My Blog starts here…


Sotonians waving to Anthem of the Seas as she leaves the Port of Southampton, May 2015 © Southampton Old Lady
Sotonians waving to Anthem of the Seas as she leaves the Port of Southampton © 2015 Southampton Old Lady


This post has been moved to the About page. Scan below for my posts, most recent first.

Southampton is a Cool Cat


Southampton is a ferrel catp1170655

stretched out on a grand, green lawn

of broad summer sunshine

Fatted on battered haddock

grappled for against gulls

conquests behind nightclubs

kicked-over street bins

reeking of curry and booze

She cleans her face but not Her furp1100615

Who does She need to impress?


Southampton is a cool cat

catch the rat between two rivers

acrobatics at gas works

parkour-flipping around the old town walls

From hooks of port cranes

She sees it all.

Southampton is a wise old catp1090073

hoisted up quick and sailed close-to-wind

Her kittens roam world-wide

thirst knowledge – take notes

stalk students on side-streets

hide beneath Ford Transits


Southampton is flatteredp1100968

by the kindness of strangers

You’re fun – She likes to play

Curl up with Her by the coal fire

Stroke, purr, snooze,

Come dawn She’ll yowl you out of bed

Howl and holler ‘til She’s fed

p1120095Southampton is the eternal cat

you will never own

She’ll still be here

when you’ve sneaked out

by the back stairs

never to be forgotten

so longed for on your return


p1110933You will find Her asleep on tombs of sea captains

who dutifully sank with their vessels

You will find Her at the dock-gates

preening Her paws for sailors

from mighty merchant boats

who came bearing gifts

in big metal containers

For this ship’s cat

that can stare at Queens


p1140027Call Her names across the pitch… Scummer!

But don’t come looking for a fight – Mush!

Or She’ll give you War

Southampton. The great Defender

She sees you in the dark

She will hook out your eyes

with Her steel claws

One Spitfire pounce can kill

Wounds licked  –  She’ll be on her feet again

This Cat has nine lives


Poem and Photos © Southampton Old Lady

Vomit Etiquette

student vomit on a wall of a residential block

Horrible isn’t it?

But this is what residents in university cities face on a daily basis. I took this photo (above) of a wall of a residential block of flats, which means that no-one from the block will come and clean the offending spew, nor will the town council – so it might be there for well over a week. Thank heaven for British rain – but hell if it freezes over.

It has been freshers’ week and I have had to clean up three lots of the stuff. One lot on the pavement, one on my door step and another from my recycling bin. Recycled sick?  Come on guys I can feel the subconscious guilt – the well-meaning gesture, but no-one is going to re-use your puke!

Fortunately while you are young your body take the abuse of alcohol and junk food
behind the bush

Students are basically jobless alcoholics, but their parents are proud of them.

Well, it is a rite of passage, we have all been there. (Yes even me).

Fortunately, most students are at an age when their bodies can take all the abuse of alcohol and junk food. I am not giving advice on your choice of life-style. But you would do well to learn that this is not cool as there is in existence:-

Vomiting and Litter Etiquette

A typical British street scene the night before bins are due to be emptied in a university town.

If you feel a need to chuck up, and it is better out than in, then it should be offloaded into the gutter, preferably on double yellow lines.

Ideal place to chuck-up

No cars can park on them and these are usually cleaned by the Council each morning. This enables, say, a working mother to get her kids off to school and get to work in the morning, totally oblivious to what has happened the night before. If the chunder falls on her pavement, she’ll end up muttering “bloody students” under her breath and the chunks won’t be rinsed until she has time to do so in the evening, if she finds time at all. This also means that anyone passing the foul-smelling matter will also think: “bloody students” which does not make for good student-resident relations.

It is similar to litter. If you cannot bear to hold on to your left-over take-aways and drink cans until you find a public bin, then we would rather you used our bins than throw it at our front porch or hide it behind a bush in our green spaces. But please use the ordinary green-lidded rubbish bins, not the recycling ones.

Squashed chips better off inside the bin

Find out from your council’s website what the recycling policy is in your neighbourhood. Students can also arrange to have their old mattresses collected cheaper or free in some areas, so you don’t need to dump them on parking spaces.

If you accidentally drop your take-away chicko-land & chips, then try to kick them into the gutter. This will prevent them being trodden on and squashed, and any that the gulls don’t breakfast on will be swept away in the morning.

Too good to use?

Okay. I realise that not everyone who makes a mess is a student and that not every student trawls around the streets at night screaming drunk. But you will be stereotyped, unfortunately, as it is predominately students who do this.

I know that coffee shops, ice cream parlours and shisha lounges have become more popular in student areas and open later now to meet the demands of the alternative life-styles. The pendulum seems to swinging more towards an addiction to healthy green drinks and gyms these days.

ice cream parlours open late for students

But until I stop having to check my bins for contamination, I will give my pennyworth.

Cancer Blanket Tree

Rows and rows of stitches – a repetitive exercise for the brain
Tree wrapped in a Cancer blanket

I have always been a bad knitter and hate repetitive tasks; I have always been envious of yarn-bombers.

To help recover from gaps in my memory ‘chemo brain’, I was advised to keep doing repetitive tasks, until I had mastered them, then take up another task as a way of re-training my brain.

I bought wool oddments and decided to knit a blanket while watching television. I had to relearn from scratch. I cannot tell you how many stitches I dropped and how much unravelling I needed to do. But it worked – I got it right and can knit better now than before my chemo treatment. I had visions of my ‘Cancer Blanket’ becoming some sort of heir-loom.

I got the idea from this little warmer in Vienna when I visited in January this year.

I loved the blanket and felt a great sense of achievement, but alas, everyone else in my family hated it. So, as part of the dejunking, when deciding whether to donate it to the charity shop or put it straight in the bin, I recalled a blanket that I took a snap of in Vienna. It wasn’t your usual yarnstormer – it was  as if the crafter wanted to warm up a cold building by wrapping a blanket around a thigh of one of its columns.

But it gave me the idea. I took my blanket and wrapped it around a sad tree I knew of near a corner shop where passers-by continually dump their rubbish – cigarette packets, beer and wine bottles, unwanted take-aways, broken umbrellas and the occasional mattress.

Oddly enough the area was recently cleaned, but the blanket was left. Since then people have stopped throwing their rubbish there.

I am now on sailing knots.

Are there any repetitive tasks that you find challenging?

Magazine Nostalgia

Woman magazine, photographed at Goodwood Revival 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
Christian Dior – The New Look, which I photographed at the V&A Museum, London
50s ‘Do it yourself’ magazine. Notice the glamorous plasterer!

I am a magazine hoarder. We are moving so I am, painfully, having to let go of all my magazines and books – keeping just the pages of articles I have written only. My magazines more than anything bring back nostalgia – things I wore, things I made but mainly they reveal attitudes towards women.

Women had to fulfil the manual trades while men were at war – women even built London Bridge!  – But when the war was over, the propaganda department tried to get women back in the home. Glamorous New Look clothing, American-style ‘dream kitchens’ with inventive white goods and beautiful baby prams were everywhere in magazines. But women still had the skills they learnt.

In the 50s Do it Yourself magazine showed you how to build your ‘dream kitchen’ – Rationing went on well into the 50s and if anyone wanted anything they had to do it themselves, Christmas toys, tables – people made everything themselves.

When Woman magazine first appeared it was for the new modern woman who could own her own car, then came Cosmopolitan the sexually liberating magazine – but it really was just about how to please your man in bed and sold you make-up. I worked on the British feminist magazine Spare Rib for a few years and burnt myself out. I still have most of the issues and helped the British Library put them all online. Many of the articles published in them are only just being tackled now. Libraries are getting rid of all their hard copies of magazines, so I don’t know what to do with them. They are too important to throw away.

Magazines nowadays are full of nostalgia Our world is changing so fast,  artificial intelligence, never without instant communication, space tourism – by reflecting on our past we can get a grip of reality before we ‘boldly go’ towards the future.

You might like to see my article on Goodwood Revival – a nostalgia event here

In response to WordPress weekly photo challenge: Nostalgia 

The Shopping Lists Addict

Shopping List found at Aldi, Southampton

Bread, milk eggs, meat for stew, steaks, double cream, blue eggs (trendy tinted ones?), cauliflower and/or broccoli, pointed peppers,  bottle of Merlot wine, 5-6 pots of heather (lovingly doodled).

Further to my Confessions of a yellow-sticker shopper (two posts back – or click here) – I have become addicted to a wonderful new blog called The Shopping Lists (click to visit if you dare – you may become addicted too!)

The site records scribbled, shopping lists, mostly those left behind in supermarket trolleys.

The Shopping Lists tries to piece together what these people are like via their eating habits and lifestyles. Comments are encouraged offering answers to clues about the shopper’s circumstance.  What’s the meal and how many are they cooking for?  What age, gender, time of year ? – Is it a party?

I have spent the last few evenings playing detective with every list posted. And before I send in this one – perhaps we can guess that this list is for a posh, romantic dinner at home for two, then a bit of gardening at the weekend. The ‘meat for stew’ has been crossed off – so perhaps at the last minute they have been informed that they will be on their own for the weekend and suddenly changed the menu?

You can also submit your own found shopping list by tweeting to @tshoppinglists or send an email to



In response to this weeks WordPress Photo Challenge: Quest

Quest for the perfect vintage item, Southampton, England
Geological quest, Chile
Quest for the perfect handbag, Andalusia, Spain
Southampton University Oceanography Researchers, Southampton Water, England
Quest for the best patch of water, The Solent, England

Confessions of a Yellow Sticker Shopper

Sweet and Crunchy Stir Fry tonight, reduced from £1.27 to just 9 pence. © Southampton Old Lady
Supermarket own brand essentials are cheap. Many products these days taste almost as good and sometimes even better than high-brand labelled foods.

I am a yellow sticker shopper. I haven’t always been. I have been almost rich; I have been almost poor. When I am on a limited budget, I become a strict Budgetarian, surviving on very little money, but eating quite well on a mixture of in-season vegetables and supermarket brand basics, coupled with reduced-price meal packs with yellow stickers because they are at the sell-by or best-before date.

When I was a student, I worked as a waitress for Southampton’s Top Rank Bannister Ballroom in the evenings which included a free burger each shift and weekly cinema tickets.

My College provided cheap lunches during the week; On Saturdays, I would take it turns with five other students to cook a meal for all six of us. I would always look for these yellow-stickerred food packs on the day to decide what we were having and shop late at the vegetable market (Kingsland Square), buying bruised fruit and veg. The menu each weekend was interesting.

Chicken, chargrilled peppers with Moroccan Style Cous Cous. A healthy take-away Snack Pot reduced from £1.60 to 15 pence. And you don’t even need to do the washing up after.


One pot stews and curries were common because they were easy, and anything could be put it them. There was an Italian student who cooked delicious pasta sauces, and once someone made a pie using a tin of dog food (Pedigree Chum) as the filling – which was awful – but I could taste the beneficial added vitamins!

Those were very happy, memorable times and very different to today whereby students seem to live on expensive take-aways delivered to the door.

I hope that with these days of student loans, I can offer this article as advice – “Throw away those pizza delivery leaflets, that bombard your letter-boxes, immediately”.

Once I had a full-time job, I ate whatever I wanted and ate out at restaurants quite often, sometimes three times a week.


A year after my chemo I went back to work, but after a year or two, chemo brain (which is slang for a cognitive problem following certain types of Cancer and its treatment) came knocking and I was forced to give up working. So I currently have no income. My husband is paying off a £12,000 debt due to a mistake made by the DWP (pensions department) in 2007. So we are currently back to living a thrifty lifestyle.

My husband often makes our own bread, but we often take advantage of reduced priced bread when we need extra.
One pint of beer each at The Cowherds pub on Southampton Common – a treat not taken for granted.

We are back to yellow stickers, shopping coupons and free entertainments other than television. By free entertainments, I mean free festivals and walks – local seniors were allowed in free to Southampton Boat Show.  So we went to that last week.

Because we are careful, we are able to treat ourselves to little luxuries, such one pint of beer in a pub or perhaps a discount meal at a restaurant once a month.

My husband was brought up on war rationing, which was really difficult, so he learned many budget cooking skills and how to grow our own vegetables.

Do you have any food shopping confessions?