After spending some time in Middlesbrough’s Dorman Museum, we stroll through Albert Park, bracing ourselves against the chilly winds, hopping in between the sunny patches on the concrete ground.
Marble plaques stand surrounded by poppies, posies and other colourful flowers in pristine gardens along one side of the path by the main entrance to the park. Dates, names and quotes have been carefully etched into the marble to commemorate wars, regiments and soldiers.
We reach a fork in the path and carry on straight ahead towards the bright white fountain, spurting water from its gilded spouts. Two toddlers wobble by on their trikes, following the curve of the fountain’s base precariously, managing to teeter away from the water.
Down at the bottom end of the park, families mill around with ice creams despite the cold air. Workers clean off swan-shaped pedalos ready for the summer – if the summer ever comes – and fishermen huddle in tents erected on wooden jetties, trying not to disturb nesting swans. Ducks and empty cans of Foster’s bob along the water.
As we come almost full circle and begin walking back towards the entrance, three people come into view, walking towards us tugging a large black and white dog. Hound at heel, oblivious to the trickle of families walking past them, they hurl abuse at a cyclist on the other side of the fence, slowly tottering along the pavement outside the park, carefully balancing on the saddle so that he is in full view to the other three individuals, returning their effing and jeffing in full force. Fuck off yer daft cunts.
After we pass them, B. turns to me and expresses his surprise that one had a southern accent. ‘Parks are great; you’ll find all walks of life in them’ he beams.