I was, soak it all up, not have my mind on whether I would make another lap without my legs falling off and be at one with my surroundings. Just so you know, the below picture illustrates how you achieve just that in Norman Park, or in any park for that matter…

Ahhh, joy through the medium of playthings designed for 8 year olds and ignoring age limit signs.