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Farewell to Ha’penny Bridge

There are good things and bad things about having a dog.

For years now, we have seen how the children who visit our house for lessons can only see the good things – while their parents only see…! Right now, as it’s time for one of Sanday’s bi-annual moults (each of which lasts about six months), I am currently living out one of the bad things. But as I yet again hoover up what seems to be enough Sanday-hair to make a second dog, I reflect on one of the best things about having a dog. No, it’s not that wicked, whipping tail which sweeps cups of tea off low tables, nor the drool dripping on the floor as he anticipates the meal that he will lingeringly savour for at least 50 seconds, nor even the crater in the flower bed when he was left for a few unguarded moments in the garden.

No, the best thing about having a dog is … The Walk. (Sorry I’m whispering, but if he hears me say those words, he will be here smiling and panting and pushing his nose against me until I give in, and this blog will be on hold once more). Sanday is alert to any word which might suggest that The Highlight Of The Day is imminent. He can spell it forwards and backwards, he can translate it from French, he can associate it with any term remotely connected with it: shoes, lead, coat, rain, park. Even ‘Right,’ said in a bright go-ahead way, pricks up his ever-alert ears, and brings the signs of joyous anticipation into full wag. One learns to mind one’s words.

The **** usually takes place in Linn Park and though we have trudged through more ‘weather’ than a year of Sundays, our daily exploration of its delights has become as much of a highlight of the day for us as for Sanday. Before we thought about selling our house, Archie often used to say, if people valued Linn Park as we do, our house would be worth a million pounds. Now that we’ve sold our house we know they don’t! As Archie hails from the north-west highlands of Scotland, we are not unfamiliar with the wild, rugged glory which defines people’s expectations of our beautiful country. But there is nothing tame about Linn Park – and the best of it is that you are right in amongst it. You can start off on the main tarmac routes and get an overview of what is on offer, but everywhere there are secret paths, winding amongst trees, following the river, taking you to hidden places which could be as far from the city as you care to imagine them. And it all starts just five minutes’ walk from our house!

As we have walked in Linn Park over the past year, we must have said a thousand times, ‘where are we going to find something in Kent to replace this?’ So it was the obvious choice of theme when I decided to write a little farewell piece of music for our pupils and friends. We love to boast to our visitors of the wonderful waterfall so close to our home. We have photographed it countless times. Its appearance changes as frequently as the expressions on a human face. We have noted and marvelled at each change, often standing to gaze far longer than Sanday considers appropriate for THE WALK.

But the landmark which defines the park most for us is the white iron bridge which invites you to cross and explore beyond. Here people meet and chat, here children feed the ducks in the White Cart river below, here people watch dogs swimming to retrieve useless objects thrown by their owners from the little beach. And here people just stand, gazing over the moving water, seeing the foliage change with the season, but maybe thinking of other things altogether. Perhaps their minds are stilled by the flow of the river or perhaps they are enervated by the constant movement beneath them. Who knows? But it is a precious thing to stand still in a tranquil place in our bustling world.

We hope you enjoy our little video of pictures and music celebrating Linn Park and, if you haven’t been there, perhaps it will invite you to see it for yourself.

Esther Cohen

Here is Farewell to Ha’penny Bridge.