It is an annual family tradition for us to visit Bradgate Park each year, at least once when the deer are out and once when the snow has coated the ground in a white blanket of calm. Each year, something changes and there is more for us to explore in the wildlife of the park. 

There are many seasonal delicacies to enjoy in the deer park- we enjoy ice-lollies together in the summer and sip warm hot chocolates in the winter, savouring the sweetness of the bubbly milk whilst huddling together in scarves and woolly hats.

In the early months, there is a constant canon of ‘chirps’ and ‘tweets’, and in the latter half of the year, one can hear the joyful sound of children playing, creating whirlwinds of golden leaves or making angels in the melting snow.

As dusk draws away from dawn and the flowers that bloomed earlier in the year begin to fade, the park becomes a solitary house of tranquility, separated from the disturbances and turmoils of the outside world.

I lean on my mother’s shoulder and smile to myself as the deer go back into hiding in their own little homes of happiness.

We stand in silence for a few minutes, absorbing the beauty of nothing.

A beautiful, silent, nothing.

Then we hear the turn of the key and the click of a lock. This is our cue to leave.

We pack our belongings and fold up our picnic blanket, perhaps eating the last of the strawberries in our fruit basket.

Then, we begin our short trip back to the entrance, leaving the undisturbed wholeness of the beauty of the park behind.

Each visit, I leave my heart behind in anticipation for the next time I am able to breathe in the smell of freshly cut grass or to see the bareness of a snow-covered tree without the disturbances caused by unnatural forces; a reminder that global warming does not have to destroy the world that we live in and that something can be done about the change that is being forced upon our world at an ever increasing rate.

Bradgate Park is our home. 

It is by no means comparable to any exotic country that my family and I have visited on holiday, but all its simplicities make it our home.

We share many memories, some sweet, some embarrassing, which make this place so special to us.

At eight years old, the little show-off that I was attempted to jump across a running stream to reach the other side, but instead landed face first in the wet soil and invoked many laughs in the years to come. We captured this moment as a memory- a photograph that still hangs on our living room wall to remind us of our successes, and sometimes our failures in life, and all the good times that have brought us to where we are now.

We also share fun memories of playing in and around Bradgate House with friends from years ago, keeping us in touch with our childhoods. My two brothers and I used to dance around the crumbling walls of the house as if it were a castle, but now, we sit and admire it in the safety of its arms, whilst listening to AC/DC’s 80’s albums.

Bradgate Park is my special place. It is where I made many of my sweetest memories, and where I first truly understood the beauty of nature that exists parallel to the polluted place that we call our planet. It is the place where I go to find peace and tranquility, and the place where I go to reconnect with my younger, more adventurous self.

Visiting the park is a tradition I will strive to keep; in years to come, it will be the place where I go to build memories with my own children.