Almost every single Saturday morning I get up early and go off with Commando to parkrun on Southampton Common. Sometimes, when they’re short of volunteers, I help out and very, very occasionally, I walk the route but I never, ever run. People often ask me why I don’t just stay at home in my nice warm bed. The reason for this is mainly because I love my solitary walks around the Old Cemetery while everyone else is running. Commando thinks this makes me a little weird. Perhaps it does?
Meeting a friend today for coffee was the perfect excuse for a stroll through the enchanted park to look at the autumn colour. A little bird had told me there was a very special visitor in town too so I was keeping my eyes peeled in case I saw him.
The end of October brought the end of the warm weather. It had been one of the longest, hottest summers in living memory and getting out jumpers, hats and gloves seemed like a welcome change of pace. So, wrapped up warm against the chilly autumn air, we set off across a Common softened by mist and bathed in golden light for our second parkrun of the month. It was going to be a day for goodbyes.
At the end of the driest, hottest, sunniest summer since 1976, it was a touch disappointing when the day of the Winchester Half Marathon turned out to be one of the wettest, windiest days of the whole year, thanks to Storm Ali. The doom and gloom weather warnings didn’t exactly fill us with confidence but Commando was pacing the race so we wrapped up as best we could and set off bright and early. Continue reading Winchester and Storm Ali
It was one of those dull mornings, with a uniform layer of steel grey cloud blotting out the sun. The air held the first autumn chill and, for the first time in ages, my coat and hat came out for our early morning trip to the Common. The parkrun team were setting up when we arrived but, after a brief chat, I set off for the Old Cemetery. Today there was no particular mission, just a need to be alone with my thoughts. Continue reading September in the Old Cemetery
On a Saturday morning I often find myself with time to kill while Commando is running parkrun. Sometimes I hang around chatting to the other spectators, sometimes I go off to get a coffee but, most often, I just wander around the Old Cemetery on Southampton Common. It’s good to leave the hubbub of parkrun behind and find a few peaceful moments wandering amongst the graves. The morning light and the changing of the seasons, along with the inscriptions on the stones, make it an interesting exercise. Sometimes I take a photo or two, sometimes my phone stays in my pocket. Usually there are not enough photos to warrant a blog post but I thought I’d gather a few together and share them with you. Continue reading Tales from the Old Cemetery
We’d reached Six Dials and the end of our walk along the busy main road. Feeling pleased to be away from the traffic, we headed down into the underpass and emerged on Kingsway. At this stage there was no real plan, other than to get a coffee before we went back home. We stood looking over the railway bridge trying to decide which was the quickest way to our favourite Costas. Usually our walks to town would take us along Old Northam Road and through St Mary’s, so there was a certain amount of dithering and mentally recalculating of routes. Continue reading Sunshine after the rain and confetti in the catacombs
The main road running through Bitterne Village is thought to roughly follow the Roman Road connecting Clausentum with Chichester and Winchester. In the last century or so, traffic on the modern road has gone from a handful of horse drawn vehicles to a steady stream of cars, buses and huge lorries. Accidents are commonplace, congestion is the norm and, for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike, it isn’t the most fun place to be. Continue reading All about roads
The final part of our tour of God’s House took us into the tower itself. Built in 1417, at the same time as the gallery we’d just left, the tower was one of the earliest forts built specifically to carry cannon. It had eight gunports and rooftop firing points. The gallery and tower jut out from the town walls and would have spanned the town moat, meaning the town gunner had the perfect vantage point to protect the water mill and the gate. Where the gallery was far larger than I’d expected, the inside of the tower seemed smaller. In the eighteenth century, when it was used as the debtors prison, it must have been terribly cramped. Continue reading Up on the roof
The tour we were taking today would be the last of its kind. Between 1961 and 2011 Gods House Tower was the Museum of Archeology but, for one reason or another, I never managed to visit. The doors closed in 2011 and, since then, apart from a few tours and exhibitions, it hasn’t been possible to go inside. Now, exciting things are afoot. Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the tower is about to be refurbished, then reopened as a new arts and heritage venue. Continue reading Inside God’s House