Pop shove-it!

On board with Jessica Powell (Design Engineering, Fourth Year) in Imperial Park.

Jessica Powell by the river with her skateboard

Interview: Diane Shipley / Photography: Joe McGorty

Don’t be fooled by the photo – skating really improves my mood, but I wouldn’t say I’m good at it. It’s something I wanted to try for ages; I even asked for a skateboard for my 15th and 16th birthdays – but never got one. 

Then, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine took it up and told me how amazing it was, which inspired me to buy a board of my own.

Skating is a great escape from day-to-day stress because you have to stay focused on what you’re doing. But just being outside is great. Every morning, one of my flatmates and I get up before sunrise and walk or jog along the river to Imperial Park – by Imperial Wharf – to do some skipping and really get our endorphins pumping. There’s a guy who runs past us all the time and says: “Well done, keep going,” and we always say hello to the other people exercising in the park.

Seeing friendly faces is a lovely way to start the day. It also helps to be in such a nice environment. You can hear birds chirping and kids playing, and smell the Botanical Gardens nearby – there’s a real sense of serenity. If I need to recentre myself, I’ll go outdoors and walk or skate around and enjoy the fresh air.

I haven’t mastered any tricks on the board yet, but I’ve tried and failed to do an ‘ollie’, where you jump in the air with the board. I did once manage a ‘pop shove-it’, which involves keeping your front foot still while your back foot spins the board – but I’m not confident I could do it again.

I didn’t skate much last year because I lived on my own for six months and found it hard to stay motivated. There’s no skate park nearby but the paths at Imperial Park are really smooth, which is great for practising. It can be challenging at certain times of the year because of the conditions, but I’m planning to get back to it and hopefully I can take my flatmates, too. I might even film myself trying some new tricks.

What makes this area special is that it captures the best parts of London. There are high-rise buildings nearby, which means you can see the beauty of the city, especially at night with all the twinkling lights. But it’s close to nature as well and I love that contrast. I feel very privileged to be here.