Skating away – on the thin ice of a new day! At last, Nottingham is to have it’s very own outdoor ice rink over a period of seven weeks in the Market Square commencing November 21st. It’s a first for the city borrowing from the success of other cities such as Edinburgh’s New Year ‘Winter Wonderland’ in Princes Street Gardens, a similar construction around Clifford’s Tower in York and several others around the country.
It appears that the UK has a growing interest in such outdoor ice skating facilities and that this is at last being catered for. Perhaps the public identifing images of New York’s Rockefeller Centre outdoor rink and others have whetted the British attitude towards lacing on the skates in God’s fresh air. Certainly it’s always interested me in the way that Christmas advertising campaigns often depict outdoor skating scenes which have long since failed to be indigenous to this country.
I have to stake my interest in that I am a great fan of outdoor skating. I’m fortunate in that having a Canadian partner I’ve had many a visit to that country offering opportunities to do the ‘real thing’ – skating on frozen ponds and lakes. Wabamun Lake in Alberta, several parks in Edmonton and ski resorts in British Columbia having seen my blades skim across them I’m always happy to say. Each and every one of those places have provided happy memories for me. I once heard a Canadian state that ice skating is ‘the nearest thing to flying’. You know, that might sound fanciful at first but I know just what he meant, skating it’s best it’s a wonderful sensation and at it’s best, to me, means outside – preferably in the frigid cold of a genuine winter. In this way I’m glad to see more and more people offered the opportunity to take part in such an activity.
A Canadian tradition.
I’ve a single experience of skating outdoors in the UK. This was in the Winter Wonderland in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. In truth it was something of a melee, which was not unexpected! To skate in that place I know so well gave me a warm feeling however. Noticeable too were the sounds that emit from any ice rink – shrieks of delight and laughter. Have you ever noticed that about any old ice rink you’ve visited? It’s a very evocative sound of people enjoying themselves.
‘Winter Wonderland’, Edinburgh
It would be folly to claim that skating outdoors on an artificial rink in Nottingham Market Square or similar can be as exhilarating at whizzing across the expanse of a Canadian lake but essentially it’s the same experience. I really hope the people that take part enjoy it one half as much as I have over the years. There may not be fish swimming under the glass-like ice of a BC lake, tall, tall snow-capped mountains to view, an odd coyote sloping past or even a game of impromptu hockey inviting you to join in but it is still unique. Grasp the opportunity.
Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch
Henry Raeburn (1756-1823):