29 December 2013
The end of the year is fast approaching so the time has come to reflect. Over the next few days I will be looking back at the the highs and lows of the old year and reminding myself of the places I discovered and the lessons I learned. Along the way I’m hoping to get a little inspiration for the year ahead. Maybe there are places that could stand further exploration or mysteries that still need solving…
2015 began with a disaster. In January a massive car transporter, Hoegh Osaka, ran aground on Bramble Bank, a sandbank in the Solent, and my first walk of the the year was to Calshot to have a look at it. In truth it wasn’t the best view or the best weather. The ship was a mere speck in the distance and the wind was howling but I walked to the end of the spit to Calshot Castle anyway and managed to avoid the worst of the rain.
It seemed to be the month for disasters and lucky escapes. Towards the end of January mud cut short a planned walk to Wincehster and I later discovered there’d been an earthquake there. We do not, as a general rule, have earthquakes in England and this was a very small one but I was glad to have missed it. There was another near miss when a tree fell on a car parked in Cemetery Road not long after we had been parked in the exact same spot.
February began with snow. Like a child I put on my Yak Trax and dashed out before it disappeared. The world was a thin, beautiful blanket of white and I wished I could be everywhere at once to see the whole city sparkling. In the end I made it to Netley before the sound of dripping told me the thaw had set in. The snow was gone by the time I got back to Peartree Green and my glittering adventure was over.
It was a month of discovery where I explored the lost village of Itchen Ferry, found out there is still a pear tree on Peartree Green even if it’s not the original one and, at Cross House, spotted a strange stone like the one I’d puzzled over along the shore. Later I discovered it was a boundary stone and there were actually twelve of them hidden in the city.
The month ended with Commando’s Muddy Beach Run in Southsea. It was a horribly wet and windy day but I braved it as far as the Royal Marines Museum to look at a different kind of Commando. My own Commando finished the run surprisingly devoid of mud and was, as usual, disappointed with his time.
Quite a lot of March was spent revisiting the past one way or another. There was a walk through Twyford to visit a favourite resting spot from my Moonwalk training walks and my first visit to the Hockley Viaduct. CJ and I also had an adventure in the historic dockyard in Portsmouth where Nelson’s ship, the Victory, is still preserved.
Near the White Swan pub I discovered another boundary stone. It was hard to see how I’d passed so many times before without noticing it and I realised I’m not always as observant as I think I am. Then, trespassing on the far bank of the river by the reed beds, I found an older boundary marker, the Haven Stone, or what remains of it.
Commando was in training for the London Marathon and I tagged along when he went for a run in the New Forest. The place was filled to the brim with ponies and I almost got caught up in a stampede at Bolton’s Bench. Later in the month I was back in the forest for the annual Care For A Walk fifteen miler, with more ponies, a touch of mud and the first blossom of the year. I need to get out to the Forest more often in 2016.
Changing to the early shift meant a chance to see some spectacular sunrises in April. Getting up at five fifteen ever day took some getting used to but, all in all, it seemed worth it.
Commando’s last long London Marathon training run took us to the Olympic rowing venue at Dorney Lake. While he ran I took a wander along part of the Thames Path all the way to Windsor Castle. Sadly the Queen wasn’t at home but it was a lovely walk all the same.
There was a Bank Holiday trip to Lymington to walk the Salterns Trail with Commando. We got slightly lost when part of the trail was closed but it was a wonderfully sunny walk with some interesting old buildings, blue sky, sea and an ice cream finish.
An invitation to a guided walk took me inside St Mary’s Church in South Stoeneham. It also showed me a new way to get to Eastleigh through Monks Brook Meadows where we found grass snakes amongst other things.
Towards the end of the month CJ and I headed towards Portsmouth again. This time we stopped short of the city centre and took a wander around Portchester Castle. There was a tough climb to the top of the keep but we both agreed the views were rewarding enough to make up for the effort.
Finally Commando and I took a trip to London for the marathon. While he ran I walked a little more of the Thames Trail, this time in the centre of the city. Closed roads made my last few miles slightly fraught but I managed to be in Horseguards Parade in time to meet my victorious marathon runner.