A superhuman feat and some sitting down

image

16 October 2016

After a busy week searching for boundary stones, today brought a chance for a little sit down. Commando, CJ and I were off to the football. For once, the match wasn’t really the main attraction.

On 2 October Francis Benali, one of my favourite ex Saints players and a familiar face at running events, began the monumental task of visiting every Premier League and Championship ground in just two weeks. It might have been a simple task, except he was running and cycling the whole thousand mile route! This amounted to running a marathon and cycling around seventy five miles every single day. His aim was to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

This isn’t the first long run Franics Benali has undertaken. He can often be spotted at events like the Wivern 10k and the Southampton Half Marathon, or just running on the Common. In 2014 he ran to all twenty Premier League Grounds to raise money for the same charity. This though, was his toughest challenge yet. Franny, set off from Bournemouth feeling, in his own words, “nervous and apprehensive”. He was due to arrive at St Mary’s the final ground on his massive tour, shortly before kick off. Of course, we wanted to be there to cheer him on. As it happened the crowds were so big and I am so stupidly short that I barely saw the top of his head and completely failed to capture him in a photo but I’m pretty sure he must have heard me shouting his name.

image

image

Inside the ground we found Franny masks under our seats. Of course Commando couldn’t resist trying his on. For a brief moment I felt like a very badly dressed WAG. Then it was down to the business of football. While Burnley and Southampton thrashed it out on the pitch Mr Benali must have been having a little rest somewhere in the bowels of the stadium. Hopefully someone was rubbing his tired muscles and making him a nice cup of coffee.

image

image

image

At half time a slightly tired looking Franny ran onto the pitch to a rapturous and very loud reception. After a short interview with his daughter, who is the announcer at the stadium, he finished his amazing feat with a run around the pitch. Of course, we were high up at the very back so only saw him as a tiny red dot circumnavigating the grass but we stood and cheered anyway.

image

Despite an unfortunately timed rain shower he ran the whole distance and was met at the far side by the unmistakable figure of Lawrie Macmenemy. When Franny went off for a well earned rest Lawrie Macmeneny, with his now white hair and trademark long black coat, walked around the outside of the pitch right below our seats. The ex Saints manager, who led the team to their one and only FA Cup victory in 1976, got almost as loud a cheer as Mr Benali.

image

image

The football may not have been the main attraction at this match but it was the icing on the cake when we won 3-1. Winning always makes the walk home more pleasant and, this time, we even got the beginnings of a pretty sunset over the river as we crossed the bridge. Hopefully Franny was having a sleep by then. He certainly deserved it. What a hero!

image

image

Please see my copyright information before you copy or use any of the above words or pictures.

Fish eggs, turkey tails and a triangular tale – first published 30 November 2013

image

After getting lost in the woods on my previous walk I thought I’d have a proper plan for my last November walk in 2013.  Due to a blog post I’d read I knew exactly where to go.  Alan in New Hampshire writes wonderful articles about the things he finds in the woods and he’s especially knowledgeable about fungi. His beautiful photographs of turkey tails that had me heading towards the river. Continue reading Fish eggs, turkey tails and a triangular tale – first published 30 November 2013

St Mary Street a very old new town

image

28 January 2016

When I left St Mary’s Church I still had time for a leisurely stroll along St Mary Street before my next appointment. Although it’s down at heel in places, the rich history and the vibrant mixture of old buildings and interesting shops make this a good street for mooching about. A lot has changed since the Saxon town of Hamwic or Hamtun sprang up. The grid of streets with wooden buildings, are long gone, along with the blacksmiths, carpenters, thatchers, leather workers and potters who once plied their trade there. Continue reading St Mary Street a very old new town

Orange, pink, blue, a splash of yellow and a dash of red and white

image

8 to 11 April 2015

My second week of early shift started with a breathtaking Wednesday sunrise over the River Itchen. Pinkening clouds on the horizon painted the gently rippled water where a pair of lonely swans dipped their heads searching for breakfast. I dawdled along the boardwalk drinking in the beauty of it all. Half way along the Suki II seemed to be floating on the dawn sky and the trees on the far bank were half hidden in early morning mist. Through it I could just make out my usual path beside the jetties and the line of little yachts. Continue reading Orange, pink, blue, a splash of yellow and a dash of red and white

Back to reality

Paul Day's The Meeting Place on St Pancreas Station
Paul Day’s The Meeting Place on St Pancras Station

25 November – 3 December 2014

Our Paris adventure was over. Dusk was falling as we left the train and pulled our bags past Paul Day’s huge bronze sculpture, The Meeting Place at St Pancras. We made it to Waterloo with prefect timing, the Southampton train was just about to leave. Outside the dirty train window the English countryside sped past as the sun went down. At one point I spotted a sliver of the Itchen Navigation as we passed through Allbrook. We were home. Continue reading Back to reality