Good Friday 2014 and, for my walk, I was in the guise of the Easter Bunny delivering said treats to my granddaughters. It began with a little trip up the Big Hill. For one, there was meat to be bought at the butchers, but also I to buy the Easter treats before I could deliver them. From there it was back down the the river.
The warm sun was a bit of a worry as I walked along the river, what with all the chocolate eggs and bunnies in my rucksack. A little sailing boat was out on the river not far from Cobden Bridge. The sail was down but the man on board seemed to be preparing to go somewhere. I’d have liked to stay and watch but the Easter Bunny waits for no man so I kept walking.
Looking back for the last time I thought I could see the scary woman on the mobility scooter in the distance. Time to get a move on then. One quick stop to snap the usual swan, seagull melee by the viewing platform where a family were throwing bread and I made myself scarce. That scooter woman frightens the living day lights out of me.
Those scooters are pretty fast so I marched it out towards the bend in the river. Round the corner by the reed beds I knew I could get off the path where she wouldn’t be able to follow, at least I hoped not. Usually it’s pretty quiet round there, today, not so much. A family were gathered around one of the picnic tables. It looked like a very civilised affair with a table cloth and I think I spied a wine bottle. They seemed to be speaking French so I’m guessing I was right about the wine.
Of course I couldn’t stay off the path forever and soon I was on the quiet little trail that leads back to the main park. There were bluebells along the water’s edge and Woodmill just around the bend. Today the doors were open, I’ve never seen that before. When I got closer I could see they’ve opened a little cafe. The tables and chairs outside looked tempting but, with all that chocolate in my rucksack I couldn’t really afford to stop.
With a quick peek inside the mill I was off across the bridge and round the twisting little road towards Wessex Lane. There was no way the mobility scooter woman was following me along that narrow path. It wasn’t long before I reached the blue bridge at Monks Brook. The cool water was flowing fast through the trees but well within its banks now at least.
The gravel path through the marshes was my last bit of off road walking for a while. The gate on the other side took me back to the road, close to the spot Commando picked me up last weekend. Now my nature fix would have to come from the gardens I passed. Luckily there are some very nice gardens along the first stretch of road, like those in the pretty little cottages on the corner.
One daisy, a Livingstone daisy I think, had made its way through a hedge and was brightening the roadside. A little further on a huge bank of white flowers on the hawthorn were a very welcome sight. As the old saying goes, ‘n’er cast a clout ’til may is out,’ and the may flowers were out with a vengeance. Maybe I can leave my coat behind tomorrow, then again…
The route I was walking was a parallel of the one I walked last week. Then I was strolling along the Itchen Navigation under the motorway and behind the airport. Now I was walking along a road towards another motorway bridge, not quite as picturesque this time. The empty Ford factory was a sad sight. Not so long ago it was a hive of activity producing thousands of transit vans every week. Even here though, on a busy road outside an abandoned factory there are pretty things to see if you look for them. Things like the flowers on a maple tree beside the road, or the brightness of a clover flower in the grass.
This week I passed the front of the airport and, as I crossed over the railway bridge there were two trains outside Parkway Station. Normally I wouldn’t really pay them much attention but fellow blogger Tootlepedal is very fond of trains so I stopped to take a picture just for him. Personally I don’t know what all the fuss is about.
The road past the front of the airport is slightly busier than the Navigation trail behind it, so much so they even have to have speed cameras. I may have been walking quite fast but I’m pretty sure I was within the speed limit as I passed. Why was I walking so fast? Well apart from the melting chocolate, I had a date with another railway and it wasn’t far away.
I was on my way to the Lakeside Steam Railway just up the road. To be honest I’d chosen that route more to see the lakes than the trains and because there is a footpath through the other side close to Philo and Sirona’s house I wanted to try but still… When I got to the little station there was a steam engine in the sidings with that looked as if it was preparing to be coupled up with the little red coaches. The smell of steam and coal dust took me back to my childhood when steam trains were a regular sight at the little station in my village. Of course these are not full sized steam engines so I waited for a while but there didn’t appear to be much action so I carried on towards the lakes.
When I last came this way, back in February, there was mud, lots of mud and people were sailing model boats on the first lake. Yesterday the mud had all gone and so had the model boats. The lake looked quite empty without them, just one solitary duck swimming around in circles. Still, the sky was and the grass was speckled with daisies and dandelions even if the people did outnumber the wildlife.
On the other side of the lake, where the little stream runs into it there seemed to be a lot less trees than when I last passed this way. A mass of stumps told me there had been a few casualties of the stormy weather which was sad but it did give me a better view across the water. The stand of silver birch and the small reed pond looked far more inviting with a bit of sunshine and by the look of things it will look even better when the water iris flower. Note to self, come back again in July.
The next pond seems to be the fishing pond and one fisherman had even set up a little tent. I can’t help but wonder exactly how many fish there are in these lakes because there seem to be an awful lot of people trying to catch them. Maybe the fun is in the sitting rather than the catching. With beautiful views and the blue sky and fluffy clouds reflected in the water I can’t say I blame them for wanting to sit there.
There really did seem to be a lack of water birds for some reason, perhaps they’re all hidden away somewhere nesting, but one swan saw me looking out over the water and came powering towards me. I’m pretty sure he thought I had some bread for him, which if course I didn’t. Really one of these days I’m going to get some proper swan food and start carrying it with me. Do they sell proper swan food I wonder? He came right up to the viewing platform I was standing on and looked at me expectantly. He was beautiful, especially so close up and I felt a little guilty I didn’t have anything for him, almost as if I’d called him over under false pretences. When he started staring me right in the eye I decided discretion was the better part of valour and beat a retreat. Somehow I don’t think I’d be the winner in that battle.
The footpath wasn’t far away and soon I was leaving the lakes behind me, not quite sure where it would lead me and hoping I’d not made a terrible mistake. At the top of some steps I came to a fenced off area where it seems the trains turn around. There were two mini level crossings to cross and I looked carefully to make sure there were no trains bearing down on me. I’m always very cautious on level crossings and it would be quite embarrassing to get run over by a miniature steam train. Imagine having to explain that away, I could almost see the rolling of eyes and hear the cries of ‘only you….’
Luckily there wasn’t a train in sight so I got safely across and the footpath came out by some garages. Some lads were fixing a car outside and I walked past still wondering if this path would ever lead me out onto the road as I expected. I didn’t fancy having to walk straight back past them so quickly. As it turned out I needn’t have worried. I soon came out onto the road and I even recognised where I was. This was largely due to the lovely little thatched cottage on the corner but at least I didn’t have to resort to looking at the WalkJogRun maps and looking like an idiot. Quite why I worry about that I don’t know because it seems to me I look like an idiot quite a lot of the time anyway.
When I got to Philo and Sirona’s house no one was home. Maybe I should have called first. In the end I dropped the red bag of goodies over the back gate and sent Sirona a text to tell her the Easter Bunny had been, where the goodies were and that she had to share nicely. I was hoping the chocolate wouldn’t melt before she found them.
Later I’ll tell you about my walk back home. There will be more trains and, for anyone not interested in trains, there will also be more pictures of the lakes, ducks, flowers, new paths, and some sailing boats.
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