The little explorers and I are always keen to tackle a new adventure so we were very excited to test out the new park trail. We love birds, we love stories and we love looking for hidden things so it seemed like a perfect afternoon adventure. The trail map from the park café (suggested donation £1) only added to the excitement with its beautiful illustrations by Gerard Hobson.
The trail takes you on an imaginative adventure, following the story of the little sparrow who wanted to find out who should be king. We followed the sparrow on his journey to meet all the different birds in the park, each telling him about their special quality which would make them the best king. We loved spotting and identifying the wooden birds in the trees and the littlest explorer had a great time peeking in the bird boxes to find the clues.
There are some steps on the trail so it’s not ideal for pushchairs (though you can avoid that part of the route) but even my little 2 year old managed the walk without any problems – in fact most of the time he was running to get to the bird box before his older brother! The paths are good and the trail takes you through some of the lesser visited areas of the park which only adds to the fun.
Trail complete, we headed back to the café where the lovely staff gave both children a beautiful bird badge (which they are still wearing proudly) and a colouring sheet.
Who was king of the birds? You’ll have to try it out for yourself to find out!
Guest post by Christine, and the little explorers
We’ve had to take the difficult decision to cancel the Birthday Party this year. This is due to the fact that 1) we do not have enough volunteers to organise it, and 2) we have not raised the money needed for several new ‘essential items’ (eg security, portaloos, a PA system), which are required on top of the usual costs (insurance, printing, licence, publicity etc). We have put out multiple appeals for volunteers and contributions, including crowdfunding and a YorkMix article.
The huge numbers of people (probably 5000) attending last year’s Party meant that we clearly need these additional volunteers and facilities; without them, we cannot run a safe and enjoyable event. Huge thanks to Christina Nichols who has worked very hard trying to resolve these issues, and to all those who offered their time and money, this year. We are sorry for any disappointment caused. NB if anyone is interested in helping a team to organise next year’s Party, please do speak up: planning starts in January, but never too soon to volunteer!
The Birthday Party is the biggest event in Rowntree Park and it’s always lovely to see the park so full of people having a great time. The date for 2017 is Sunday July 16th.
However organising the Birthday Party is a major undertaking, with many hours being spent on planning, and on the day itself. A lot of the work is done by the Friends, as volunteers, but there are a lot of items which can’t be done for free. Obviously there is income from the stall-holders and various attractions, but this will not cover the anticipated costs. The costs this year will additionally include the hire of Portaloos, the payment of security personnel (to take care of car parking, in particular) and contributing to the costs of the event co-ordinator, as well as the ‘regular’ costs of paying First Aiders, event licence, event insurance, printing flyers/posters etc.
If we are to go ahead, the Friends need to be able to cover the costs, and so we are trying to raise £2292 using a crowdfunding scheme called Spacehive, and you can see our appeal here: https://www.spacehive.com/rowntreeparkbirthdayparty
If you would like to help by making a pledge, I hope that you find the system fairly easy to use (it is quite similar to sponsoring people via Justgiving) and that you can pass the idea on to friends and family. Because we are trying to demonstrate the level of support, your pledge can be a very token contribution – the smallest amount is £2. And, if the total amount is not raised by 1st June, then you will not be charged at all. Cheques/cash are not practical in this situation, I’m afraid. Additionally, if you know of any businesses that might want to sponsor the event, do let them know about this appeal.
Thanks for your help!
Guest post, from Emma Farley (from “littlesilverhedgehog”)
Now that Spring has sprung, hedgehogs are starting to emerge from hibernation. It is great news that there are already hedgehog houses in Rowntree Park tucked away for spiky residents. Please remember that a hedgehog out in the day is not okay. If you see one in daylight in the park or elsewhere in York, please capture it and place it in a high sided box, keep it warm and contact a hedgehog rescue. Dogs can also attack hedgehogs so please be vigilant and, if an attack happens, it is vital to seek urgent treatment for the hedgehog. You can help York to be a haven for hedgehogs by making your garden and street hedgehog friendly. Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets, check carefully before you strim or mow, ensure there are gaps in fences to enable hedgehogs to travel between gardens and leave out food and water. You will find lots of tips about helping hedgehogs in York at www.facebook.com/littlesilverhedgehog and www.littlesilverhedgehog.wordpress.com
This blogpost is by Rose and June, Friends of Rowntree Park and local residents for many years. They remember the swimming pool in the park as being an important part of growing up in York. We welcome more contributions from people who remember the park – and from people who use the park now.
We both spent our childhoods in York in the fifties and early sixties. Like many York children, Rowntree Park was where we could go to play on the swings, roundabout, seesaw and, in the warmer months, we could go to Rowntree Park swimming pool. The play equipment was where the table tennis tables now stand and the swimming pool was where the car park is. [It closed in the 1980s, I think]
Looking back, we realize we have different standards of health, safety and comfort nowadays. The play equipment stood on a concrete floor. What happened if you hurt yourself? We can’t recall but I doubt if the council was blamed.
The entrance to the open-air swimming pool was at the north end. A lady took your money and gave you a ticket. Then you went to a cubicle to change. Males went to the right of the pool, females to the left but the cubicles didn’t have keys. We think you could bolt them from the inside but, as you simply left your clothes in them along with other people’s on a busy day, you had to trust no one would steal your belongings. Probably the lady at the till would look after valuables. An amendment to the sign telling females to wear bathing caps was made when males started to have long hair. Now it read “..females and males with long hair.”
There was a terrace up a flight of steps which surrounded the pool. On a sunny day you could sunbathe in some discomfort as this surface was also concrete. The water was unheated and we can remember hovering at the edge of the pool knowing that the first few seconds would be a challenge. At the deep end were springboards. The steps up to the high one were wooden and could become slippery but we can’t recall protests about this – though people did sometimes hurt themselves.
I (Rose) learnt to swim there as did many other York children. It was the one sport I was a success at and I represented our school, Mill Mount Grammar School For Girls (where we met each other in the first form), at the swimming gala.
We agree that it would be good to have a swimming pool in Rowntree Park again, though this time with less slippery steps up to the diving board….
World events may be getting you down, but perhaps we can cheer you up a bit by saying that the Park, and the Friends, have had a good year overall. At our AGM, we looked back at 2016, and noted some highlights:
- Very Young Friends have had a strong year, with an enormous turn-out for the Easter Egg Hunt, and a typical monthly turn-out 15 to 30 people. Sessions delivered have a range of entertaining but educational themes, including those led by the Bat Group and BugLife.
- The Birthday Party was very well attended, with large numbers of stalls, and only a few issues, one of which was toilets (portaloos will be booked, next year), parking (inevitably) and the need for more volunteers; many thanks to Christina who was the force behind another terrific success.
- Voluntary gardening sessions have been well-attended and well-received; Rosemary is now co-ordinating this. Emma had organised a plant sale in May, which raised our profile.
- Ruth has been supervising the bird food project, with good sales of food packets from the café. Christine has delivered a bird-related talk to Knavesmire School children, and laminated signs have gone up in the play area.
- The Friends sponsored a very popular yarnstorming project, by Hippystitch, with workshops resulting in a beautiful ‘Fantasy Fish’ installation in the park.
- Lara McClure organised two clothes swaps, in the Cafe.
- Friends’ membership numbers had gone up, possibly partly as a result of the 10% Friends’ discount at the Café; the Friends thanked Mel for suggesting and supporting the discount.
- Dave Meigh (CYC) reported that there had been a lot of running repairs recently (eg repointing, refurbishment of basketball court and the pergola). Committee members had met with Dave for a site visit/walkaround.
At the time of the AGM, the Friends were looking forward to the bulb planting event (October halfterm), and willow weaving (December), both of which were also very well-attended, and successful. We have also recently sited bird feeders and hedgehog homes in the Park.
So, if you would like to help us continue with our work into 2017, please consider getting a FRP membership (what a lovely Christmas gift?). If you would like to help with our activities (maybe to help with the gardening?), why not get in touch by email, or follow us (Friends and Very Young Friends) on Facebook.
All the best for the festive season, and for 2017
Friends of Rowntree Park
Five years ago, the Friends had just finished creating the wildlife pond, in Butcher Terrace Field; we’re delighted to be able to say that the pond has attracted a lot of frogs, dragonflies, water snails, water boatmen – and plenty of human visitors!
Around the same time, we also planted some apple trees, along the edge of the Field, and these have been quietly getting on with growing and fruiting. They now need a bit of attention, and we would like to give them a winter prune soon; any offers of help with this?
The apple trees have some interesting names. These are (from north to south): Discovery, Rajka, Annie Elizabeth, Ingrid Marie, Bramley Clone, Chivers’ Delight, Sunset, Grenadier, Ribston Pippin, Warner’s King, Greensleeves, Balsam.