Checking on the Itchen Swans

6 February 2018

Usually I avoid watching the news. In my opinion there is enough unavoidable doom and gloom about without going looking for it. Last night though, I accidentally ended up watching the end of the national news and what I saw was rather worrying. Apparently a suspected outbreak of bird flu has killed several of the swans on the River Thames near Windsor. Of course, this left me worrying about the swans on the Itchen so today I thought I’d go and check out all was well on the river. Continue reading Checking on the Itchen Swans

Fifty miles

27 January 2018

On a normal Saturday morning I can usually be found hanging around on the Common while Commando runs parkrun. Sometimes I volunteer, sometimes I just go for a quiet wander. For three weeks in a row though I’ve been conspicuous in my absence and it’s all down to Commando’s friend Rob and a harebrained scheme to run fifty miles and raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Continue reading Fifty miles

The lost estates Weston, Weston Grove

17 January 2018

We’d walked from the top of Weston Lane to the bottom and the closer we got to the shore the more the wind buffeted us. We were now walking on what would once have been part of the Weston Grove Estate. Of course, the whole of Weston once belonged to the Chamberlayne family. The exact history is unclear but in 1424, Alice, the wife of Ralph Chamberlayne, inherited an estate on the east bank of the River Itchen. By the late 1700’s all the land between Itchen Ferry and Hamble belonged to William Chamberlayne, in part inherited from his father’s friend and client, Thomas Dummer.Things have changed beyond recognition since the Chamberlayne family owned this land. What was once the domain of one family is now home to thousands of people and the word Estate has a whole different meaning. Continue reading The lost estates Weston, Weston Grove

The lost estates of Weston, Barnfield

17 January 2018

Walking down Weston Lane it was hard to believe the land around us as far as our eyes could see once belonged to one family. In fact, the Chamberlayne family  had owned all the land as far as Netley, including the abbey, since the early 1400’s and had another estate, Cranbury Park in Hursley. In those days Weston Lane was nothing but a narrow wooded lane bisecting the Weston Grove Estate and leading to the tiny fishing village of Weston. We tried, but failed, to imagine it as it was. Continue reading The lost estates of Weston, Barnfield

The lost estates of Weston, Mayfield

17 January 2018

All my life I’ve lived near the sea. The lapping of the waves and the sound of fog horns is something I can’t imagine being without. Having said that, Southampton is hardly a seaside town. The little bit of seashore we have, less than a mile of shingle bordered by tall flats and a large council estate, could not be called a resort by any stretch of the imagination. Even so, it’s nice to walk along the shore and, today, the sea was calling me, despite the high winds I knew would make walking difficult. Continue reading The lost estates of Weston, Mayfield

Hills, windmills and another fallen tree

10 January 2018

After a string of dull grey days when all my walks were about getting somewhere as quickly as possible before it rained, the sun came out to play. This obviously called for a proper walk and I knew just the place for bright blue skies. The Bursledon Windmill was calling and, for the first time this year, CJ was joining me. Usually I’d head along Shoreburs Greenway to get to the windmill but, with all the recent rain, this didn’t seem like a good idea. The trail is muddy at the best of times and I didn’t fancy getting half way and finding it flooded, or losing a boot somewhere along the way. The alternative was a long, boring walk along the main road but this didn’t appeal much either so I plotted a more scenic but much longer route meandering through Sholing. Continue reading Hills, windmills and another fallen tree

Two bridges lite

4 January 2018

The first proper walk of 2018, if you don’t count lots of dashing about shopping or wandering around the Old Cemetery in the mud, was a version of Commando’s two bridge challenge. Frankly, at under four miles, it wasn’t much of a challenge but it was the first ‘just for the sake of walking’ walk of the year and there were swans, mud and some climbing that probably wouldn’t have seemed half as bad if I’d had breakfast before I went out.   Continue reading Two bridges lite

Happy New Year

1 January 2018

First thing on New Years Day all the sensible people are in bed sleeping off a late night, too much food and way too much alcohol. My warm bed was just a hazy memory as I strolled across Southampton Common, wrapped up against the chilly morning air. For some reason the parkrun organisers thought it would be a good idea to have an extra parkrun today. In fact there were two, one at Netely and one st Southampton, with the Netley one starting before the Southampton one so people could run both. Continue reading Happy New Year

December miles

The beginning of December and my virtual challenge was nearly at an end. Gibraltar and the ferry to Tangier were almost in reach, but December isn’t an easy month to fit in walking miles. The weather is often bad and far too many seasonal things get in the way of going for a walk. Would I get there or would I fall short?  Continue reading December miles

Tales from the photo archive, Autumn

Autumn began with some random shots of my garden, where everything was either going to seed or ripening. Continue reading Tales from the photo archive, Autumn