City parks 'back to life' as sun shines at the start of step two of roadmap

Children enjoying a picnic in Waterloo Park, Norwich, on the first day of step two of the government roadmap

Children enjoying a picnic in Waterloo Park, Norwich, on the first day of step two of the government roadmap - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

The sun was shining as people flocked to Norwich parks to take advantage of further Covid restrictions being eased. 

With groups of six from any household or a group of any size from up to two households now able to meet outdoors, the city parks proved a popular spot. 

By lunchtime, car parks at both Eaton Park and Waterloo Park were packed as people struggled to find any spaces. 

Plenty of bicycles, scooters, footballs and picnics could be seen as children and families enjoyed the sunshine. 

Plenty of people were enjoying the sunshine in Eaton Park on the first day of step two of the roadmap 

Plenty of people were enjoying the sunshine in Eaton Park on the first day of step two of the roadmap - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Mother Meriel Whitty met up with her friend Michelle Gurner and their children, Gabriella, four, Evangeline, four, and Cece, one, at Eaton Park. The two mothers both work on the Phoenix Purple course at City College Norwich but have not seen each other for "ages". 


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Mrs Whitty said: "The fates have aligned today. The sun is out, it's the Easter holidays and the restrictions have lifted. Now is the time to appreciate where we are. It's a beautiful setting here."  

Gabriella, 4, Evangeline, 4, and Cece, 1, enjoying the sun in Eaton Park 

Gabriella, 4, Evangeline, 4, and Cece, 1, enjoying the sun in Eaton Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

The two families enjoyed a picnic in the park together, while Mrs Gurner was set to meet up with another friend in the evening to enjoy sushi in the same spot. 

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She said: "It's nice for my girls to be able to socialise together. Even in nursery, there are restrictions on the equipment they are allowed. It's a little slice of normality and we have loved today." 

Nearby, 87-year-old John Reynolds, who lives on South Park Avenue, was sitting on a bench with another household. He is also meeting a friend from Thorpe Marriott in the city tomorrow having not seen her since December. 

John Reynolds, 87, in Eaton Park

John Reynolds, 87, in Eaton Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Mr Reynolds said: "I am lucky I am just across the road which is lovely." 

Kath Edwards also met up with her daughter Stacy Lane, who works at the N&N, at Eaton Park with her son Harry running around kicking a football. 

Mrs Edwards said: "We just about found a space in the car park. It's just a case of being sensible. We have both had our jabs and we are taking it as it comes rather than making loads of plans. I just hope everyone follows the restrictions." 

Hayley Ratcliffe with her daughter in Waterloo Park 

Hayley Ratcliffe with her daughter in Waterloo Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Waterloo Park was teeming with dogwalkers and families sitting on rugs. Sarah Croft and Emma Weston brought their children Cocoa, Grace and Maisy, who all attend St Clements Hill Primary, to the park. 

Mrs Croft said: "It's nice for them to finally be able to meet up outside of school. For my five-year-old daughter, it is the first time she has been able to meet with friends in a year. We have come for lunch for a couple of hours in the sunshine."

Emma Clarke had walked to the park with her two daughters Pippa and Anika, as well as their seven-year-old Lancashire Heeler dog Marge. 

Emma Clarke with her children Pippa and Anika, as well as their dog Marge, in Waterloo Park 

Emma Clarke with her children Pippa and Anika, as well as their dog Marge, in Waterloo Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Mrs Clarke said: "We have got plenty of plans to see friends over the next few days in Earlham Park and Eaton Park." 

Mothers Hayley Ratcliffe and Kirstin Munroe, whose children attend Falcon Junior School, said they planned to come to the park whatever the weather with it now being step two of the government roadmap. 

Amber Wood with Leo, Baston and Lucas Mitchell 

Amber Wood with Leo, Baston and Lucas Mitchell - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Another parent, Amber Wood, was sat on a rug with another household with bikes, a football and a water pistol in the vicinity. She said: "We decided we would come about a week ago even if it was cloudy." 

Leo enjoying the sun in Waterloo Park 

Leo enjoying the sun in Waterloo Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Sitting on her bike in the park was nine-year-old Kitty Reynolds of Notre Dame School with her mother Jenny and schoolfriend. 

Kitty said: "I have been looking forward to today for ages. Before Covid everything was normal and then everything changed and there was nothing to do which was frustrating.

"I have thought quite a lot about how precious life is and not to take it for granted." 

Nine-year-old Kitty Reynell of Notre Dame school in Waterloo Park 

Nine-year-old Kitty Reynell of Notre Dame school in Waterloo Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Joolz Bailey has been walking her dog in the park most days during lockdown, and she said it has normally been just her and other dogwalkers. "It is so busy today and the park has come back to life'" she said. "There is a different atmosphere."

Friends Tracie Hart and Jennifer Cooper with their children in Waterloo Park

Friends Tracie Hart and Jennifer Cooper with their children in Waterloo Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Friends Peter and Denise in Eaton Park 

Friends Peter and Denise in Eaton Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Dave Garson with his dog in Waterloo Park 

Dave Garson with his dog in Waterloo Park - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

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