Fire, demolition and disaster

10 March 2018

There aren’t many things sadder than a fire in a bookshop. Just after midday on  6 March the large Waterstones store in Above Bar caught fire. The city centre was brought to a standstill by thick black smoke as thousands of pounds worth of beautiful books burned. I wasn’t there but I saw a video on Facebook and felt like crying.  Continue reading Fire, demolition and disaster

North Stoneham, hidden trails and building work

23 February 2018

Commando has signed up for a course at the Runnung School to try to improve his technique. He’s hoping it might knock a few seconds off his parkrun PB and maybe help him avoid future injuries. Today was his first class and, as it was in Old Stoneham Lane and the day was wonderfully springlike, I went along to have a little wander while he was learning.  Continue reading North Stoneham, hidden trails and building work

The metamorphosis of the forgotten walls

15 February 2018

For many years the medieval walls from Bargate to Polymond Tower have been neglected and largely forgotten. They are so well hidden behind the shops on Hanover Buildings and the old Bargate Shopping Centre many people don’t even know they are there. Those that do venture along York Walk are often met with a dark, dingy, rubbish strewn journey. With the demolition of the Bargate Centre, this is about to change. There are ambitious plans to open up York Walk and make a feature out of the walls and towers there. Demolition work began a few weeks ago and today, as I was in town on business, I thought I’d see how it was going. Continue reading The metamorphosis of the forgotten walls

The lost estates Weston, Weston Grove

17 January 2018

We’d walked from the top of Weston Lane to the bottom and the closer we got to the shore the more the wind buffeted us. We were now walking on what would once have been part of the Weston Grove Estate. Of course, the whole of Weston once belonged to the Chamberlayne family. The exact history is unclear but in 1424, Alice, the wife of Ralph Chamberlayne, inherited an estate on the east bank of the River Itchen. By the late 1700’s all the land between Itchen Ferry and Hamble belonged to William Chamberlayne, in part inherited from his father’s friend and client, Thomas Dummer.Things have changed beyond recognition since the Chamberlayne family owned this land. What was once the domain of one family is now home to thousands of people and the word Estate has a whole different meaning. Continue reading The lost estates Weston, Weston Grove

The lost estates of Weston, Barnfield

17 January 2018

Walking down Weston Lane it was hard to believe the land around us as far as our eyes could see once belonged to one family. In fact, the Chamberlayne family  had owned all the land as far as Netley, including the abbey, since the early 1400’s and had another estate, Cranbury Park in Hursley. In those days Weston Lane was nothing but a narrow wooded lane bisecting the Weston Grove Estate and leading to the tiny fishing village of Weston. We tried, but failed, to imagine it as it was. Continue reading The lost estates of Weston, Barnfield

The lost estates of Weston, Mayfield

17 January 2018

All my life I’ve lived near the sea. The lapping of the waves and the sound of fog horns is something I can’t imagine being without. Having said that, Southampton is hardly a seaside town. The little bit of seashore we have, less than a mile of shingle bordered by tall flats and a large council estate, could not be called a resort by any stretch of the imagination. Even so, it’s nice to walk along the shore and, today, the sea was calling me, despite the high winds I knew would make walking difficult. Continue reading The lost estates of Weston, Mayfield

Hills, windmills and another fallen tree

10 January 2018

After a string of dull grey days when all my walks were about getting somewhere as quickly as possible before it rained, the sun came out to play. This obviously called for a proper walk and I knew just the place for bright blue skies. The Bursledon Windmill was calling and, for the first time this year, CJ was joining me. Usually I’d head along Shoreburs Greenway to get to the windmill but, with all the recent rain, this didn’t seem like a good idea. The trail is muddy at the best of times and I didn’t fancy getting half way and finding it flooded, or losing a boot somewhere along the way. The alternative was a long, boring walk along the main road but this didn’t appeal much either so I plotted a more scenic but much longer route meandering through Sholing. Continue reading Hills, windmills and another fallen tree

Two bridges lite

4 January 2018

The first proper walk of 2018, if you don’t count lots of dashing about shopping or wandering around the Old Cemetery in the mud, was a version of Commando’s two bridge challenge. Frankly, at under four miles, it wasn’t much of a challenge but it was the first ‘just for the sake of walking’ walk of the year and there were swans, mud and some climbing that probably wouldn’t have seemed half as bad if I’d had breakfast before I went out.   Continue reading Two bridges lite

Sunshine after the rain and confetti in the catacombs

8 December 2017

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

All about roads

8 December 2017

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