Peter McCue has played on the courts on Newcastle's Exhibition Park for nearly 60 years, but he has never seen them like this:
"These were taken on a Saturday afternoon on 4th April and these courts are the ones most used by players in the Newcastle LTL.
This is the central public park in Newcastle and would normally be full of life and people playing sport,children on swings and others just relaxing or having picnics. Normally the 5 courts would be pretty full too.
I live close to the park and have known it since I was 5 (I am now nearly 64!) and have also had the pleasure of playing tennis here many times over the years. I have never seen it like this: virtually totally empty!
The park now forms part of my daily walk/ run under the current Covid guidelines and when I took these photos the whole park contained only a few walkers or joggers and some parents with children on scooters etc, but all few and far between.
The park has a lovely lake and currently a nesting swan (which has been there for so many years it is unfazed by people walking on the path nearby) and sometimes a heron. You can see up to 15 species of birds and waterfowl in and around the lake.
A police van toured the park, presumably checking for any groups or gatherings but there were none, and the whole park was eerily quiet, both in noise and in "mood", for a spring Saturday afternoon. The other main sound was the occasional ambulance siren on its way to or from the nearby Royal Victoria Infirmary which is the main Newcastle hospital and is only a few hundred yards from the tennis courts and can be seen in the background to some of the photos. It is one of the main Covid treatment centres for the area.
When playing tennis there in the past you would often see and hear the air ambulances as they went to and from the hospital helipad but in truth thought little of them at the time.
The juxtaposition of the calmness, quiet and serenity of the park with the knowledge that numerous life and death human situations are playing out only yards away in the hospital makes you stop and think and count your blessings and reflect on what is, and is not, really important and how lucky you are to be able to be fit enough to play tennis.
Ironically, at the same time, the air itself seems cleaner, fresher and sharper, and presumably it is with the much reduced traffic levels.
In the greater scheme of things, and in comparison to the human tragedies of Covid generally both here and abroad, tennis is so unimportant. Yet like so many things at this time, it is one of those things that you don't really "value" until you no longer have it. So many "routine" activities, such as chatting in a cafe or meeting with friends, going to a cinema, travelling on crowded transport to a football match or even playing tennis which we have always all taken for granted, suddenly seem both so "alien" but also so very necessary and integral to the wider fabric of life.
Whatever the new "normal" may ultimately be, it will never be quite the same again. Lets hope it is better and more appreciative of all life's little joys. Anyway here's hoping that, as and when it is safe to do so, the park and the courts will be in use again and the ambulance sirens less frequently heard.
Best wishes to all at LTL and all players."