Giant deckchairs and a beach in the city

31 July 2018

On Thursday, after my missed Running School appointment, there was an Itchen Spitfires Run and Talk event. Commando and I led the very small, but select, walking group, of injured runners Rosie and Maria. There is a giant deckchair trail going on in the city centre so, to make things interesting, the runners were dashing off to see how many of them they could find. As the closest deckchair was around one and a half miles from our starting point at The Feather our slow, slightly hobbling, group didn’t quite make it. We ended up resting our weary limbs in Queens Park instead. We walked back via Oxford Street, where Commando amused some lost American Tourists with the tale of his great grandfather missing the Titanic. Continue reading Giant deckchairs and a beach in the city

Postcards from Andrews Park

7 March 2017

Today I had an errand to run. It involved a walk to the top end of town and, while I was there, I thought I’d have a wander round the parks. After my recent search for signs of spring at Millers Pond I was fairly sure they weren’t going to be exactly bursting with flowers but a walk in the parks is always a welcome thing, flowers or not. Besides, there were a few F.G.O. Stuart postcards from the area to recreate.  Continue reading Postcards from Andrews Park

Fifteen minutes of fame and one final zebra

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28 September 2016

A couple of weeks ago I had an email from Chris Hitchings, a journalist working for Radio Solent. He’d seen my post about finding the boundary stone in Lord’s Wood and wanted to know more. We had an email conversation about the stones and how I’d been searching for them and he said he’d like to interview me. This sounded a little disconcerting as I’ve never been one to crave the spotlight and at first I was inclined to decline. When Chris said he thought someone out in radio land might know where the two missing stones were though, I decided a touch of public humiliation was worth it. Continue reading Fifteen minutes of fame and one final zebra

missing zebras and painted shops

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8 September 2016

A little bird told me that the zebra we hadn’t found yet was now in Marlands. Not Ticket To Ride, the zebra who took a swim in the Itchen, he is still being repaired, but Sam who was supposed to be in the park but wasn’t. Checking through my list I also realised there was also one more baby zebra we had somehow missed. Today, with blue sky and cotton wool clouds, seemed like a good day to go and find them.  Continue reading missing zebras and painted shops

The last few zebras

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23 August 2016

While we’d been walking around the Marlands I’d been doing my best to tick all the zebras we found off on the app. Out in the town for the most part it was easy because the app on my phone would magically find the zebra we were closest to most of the time. Occasionally it wouldn’t and CJ would have to read the number on the plinth out to me so I could manually tick it off. With so many zebras and baby zebras in the Marlands, the app was finding all of them at once. This was confusing.
“Maybe we should save the Zany Zebra headquarters for another day,” I suggested. “I’m beginning to lose track of what we’ve seen and what we haven’t.”

“There can’t be that many left now,” CJ said. “We might as well see them all while we’re here. If we don’t we’ll kick ourselves later.”
He had a point so, despite feeling rather zebraed out, we headed for the Zany Zebra shop. There were three baby zebras in the window. Bizzy, sponsored by Business South had spots instead of stripes and a fetching shocking pink mane.  Black and White and Red All over was, unsurprisingly, sponsored by the Daily Echo and her red stripes bore the names of local areas. Then there was yet another Woody. To avoid confusion this Woody was called Woody (Huffty). He was painted with handprint stripes by the children of Woodentots Nursery and Royal Naval personnel at HMS Collingwood

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Inside there were parents and children at a large table painting and lots of phoots of the zebras around the city. The first baby zebra we saw was Periculo Z painted with the patterns of endangered or extinct animals by the children of Oak Lodge School.

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Then we spied a zebra we’d both being waiting to see almost since the beginning of the trail. It was Chris Cross, the zebra that had began the trail standing at the top of the precinct but had been vandalised very early on, before we saw him. He was well worth the wait.

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Sponsored by NatWest Bank he was created by Will Rosie from hundred of tiles in the form of a crossword puzzle. We were both glad to see the damage hed suffered seemed to be all repaired and he looked perfect.

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Another zebra we’d missed on the trail due to the vandals was Zeeberry, the strawberry zebra sponsored by Pickwell Farm where you can pick real strawberries. With her red body,  strawberry pips and green ears, painted by Deven Bhurke, she reminded me we hadn’t had lunch yet.

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In her shadow we discovered Mechanical Zebra designed by Finley Harris of Valentine Primary School. This fantastical creature has bolts, cogs, nuts and wires, areal robot of a zebra.

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Finally we found Jiggy, a colourful jigsaw puzzle of a baby zebra designed by Liam Curtis of Tanners Brook Primary School.

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“So, have we found all the Marlands zebra now?” CJ asked as we ticked Jiggy off the list.

“Let me just check the app,” I said, “it would be really annoying to get home and find we’d missed one.”

It was a good job I did check because we’d missed more than one. In fact there were three zebras still to find in Marlands shopping centre and it looked as if the first was just across the atrium opposite the Zany Zebras Headquarters. If we’d been paying attention the zebra striped cloths on the tables outside Fredericks Chocolates. This is most certainly my kind of shop.  Inside, amongst the chocolate and jars of old fashioned sweets, we found Florence. She’s named for Florence Nightingale who once lived at Embley Park, now the home of Hampshire Collegiate Prep School who painted her in their school colours.

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According to the app the next zebra was somewhere on the ground floor in a shop called Discount Second Hand Jewellers. This was a shop I’d never heard of, although it sounded quite interesting. Right at the beginning of our walk around Marlands, when we went upstairs when we intended to stay downstairs, we must have missed the shop and Aztec the zebra. It didn’t take long to put this omission right. She’s a colourful beast painted with rainbow swirls on a black background by the children of Shakespeare Junior School. I’m very glad we didn’t miss her out,
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The final Marlands zebra was, Cherby, near the Above Bar entrance in the doorway of The Perfume Shop. Painted by the children of Cherbourg Primary School she’s a very glamorous young lady wearing a beautiful striped suit made from strips of pink, purle, blue and red material with zips that are open revealing her true colours. I loved the buttons on her legs and the pom-poms on her ears but most of all I loved her beautiful long eyelashes. Don’t tell anyone, but I think they may have been false!

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It had been a long and slightly confusing day but we’d found all the zebras we’d set out to find, plus a few surprise extras. Now the trail is very close to an end, at least for us. We still haven’t seen Ticket to Ride but, now he’s been found in the river, we hope he will be fixed up and back on the trail soon. A thorough check through the list of zebras on the app revealed we were still missing two more city zebras, Sam, who was supposed to be in East Park but wasn’t and Together We Are One, a baby zebra we’d somehow missed when we were in Guildhall Square. The latter is an easy fix, the former not so much.

Hopefully Sam’s still at the vets being repaired, just like Ticket to Ride and we’ll have a chance to see both at some point. There are also the miniature zebras, along with a giant zebra, at Marwell Zoo, but I think I’ll leave them until the children go back to school and the zoo is less crowded. After all this hard work it would be a terrible shame not to see every single one.

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Marlands, Manchester Street and a Herculean task

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23 August 2016

Fortified by our coffee we left Costa feeling slightly confused by the sheer number of zebras showing on the app. We stopped for a quick peek over the balcony to give ourselves an idea of the scale of the task ahead. It was daunting to say the least. Below us a whole herd of baby zebra were standing on the podium by the lifts with an adult on guard a little way off. This was going to take some time. Continue reading Marlands, Manchester Street and a Herculean task

Some unexpected guests in Marlands

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23 August 2016

Eventually I managed to drag CJ away from the slot machines and we headed for the Marlands. In medieval times this area, including the land the Civic Centre stands on, was the site of the Magdalene Hospital for Lepers and the fields around it were called Magdalene’s Fields. The name Marlands is a derivative of this and has lived on to this day, although many people don’t realise its origin. These days it’s difficult to imagine a leper hospital just outside the town walls but, back then, lepers begging outside the Bargate must have been a common sight.  Continue reading Some unexpected guests in Marlands

Goodbye rhinos – first published 14 October 2013

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Walking in the park one October lunchtime in 2013 it struck me that the city looked very bare without the rhinos brightening up the place. We’d come to know them all during their short stay and they felt like old friends. Now they were gone we missed them. Alice and I both agreed it was sad to see them go. Of course I haven’t quite finished telling you about them yet. After our visit to Sea City Museum there was one more surprise in store for us. Continue reading Goodbye rhinos – first published 14 October 2013

The rhino mother load – first published 1 August 2013

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The first day of August 2013 began badly with lots of annoying jobs and a call from a grouchy supplier. Then there were Bridge supplies. It seemed impossible to get my head round that minefield. Things started to look up when I went for my lunch time walk. The parks were looking beautiful and there was another rhino to tick off my list. Then I found the rhino motherload… Continue reading The rhino mother load – first published 1 August 2013

Spot the penguin and count the bees – first published 31 July 2013

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On the last day of July 2013 another of those early starts I don’t like all that much saw me clean, dressed and in the kitchen washing up whilst preparing my breakfast smoothie when Commando came in. Mind you, my eyes were barely open at the time. The weatherman had lied. My phone weather app had lied too, it and the weather map were filled with happy little sunshine symbols. It didn’t look very sunny outside to me so I took my canvas jacket and my beret. Good job too because no sooner had I shut the door behind me than it started to rain. Continue reading Spot the penguin and count the bees – first published 31 July 2013