With our coffee and cakes finished we bade a last sad farewell to the Costa in Portswood and walked on towards Highfield. Like most of the city, outside the centre, this was once a rural area and the name, at least according to old maps, originated from a bastardisation of Hayfield. That there were fields is in no doubt and, as the road rises up towards the Common, they were undoubtedly high fields too so the name is quite apt. Today Highfield is home to the main University Campus, built on an old brickfield. This was not what we’d come to see though. Continue reading Highfield church
Although we were both feeling a little hungry CJ and I decided to keep going forwards. Turning back would only have saved us a mile or so of walking after all and neither of us like retracing our steps much. So far we’d been on nice firm roads for the most part and now we hit the mud. After our last muddy adventure, my fingers were firmly crossed it wouldn’t get too deep or go on too long. Continue reading Mud, dragon’s teeth and Testwood Lakes
This week most of my walks had been errands with nothing much of note happening apart from distance being covered. Today I had big plans to get some interesting miles under my belt. By now I should know making plans is not a good thing because something always scuppers them. This time it was CJ oversleeping. To be fair, he didn’t know I was planning to go out super early for an extra long walk to show him something I thought he’d like. Maybe I should warn him next time. In the end we settled on a pared down version of the walk I had in mind, minus most of the interesting bits. Even so, there was plenty to see. Continue reading Apples in the graveyard, not walking the Cobbett Trail
With our coffee finished and bearings confirmed, we left the church behind and set off through an old iron gate into the lane where I thought the ancient boundary stone should be. Research told me there was no boundary stone marked on the map here but the cryptic message and some Google Street View searching had turned up something that looked very much like one. Now all we had to do was find it. Continue reading Stones, horses and angel wings
On 5 March 1936 the prototype of a new aeroplane, at the time known only by its registration number K5054, took its first flight from a small aerodrome in Eastleigh, on the outskirts of Southampton. The aerodrome later went on to become Southampton Airport, the plane was the first Spitfire. When Captain Joseph ‘Mutt’ Summers, chief test pilot for Vickers, taxied down the runway and opened the throttle for takeoff he made history. Neither Summers or innovative designer RJ Mitchell knew how important this pretty little plane would become. Continue reading Out of a clear blue sky
March started with torrential rain. Today was supposed to be the driest day of the week so I thought I’d head to Portswood for my newspaper and then on towards the Sports Centre for a bit more boundary stone hunting. Typically, I’d hardly left the house when the rain began to come down. It was icy cold and wind buffeted it behind my glasses so my eyelashes sparkled with droplets at with every blink. Briefly I thought about turning back but talked myself out of it. Surely it was just a very heavy shower? Continue reading Odd things in odd places
Today’s tale began before I was born, back in World War II in fact. It was a story I would have loved to have heard from one of the main players, my beloved Pappy, but he, being humble, kept it to himself. The first I knew of this story of heroism and humility came in a newspaper article back in the mid 1970’s but it wasn’t until today that I got the full story. Continue reading Bravery, humility and a chance meeting
On on the face of it Pear Tree, seems an odd name to give to a green, a church or an avenue but there was once an ancient pear tree, almost rent in two by lightning that, miraculously some might say, survived and still bore fruit. Back in 1618, when the little church was built the whole area, from Bitterne Village at the top of the hill down to Itchen Ferry Village was woods and heathland known as Ridegway Heath. So famous was the old pear tree that the green on Ridgeway Heath was named after it. When a post on the Southampton Heritage Facebook page mentioned an air raid shelter on the green and a World War II tented camp I thought I’d go and take a closer look.