Walk in the park

I cross and re-cross the Common, peering through the undergrowth, watching rabbits in tussocky clearings, magpies on the cricket pitch by Wellington Rocks and squirrels chasing round tree trunks. In spring, I hunt for hidden blossom – a pink horse chestnut, or a wild apple tree. Summer comes when the grass at the edges of the hard paths is cut for the first time, smelling green, crushed and faintly oily. I amble down the avenue, waiting for the last week in June when pockets of air fill with the light scent of lime flowers. It comes and goes from pace to pace with no pattern at all. You breathe it, lose it and take a step back trying to recapture it, but it’s gone.

My friends tell me not to walk on the Common alone. ‘Anything might happen.'

I shrug. ‘You can hardly move for all the bloody pushchairs. I’m probably most in danger of being hit with a Frisbee than anything.’

Another walk I do – to find myself when I feel cross – is up Grove Hill Road and Prospect Road, swing right past the Royal Oak and through Dunorlan Park’s back gate. I follow the line of oaks, sometimes angling out to check the muddy red spring on the hill. Then I aim for a mysterious fenced copse, stopping to peer through the locked gate. I pass between the duck pond and the head of the lake, picking my way over the puddles and wishing my shoes were more sensible. They are tarting up the park now, trimming trees and draining squelchy bits. The lake is a muddy scar and the duck islands look as if they are holding their skirts up out of the water. I follow the shore round under the old mini golf course and then up the hill, past the café and on to the tarmac path, which is now blobbed with clay from the workmen’s boots. The car park is half blocked off and there are always a few people stunned by the work. ‘What on earth are they doing? Is it really necessary? All those trees.’ No-one can believe it will ever be made right. I leave the park and hammer down Pembury Road, back to the Royal Oak and down the hill. I expect at any moment to meet myself on a corner, waiting to go home for tea.

Clare Grant, 27
Tunbridge Wells
Healthcare journalist