Short walks, swans, cygnets and zebras

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2 August 2016

Having an injured Commando at home has been cramping my style, at least walk wise. There have been no long walks since the zebra hunt last week, just lots of short ones. This is mostly because Commando can’t be trusted to do what he’s told and rest if I’m not actually there forcing him to. The man is just not built for resting!

We did go to parkrun on Saturday, not to run of course. Commando volunteered to marshal. This involved minimal walking, at least for him. While he was shouting at people  “first lap stay left,” and “come on smile or your result won’t count,” I went for a wander on the Common. The fancy camera had stayed at home but I had the trusty iPhone with me. Luckily I know the route the runners take these days so I knew how to avoid getting in the way.

My race avoidance walk took me to the ornamental lake. The water was still and green reflecting the trees and the grey sky. I thought there might be swans but there weren’t. There were loosestrife though and bees, but I made a hash of capturing them. Obviously I’m out of practice with the iPhone.

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Then it was off to the boating lake where there were definitely swans and probably cygnets too. When I got there, there were also ducks walking along the path towards me. A closer look revealed some of them to be the tiny balls of fluff I saw not so long ago but much, much bigger now, almost as big as their parents. Boy do ducks grow fast!

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Daddy swan had a beady eye on my as I approached. He hissed gently to let me know I’d best keep my hands off his precious babies. Mummy swan was a little more friendly but she made sure she kept herself between me and the cygnets. They’ve grown too and lost their fluffy feathers. As before three were sticking close to mum and doing what they were told while one was doing his own thing, swimming a little way off, maybe he’s a cob and the other three are pens? Somehow I also managed to take a photo of my foot on my travels. Oddly, this never happens with the fancy camera but I have lots of foot photos taken with the phone.

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Today CJ and I went on another zebra hunt. Not wanting to leave Commando for too long we decided to concentrate on the East Street baby zebras. The weather didn’t exactly lend itself to a long walk either. We got soaked walking over the Itchen Bridge and arrived in town dripping and slightly grumpy.

East Street has existed since medieval times, the eastern end was once spanned by East Gate, built in around 1217, and the chief route out of the old town towards the Itchen Ferry at Cross House crossed the moat along the eastern wall. Sadly the gate was demolished in 1774 and much of East Street was destroyed by bombs during World War II. There was also another kind of bomb in 1978, this one courtesy of the IRA. A shop, near Debenhams, was destroyed but, luckily, no one was killed. Obviously, East Street deserves a more in depth look but today, with the rain falling, was not the time for outdoor photographs.

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The first zebra, in the Pack and Send shop on the corner, cheered us up a bit, although the shop was closed so we couldn’t go inside for a closer look. His name was Nicky and he’s a lovely shade of blue with darker blue stripes and rows of photos of all the children in Wickham C of E Primary School who sponsor him. He had a few gnome friends with him too.

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We had to cross the road to see our next baby zebra, Devi, who was in the Ponden Homes shop. He’s sponsored by Mayfield School and has a maths and chemistry theme. There were also photos of some rather famous scientists, mathematicians and one very recognisable IT entrepreneur and inventor. We went inside for a closer look  and, with CJ’s help, managed to name most of them.

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Road crossing was becoming a bit of a theme as our next zebra was in Perfection Bridal and Menswear opposite. Luckily East street is a one way street and was fairly quiet. Howard, the Aviary Nursery zebra, went rather well beside the wedding outfits. He’s mostly white with some beautiful and delicate leafy designs  on his back and legs. He put me in mind of the intricate colouring book I got for Christmas.

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A little way up the road we found the next baby in Expresso City. The place was heaving so we didn’t go in for a coffee or a photo but snapped him through the window. This was Grovey’s Zebra, painted by Grove Primary School. His stripes are the green of their school uniform and the ‘leaves’ around them are the children’s thumb prints made using paint to match their skin colour. How lovely.

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Across the road in The Glass Lady we found Zinger. For some reason the app wouldn’t recognise his number or automatically detect I was next to him so I couldn’t tick him off my list. Oddly, when I looked later, the app told me he was in the central library but I really did see him in East Street and I have the photos to prove it. Zinger is Shirley Warren Primary School’s zebra with purple and yellow stripes and designs showing the things the children love about their school. His base is decorated with finger print flowers.

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After several attempts to tick Zinger off the list we gave up and crossed the road once more to visit Lewe, Netely Abbey Junior School’s zebra. He was standing in the window of Hobgoblin Music, once again we didn’t go inside, this time because I knew the place was far too tempting for CJ and I could have ended up with a guitar or some bongos. Lewe’s name mean life in Afrikaans and he’s painted with coloured jigsaw pieces filled with pictures of things the children do at school. I loved his rainbow mane.

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We did go into the next shop, Holland and Barratt and I even managed to get back out again without buying anything which may well count as a miracle because I love all the dried fruity snacks they have. The zebra we found was called Mary Wellstead, painted by the children of Wellstead Primary School. He has grassy legs under a blue sky body with black stripes and his bottom has golden leaves.

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Our final East Street zebra was Sanjay the Globetrotter in the window of Perry’s Art Supplies, another shop I dare not go inside for fear of what I might spend. Painted by Shirley Infant School with the national flags of the children he also has a spotty mane and tail, made by their finger prints. What a multicultural zebra he is!

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Now we’d ticked off all the East Street zebras (apart from zinger) we needed a coffee so we walked around the corner to Costa. Thankfully it wasn’t as crowded as Expresso City. Fortified we decided we might as well see if the zebra at the top of the precinct was back on his plinth yet. Sadly he was absent on our last visit because he’d been vandalised, even though he stands right under a CCTV camera. Hopefully the idiots who damaged him will soon be caught and punished.

It may not have been the weather for outdoor photos but, when we reached the Bargate and discovered the hoardings had all gone, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps as we walked through. It’s been a long time and I’ve missed the feeling of walking in historic footsteps I always get as I walk through the arch on the worn flagstones. Outside the gate, Gilbert was getting a lot of attention but, as we’d seen him already, we didn’t queue up for a photo.

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Sadly, when we reached the top of the precinct we found Criss Cross’ plinth still empty. Obviously he was badly damaged as it seems to be taking quite a while to fix him. As we were, by this time, fairly close to Marlands we thought we’d check out the zebra outside on our way home.

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Zeffe is sponsored by Wave 105 and was painted by Sally Godden using a design created by Daniel Granger aged 12. Daniel won Wave 105’s competition to design a zebra and what a great job he did. Zeffirelli is a zebra with giraffe markings in grey, gold and green with touches of purple. What a lovely colour combination, especially his purple ears.

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Before we set off towards Northam Bridge and home we thought we might as well tick off the two baby zebras in shops a little further up Above Bar. The first was in Hays Travel. We popped out heads in and said hello because I know many of the staff from my days working at Dream Factory. The zebra was, fittingly, covered in flags of the world. His name is Pacem, meaning peace in Latin and he was painted by Jaya Sharma a year 7 student at Oasis Academy Mayfield. It was tempting to stop and tick off the flags we knew.

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Our very last zebra of the day was Zippy, in the window of Fabric Land, another very tempting shop for me. He was painted by Jamie Drinkwater of Calmore Junior School who won a school competition with his wonderful design. Fittingly, he is a patchwork zebra with sparkly gems and a jaunty gingham scarf around his neck.

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So that was our short walk, just under five and a half miles and a lot wetter than we’d have liked. We now have forty two zebras ticked off our list, or forty three if you count Zinger. We got a little wet but Commando was at least pretending he had been resting while we were out. Hopefully the other zebras will still be there, unvandalised when we next go zebra hunting.

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Published by

Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

10 thoughts on “Short walks, swans, cygnets and zebras”

    1. I like the blues best too.mthe zebras are certainly brightening up the city for the summer. There probably have been millions of feet walking through the Bargate on this flagstones since 1180, when it was built. There have been some notable ones too, from Henry V and his troops and pilgrim gathers bound for America to soldiers in the two World Wars.

    1. I think East Street deserves a little more attention on a nicer say. I walk along it so often but rarely think about its history.

  1. I notice little collection tins next to some of the baby zebras. Are they for the schools who painted/sponsored them? Love the diversity they all represent. Ah the history at the Bargate…

    1. I think the collection tins are for the schools or possibly for the save the grevys zebra fund. The baby zebras are so cute and I love that the school children have all got involved in designing and painting them.

    1. It was lovely walking through the Bargate again after all this time. I’ve missed it. I hope you get to see your school’s zebra.

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