Open Day

Musee LuxembourgOne of my favourite places is the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris. It isn’t the gardens that appeal to me so much, although they are of course very nice, it’s the atmosphere: it’s wonderful.

I think the appeal lies in that sense of a bygone age, a gentler time. The last time we visited it was a bright spring day and we wandered past children playing with toy boats, spinning tops and all manner of traditional toys. We strolled past tables where old men played chess in a relaxed and laid-back manner, despite the fact that every move had to be completed before their stopclocks reached zero. We sat on a park bench and ate ice cream as we watched the world go by. Finally we made it to the Musée de Luxembourg, where we enjoyed an exhibition of Matisse’s work and were astounded by the enthusiasm shown by the many, very young French children who were there, most of whom were making wildly inaccurate copies of some of the artwork in their sketchbooks. It was a fantastic day, a day that left me feeling contented and nostalgic.

Yesterday afternoon that feeling came flooding back, but this time I didn’t have to go all the way to Paris; Mr TLC and I just strolled to Weston Park in Sheffield where the grand Open Day was in full swing. The park has been undergoing major restoration work, in fact it still is – it wasn’t finished in time for the Open Day, but enough was done that it looks pretty good.

We expected to see the carousel and helter-skelter, and whilst we knew that the almost-complete bandstand would be back in use, it was still good to see it come back to life. There were a few surprises: we hadn’t expected to meet Queen Victoria, or watch a game of croquet – in which good-natured cheating seemed to be a major factor in the game!

A very small version of Ivor the Engine was chugging up and down, to the delight of small children and childish grown-ups. There were drama groups and bands performing, and (of course) the once-controversial ice-cream van was in attendance.

Circus SkillsFor me the best part of the day was watching one very talented teacher who was managing to encourage literally dozens of children and adults to walk on stilts, spin plates and catch diabolos. He was unbelievable: relaxed and chatting, whilst doing just enough for his students that they saw success within their grasp and continued to practise and persevere when he moved onto another group.

We rounded off our visit with a final hit of nostalgia: we called in at Weston Park Museum to say hello to Snowy the polar bear. That’s where the spell got broken: it’s a modern museum, complete with the obligatory bells and whistles. This being both the last day of the half-term holiday and Weston Park Open Day, it was incredibly busy. There were a gazillion children charging about, good-naturedly but noisily, pushing every button and trying everything on offer. “Shall we come back when it’s quieter?” asked Mr TLC. I think that’s exactly what we’ll do.

Croquet on the Lawn We Are Not Amused War Memorial
Carousel Band Concert '
Thank You Ice Cream Van

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