One's life path is partly defined by the geographical boundaries and community facilities experienced as a teenager.
I grew up at 204 Shooter's Hill Road but left there umpteen years ago to go to university. Our house was midway between Blackheath and Shooter's Hill. A little way up the road on the other side was Hornfair Park with a lido for early Sunday morning dips. (I've disliked swimming ever since.) Cross the road, walk through the estate and there was Charlton House, an Inigo Jones designed house which was my local library. Continue through Maryon Park with its deer and there was The Valley. I'm still an Addick.
Pedalling up 'the Hill' without dismounting was always a challenge with the freewheeling back home the reward. At the top were the woods where I was envious of other teenager cyclists with their cowhorn handle bars which seemed so much more suitable for rough riding. Mind you, my Rudge frame was sturdier. We would race, play tag or Commandos, which was our generational 'Cowboys and Indians'.
And I still live in a city, Jakarta, albeit one without parks, play areas for children or the freedom to roam. My Indonesian son and I don't have access to Greenwich Park or Castle Woods. He won't experience the simple pleasures of urban nature, the first bluebells and the delights of 'natural' forest which landscapers have allowed in order to counterbalance their structures and layouts.
A park needs maintaining. Its main function is for play, which has the all-important connotation of exploration. Severndroog Castle at the top of the Hill is a fantasy. The Princess in the Tower, the lone coconut palm on Robinson Crusoe's island or simply a desirable residence for those otherwise imprisoned in impersonal housing estates or living 9 - 5.
I am saddened that there is a need for a campaign to re-open Severndroog Castle but heartened to know that people care. Share my nostalgia and see what I saw
It's a shame that there aren't more such community minded groups here.