IT’S been cold, wet, the economy is still in the doldrums, and winter is on its way – but a prankster has managed to put smiles on the faces of visitors to Poole Park.

A note written on the back of a paper bag and pushed through the door of the Daily Echo’s Poole office alerted us to a new attraction.

It said: “There’s some sort of really big fish thing stuck in the model boating part of Poole Park Lake!”

And sure enough, when we investigated, the lake had acquired its own version of the Loch Ness monster, positioned just far enough out that it could not be removed without wading into the water.

Small children spotting the head emerging from the water rushed towards it pointing and shouting with excitement. Even some of the adults seemed impressed.

Model boat enthusiast John Wakely said: “I think it’s great, I really do. It seems to be fixed to a metal post, so obviously someone has been in there up to their thighs.”

Fellow racer Graham Lockyer did not even seem to resent the fact that his model yacht became temporarily stuck behind the painted figure. “Some student has put that up. It’s rather fun,” he said.

Another said: “It gets in the way of the sailing ... but as long as it clears up the weed.”

Childminder Jacqueline Brookes, out for a walk with some of her charges, said: “It’s cute for the kids, but they could have made it a bit more rubbery and real.”

Jan Clark, walking with her three-year-old grand-daughter Rebecca Footner, said: “The children love it. I think it’s somebody’s idea of a practical joke. It’s a talking point.”

The identity of the japester is so far unknown, but if you would like to confess, you know how to find us.