Snowmen and spring flowers

18 March 2018

Of course we couldn’t stay in the warm pub forever. We lingered as long as we could, sipping our coffee slowly and letting the warmth seep back into our cold bones. When we could put it off no longer we bundled ourselves up in our warm coats and hats and stepped back into the frozen world outside. After the warmth of the fire it seemed colder than ever.  Continue reading Snowmen and spring flowers

Monks Brook, heat and an invasive species – first published 14 July 2014

My mid July walk in 2014 had started off on a sour note but had soon improved when I had an up close and personal visit with a black swan. As I walked on towards the reed beds and, ultimately, the White Swan pub, I sipped my water. The early morning rain combined with the sun seemed to have sucked up all the air and left behind a damp stickiness. Even along the river there was little breeze and my pace slowed considerably. Still, I told myself this was not about speed but about getting out and walking, enjoying the nature around me and the sun on my skin, if not the sweat trickling down between my shoulder blades. Continue reading Monks Brook, heat and an invasive species – first published 14 July 2014

Duckling surprise

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18 April 2016

CJ and I went for a little stroll along the river this morning. For my part it was mostly about trying to fit some miles in, in a month where I am fast falling behind on my pledge. For CJ it was more about the cygnets. There had been reports that the black swans had another clutch, two this time, and he was eager to spot them while they were still fluffy and grey. Knowing how illusive they are I did my best to lower his expectations but he wasn’t really listening. Continue reading Duckling surprise

Daffodils, graves and geese

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17 March 2016

The sun was shining and it felt as if Spring was in the air so I thought a walk along the river was in order. The bank leading to the park was a mass of bright daffodils dancing in the gentle breeze. It felt like a great welcome to the river side. The tide was very low. White swans stood on the exposed mud and black swans swam in the shallow water. There’d be no point struggling down the steep jetty slope. There was no water underneath it. Continue reading Daffodils, graves and geese

2015 disasters, history, mysteries and a marathon

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29 December 2013

The end of the year is fast approaching so the time has come to reflect. Over the next few days I will be looking back at the the highs and lows of the old year and reminding myself of the places I discovered and the lessons I learned. Along the way I’m hoping to get a little inspiration for the year ahead. Maybe there are places that could stand further exploration or mysteries that still need solving…
Continue reading 2015 disasters, history, mysteries and a marathon

A whole new cygnet hunt

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2 November 2015

This morning I was looking through some of the posts I’d missed on the Southampton Heritage Facebook page and could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a picture of the black swans on the Itchen with five little cygnets. This is more unusual than you might think. The black swan, Cygnus atratus, is actually a native of Australia and New Zealand, not England. The first black swan arrived in 1791 as an ornamental bird and they became quite popular in zoological gardens and private bird collections. Over time a few escaped and wild birds, like the ones on the Itchen, all have their origins in captivity. With so few in the wild, breeding pairs have always been a rarity and until 2005 just twenty pairs were reported to be breeding throughout the whole of the UK. At the last count, in 2011, this number had risen to twenty eight. Continue reading A whole new cygnet hunt

Twenty hellish miles with goats in trees – first published 15 March 2013

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With less than two months to go until the Moonwalk I had hit the long miles with a vengeance. Even the short walk weeks were ten miles plus and, in mid March, I had a twenty mile walk ahead of me. The last thing I needed was bad weather… Continue reading Twenty hellish miles with goats in trees – first published 15 March 2013

An invitation I couldn’t refuse

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19 April 2015

Some time ago I had a comment on my blog, followed up by an email, about an organised walk. It was from a man I’d never met, a local councillor, occasional contributer to the Southampton Heritage Page and, it turns out, reader of my blog. As you know, I mostly walk alone and I’m not a great fan of organised walks. This one was in an area I knew very well, or thought I did, but the words history and nature jumped off the page. It sounded like an invitation I couldn’t refuse and when I spotted a poster for the very same walk on my way back from Lakeside last week it seemed like an omen. Continue reading An invitation I couldn’t refuse

Black and white

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Recently I was tagged by Sherri from A View From My Summerhouse to take part in the  Black and White 5 Day Challenge. Because I’ve been on holiday and therefore out walking I’ve had quite a bit to write about this last week so, instead of a roundup of the week this is my take on the challenge.

Black and white photography is something I’ve always admired but never really dabbled in before but I’m about as good at sticking to rules as I am at finding my way when I’m out on a walk so apologies to Sherri and the challenge setters. My take on it is to use photos for my last five days of walking. For the record the real rules are as follows;

On 5 consecutive days, create a post using either a past or recent photo in B&W.
Each day invite another blog friend to join in the fun.

The first three photos are from my Hockley Viaduct walk. It was difficult to find pictures that would work well in black and white. There was a lot of trial and error and some discussions with Commando Junior who knows about photography. The first is looking along the Itchen from Blackbridge, I liked the way the lack of colour brought out the patterns in the water and how the buildings suddenly looked older and more interetsing. The second is of the railway arch and train bench close to the start of the viaduct, the shadows and the brickwork on the bridge really benefitted from the monochrome look. Finally a moody looking shot of the restored signal on the viaduct itself. The dandelion motifs on the path were lost but the variations in the shades of the bricks became more pronounced. It surprised me just how different things look without the distraction of colour.

Blackbridge, Winchester
Blackbridge, Winchester
Railway bench, Hockley Viaduct
Railway bench, Hockley Viaduct
Restored signal, Hockley Viaduct
Restored signal, Hockley Viaduct

The next set of photos are from the Five Bridges Road trail. Photo number one was one of my attempts to photograph the viaduct across the water meadows. It didn’t work because I was shooting into the sun but, in black and white, the arches are almost visible and I loved the way the branches turned to silhouettes against the sparkling river. The second picture was the avenue of trees by St Cross Hospital where the loose cows frightened me. Without colour the cow looks less threatening and the texture of the tree bark really stands out. My third shot didn’t actually make it into the post because, as ever, I had way too many photos. The arches at Winchester Cathedral look much to same with or without colour but I think the atmosphere of the photo is different. The stone looks far colder and I could almost imagine a ghostly monk around the corner in this version.

The viaduct from Five Bridges Road
The viaduct from Five Bridges Road
Avenue of trees, St Cross Hospital
Avenue of trees, St Cross Hospital
Winchester Cathedral arches
Winchester Cathedral arches

The day three photos come from my historic dockyard trip. Despite my sadness over the run down state of my local station, I have to admit that peeling paint and old bricks look rather good in black and white. The second photograph felt a little like cheating because the tinted glass meant there was very little in the way of colour in the picture taken inside the Spinaker Tower to start with. A little fiddling though and the chrome and glass seemed brighter and crisper and, in fact, I like it better than the colour shot. Finally, I couldn’t resist the temptation of  a huge sailing ship sans colour. The rigging and the sky were the big differences when I compared it to the colour shot. Black and white really does bring out the detail.

Bitterne Station ticket office
Bitterne Station ticket office
Spinaker Tower, Portsmouth
Spinaker Tower, Portsmouth
HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior

The Saturday Parkrun provided the photos for day four. It took a fair bit of time to find photos from the run that worked well in black and white but, in the end, I settled on three. The D-Day memorial on the shore looked good in shades of grey, especially the rocks around it. The second shot I chose was of the driftwood on the beach. Although I like the way the grain in the wood looks and the details that came out on the pebbles, it didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped. Even so, I’ve included it. Finally, shot number three had to be of Commando running. I cropped this shot as I wanted Commando to be centre stage. One of the things I liked about the original was that I caught him in  mid air. In the black and white version this more pronounced. It really looks as if he’s flying.

The D-Day memorial
The D-Day memorial
Driftwood
Driftwood
The runner
The runner

The final three photos are from my Sunday walk along the river. Despite being innately colourful things flowers seem to do very well in black and white and my first picture is of the blossom tree that flowered through the winter and is flowering again now. I couldn’t resist the merest hint of pink in this one though. The inside of the church is my second photo. As with the arch at Winchester Cathedral I think old buildings lend themselves very well to monochrome photography and I especially like the shadows of the pews, which I’d not noticed in the colour version. Finally, the mass of little birds in flight by the reed beds brings my black and white adventure to a close.

Blossom, with a hint of pink
Blossom, with a hint of pink
St Mary's Church, South Stoneham
St Mary’s Church, South Stoneham
Birds by the reed beds, Riverside Park
Birds by the reed beds, Riverside Park

In the spirit of breaking rules, I shall not be nominating five people to take part in the challenge but I will throw down the gauntlet to all my WordPress friends to have a go at this challenge. Go on, I dare you!