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

Buy Nothing Friday  


Upstairs in the Art House

Black Friday is a recent consumer sales hype adapted from North America which takes place after Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November) despite the fact that the UK does not even celebrate Thanksgiving.

Buy Nothing Day is an annual event in Britain to highlight the issues around consumerism, especially in the lead-up to the festive season.  It’s a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life!

Curb giving away food at a recent festival

To mark Buy Nothing Day in the City of Southampton, this Black Friday, the Art House Café is partnering with Curb, The Real Junk Food Project, Clothes Swap and Books for Free!

They will be taking over The Art House until 6pm on the 25 November, offering food on a pay-as-you-feel basis, clothes to swap or pay-as-you-feel and books by donation!

P1130006Food will be available until it runs out – a big part of waste reduction is challenging the notion that there is always ‘plenty’.  Be sure you get a plateful of delicious nosh made from food diverted from landfill.

Drop in any time to enjoy some nosh, swap your clothes, pick up a book and have a chat about the ways you can reduce waste in your own home.

178 Above Bar Street, Southampton, Hampshire, UK SO14 7DW

Copyright © 2016 The Art House Southampton CIC, All rights reserved.




Remembrance at the 11th Hour on the 11th Day…

I Will Remember My Father
I Will Remember Those that Gave their Todays
I Will Remember Our Tomorrows

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

(For a really good post about Armistace in Southampton follow this link)


City Street Chaos

I have two entries concerning wasted public money for the weekly WordPress challenge: Chaos

Southampton City Centre's uneven pavements cause chaos.
Southampton City Centre’s uneven pavements cause chaos.

Southampton City Council spent £4.6million revamping the civic centre’s main square and pavements which was completed in 2010. But just 18 months after a private contractor completed it (with no expert investigation) large parts of the road began to sink, leaving its surface uneven and cracked.

I don’t know how many times I have fallen over in the City myself – it’s no good just looking where I am going as the shadows create optical illusions, it would be easier to walk on gravel or loose earth. So many have been hospitalised and had their lives ruined. It is cheaper for the Council if pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to claim compensation for their injuries from the contractor than have the street repaired. I think coloured Tarmac would have been a better option for the street and was even better left as it was. Cutting corners always works out more expensive and money always seems to come before people.

The back of Old Northam Road, Southampton
The back of Old Northam Road, Southampton

The street where the Developer has run off with the cash

Resotoration of Old Northam Road

Southampton City Council granted £1.4 million of public money to Grays Developments in the early 2000s to refurbish Victorian properties in Old Northam Road. This was to regenerate what was once the antiques quarter of Southampton, England.

The man who owns Grays, bought up 30 commercial properties and 68 homes within Old Northam Road had promised to invest millions restoring them within 13 years.

So far there has only been ripping down and dilapidation. No work has actually started, leaving residents and businesses in chaos. Some who lived above shops have had walls to their property removed and just left.

The traders insist that he has spent the money on a house for his mother and ran off with the rest of the cash. Here is a YouTube video of promises from the project manager: Restoration of Old Northam Road




Cannibals at Sea & the Real Richard Parker


For my local Halloween story I would like to tell you about the real story of Richard Parker. An unfortunate cabin boy who sailed from Southampton at the tender age of 16 only to be eaten by his crew.

In Southampton’s Peartree Churchyard lies an unusual gravestone…

The newer stone in Peartree Southampton which combines the grave of Sarah Parker and the memorial to her son Richard Parker – the victim of cannibalism at sea

It is the combined stone which marks the grave of Sarah Parker and the memorial of her beloved son Richard Parker, who had reached the age of 17 by the time he became the victim of cannibalism at sea.

Richard Parker was killed and eaten by Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens to prevent starvation Regina versus Dudley and Stephens (1884) established the precedent that necessity is no defence against a charge of murder Concerning survival cannibalism following a shipwreck the case overturned the folklore of the Custom of the Sea

Richard Parker served on the English yacht Mignonette, which set sail for Sydney, Australia from Southampton, England in 1884. While in the South Atlantic, the Mignonette sank, leaving Parker and his three shipmates in a lifeboat. Dying of thirst Richard fell into a coma after drinking sea water. As the crew thought he was going to die anyway, they killed the boy to drink his blood, then ate him so that they could survive. There had been many similar cases like this up until that time, which were given over to sympathy from seafarers, even those in Richard Parker’s own family in Southampton. It had been regarded legally as “A Custom of the Sea”.

The surviving three were rescued after 24 days by the German sailing barque Montezuma, named fittingly enough  after the Aztec king who practiced ritual cannibalism.

But this case caused a great uproar in Victorian Britain. The men were charged with murder and were found guilty. Although not much was done about the prisoners even when their sentences were later reduced to six months hard labour. Most importantly, their trial, R v Dudley and Stephens established a legal precedent in common law around the world, that: ‘Necessity is no defence to a charge of murder’. It is one of the first cases that law students read about.

The original memorial to Richard Parker which reads: Sacred to the memory of Richard Parker, aged 17, who died at sea July 25th 1884 after nineteen days dreadful suffering in an open boat in the tropics having been wrecked in the yacht Mignonette.’ Though he slay me yet will I trust in Him. Job 15 v 15 Lay not this sin to their charge. Acts vii6

If you haven’t read Yann Martel’s Booker Prize novel about the Life of Pi then you may have seen the ®Oscar-winning movie of the same name directed by Ang Lee.

The narrator is a novelist who has been recommended to interview an Indian man named Piscine Molitor Patel, as his life-story will make him “believe in God”.

Pi’s story is how at 16 he survives a shipwreck in which his family and the zoo of animals they are transporting to Canada, all die, apart from him and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker who he ends up sharing a lifeboat with.

Booker Prize novel ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel

In the novel the tiger who arrived at their zoo was called Thirsty but got mixed up on the list with the hunter’s name – Richard Parker. The novel is an allegorical one about man’s battle between his animal instincts and his religious ones. Pi has been brought up a vegetarian and does not even eat fish.

By a great nautical coincidence, the name of Martel’s tiger, Richard Parker, was also inspired by a character in Edgar Allan Poe’s nautical adventure novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). In Poe’s book, Richard Parker is a cabin boy who is stranded and eventually the victim of cannibalism on a lifeboat. There is a dog aboard who is named Tiger.

A third Richard Parker drowned in the sinking of the Francis Speight in 1846, described by author Jack London, and later a cabin boy was cannibalized.

Yann Martel said: “So many victimized Richard Parkers had to mean something. My tiger found his name. He’s a victim, too – or is he?”

The Mignonette yacht sketched by Dudley
The Mignonette yacht sketched by Dudley

For most who have never had starvation forced upon us it must be difficult to imagine how this could happen. One can only receive clues from behaviours in the animal kingdom.

There have also been three plays written about Richard Parker  –   ‘Richard Parker’ by Owen Thomas, ‘Mr Parker’s Bones, or The Strange, Lamentable, Bloody, and mostly true History of Parker of Pear Tree Green and of his Captain, the Dastardly Cannibal Tom’ written by Russ Tunney and more recently The Sad Tale of Richard Parker by Cheryl Butler who also works on historical walking tours of Southampton.

Although there are still many shipwrecks, technology is developing all the time and we are now able to convert sea water into drinking water in minutes. Although still expensive, new materials will soon make it available for common use.

To visit Pear Tree Church and cemetery on Peartree Green by satellite navigation, use the postcode SO19 7GY

Jack London - When God Laughs and other short stories
Jack London – When God Laughs and other short stories

For further interesting links on this story:

Court case: R v Dudley and Stephens 

You Tube video of descendant of Richard Parker

Edgar Allan Poe: Horrific Prediction Haunts my family –  by descendant/psychic Craig Hamilton-Parker

‘The Sad Tale of Richard Parker’ a play by Cheryl Butler

‘Life of Pi’ – Creating ‘Richard Parker’ (Behind the scenes making of the movie)


Halloween Challenge – Graveyards

The Italian boy who drowned in 1921 (now headless)
Mario’s grave
The grave with the tree growing on it
The tomb that slides open
Lean on each other
nettles amongst the headstones

Part of JNWS Halloween challenge: Graveyards

All these photos were taken at Southampton Common Old Cemetery, England. © Southampton Old Lady

You might also be interested in my other posts about this cemetery:

Titanic Graves at the Old Cemetery

The Weed Fighter

Killed by Lightening


Rainbows over Southampton

This rainbow over the River Itchen had been a beautiful semi-circular rainbow, but with high winds had almost disappeared before I was able to snap it

Bright sunshine combined with tropical-style rain this autumn has meant a great many and unusual rainbows over Britain. I have never seen so many different types in one season. So quickly taking snaps of them (often through rain on windows) before they disappear, here are the ones over Southampton:


Double or multilayered rainbow over Southampton with a dark ‘Alexander’s Band’
A clear bright band separating light and dark sky over the motorway
A rare upside-down rainbow or Circumzental Arc. When light shines through ice crystals which are higher up than rain



Living on the grim Edge




The UK is the most unequal country in the developed world according to the latest report from Oxfam.

In response to the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge Edge


Goodwood Revival 2016


Bubble car at parking meter outside reconstructed Piccadilly Circus

Like being on a giant film set

The first ever car-race took place at Goodwood race track 75 years ago. For the last 20 years there has also been a Revival, where vintage cars or bikes, race (and sometimes crash). There is a strict dress code for spectators; They must dress in vintage or authentic-looking retro clothing from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Goodwood also employs a number of actors and entertainers who take on characters from those eras.

For a few hours work each morning, I was able to enjoy myself for the rest of the day and take snaps. More people belong to drama groups in Britain than they do football clubs, so it is not surprising that so many make an effort to look the part. But visitors come from all over Europe and the Commonwealth.

The Sixties       (Click on photos to enlarge and read captions)

Each year there is a highlighted theme. This year because it was the 50th anniversary of the England football team winning the World Cup, it was England verses Germany 1966.

Join in a kick-about with the 1966 England Team reconstruction
Family day out
We’re going to Wembley


Part of the grounds had a reconstructed football pitch where spectators could join the likes of ‘Bobby Moore’ in a knock-about. There was a parade around the track of traffic on their way to Wembley Stadium, which showed off owners cars that would have been around in 1966. The vehicles included vintage: police cars, milk carts, motorbikes, Mini and Bubble cars, Bentleys, Daffodils, Fords, Hillmans, Jaguars, Rolls, Sunbeams, Triumphs, Vauxhalls, plenty of public transport buses and coaches as well as Germans in Volkswagens.


The Fifties

Dancing in the rain – we are use bad weather at some point during any British festival
family fun fair
Go roller skating courtesy of Butlins

The Forties

Our North American allies and barbershop quartet
Goodwood invites Veterans raising funds and awareness of D-Day
There are vintage air displays from Goodwood Airfield. Everything from Dakotas to Lancaster Bombers

Beer tents are a must at British festivals – especially when it rains

Heading for the Doom Bar beer tent
Beer tents are always friendly
Come step back in time
stand-up atmosphere
or you might be lucky to find a comfy chair
There are a quite a few pub tents
and gin bars
Vintage cars are on sale
One could almost forget that the main event is the racing
Jackie Stewart (in the cap) Stirling Moss and many other first class drivers and celebrities race each year


Copyright © Southampton Old Lady. If you would like to use any of my photographs please consult me first.  If your stand or you yourself are in any of my photographs feel free to use them however you wish. Goodwood Actors Guild Members also have my permission to use any of these photos or add links for their profile purposes. Please credit: wherever possible.  Thank you