Friday, 29 July 2016


Tuesday was a special day.
My mum had her 70th birthday.
We couldn't let the day pass by in some ordinary way so my sister's and I hatched a plan to all go out together.
We had a couple of ideas of places to go and things to do and asked mum to choose which she preferred.
A trip round The New Forest on a open top bus is what she plumped for.

We all set off from mum's just after presenting her with a big bouquet of flowers and the first of her gifts.
She loves the Willow Tree figurines and we gave her this one to add to her collection. 
My sister T then drove us all out to Lyndhurst, this is where we started and ended our day.

The first stop we made was Burley. The one place in Burley which was buzzing with people was the cycle hire shop, clearly a very popular thing to do when visiting the Forest. 
I have to say that overall I wasn't that impressed with Burley. When we arrived it was just before 11 and we were gasping for a cuppa.
We headed to the pub which was just across the road from the bus stop and which we could see had lots of outdoor seating. There seemed to be a lot of people outside, who may have been working there we weren't really sure, but no-one could tell us if it opened at 11 or 12. 
We walked on by and found a little tea shop and sat outside there instead. The rest of my family ordered coffees but I really fancied a mug of tea. The menu showed pot of tea for one. When we placed our order I asked if I could have a mug instead. Oh no can't do that our prices are fixed for what's on the menu. I'm quite happy to pay the same price I said I just didn't want a pot of tea. I'll get into trouble for doing that we were then told. I certainly didn't want this simple request to get anyone in trouble so said ok I'll just have the pot of tea.
When the drinks arrived at our table my tea was in a mug!
Later on as we were waiting for our bus my sister T decided she wanted to buy a bottle of water but the sweet shop next to the stop was closed.
For somewhere which is so tiny and must obviously be very dependent on the tourist trade it wasn't the most welcoming.

Burley has gained a reputation for witchcraft because of a former resident who opened a a shop called A Coven of Witches. All of the photos below are features on the outside of this shop. In my opinion the best thing about Burley the day we went was seeing the moon gazing hare stretching out over the doorway.

Our next stop off was Ringwood. 
We enjoyed a mini mooch around the handful of shops and had lunch in a very nice pub called The Original White Hart. We would definitely recommend it for grabbing a bite to eat.
It was here we gave mum her silver Pandora ring which she was thrilled with. 

Exploring the little town centre and riverside walk further would have been lovely but we had one eye on the time and had to be ready to hop back on the bus and head towards

Fordingbridge. A place not one of us had visited before. 
I'd say it's somewhere to go to enjoy a picnic by the river and just relax with a book. The free museum looked interesting, the silver fish is on the wall outside, but this isn't everyone's idea of fun and we passed it by.

From here we stayed on the bus until it reached Lyndhurst. We passed through Bartley, Brook, Cadnam, Godshill and Ashurst and the views from the top of the bus were stunning. Lush greens as far as the eye could see with patches of purple from the heather.
All in all it was a really lovely day out and mum said she had thoroughly enjoyed herself, which after all is what it was all about.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Queen's Park

Whilst walking to the park during my lunch break for some fresh air and sunshine I noticed a flyer attached to the railings advertising a Love Parks event.
With nothing else planned for today it looked like something interesting to do.

The land was originally known as Porter's Meadow and was acquired by Queen's College Oxford after the dissolution of the monasteries.
The park was opened at a civic ceremony on 23 May 1885 and named Queen's Park.

The park is situated opposite Dock Gate 4 where the cruise ships come into dock.
It's bizarre looking down a busy road and seeing the liners so close and looming so large.

There are plans afoot for me, S and G to do the zebra trail during the summer hols. Today is was just me and S out adventuring and whilst we were waiting for the bus (more on that in a mo) we checked out the three zebras who are in residence in the park until the end of the summer.

This one is called Rio, he has the Olympic torch painted on his body, but it's the patterns around his eye which caught my eye.

Next up we have Henman. On this one we liked the fairy floating away on a dandelion seed head.

I have to admit I have forgotten the name of this one. From a distance (viewed from the aforementioned bus) and with the sunlight on him the pink colour was dazzling. 

And here is the bus we were waiting for. This bus was new to Southampton City Transport in 1970. I took a bus like this to town too many times to count and after the trip on it today I wouldn't want to take too many again. It's such a jerky ride compared to the ones we have in service today!

As you can see from the front of the bus it was running for dock tours. We were driven past the 2 cruise ships and round down to the quay, but we weren't allowed off the bus. 
I managed to get a quick snap of part of the Emerald Princess as we passed her by.

There was a clear view over to the pier at Hythe, somewhere where we've enjoyed a few days out during the hols over the years.

There were some activities on offer in the park today, but S felt she was too old for taking part in them now, which is fair enough. We've certainly had our fair share of arts and crafts and games over the years when the children were younger and it was lovely to see the little ones who were there enjoying themselves.

Although the flower beds are beautifully maintained and the marigolds are healthy and colourful that is pretty much all there is in them.
There was a leaflet asking for people to volunteer to take part in a bulb planting event in the autumn. I've signed up for it and will try and help depending on when it's going to be. Seeing as I use the park during my lunch break it would be nice to show my appreciation for this green space.

There is a memorial in the park to General Gordon. I must confess I did not know he had ties with Southampton. Looking at the page I have linked to there is more here in the city which needs investigating. I love finding out new things about the place I live.

The city centre is just a short walk away and as we were heading there we passed a hairdressers with this sign in their window which made us laugh.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Junior School Ends

Here is S on her first day at junior school

and this is how she looked this morning on her last day.
Just a little bit of a difference!
S came home half an hour ago saying a few of her friends were crying as they left. I asked her if she felt sad, but she says she's just excited about things to come. Long may that last!

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Park and The Shore

It's been a few years since we went to the Mela.
Different choices abound for things to do and places to visit in the summer but this year we decided to stay local and we would go.

I checked out the programme of events on-line before we left and once we arrived we headed for the World Stage to watch a display of traditional Bulgarian dancing. Unfortunately this stage were having technical difficulties and there was a lot of waiting around whilst they were overcome. With the sun beating down the dancers were looking very hot before they had even started, but it gave us an opportunity to look at their beautifully colourful costumes.

I loved the cross stitch work on the skirts and blouses.

Once the dancing started it was a joy to watch. All the dancers were smiling and clearly enjoying themselves. This style of dancing is so inclusive, men and women dancing together, you get a clear vision of how integral and important an activity this must be for a community.

From here it was over to the food area where BBQ kebabs, noodles and watermelon were consumed.
With full tummies we went in search of the activity tent, stopping on the way to watch this fire juggler as he came to the end of his act by twirling this flaming metal rod, very skillfully, around his body.

Once we had found the tent we watched a group of ladies perform a couple of dances. They meet once a week for a Bollywood keep fit dance class. I much prefer the idea of this rather than a traditional exercise class. 

The next item on my list to see was a Flamenco workshop. Visitors were invited on stage to learn a few steps in this very expressive form of dance.
The ladies, and one gent, who took part did really well.
It was a great afternoon.

Last week I found out that it was Big Beach Clean-Up weekend and an event had been arranged down at our local shore.
It's a place we have visited countless times and although we always  take our litter home with us or ensure it goes in the bin there are others who don't and so I decided to go and take part in the litter pick.
Armed with a black sack and a litter grabber I trawled the shore and path.
An hour later my bin bag was about a quarter full. This doesn't sound like much but given that most items were little pieces of plastic such as pen lids, bottle tops and even a size cube normally found on a clothes hanger I did pick up quite a bit.
I even got a certificate for my efforts!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

They're Here!

When the weather is halfway decent I take my lunch break, a two minute walk from the office, in Queens Park.
I was very excited to see the park is a temporary home to some of the zebras in the Marwell Zoo zany zebra trail.
Three years ago we hosted a rhino trail, some of which can be seen here.

Should you be visiting Southampton over the next 10 weeks then tracking down the zebras will be a colourful way of seeing our City centre. 
We had such good fun taking part in the rhino trail this new one is a definite summer hols activity for us.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Last visit

Last night G and I went to see S in her Leaver's Assembly, she was part of the choir singing in The Jungle Book and today I've been into school again.
Year 6 were hosting a Fairtrade coffee and cake event this afternoon to raise money for Water Aid.
Each class gave parents a short presentation on the Africa work they've been busy with this half term and S stood up and read out some information on the charity they were supporting with this event.
We then had some time to look at our children's individual work.

S has one week left at junior school but today was my last visit there and when I left I couldn't help but feel a little sad but I also felt very happy knowing how excited S is about the next stage of her education.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Sound Asleep

With G working and T off to Bournemouth Gay Pride, the plan for me and S on Saturday was to be up early and get ourselves into town.
An Ikea breakfast, a search for new swimmers and a handful of other little tasks were on the agenda.
None of this happened.
S did wake up early but then she was sick.
S spent the day between her bed, the sofa and, as seen here, our bed too.

She had a little sleeping companion for some of the time.

Thankfully she is bright as a button again today and off out at a friend's birthday party.
It's been a busy week for S with 2 transfer days at her new senior school. We were invited in on Wednesday evening to meet the form tutor who will be with her for the next 5 years. Along with her pupils Miss W will also be new to the school in September.
On the way home S said 'why can't it come sooner (meaning the beginning of term in Sept)', it's so exciting.' 
To know she has such a positive attitude towards the start of her senior school years is very reassuring.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


We've been lucky enough to see some very talented people whilst at a couple of local art events recently.
If you can't get and see them in action then check out each link and enjoy a little of what they have to offer and what we've been enjoying.

First up is The Bullzini Family and their high wire act which is thoroughly captivating.

The girls from Sole Rebel Tap with a Spatterdash routine entertained the crowd and S was particularly taken with their shiny shorts.

The Edwardian Cricketers were hilarious and had the crowd laughing along with them in no time at all. Lots of audience participation was required, here you can see three members of the crowd picked out to be fielders and S's friend L was chosen to be the umpire. A role she readily accepted.

Maple Staplegun plucked three lucky men from the crowd to help her with her hula hoop act and kept the crowd laughing with her antics and her skill.

Last up is a lady with a beautifully melodic voice who goes by the name of Sticky Toffee Jazz. Salisbury council organise music in the park during the summer and it's the perfect way to while away a sunny Sunday afternoon.