Perfect light


15 February 2015

When I told Commando about my Sunday walk and how I hadn’t actually made it to the old floating bridge slipway he looked puzzled.
“But you went to Crosshouse?” he asked.
“Yes but I wasn’t all that sure how to get to the slipway. From the map I could see it was really nearby but I had run out of tissues and I thought I’d probably get lost wandering through all the little streets in Ocean Village trying to get to it. Besides, it looked like it was going to rain.”
“I see,” he said.
“It’ll still be there another day,” I told him. “I might even go back next week if I get time.”

We had some lunch and a cup of coffee then Commando went off for a shower after his morning run and I started to look over my photos from the morning’s walk. After his shower Commando said he needed to go to B&Q for some bits and pieces.
“Do you want to come along? You could have a look in the garden section while I look for my stuff.”
Never one to turn down an opportunity to wander round looking at plants, even the paltry collection in B&Q I said yes, turned off my iPad, picked up my phone and bag and grabbed my coat.

As I suspected, there wasn’t much to see in the garden section, although I still managed to come out with three trays of plug plants for my tubs. Commando didn’t find what he was looking for though and when we got back to the car he said he wanted to try one more place. Looking back I should have known he was up to something because time was getting on and most places close at four or five on a Sunday. As it was I was way too interested in keeping my plant purchases in one piece to really notice where we were headed until we arrived.

When he pulled into a car park and I looked up from the plants I was surprised to find we were back at Crosshouse. I turned to Commando, confused.
“I just want to show you something,” he laughed. “This was where you came this morning, right?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Ok, so show me exactly where you went.”
“Do you mind if I take a couple of photos while we’re here?” I said, fishing my phone out of my pocket.
“I knew you’d want to,” he chuckled.

Thank goodness I picked up my phone before we left home. The light was perfect, we’d arrived at the golden hour just before sunset. When I said as much Commando shrugged and said he hadn’t even noticed. So I took a photo of Crosshouse bathed in perfect golden light and pointed out the things I’d seen earlier, the boundary stone, the repair stone with the city crest. Then I led him down to the slipway and pointed out the Itchen Ferry Village cottages across the river.


“So where did you go next?” Commando asked.
“I walked along there,” I said, pointing to the walkway at the end of the car park. “There was a man there with a child in a wheelchair and he asked me if I was with the rowers so I told him I was a writer and I’d come to see Crosshouse.”
“A writer eh?” he laughed.
“Well I am, even if I don’t get paid for it.”
“Show me where you went,” he said. So we walked up onto the walkway and I pointed out where the man had been. “Then what did you do?”
“My nose was running and I’d used up all my tissues so I turned around and went up towards Chantry Bridge and town.”
“Come with me,” Commando took my hand and we walked to the other side of the walkway under the bridge. “What’s that down there?”

When I looked down towards the water I could see the old floating bridge slipway right in front of me. The path led right the way round to it. If only I’d walked a few more yards I’d have been there. This was why Commando had been so puzzled. As a boy he often took the floating bridge across the river and played on this shore so he knew how close I’d been. He couldn’t understand how I’d been so close and not found it. Of course, I didn’t know about the path and thought I’d have to go back to the road and find my way to Floating Bridge Road and then down to the water again.

The two floating. Ridge slipways
The two floating bridge slipways

There are actually two slipways, one for each of the floating bridges. We did try to walk down them but gave up fairly quickly when we realised how slipery they were. The bridge looked as if it was made of gold in the early evening light and Commando stood patiently while I took photos. He didn’t even complain when I made him walk along the boardwalk for the fancy Ocean Village houses so I could get a better angle. He couldn’t understand why I found it all so enchanting but he’s an engineer so he doesn’t see things the way I do.

The Itchen Bridge, made of gold
The Itchen Bridge, made of gold



Eventually, when I’d taken enough photos we began to stroll back towards the car.
“That building there,” Commando said, pointing to the Itchen Imperial Rowing Club shed, “used to be the hovercraft terminus, for crossing to the Isle of Wight. At least I think it did.”
In honesty I can’t remember a hovercraft terminus but then I only ever went on the floating bridge a handful of times as a special treat whereas Commando spent his childhood going back and forth.

Probably the old bus terminus
Probably the old hovercraft terminus

As we made our way back to the car I stopped again to watch two men in a canoe trying to wrestle another canoe out of the water. Goodness knows exactly what they were up to but it looked for a while as if they were going to capsize. It seems to me there is always something going on down by the river and, as Commando said, “it pays to have a guide with local knowledge.”




The Woolston Ferry by Mike Sadler

I looked over Woolston and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home?
That old Woolston Ferry coming towards me,
Coming for to carry me home . . .

If you’re ever out in Sholing
And you want to go to town
Don’t you go via Bitterne
That’s the long way round
Take a trip across the ferry
Take a trip across the sea
And if you’re a pedestrian, you can go for free . .
On the Woolston Ferry
It doesn’t travel very fast
It was never built for comfort
It was built to last

On two steel hauses
Across the river it’ll creep
The steel glints in the sunlight
And flops back into the deep
And from the deck of the ferry
What a wonderful sight
All they shipwrights grafting
At Thorneycrofts on the right

On the Woolston Ferry
It doesn’t travel very fast
It was never built for comfort
It was built to last

Go and see Lowry’s painting
In the art gallery
Of this wonderful relic of a past century
When I sing of its construction
You’ll be surprised to learn
That the bow going one way
Coming back becomes the stern!

On the Woolston Ferry
It doesn’t travel very fast
It was never built for comfort
It was built to last

See the weather-beaten captain
With his weather-beaten tan
He don’t wear no gold braid
He’s a corporation man
And the captains of the ferry
They’re a dying race
Cos there ain’t no ex-tram drivers
To go and take their place

On the Woolston Ferry
It doesn’t travel very fast
It was never built for comfort
It was built to last

But the floating bridge has had it
They say it’s got to go
Cos the motorists don’t like it
At 15p a throw
So they build a bridge of concrete
Very modern, very high
But every time I use it
I look down on either side . . .

On the Woolston Ferry
It doesn’t travel very fast
It was never built for comfort
It was built to last.

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

14 thoughts on “Perfect light”

  1. How incredibly sweet that Commando took you there. And writers are like prophets, never appreciated in their own hometowns or homes or that matter : )

    1. He can be surprisingly sweet and, after so many years together, he knows exactly what will make me smile. I figure if I keep saying I’m a writer, one of these days I might just make it come true in a ‘writing for a living’ sense.

    1. It’all down to Commando. He still knows how to surprise me. The poem is a song written about the floating bridge when the new bridge was built, it always makes me smile.

    1. There were dark clouds on the horizon and rain in the wings which made the light even better. Some days are just about perfect for taking pictures.

  2. One of my all time favorites right here, Marie. You write so beautifully and your shots were beyond compare. You took them with your phone??? Kick Commando in the shins for me next time he questions that you are a writer! Splendid!!

    1. Thank you Martha. All my photos are taken with my iPhone. The camera is better than the fancy one I never use any more. Maybe if someone actually ever pays me to write Commando might start believing it πŸ™‚

  3. You write, therefore you are a writer, whether or not you get paid for it. Were you to put all your blog posts into a book (particularly those with a local history content) I would think you could find a publisher who would be interested.
    The photos of the bridge at sunset are beautiful – what glorious light and reflections.

    1. The light really was perfect that evening. I’ve never seen the bridge looking so lovely. Oddly enough, I do sometimes get paid to write these days so I guess I really am a writer. Maybe one day I will cobble something together that could become a book. You never know.

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