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.

From Southampton: “New cancer drug shows promise in helping patients with blood cancer” — Science Springs

University of Southampton 5 December 2016 No writer credit found New cancer drug shows promise in helping patients with blood cancer. No image credit. A drug, which has been developed from the results of cancer immunology research at the University of Southampton, has been showed to reduce the risk of follicular lymphoma progression. Results from […]

via From Southampton: “New cancer drug shows promise in helping patients with blood cancer” — Science Springs

Advent 8: Pantomime

A traditional panto in a British town hall will have jokes about the Mayor and local issues.
Pub pantos are for adults and tend to be more political

Everyone should see a pantomime at least once. The traditional British festive plays are full of audience-participation with calls of “It’s behind you” and “Oh! Yes it is – No it isn’t” – The audience have to sing and they get sweets thrown at them. These are popular fairy tales rewritten, from Aladdin to Jack & The Beanstalk, full of adult innuendos that go right over kids heads. There is a fair bit of cross-dressing – The Dame, who is usually the mother of the hero, is played by an older male and the Principal Boy is always played by a younger leggy woman in tights.

School productions invite the parents. They have jokes about teachers and it is a teacher usually plays the Dame, such as Widow Twanky who squirts water over everyone in a washing scene. It will also show off talented pupils dancing, singing or playing an instrument.

The ones in pubs are usually political and raucous – usually a charity fund-raiser. Village hall ‘pantos’ deal with local issues and are usually the funniest.

In cities it is harder to create humour that everyone gets, so they tend to be more like musicals which feature celebrities and have bigger budgets for the sets.

Mary Poppins at The Mayflower Theatre Southampton 2015

Advent 7: Skating

Skating in Salzburg © Southampton Old Lady

Ice Skating is always associated with Christmas in Britain. Artificial rinks are put up in nearby towns as it is never usually the right temperature, especially where I live in the South, to have natural ones.

The winter of 1962–1963 (also known as the Big Freeze of 1963) was one of the coldest winters on record in the United Kingdom. Temperatures plummeted and lakes and rivers began to freeze over.

I had a pair of second-hand ice-skates given to me for Christmas then. I used to go to the Bannister Ice Rink, near The Common in Southampton with my sister. I remember that the pavements and roads were so iced up that I skated on them all the three miles home to the Newtown area.

Advent 6: Christmas Birds

Two Turtle Doves © Southampton Old Lady

Birds feature heavily at the British Christmas table.

The Victorians always carved goose at Christmas, but later ate turkey when Charles Dickens wrote about it in A Christmas Carol, adopting it from the New World (America).

“Christmas is a-coming, the goose is getting fat… Please put a penny in the old man’s hat… If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do… If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

A few years ago celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall featured his 10-bird roast. Multi-bird roasts are different types of birds each stuffed inside a larger one, and the more birds involved the better.

12 bird roast as depicted in The Mail Online
Seven swans-a-swimming © Southampton Old Lady

Whittingstall was harking back to Tudor times when stuffing birds this way was fashionable. Or a different bird was eaten each day of the 12 days of Christmas (the 12 days between 25th December and the 5th January – the eve of Epiphany or Kings Day)

” 7 swans-a-swimming – 6 geese-a-laying – 4 calling birds – 3 french hens – 2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree”

Since then the  3-4-5-7-10-12 bird roast has made a big come back – there is a very interesting article about it in: The Mail Online

However the most popular bird at Christmas in the UK is still Chicken – possibly because it is the cheapest yet tastiest – and the bird of choice with British Hindus, who marinade it in spices for days for slow roasting it.

The Dodo bird was eaten to extinction by Victorian sailors. Photo taken at The Bristol Museum © Southampton Old Lady
My three gals!
My three gals!

Advent 5: Christmas Tree

Fir tree © Southampton Old Lady

The decoration of Christmas trees were brought to Britain from Germany as early as the 1790s. Trees were generally displayed on tables in pots, with gifts placed unwrapped underneath. The tree was decorated with wax candles, baskets of sweets, flags and little ornaments and gifts. The imported German Springelbaum was the tree of choice until the 1880s, at which time the home-grown Norway Spruce became available. This made a larger tree more affordable, and people began placing trees on the floor.

Advent 4: Who is Santa Claus?

Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Sanctus Nicolaus, St Nicholas, Papa Noel © Southampton Old Lady

Who is Santa Claus?    A Turkish Pope

Santa (Sanctus Nicolaus); (15 March 270 – 6 December 343)
Santa (Sanctus Nicolaus); (15 March 270 – 6 December 343)

green-father-christma blue-santaWhen the artist Haddon Sundblom, first depicted a red velvety Santa for Coca-Cola® ads in the USA between 1931 and 1965, the world copied the image and the world now pictures him in red. In England we call Santa, Father Christmas – he replaced an old god worshipped during the Winter Solstice – probably The Green Man who lived in an oak tree. So the slimmer Father Christmas used to wear green. Mostly Santus Nicolaus was pictured wearing blue so in The Netherlands it is not unusual to find blue Santas.




Advent 3: Home for Christmas


Breakfast in bed © Southampton Old Lady

It is a great time to relax when you go home for Christmas. I love spoiling my daughter. However some people have no homes to go to…

Southampton homeless in doorway
According to homeless link 2,638 people sleep rough in any one night just in London alone. These figures have grown since they were made in September. Other cities and especially warmer cities in the South also have high numbers of rough sleepers that are difficult to calculate. Photo of homeless sleeping in the City of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady

It has been very frosty in the UK and weather forecasters are predicting a white Christmas this year, which is no fun for those who have nowhere to go and are sleeping rough. Why not make a gift of a night in a homeless shelter or buy a Christmas dinner for someone homeless this year?

For homeless young people who have run away to London there is Centre Point’s Home For Christmas appeal – click here

In my area the Society of St James organises such for the homeless click here

Or there is Crisis at Christmas click here

There must be many organisations in your area that you can help: A home is where the heart is.

Also in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Relax


Advent 2: Post

Post early for Christmas © Southampton Old Lady

British are obsessed with the post at Christmas. Cards to places like Australia and Canada can take a while via Royal Mail, so you have to make sure you “Post early for Christmas.” In England it is also expected that you give greeting cards to those they see every day. People can get genuinely upset if they are “off your Christmas card list” – which has become a phrase meaning that you no longer wish to associate with someone any more. The first year I resorted to email cards rather than one through the post I upset some very old friends. I have usually made my own Christmas cards and included a ’round robin’ (newsletter).

As well as cards there are parcels of presents to be posted to nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and so on. Online Christmas shopping has made all that easier.

The Hobbits of my Shire

p1180483Here are the Tribes from which I hail

The Hobbits of my Shire

The re-users, repairers, recyclers

Savers from landfill that fields may flourish

Salts of the earth dwellers

Early birds who catch the worm


Out in the cold

Fuelled by hunger to over-indulge

in all things merry

Dancers happy in simplicity

Comedians cut by teachers’ sarcasm

attended no classes –

they’re a class of their own


p1180481 The JAM tomorrows who live for today

True to themselves and trusting of none

Proud on their pins –

not scrounging welfare but scavenging bins

Disregarded regarders of the discarded

p1180484Magic menders of pre-loved dreams

Lorries full of broken treasures

Carpenters, seamsters and craft-sellers

musicians, poets and storytellers –

The talented that globalisation never minds

but we will sorely miss



Inspired by a village auction in the New Forest, Hampshire

November 2016 © Southampton Old Lady