Music, barking dogs and dancing lizards

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Where else could you see someone dancing with a lizard? It’s not something I’ve ever seen before and I watch Britain’s Got Talent every year. I should point out, in case you are picturing a lizard doing a two-step on its hind legs, that the lizard is held in the man’s arms. In reality that’s no different to holding a child and dancing. It just isn’t something you see every day.

Wellington is a brilliant place, one of the best places we have lived. Lovely people, excellent facilities and lots of activities. All wrapped up in a small package. They say, ‘Good things come in small packages.’ We live just off the High Street and you could not be nearer to the shops, dentist, doctor, optician, park and restaurants. This blog is about the park, which is not far from us and very accessible. Lovely smooth wide paths. The only bit I can’t access is the bridge and waterfall.

Every Sunday afternoon during June, July and August from 2:30 till 4:30pm the Friends of Wellington Park (FOWP) lay on a musical extravaganza. OK so maybe I am using hyperbole there, but it is fun. Not every week will suit every person, there’s a programme to tell you what’s on. I’m not sure that a man on an organ is quite my thing. But jazz, country and western, brass bands, rock and roll, and pop are. I am fairly eclectic, actually my spell checker nearly made me eccentric and maybe that’s nearer the truth. But I do like variety, some would just say I get bored easily.

One Sunday afternoon, we joined a brave group of folks to shelter from the weather and listen to some Country and Western. The shelters, of which there are quite a few, were very full. We couldn’t even squash into the tent designated for wheelchairs and scooters. Although I should point out we arrived late, as it took extra time to get me ready after lunch. So, we hid under the trees behind the disabled tent and under a brolly and waterproof covers. A lovely lady from the FOWP, who always seems to spot us and help, directed us to a gap in another tent. I squeezed into the edge and Mary sat behind me. As usual Mary spent time moving things around to make space for my wheelchair, before she could sit down. We still needed some waterproofing for the rain that blew in and we didn’t really enjoy being behind each other rather than beside each other. But at least we had some protection from the rain as it decided to really pour down. Have you noticed how in England we have so many ways of describing rain? Pouring, dripping, damping, drizzle, hammering, misting, torrential etc. Anyone would think it rains a lot here.

It was a little damp

Our son in law is from Utah, where it’s so dry that if you leave biscuits or cereal out, they get dryer. Whenever he visits us it seems to rain. He just seems to miss all our long hot dry spells. Yes, those long hot dry spells that you’re just forgetting about because of all the recent rain. One time when he was here, we explained that leaving biscuits out of the box here overnight would make them soggy. Finding that concept hard to grasp after Utah, we suggested he try it. He was amazed how soggy a biscuit becomes here overnight when left out. Perhaps we should return to a rather wet park in Wellington.

The music was great, toe tapping (in my head) fun, punctuated by the occasional bark from a couple of dogs that a family nearby had brought to enjoy the music. I’m not sure the music was improved by the punctuation and the barks were very sharp and sudden. There was also the odd drift of cigarette smoke from just outside the tent. I am sure that the person smoking was trying their best not to inconvenience anyone, but smoke has a way of going where it will. Smoke is not ideal for my chest. FOWP have setup a smoking tent at quite some distance from the other tents, but I think these smokers were probably with their family and thought being outside the tent was enough, it wasn’t.

It must seem like the worlds against you as a smoker, ostracized, frowned upon, pushed away. I was a smoker many years ago, so I have some sympathy. The problem is with the nature of smoking, its too extensive in its generous spread of smoke. When one person smokes everyone around joins in with their experience. It’s like music, except the thing being shared abroad is carcinogenic, smelly and unhealthy. If the smoke was just going down the smoker’s lungs, then that’s their free choice and they have a right to make it. But they don’t have a right to make that choice for everyone else. The worst part is that everyone else only gets the unfiltered smoke. Anyway, rant over, you can see I object to being forced to breath smoke, especially as it is bad for my chest.

At last the rain let up and the sun came out. Mary and I moved to a more spacious and smoke free spot. I was able to recline my wheelchair more fully and we had a good view of the area in front of the bandstand. This area is often used for dancing. Line dancing on country and Western music events, other types of dancing at other times. Well let’s be honest, line dancing gets a look in at almost every style of music.

The sun came out and we moved

One time I was brought to the music in the park by one of my carers when Mary was on a respite break. I jokingly said she ought to join the line dancing. It was only afterwards that I realised how lucky I was to have a carer who wouldn’t turn the tables on me and take my wheelchair onto the dance floor. I feel embarrassed enough being in a wheelchair without using it to dance. That is spin the chair around on the dance floor. I never danced when I could walk. Correction, none of my efforts could be classified as dancing when I could walk. I particularly came to realise what a near miss I had when I saw another wheelchair on the dance area, spinning around, going up and down and having a great time. They were really enjoying themselves. I would have just been mortified. I am very shy, no matter how it may appear otherwise. If you meet me in person and more and more people are, you will see for yourself.

It was in the dance area that we watched the dancing lizard. You knew that I would get there eventually. One of my blog readers tells me that however much I digress, I always seem to get back to the point where I started. Of course, most Wellingtonians will not be in the least surprised reading about dancing lizards. The lizard owner is probably your neighbour, friend, family, work colleague or dance partner. You may be the man himself thinking ‘why is Mike writing about me?’ But anyone reading this from elsewhere may have a moment’s pause and think, ‘A dancing lizard?’. I remember the first time I saw the man dancing with his lizard I thought ‘fair enough, a dancing gecko, why not?’ Then I looked up gecko on Google and realised it wasn’t a gecko. But it is some kind of lizard. I may have also fleetingly thought, ‘why is he dancing with a lizard?’ The lizard always looks very happy and cosy, snuggled against his chest. I haven’t seen the lizard move in time to the music, but maybe it does, perhaps it does the odd head dive at appropriate moments and I just miss it.

I have blogged before about the refreshments at the music in the park. How many places do you know where the price on the ice cream are lower than you pay, unless the shop makes a big song and dance about it being a sale, or special offer. In the park their price is 70p for an ice cream that says 75p on it! Nothing about special offers or sales, that’s just the price. Don’t get me started on the massive pack of mini Cheddars for 50p, it’s a steal. I’ve just thought, I hope no one from Friends of Wellington Park is reading this, or next time the price will go up. Hey guys from FOWP, it’s really expensive your food and drink, I think you should leave it at that price. Phew! I think I got away with it this time.

I think everywhere we have lived has had its fair share of special places, people and activities. But Wellington really does stand tall in comparison. Despite the occasional inconvenience, this town is brilliant. The park really makes it for me, and the summer entertainment is a massive highlight that we look forward to each year.

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Do read my other blogs, I write factual, fiction and poetry.

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