Paul Rabbitts FRSA FLI

Author, Parks Historian, Public Speaker

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Mixing it up a bit.....!

Posted on July 4, 2019 at 4:50 PM

So after a long day today, I have escaped to my 'cave', put on Fleetwood Mac Rumours and logged on and decided to do a blog. As I write I am not sure what will evolve but lets see where this takes me. 

It has been a busy few days and I am feeling well travelled especially with lectures which are becoming more geographically dispersed. From the Surrey Hill and Cranleigh Arts Society, to Hestercombe Gardens Trust in Somerset, to Helmsley in North Yorkshire to Chelmsford in Essex - the common denominator is my passion for parks and the heritage within them. What I love about the lecturing and the sharing of the passion, is the people I meet and the places I visit. The Surrey Hills are simply beautiful and 2 lectures to the Arts Society in Cranleigh, I was in a venue that Van Morrison and Eric Clapton have performed in! Both lectures were incredibly well received and what I especially love is the spontaneity that is generated  - who would have thought a talk on parks would have included the Bay City Rollers, the Bristol Stool Chart and Brentford Nylons. Well it did in Cranleigh. Mixing it up a bit. Variety. Spontaneity. The same happened in Helmsley too although the talk was on the Royal Parks but we mixed it up a bit. It was also incredible to have my folks there who met a chap who knew them from over 20 years ago on a visit to the Falkland Islands. 

The visit to Hestercombe was stunning and again it was made by those you meet. Philip White MBE rediscovered Hestercombe, a Lutyens / Jekyll Garden and has spent decades restoring it and turning it into an incredible visitor attraction. The gardens are stunning but whilst I enjoyed the visit to the gardens, spending quality time with Philip is what really made it. Passion. Enthusiasm. A love for what you do. Courage and tenacity. 

In Chelmsford, I was judging the heritage of three parks for the council there on behalf of Green Flag. All three were excellent parks and again I met some great individuals doing valuable work. Their landscape architect / officer left a mark in particular, her enthusiasm and love for what she does shining through. 

So where am I going with this? I suppose the best way to put it is that a friend and colleague said to me a while ago I need to be seen to be mixing it up more  - she said I was an activist and that I need to keep at this. I was also called a radiator and that radiators were thin on the ground and to keep away from those that drain. The reason I lecture and do my talks, the reason I write, the reason I want to see a Parks Institute established, the reason I write blogs and the reason I go so much about the value of parks, open spaces, the heritage within is that i believe in it, and i get cross when I see things that are just not right. We have to make a difference and my way of making a difference is to continue to mix it up - keep up the lectures, be an activist, a radiator and to listen to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours more often. 


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