This week I had the chance to visit an old childhood haunt. A place I haven’t seen in a very very long time. And that place is called the Long Canals – two reflecting ponds built as showpiece features within Antrim Castle Gardens and set within high hedges of lime and hornbeam with narrow ‘lovers’ paths’ running along both sides. If you recall I recently visited these gardens a few weeks back (my blog post Scenes from the weekend) but due to a heavy downpour our visit was curtailed.
Back when I was a teenager we use to hang out around these canals…we never had anything exciting to do and or anywhere interesting to go as is the way with teenagers. Antrim did not have much going for it back then and I certainly never appreciated the gardens or its historical heritage (the canals date back to the late 17th and early 18th century).
But there was always something intriguing about the canals. Stagnant, full of green algae, swamp like even and with overgrown paths, the place had a certain eeriness to it , like an unloved place that time had forgotten and that nature had slowly reclaimed. My mum has since told me she found it a creepy place but it must have left an impression on me because the images of those canals have stayed with me all this time.
To be honest, I was almost a little nervous to see those canals again.I couldn’t get to them fast enough but I did not know what to expect. What a total joy then to see the canals beautifully restored, the water glistening and teaming with happily quacking ducks , the paths cleared and safe to walk down. The trees beautifully reflected on the still water. I couldn’t quite believe it.
And as I stood there admiring the view, I could see images of my younger self walking down those paths. With my short hair, denim jacket and trainers (which my mum hated) and messing about with friends, I did not have a lot to worry about in reality, but was full of teenage angst all the same. It was a poignant moment really – reflecting on the ups and downs of life’s journey and how far I have come since my teenage years.