Colour My World: Salmon


The Grande Old Post Office, 58-9 High Street, Southampton. Grade 2 listed building that has laid empty for some time. Now up for let.

Photos by Southampton Old Lady
Colour photos by Southampton Old Lady

The town’s former Hight Street post office was opened on 5th November 1892.

Built in the Flemish style of terracotta brick with dressings. It is three storeys high surmounted by three elaborate pediments. Below the pediments is a modillion cornice with a frieze. The building has five mullioned and transomed casement windows on the second and first floors. On the ground floor, there are four round-headed windows with a projecting pedimented porch supported on console brackets to the left. In the pediment, there is a moulded crown. Beneath the building is a 14th-century vault, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The upper floors have been converted into apartments. 

Planning permission has been granted to convert the ground floor into a restaurant or possible retail enterprise.

southampton blitz 6



The Post Office miraculously survived WWII bombing, including the 1940 Blitz.

In response to WordPress challenge: Color Your World. Where a calendar has a different Crayola Crayon colour as a photo promt.

To see more photos in the challenge or to submit your own, visit:

Challenge: What’s in your Shopping Basket?

March 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
March 2016 © Southampton Old Lady

My deep freezer broke down a few weeks ago and although I had to throw some away, we managed to give away lots and live off the rest. We are currently doing some serious de-junking as we will need to move somewhere smaller, so the freezer will not be replaced and we have to get used to shopping on a smaller scale. I am always intrigued when I go into a supermarket what people put in their baskets. Some do their whole weekly shop and others just get a few special offers, including gadgets, that brand has to offer.

I have been inspired by a few other wordpress blogs as to what foods people buy. Firstly Frankie Bean showed us what a corner shop sold in Halifax, Nova Scotia, then Third Time Lucky showed what was in her fridge in Hampshire, England.

So here’s a photo of my most recent shop at Aldi – basics really. I am not a loyal customer. I shop at all the stores near when passing. I live with a family of good cooks, so we hardly ever  buy ready-meals unless they are ridiculously cheap after reaching their sell-by date.

Shopping: Corn Flakes (bargain 33% extra free), Weetabix, plain poppodoms (ready to eat, though we often fry our own. Although of Indian origin, these are officially part of a British diet these days just as Italian spaghetti is), malted bloomer sliced loaf of bread (my husband usually makes ours in a bread-maker but we sometimes buy a loaf too if we have guests), one dozen free range eggs (I really miss my chickens), cat food pouches and a box of dried cat food (our semi-wild cat came from The Alhambra in Spain after quarantine and is 13 years old), half a dozen hot cross buns (well this was just before Easter), British Cos lettuce (2 in a bag), tin (English for can) of baked beans, bunch of fair trade bananas, punnet of cherry tomatoes (I try to support British but the Spanish ones taste so much better), 2 litre bottle of semi-skimmed milk.

So what’s in your shopping basket?

Let me know or post a photo or/and a list and perhaps leave a pingback: ‎






Our Southampton Theatre

Mayflower theatre

We are so fortunate to have such a good theatre in Southampton.

Matthew Bourne's ballet Sleeping Beauty
Matthew Bourne’s ballet Sleeping Beauty

Last night I experienced Matthew Bourne‘s interpretation of Tchaikovsky‘s Sleeping Beauty at The Mayflower, in awe and escapist wonder. Life-like puppet babies and swirling punk Valkyries from a touring troupe, filled dark gothic and Nordic-light stage sets. Amazing!

Billed as a gothic romance and choreographed in 2011, this was created at the Twilight years of new-goth interest in vampires, werewolves and Brothers Grimm. I shall write more about this revolutionary choreographer on my other Art So Provident WordPress blog at some point, but I just want to sing the praises of The Mayflower Theatre for pleasing most of the people, most of the time. There are more theatres in Southampton, but The Mayflower is exceptional.

Publicity for WarHorse outside Southampton's Bargate. © Mayflower Theatre
Publicity for WarHorse outside Southampton’s Bargate. © Mayflower Theatre

Je Suis Cecil!

“One of the largest and best loved theatres in the UK with over 2,300 seats. It presents a mixture of spectacular touring musicals – many direct from the West End – dance, opera, drama and ballet through to comedy and pantomime. The theatre has a rich history and is loved by South Coast communities, providing an historic landmark in the city. The programme of productions and events is jam packed all through the year and it boasts sell out performances  regularly.” – A quote from Thomas Miller, whose creative company rebranded the Mayflower Theatre in 2013.

More traditional colours when it was The Gaumont Theatre
More traditional colours when it was The Gaumont Theatre
These days The Mayflower Theatre is painted in clashing colours.
These days The Mayflower Theatre is painted in clashing colours.
Queuing for cinema tickets when it was known as The Empire Theatre
Queuing for tickets when it was known as The Empire

It was first opened in 1928 as The Empire. With the popularity of ‘talkies’ this architectural wonder, became more used as a cinema by 1942 when it was under the helm of the Gaumont Picture Corporation.

Its Gaumont years, when it was taken over by The Rank Organisation (1950-1986) is when I remember the theatre most. It was still mainly a cinema then (three films were shown continually on Saturdays throughout the day) but also used for plays, musicals and concerts. Everyone from The Rolling Stones to The Beatles have performed here alongside local operetta and national opera societies.

The Beatles sat in the stalls of The Gaumont. Big names from Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Led Zeplin all performed here. Top performers were always staged here.
The Beatles sat in the stalls of The Gaumont. Big names from Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, The Beach Boys all performed here. Top acts performed here regularly.
Ticket for punk band Siouxie and the Banshees 1982).
Ticket for punk band Siouxie and the Banshees, 1982.




I play Nurse advising Juliet. Photo taken from the wings of the Gaumont Theatre Southampton during a performance of Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'
I play Nurse advising Juliet. Photo taken from the wings of the Gaumont Theatre Southampton during a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’







Local societies used the theatre too. At the age of 15 years, I played the go-between role as Nurse to Juliet in Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet. The Mayor of Southampton came to see our Deanery School production at the smaller Nuffield Theatre and thought it was so professional that he organised a restaging of it at The Gaumont. It was sold-out on each of the three performances.

There were two applications to turn the theatre into a bingo hall; one in 1970 and another in 1983. The public objected strongly and there were physical protests at both attempts.

The theatre was reopened in 1987 as The Mayflower. It is now run by an independent trust as a national touring house.

Many talented locals, including children, rehearse as chorus roles to the main touring acts.

The theatre is reportedly haunted by the ghost of an old man who has been seen sitting backstage in a wicker chair.

To read more about its heritage or to book shows visit:

Pixie Lott / Mayflower billboard © Southampton Old Lady
Pixie Lott / Mayflower billboard © Southampton Old Lady



Happy Easter

chocolate factory in Austria © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
chocolate factory in Austria © 2016 Southampton Old Lady

Most Brits are such Pagans at heart. We look forward to our spring holiday. To us Easter is all about chocolate eggs, symbolising fertility. Birthing and the spring equinox, with images of lambs, chicks and rabbits. It has been a happy occasion since it was brought to us by the Germanic peoples and their worship of the Goddess Ēastre.

It was the same when I lived in Cyprus. Painted eggs decorated by children and happy picnics with lamb kleftiko and freshly baked flounes.

Flounes from a hot clay oven in Cyprus.
Flounes from a hot clay oven in Cyprus.

When I lived to Portugal though, I thought I was being clever when I said: “Feliz Pascoa” to some Portuguese friends. They were shocked!  I had said Happy Easter okay, but to most people in Roman Catholic Europe, Easter is certainly not a happy time.

“Our Lord died this day – what is happy about it?”  I was taken along to mass with a long dirge of a procession and realised that this was more like our Remembrance Sunday.

When I moved to Andalusia in Spain, it was even more sad, with religious brotherhoods in tall peak hoods carrying heavy statues of Christ in agony on the cross (this is where the Klux Klan got the idea for their brotherhood).

Spanish tourism photo
Spanish tourism photo

I follow a wordpress blog called “Wandering Wives”. The two British women explained that they went to a Remembrance Day service in a small French village and it was a happy occasion there – it was in honour of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and that meant “Liberation!”

So it occurred to me, that there are certain times of the year, usually around equinox and solstices where we all get spiritual – sometimes in celebration and sometimes in commemoration, but that these vary according to climate, country and culture.

So Peace to all – and may your god or goddess go with you

Colour Your World: Red

Today’s colour challenge: RED

The Calshot Spit at Southampton Docks © 2015 Southampton Old Lady

… in response to the Colour Your World Photo Challenge whereby there is a different Crayola crayon colour prompt for each day. To see more or take part yourself visit:
Red boat in barbed wireP1130120



Amazing People Nº4: Julia Hilling (1925-ish – 2015)

Julia Hilling, one of my most charming friends died last August.

Her stage name was Julia Bretton. She began her career at the age of 17 as a Windmill Girl at London’s Windmill Theatre.

The Windmill was known worldwide as the theatre that “never closed” or should that be “never clothed”?  Scantily-clad beauties performed in this basement theatre throughout WWII to keep up the morale of allies and locals alike. It was seen as an important beacon to keep spirits alight during a frightening time and always remained open while bombs dropped.

It was the subject of the award winning film “Mrs Henderson Presents” starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, and is currently being staged as a musical at the Nöel Coward Theatre in London’s West End.

Promotional photo for "Mrs Henderson Presents" at the Noel Coward Theatre, London
Promotional photo for “Mrs Henderson Presents” at the Noel Coward Theatre, London

julia windmill

Julia explained to me how, with the other ‘girls’ she slept at the theatre in their dressing room while performing in revues alongside people like Sir Bruce Forsyth. “We were well looked after and any men backstage behaved very gentlemanly”.

As well as starring in other staged musicals as Julia Bretton, she had minor roles in films (talkies) in the1940s.

She outlived five husbands – all of whom were, “absolutely wonderful! – “I loved them all!”  One of whom is buried in a cemetery in the New Forest, Hampshire, but she could never remember whether it was in Lymington or Lyndhurst.

Julia 4I first met her when I called auditions in the mid-90s. She had retired to live in Spain and I was directing The Sleeping Beauty, a pantomime I had drafted for the Salon Variétes theatre in Fuengirola. Julia was having problems remembering lines and moving around the stage by that time, but she had such audience charisma and was so regal that I gave her the part as the Queen, sat her on a throne and taped her lines to props. She was marvellous and even brought her own little Spanish hairdresser to tidy up her locks while she was off-stage.

Although much older than me, we remained friends as we both had a love of opera and Cole Porter. She did a wonderful rendition of “Mad About the Boy” and she belly-danced at my 50th birthday party. When theatre crowds are renowned to be bitchy, no-one I know has ever heard Julia utter a bad word about anyone.

Julia 3

In 2005 she, along with other colleagues on the Costa del Sol, was sold a dodgy, equity-release investment package by fraudulent financial advisors. After handing over the deeds to her home in return for living expenses until death, she was only given living expenses by the Rothschild bank for the first two years, then was expected to hand over her apartment. She took all this in her stride and refused to move.

This enigmatic woman deserves to be on the amazing-people-I-have-known list. She had charm, class and even well into her 80s, had sex-appeal.


Julia talking to Sid at the Manilla Bar, Costa del Sol 2014
Julia talking to Sid at the Manilla Bar, Costa del Sol 2014

Before I left to return to England she started dating another ‘amazing’ friend of mine called Sid – a famous Talk of the Town pianist who accompanied 1960s divas from Shirley Bassey to Julie Andrews.

Julia had a big sexual appetite apparently, and despite both being in their 80s then, Sid complained about the amount of viagra he was having to take to keep up. Sadly he also died. So she outlived him too.

My biggest memory is bumping into her in a Lidl supermarket one morning. She was wafting around with a trolley, just after opening time, wearing a cocktail dress and full make-up including false eyelashes. “Julia! Look at you –  always so glamorous”  I remarked.

“Oh! I haven’t been home yet, Darling!” She explained: “I’ve been to a party. It lasted all night!”

RIP Julia. Life is a cabaret old chum!

Photo Challenge: One Love

Locks on a bridge, Salzburg © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Locks on a bridge, Salzburg © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Two hearts, one lock. © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Two hearts, one lock. © 2016 Southampton Old Lady








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