Having grown up in the shadow of Salisbury Cathedral, I have been guilty in the past of taking it for granted. That, the Magna Carta and our proximity to Stonehenge means Salisbury becomes a haven for tourists in the Summer months, and those of us who live here can often be heard to tut as we have to negotiate our way around people standing in the middle of the street to stare at the tallest spire in the UK.
Queen Elizabeth Gardens is to the northwest of the Cathedral, just across the river from the back gardens of the houses in the Cathedral Close. When I was little, Queen Elizabeth Gardens was the place we begged our parents to take us to; there was a fantastically exciting play park with one of those plastic slides that went around in a corkscrew.
When I was a teenager, the play park lost its attraction, and instead we would hang about on the other side of the park, away from the happy children while we were busy being terribly serious and emo. The park was big enough that we could do this without being disturbed by their happiness; it was all good!
When I was 29, I had a massive breakdown. At the time I was living in a suburb just outside Salisbury. I would walk into town along the path that goes across the water meadows and finishes in Queen Elizabeth Gardens, just at the point the photo above was taken. I often took the walk just to get out of the house, and had no reason to be in town. Furthermore, I didn’t want to be in town, among all those people. So I would bring a book with me, and sit on a bench in the park.
The children’s play area is in the background of this photo, just in front of the buildings you can see. The path winds around the gardens, around the play area and follows the river around toward the cathedral. There’s plenty of space to avoid people, even on a busy Summer’s day.
I spent many hours in Queen Elizabeth Gardens during the Summer I was ill. I would sit on a bench and read a book… or stare at the Cathedral or water meadows. Since then, I’ve returned to the park regularly. Even when it’s busy in the middle of Summer, it’s still weirdly calming. You can be surrounded by families having picnics, children running around, and teenagers being teenage, and still find a little piece of calm.
As an illustration of the above point, I took this photo while standing six feet from a lady with three young boys throwing sticks into the river. Looks impossibly peaceful, doesn’t it!
A few years ago, the park was redeveloped by the local council. Everyone complained about the colour of the path because apparently they have no larger fish to fry. Personally, I quite like it.
I don’t think this photo needs any sort of caption really. It’s just gorgeous.
This is the view from my favourite place to sit in the park. On the far left of this photo, on the other side of the river, you can just see the end of Sir Edward Heath’s back garden. When I was a teenager (and he was still alive and living there), we would always wonder why there were armed men in bullet proof vests patroling the garden!
What I love about Queen Elizabeth Gardens is that it’s a great place to take S for a run around or to play in the park, but it’s also somewhere I can go and sit quietly on my own if she’s at nursery. Just a short walk from one end of the park to the other makes me feel instantly calmer. If I have time to sit on a bench for a few minutes, even better! It’s really close to the city centre, but faces out across the water meadows so it’s easy to relax and feel like you’re miles away.
I’ll leave you with this video, where nothing much happens – which is exactly why I love to sit in this spot!
This #BetterPlaces post is in support of the Syndol Headache Relief Find Your Better Place campaign with BritMums. Syndol is now formulated for headaches. Visit www.syndol.co.uk for online resources with information about headaches and how to restore calm in your life.