On Saturday, for the last of this holiday’s days out we again headed for Waterloo. The train carried us to Winchester as it had on Thursday but this was not our destination. We disembarked at Southampton Central and on emerging from the station boarded a bus for the town. Or rather, we tried to. The bus driver neither knew nor cared about Plus Bus train tickets and would not accept ours.
We waited for another bus, hoping its driver would be more knowledgeable. The bus that arrived first was in fact a free service so tickets were not required.
The free bus took us to the ferry port where we caught the ferry for Hythe. (The picture above left shows a big fish I photographed while waiting for the ferry.)
If you wonder why there is a Hythe here as well as in Kent, the answer is that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon term meaning “good landing place”.
When you arrive at Hythe, there is a quaint little train that carries you along to pier to the town end. It rather reminded us of the steam trains on the Isle of Man.
Hythe is a delightful place. We took tea on a terrace overlooking the sea and watched the busy scene on Southampton Water. There were huge cargo ships, a cruise-ship and hundreds or maybe thousands of smaller craft from tugs to private yachts and working boats.
Hythe has a village feel to it but it is a lively village. On a sunny day like today it is good to stroll about, explore the streets and shops or sit in the sun and watch the world go by.
By the time we took the little ferry back to Southampton it was about 2 pm and we went to a restaurant called La Margherita just along from the ferry port. After lunch we walked into town, having just missed the free bus. We explored the town thoroughly, including the market in the photo.
However, we had bus passes so why not use them? We caught a bus to Hamble-le-Rice. This is a little gem of a place and we enjoyed a walk along the quays watching the boats and the antics of the pigeons and seabirds.
This is yacht-club territory so there are plenty of posh houses and signs reading “Private” and “Keep out”. We agreed that though it was a pleasant spot to visit, it would be pretty dull living there.
The name is curious and there doesn’t seem to be a very good explanation of it. One suggestion is that as the town is reached up a hill, “Rice” means “Rise”. But in that case, what about the Norman-sounding “le”? More research seems necessary.
The bus from Hamble took us to a stop in town where we would wait for a bus to the station. Our attention was caught by the sound of drums and fifes. Curious, we followed the sounds through park and found a pub where a crowd was gathered, many the worse for wear. There was a drum and fife band playing to the enthusiastic acclamation of the crowd.
According to the lettering on the big drum, this was a band of the Apprentice Boys of Belfast. Assuming this is correct, I have no idea why they were there and performing outside a pub in Southampton.
If we were to rank this series of days out in order of preference, Southampton, Hythe and Hamble-le-Rice would come out on top. It was our best day out and we will certainly return.