Almost every single Saturday morning I get up early and go off with Commando to parkrun on Southampton Common. Sometimes, when they’re short of volunteers, I help out and very, very occasionally, I walk the route but I never, ever run. People often ask me why I don’t just stay at home in my nice warm bed. The reason for this is mainly because I love my solitary walks around the Old Cemetery while everyone else is running. Commando thinks this makes me a little weird. Perhaps it does?
Originally my plans for the morning were to walk to the military cemetery at Netley with CJ. The weather forecast was not good though and, after getting soaked through yesterday, it didn’t seem worth the risk. Despite the distinct possibility of rain Commando was going out for a run with the fast boys. He suggested we get the train to Hamble and walk from there. Once he got back from his run he’d pick us up in the car. He might even get there before the silence at eleven o’clock. It sounded like a plan so, after a swift check of the relevant train times and prices, we set off for Bitterne Station.
The end of October brought the end of the warm weather. It had been one of the longest, hottest summers in living memory and getting out jumpers, hats and gloves seemed like a welcome change of pace. So, wrapped up warm against the chilly autumn air, we set off across a Common softened by mist and bathed in golden light for our second parkrun of the month. It was going to be a day for goodbyes.
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
For Commando, one of the hardest things about being ill, apart from the uncertainty about what is wrong with him, has been not being able to run. The consultant Rheumatologist he saw last week didn’t give him a definitive diagnosis but he did give him a steroid injection and told him he could begin to run again as long as his legs were pain free. In fact, he said exercise was a good thing. On Saturday he ambled around parkrun. It was far slower than he’d have liked but it was a run. This evening he decided to go to the Common and have another run on his own. CJ and I went along for a walk as there have been precious few of those lately. Continue reading Summer tales from the Old Cemetery
We found the clock and watch shop at the exact moment we were about to give up and turn back. Every inch of the walls was filled with clocks, from huge and ornate wooden monsters to quirky plastic film themed timepieces. The sound of their combined ticking added to the illusion of being in some kind of bizarre dream where night was day and day was night. Other than the clocks the shop was silent.
“If they all chime at the same time,” I whispered, “it will sound just like the beginning of Pink Floyd’s Time.”
After ten surreal minutes, during which nothing chimed and the ticking threatened to send me to sleep we left, a few unfamiliar plastic notes lighter with a working Garmin. Continue reading Time, graves and a cool beer
Walking to work on the morning of the 70th anniversary of D-Day I saw poppies blooming on the demolished TV studio site. They must have opened in the previous day or so and it seemed quite fitting to see their bright heads swaying in the breeze. Poppies for remembrance. It was 6 June 2014. D Day, more properly called Operation Overlord or the Normandy landings, took place on 6 June 1944. The largest seaborne invasion in history is well documented but, for me, all the talk of Normandy beaches had me hankering to go back to one of my favourite places, L’Anse Du Brick just outside Cherbourg. Continue reading D- Day and memories of Normandy – first published 6 June 2014
Mid May 2014 and Commando had a race to go to. As ever, I tagged along for the walk. Even at nine thirty it was sunny enough that I had to track down the sun screen before we left the house and, for once, I didn’t even take a coat with me. The venue was Victoria Country Park, somewhere I’ve walked many times and, as it was only a 10k and would take Commando less than an hour, I wasn’t going to get a chance for much of a walk in but, still, a walk is a walk and I had a plan… Continue reading A run in Victoria Country Park – first published 18 May 2014
One of the bloodiest battles in human history began on 1 July 1916. It raged, in mud and trenches on the banks of the River Somme, for one hundred and forty one days. To most people this is ancient history, too far in the past to connect with. The image of all those young soldiers resonates with me though. Pappy was one of them. It seemed fitting that my walk today should take me to a First World War memorial and I knew just the place to go. In fact I’d been meaning to visit Hollybrook Cemetery for some time and the eve of the hundredth anniversary of Battle of the Somme seemed like a good day. Of course CJ wanted to come along. Continue reading Remembering the Somme at Hollybrook