Walking with friends

23 April 2019

Walking is an everyday thing for me. Sometimes it’s just a march up the hill for supplies or a wander into town to meet a friend for coffee. Other times there is a real purpose to it, searching for boundary stones or Titanic crew houses, walking the walls or the Navigation, uncovering history. Some walks are filled with photo stops, others are about just drinking in the sights, smells and sounds. A lot of the time I walk on my own but CJ likes to tag along when he can. Today’s walk was completely different.

My lovely friend Rachel is recovering from major surgery. She can’t run like she usually does but she’s now allowed to walk. As I’d undergone something similar myself many years ago, I offered to join her for a walk. Kim said she was free, so then there were three. We agreed on a time and said we’d meet at The Feather.

When I left home it was all blue sky and the scent of Mexican orange blossom from my garden. The walk to Woolston was uneventful and unphotographed. As always, I was early so I sat in the Millennium Garden for a bit just enjoying the sun on my face. Kim was early too. She’d run all the way from the top end of the Avenue and been quicker than expected. Rachel was on time and looking very good all things considered.

We set off in the general direction of the Shore. None of us were sure how far Rachel would be able to walk and, if it turned out not to be very far, we could stop at Metricks for coffee. There were still no photos because we were so busy chatting.

We chatted our way past the coffee shop and on towards the Rolling Mills. We could stop at the café there if needs be. We didn’t need to though. Rachel was still feeling good and we kept on going, along the promenade past all the little beach shelters to the far end of the shore.

Of course we couldn’t not have an ice cream. It’s almost a rule to stop and sit on the bench by the no longer standing dead tree and eat ice cream, or, in Rachel and Kim’s case, ice lollies. Usually I take a photo of the sea and the tree. Today I took one of my friends enjoying their treat and then, because I am rubbish at selfies and hate having my picture taken, one of my friends and my ice cream, just to prove I was there too.

This was where I thought we’d turn back but Rachel was still raring to go. She wanted to walk in Westwood. I have been lost in Westwood more times than I care to admit but Rachel is a qualified run leader and she’s run in these woods many times. Perhaps, just for once, there would be no going in circles wondering where I was.

It started well. The first part of the path was awash with green alkanet. I even stopped to take photos. Rachel was confident she knew where she was going and we followed, chatting and laughing as we slowly wandered amongst the trees,

It all went a bit wrong when we got distracted by the bluebells. There were great drifts of them painting the woodland floor blue. We meandered down one path after another gasping at their beauty.

Then we realised we didn’t quite know where we were. After a bit of walking in circles (probably anyway), we found what looked like one of the main paths. We seemed to be close to the end of it. In theory the Shore should have been nearby. Westwood is a maze of paths though and it’s full of tricks. We kept walking but, just in case, I opened the map on my phone. It was a good thing I did. We were almost in Netley, heading away from the shore not towards it!

As we turned around and began walking back, Rachel admitted she’d regularly got her running group lost in these woods. I’m glad it isn’t just me Luckily the extra walking didn’t do Rachel any harm and we made it back to Woolston in one piece, laughing all the way. Next time I think I’ll plan a route I know won’t get us lost.

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On a mission

13 September 2018

Today CJ and I were on a mission. In August the renovations on the Royal Victoria Country Park chapel were finally completed. Although we were both itching to go and visit, we both agreed it was best to wait until the school summer holidays were over and the initial burst of visitors had subsided before checking it out. This was not something we wanted to rush around in a crowd. So, we set off bright and fairly early for what would be the longest walk I’ve taken since my back troubles began.  Continue reading On a mission

Water, oil and trains

19 April 2018

When we set out this morning it was sunny but cool. We’d guessed the weather would warm up a bit as the morning wore on though and were well prepared with bottles of water and snacks. We’d been sipping the water steadily all the way through the butterfly walk and, by the time we reached the shore, our bottles were almost empty. The day was turning out to be far hotter than we’d expected but the cool breeze off the water and a well earned ice cream made us feel much better and there were shops in Netley where we could replenish our stocks.  Continue reading Water, oil and trains

Big changes on the butterfly walk

19 April 2018

After weeks and weeks of rain and cold, the surprisingly balmy evening running through Victoria Country Park seemed like it might have been a turning point, at least weather wise. This morning the sky was a beautiful shade of blue and cloudless. Spring seemed to have finally sprung and it felt like time for a walk at last.  Continue reading Big changes on the butterfly walk

The lost estates Weston, Weston Grove

17 January 2018

We’d walked from the top of Weston Lane to the bottom and the closer we got to the shore the more the wind buffeted us. We were now walking on what would once have been part of the Weston Grove Estate. Of course, the whole of Weston once belonged to the Chamberlayne family. The exact history is unclear but in 1424, Alice, the wife of Ralph Chamberlayne, inherited an estate on the east bank of the River Itchen. By the late 1700’s all the land between Itchen Ferry and Hamble belonged to William Chamberlayne, in part inherited from his father’s friend and client, Thomas Dummer.Things have changed beyond recognition since the Chamberlayne family owned this land. What was once the domain of one family is now home to thousands of people and the word Estate has a whole different meaning. Continue reading The lost estates Weston, Weston Grove

Hamble or bust

27 October 2017

Last week, a little dawdling and some getting lost on our walk through Spear Pond Gully meant we missed the chance to drop in on Commando at work. Today was his last training shift so I thought I’d walk down to Hamble and meet him while I still had the chance. In theory it should have been a nice easy walk, all downhill after the climb to get to the village but timing would be key. Arrive too early and there’d be a lot of waiting around, too late and I’d have a long, uphill walk home.  Continue reading Hamble or bust

Show me the way to go home

12 October 2017

We’d left to Road that thought it was a trail and were back on a real road again, with houses and even a sign for a railway station off to our left. One of the houses had an interesting gateway, a little like a lych gate. For a second I thought it might be the church where I was planning to stop and have a break. It wasn’t but the gate wasn’t so interesting I was about to take a photo when my phone rang. It was Commando, calling on his lunch break for a chat. If we’d walked a little quicker we could have made a detour and gone to see him. Once he’d gone I took my photograph of the gate. It was worth the wait, especially the sign that said Beware of the Gnomes. That really made me smile.  Continue reading Show me the way to go home

The sea and the sky

20 September 2017

When I woke up to blue sky I knew exactly where I wanted to go today. Blue sky and sea go together like chocolate and orange. Ok, so it was only a tiny little bit of blue sky amongst quite a lot of cloud but still, beggars can’t be choosers in late September.  Continue reading The sea and the sky

The lost walks, part one

As I finally cleared away the debris of my old blog I came across two walks from that last October weekend. Walks taken when I was blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. There were no words, I never got as far as writing about them, just photographs and hazy memories. My hand was paused over the delete button but, the more I looked at those photographs, the more I remembered of those lost walks. It seemed a terrible shame for them to stay lost so I am going to do my best to recreate them now. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of what follows, it was almost three years ago after all and sometimes I struggle to remember what happened last week. Still, with a little poetic licence, here goes. This is the first of the lost walks… Continue reading The lost walks, part one

Elegy to a fallen tree

27 May 2017

Facebook was the instigator of my next short walk with Commando. For as long as I can remember there’s been a dead tree standing at the end of the shore near Abbey Hill. It must surely have been a live tree during my lifetime but I only remember it as a bleached driftwood skeleton. Perhaps it was too mundane to notice when it was alive? Whenever I walk along the shore here I stop for a moment to sit on the bench beside the dead tree, have a drink and enjoy the view across Southampton water. I always knew it would fall some day. A photograph on Facebook told me that day had come. Continue reading Elegy to a fallen tree