Titanic tales from Bitterne Village

4 September 2018

When RMS Titanic sank hardly any area of Southampton was untouched by the tragedy. Earlier CJ and I explored the streets of Bitterne where some of the crew of the ship once lived. Now, we were at the top of the hill in Bitterne Village, looking for three more houses. A lot has changed since 1912. Many houses were lost in the 1980’s when  Bitterne bypass was built, others were demolished to build the Bitterne Leisure Centre, the Bitterne Library a Health Centre and a large doctor’s practice. Whether we would find any of the houses we were looking for intact remained to be seen.  Continue reading Titanic tales from Bitterne Village

Titanic tales from the Bitterne crew

4 September 2018

When the world’s most luxurious liner began recruiting crew on 6 April 1912, it seemed like a dream come true for the people of Southampton. After the national coal strike, unemployment in the city was high and families were living hand to mouth on charity handouts. The dream turned to a nightmare on 15 April when, five days into its maiden voyage, Titanic, the unsinkable ship, sank. Over five hundred households in the town lost at least one family member. Today, armed with details from a crew list published in the Daily Echo, CJ and I decided to explore some of their stories. Continue reading Titanic tales from the Bitterne crew

Inspecting the damage

28 July 2018

This morning, while Commando was running round parkrun, I went back to the Old Cemetery for a closer look at the fire damage. According to the Echo, not always the most factually accurate of local newspapers, two Titanic memorials were damaged by the fire, along with a World War I grave belonging to Kate Trodd, a nurse who served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Whether I’d be able to locate any of these damaged graves remained to be seen.  Continue reading Inspecting the damage

Scorched earth in the Old Cemetery

23 July 2018

Unbeknown to us, while we were camping in the hot, dusty Catton Park field preparing for Thunder Run, a small disaster was unfolding on Southampton Common. On Saturday, a fire broke out in the Old Cemetery, caused, it’s believed, by the unrelenting sun shining on broken glass and setting fire to the desiccated and overgrown grass. Commando read about it in the local paper and, once we’d unpacked, rested a little and dashed around the supermarket to stock up for the week, we went to have a look.  Continue reading Scorched earth in the Old Cemetery

Thunder Run miles and miles

21 & 22 July 2018

When the runners finally began to emerge from their tents, blearily rubbing the sleep from their eyes, I was sitting under the gazebo in a garden chair alternately reading Joanne Harris’ Runelight on my kindle and dozing. My dawn walk of the course felt like a strange dream but there were a handful of photos on my phone to prove it had happened and my leg and back felt better for it. Now there was a burst of activity. A big, one pan, breakfast of sausage, bacon, tomatoes and eggs was cooked, mostly by Kim, hot chocolate and coffee was consumed. Running gear was put on along with race numbers and timing chips were strapped to ankles. At midday the race would be starting. Continue reading Thunder Run miles and miles

A sleepless night and a walk on the Thunder Run course

21 July 2018

In the end the rain last night came to nothing much. We moved our chairs under Rob and Kim’s gazebo and sat sipping hot chocolate and eating peanuts waiting for the thunder to start. It was certainly humid enough for it and watching a storm under canvas might have been fun. As it was, there was just light rain for a while and the smell of warm dry earth soaking it up thirstily. It was all over before we went to bed. Continue reading A sleepless night and a walk on the Thunder Run course

Memories of the early 70’s – change, fear and injustice

1970/1

As 1970 drew to a close the year ahead really did seem filled with promise. Alex was expecting another baby, although I was still very vague about where it was coming from. She had also moved into a terraced house in Weston. As Mother didn’t drive and Dad’s Hillman car had been sold, being so much nearer made it far easier to visit her. Although there were limited buses this was exactly what we did on Boxing Day. For some reason Pappy didn’t come with us but he and Alex never did see eye to eye. Continue reading Memories of the early 70’s – change, fear and injustice

Storm Damage

23 April 2018

Back in 2016, when Commando, CJ and I worked so hard to build my summerhouse, we could never have dreamed it would end this way. Nothing lasts forever but, as we painted and hefted and built, we believed the pretty little house would grace our garden for many years to come. It was the perfect place to sit in the shade on a sunny afternoon, a place to plant seeds, relax and sometimes even write. When we got back from the marathon and inspected the damage inflicted by the storm and the flood though, it was clear there’d be no more relaxing, planting or writing.  Continue reading Storm Damage

In which we are entirely surrounded by water

21 April 2018

The peculiar heatwave that began on the night of the RR10 and baked us in thirty degree heat on our walk to Hamble continued for the next couple of days. It had all my running friends a little worried. The Southampton and London marathons were coming up. Everyone had trained in nothing but cold wetness. This morning weather warnings were posted. Marathon day was going to be hot, possibly hotter that the record breaking marathon day in 1996 when temperatures hit 22.7C. Heat is never a good thing when you’re running a marathon. Thunderstorms and heavy showers were forecast for this afternoon too but nothing could have prepared us for what actually happened.  Continue reading In which we are entirely surrounded by water

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