Advent 12: Illuminations

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The Titanic leaving Dock Gate 4, Southampton

p1180671Southampton is not usually forthcoming on Christmas lights as much as other cities – What with the Christmas market and so many lights from shops, ships and offices – But, to open up a leisure area for Christmas at West Quay malls this year, a stunning loop of 7-minute, light and sound illuminations ran on our Old Town Wall at the weekend.

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p1180656Depicted, was the history of Southampton’s port, which focused on departures of: Henry V troops leaving for Agincourt, The Mayflower with Pilgrims preparing for America, The Titanic leaving for New York, boats and planes in WW2 manoeuvres, J-Class yachts, powerboats, hovercraft, container-ships and so on.

Do you have any festive lights where you are?

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Southampton’s city square
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Advent 10: Peace on the Horizon

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Christmas is a very peaceful time in the neighbourhood where I am. Mainly because there is a big exodus of students and people who visit relatives in other countries leaving just about a quarter of the crowded streets. Sometimes I feel like I have God’s earth all to myself.

All photos © Southampton Old Lady

Also in response to the Weekly WordPress Challenge: Horizon

Rainbows over Southampton

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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:

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

 

Southampton is a Cool Cat

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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

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Poem and Photos © Southampton Old Lady

Quest

In response to this weeks WordPress Photo Challenge: Quest

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

Been to Southampton beach yet?

“Been to Southampton beach yet?” – is a common joke older students ask Freshers when they arrive to start their new course at University. Most of the beaches in the UK are pretty, so many coming to study assume that as Southampton on the very edge of the sea in the south must have a good beach.

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This is not our beach, it is a make-do place at the Town’s quay to see a glimpse of water and sunbathe

If they did their research they would realise that Southampton is one of the biggest industrial ports there is. Its coast is taken up with docks, crammed with shipping vessels and harbours boxed up with metal containers that arrive and depart all over the world. Residents are blocked off from a view of the sea, apart from a few spaces to get a glimpse of light dazzling on the waves of Southampton Water, such as Mayflower Park (SO14 2AQ).

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The Port of Southampton is one of the worlds most productive and busiest

There were attempts in the early 1980s to boost tourism. A sand beach was built near Mayflower Park to welcome Carnival Line and to tempt cruise liner passengers to stay for a day. The cash injection did not work and landed us in debt, so it was not kept up. For any day trippers today there is an excellent walk around the old city walls (guided by volunteers even) lined with ancient pubs, five stunning parks – the odd museum and ancient plaques stating what or who used to be here.

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Southampton’s artificial beach at the town quay in the 1980s

In Jane Austen’s time Southampton was a fashionable spa town. Most of Southampton’s elegant buildings were Blitzed during WW2 and being an important financial hub and port, white concrete architectures was quickly thrown up. Most of the tourism to Southampton today is for its diverse range of live music and arts and festivals. West End theatre shows that tour usually start here. Sadly the city no longer worries about holiday-makers and has no tourist office – (though you can get info online and leaflets from the library) – but provides excellent transport links for cruise ship passengers to get to other more desirable destinations quickly, whether its London (70 minutes) the New Forest (10 minutes) or Stonehenge.

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The Jurassic coast line that stretches from Hampshire to Cornwall © Southampton Old Lady

We tend to swim at a pool or in one of our rivers. As for beaches Southampton is surrounded by the most beautiful beaches, so why compete?  It would not take you long to get anywhere along the Jurassic Coastline. You can take a short ferry ride to the Isle of Wight , a train to  Bournemouth a taxi to Southsea. Not to far by car you can visit Lepe, Hayling Island, Brownsea Island, Sandbanks (29 miles), Hengisburty Head (21 miles), Barton on Sea or Highcliffe (Click on the Beach Guide and look under Hampshire and Dorset). 

Greater Southampton does have beaches though, but these are not as pretty and take just as long to get to as those outside of its boundary.

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Weston Shore, as seen from Victoria Country Park, Southampton

Our beaches are mainly used for water-sports, as Southampton Water and the Solent are incredible tests for such enthusiasts. They are of pebble, not sand, they have views of residential or factory blocks, even an oil refinery.

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Another view of Weston Shore across to the oil refinery

There is Weston Shore in Netley and Calshot Beach (officially in Southampton and on Southampton Water but part of the New Forest) SO45 1BL.

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Calshot Beach is excellent for sailing, windsurfing and has an olympic sports centre. It is one of the best place to see ocean-liners arrive and depart and has a fort built by Henry VIII

Click Discover for what to see and do in Southampton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unto Cowes and Come Home

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From Shamrock Quay along the River Itchen and under its bridge into Southampton Water

Regular readers will know that I am going to live on a sailing boat  with my husband as we have to move soon. We are selling or giving away worldly goods and doing up an old Maxi 95 sloop.

As it has been 15 years or so since I did any sailing, and pre-cancer/chemo, I thought it best to go on a refresher sailing course with a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor.

Last weekend I got on a run as a team of five of like-minded individuals also honing their skills. We sailed from Shamrock Quay in Southampton to the Isle of Wight, where Cowes Week brought sailing boats from all over the world.

 

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Plain sailing on the Solent

The severe treatment for my Hodgkin Lymphoma left my body and brain somewhat disorientated. I describe my brain as living in a town where a bomb has hit and roads have been blocked off. I have had to find detours and rebuild. I had been having terrible balance problems since the treatment, but following a number of NHS exercises I have not had any accidents for about a year now.

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We anchored just off Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This was Queen Victoria’s favourite residence and this her own private beach. It opened to the public 2 years ago.

Although I was used to sailing I had been extremely nervous about going out, especially onto the Solent, which requires strength, skill and alertness due to its tides, geographical structure and the many number of different vessels using its channel.

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The marina on the Isle of Wight was busy for Cowes Week and took great skill to moor four abreast

This weekend course really helped me to regain my confidence and sort out what I could remember and what I needed to practice.

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Ready with a slip-line returning to port

I feel brilliant!

The D-Day Wall

The boundary wall of the troop embarkation site at West Quay. © Southampton Old Lady
The boundary wall of the troop embarkation site at the side of the Grand Harbour Hotel West Quay.

Visitors from around the world, but especially from North America, emerge from cruise ships at Southampton Docks and head immediately for London or Stonehenge. Many stay at the prestigious Grand Harbour Hotel on West Quay without knowing that their country’s heroes had stayed on that very piece of land before sacrificing their lives.

Southampton. The day before D-Day
Southampton. The day before D-Day
Port from lift of Grand Harbour Hotel
Port from lift of Grand Harbour Hotel

This historically, was the site for troops to be stationed before going off to wars, from Agincourt to The Falklands.

WW2 allied troops would have health check-ups and their vehicles disinfected. Servicemen would kill time playing cards and etching their names on the red-brick boundary wall. One of the most prolific times was when North American service personnel were stationed here during the run up to the D-Day manoeuvres.

Southampton Docks. Convoy during peparations for D-Day
Southampton Docks. Convoy during preparations for D-Day
Drawing by Major Joseph C. Hazen, Jr The Empire Javelin in which 15th Army Headquarters was being transported to France, she struck a mine on December 28, 1944 in the English Channel and sank.
Drawing by Major Joseph C. Hazen, Jr. The Empire Javelin in which 15th Army Headquarters was being transported from Southampton to France. She struck a mine on December 28, 1944 in the English Channel and sank.
North American servicemen's names etched on to the D-Day wall. © Southampton Old Lady
North American servicemen’s names etched on to the D-Day wall. © SOL

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When the site was demolished, local people campaigned to keep the brickwork of names standing as a monument. Unfortunately, with no glass or perspex covering these names deteriorate each year. Responsibility for the wall shifts from pillar to post.

After some research on the internet I found one man who, in despair, felt it important to catalogue the names that were still legible some years ago. However even by the time I took this photo, last year, some of those have disappeared.

Here is the list according to that person, some of the names are still very readable:

W.E SHIRK, Wm MUELLER, CLEMTATIO, JOE HAMMOND, H.L. EATHERINGTON – ZION T/S, ROBERT M RAY & DAVE RAY OHIO, ROBERT GOLDEN, Geo FABER OF COLO, JAMES HENLEY, LAWRENCE MATHIS 1941 DEC 23, JAMES ?, DES PENNY, VIRRLA PENNY, CALAVERY AMER ? ?, D CHICAGO ILLINOIS, F.F JOHNSON USA, JOE N JONES DEC 22 1944, D.W SMITH, J.C KELLOE, CHARSTON S.C, BILLIE WILSON, P.W ?- AAL, RALPH ODEL, J.L PLIEL, JONY JOHNSTON, BILL ? URBAN, W KNIGHT

And hidden behind dustbins a small demolished section of this wall in jumbled order

M.P CARTER AUG 44, M J WOMPON FEB 45, ?F RECINE – OCT 10,1944 FRANCE, P.D B?EECH – CATAWISSA PENNA, J.C CHRISTEN ?, N ALDEN BOLL M???NN, G.N BUNKER ? – CITY IOWA – 1945 BALTIMORE, EDDIE MEYER ILLINOIS 17/21/44, JOHN HELMLIIIO ELYRIA OHIO 11-4-44, DOOLING – BEVERLY MASS, R FINN, J.E WETTA- CALLAWA MIAMI FLORIDA LAB RY MT NC, ED C??BA??K – BOUND BROOK, JO COURT, ?.M SLATER MAY 13 1937, VANEE, MARTIN VA

Post: 6th JUNE, 2016

IN HONOUR OF D-DAY HEROES, 6th JUNE, 1944

 

Trawling the boat yards

Map of The Solent (courtesy of Solent Boatshare, based on the Itchen River in Southampton). It shows the Isle of Wight surrounded by the Hampshire coast from  The New Forest to Portsmouth and on to Chichester. The Solent is one of the most popular places in Europe for sailing.
Map of The Solent (courtesy of Solent Boatshare, based on the Itchen River in Southampton). It shows the Isle of Wight surrounded by the Hampshire coast from The New Forest to Portsmouth and on to Chichester. The Solent is one of the most popular places in Europe for sailing.

While browsing in some of the boat yards around Southampton and Solent area – I took these snaps (© Southampton Old Lady) :

Repairs being carried out on two of the "Dunkirk Little Ships. At the end of May 1940, at the government's request, thousands of boats set sail to rescue almost a quarter of a million Allied troops who had retreated from Hitler's forces onto the shores of Dunkirk. This is where the phrase "The Dunkirk Spirit" was coined.
Repairs being carried out on two of the “Dunkirk Little Ships”. At the end of May 1940, at the government’s request, thousands of boats set sail to rescue almost a quarter of a million Allied troops who had retreated from Hitler’s forces onto the shores of Dunkirk. This is where the phrase “The Dunkirk Spirit” was coined.
These were once ship lifeboats that were sold off for scrap. Six do-it-yourselfers snapped them up to be convert them into homes for themselves.
These were once ship lifeboats and sold off for scrap. Six guys snapped them up to convert them into homes for themselves.
These ex-life boats are very secure and dry. more spacious than they look - each a bright floating tardis
These ex-life boats are very secure and dry. more spacious than they look – each a bright floating tardis
A weekend boat-builder working on his project
A weekend boat-builder working on his project
All boat junk might come in handy
All boat junk might come in handy

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Used fenders anyone?
Used fenders anyone?

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In dry dock - waiting for anti-fouling.
In dry dock – awaiting a coat of anti-fouling.
Tide is out under Itchen Bridge
Tide out under Itchen Bridge. Southampton is unique with two tides a day
Bobbing together
Bobbing together at the Town Quay

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A house with boat. You see quite a few of these in Southampton.
A house with boat outside. You see quite a few of these in Southampton
house with boat and mooring.
And a few of these: House with boat and mooring.
chink, chink
chink, chink
Good night
Good night