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Sunday is usually our day for a cafe breakfast followed by the weekly shopping run to Sainsbury’s. However, we heard on the radio that while the weather would be fine today, tomorrow would be spoilt by thunder storms. In view of this it seemed sensible to seize the opportunity and have our day out today.
We made our way to Waterloo Station which was crowded. In addition to people in ordinary summer clothes there were groups in costume. I spotted some young men in Roman togas, the odd Batman, a few other comic strip “superheroes” and less easily identifiable entities. Though I would have liked to take photos of these folk and of the unusually busy station, my hands were fully occupied with baguettes and coffee bought from Upper Crust while Tigger acquainted herself with the mysteries of the ticket machine.
Once our train’s platform was announced, we found ourselves part of a mass movement towards it and the 10:35 Weymouth train. In the carriage we chose, most seats were reserved but Tigger spotted a pair that were not and we dived into them.
There then ensued a prolonged kerfuffle as those with with seats took possession of them and those without tried to find somewhere to sit. South West Trains vehicles are notorious for lacking baggage space. There is only the overhead rack, intended for smaller personal items, which is not suitable large pieces.
So where are passengers supposed to put large suitcases? When the train is not too full, bigger items of baggage occupy seats but this is impossible when, as today, the train is full. It is incomprehensible to me how a train company operating long-distance services can be so stupid as to buy such inadequate vehicles.
The “train manager”, as they call them these days, made an announcement reminding passengers that baggage must not be left in the aisles. There followed a struggle while people tried to jam their suitcases onto the rack. The danger here is that they will fall onto people because of the movements of the train.
At each stop a crowd is waiting to board the train and look for seats. It is fortunate that we live in London, at the terminus, and can therefore board relatively easily. After the first couple of stops, there was standing room only which, apart from being uncomfortable for those without seats, does, in my opinion, have safety implications.
We left the train at Southampton Central and walked into town. We weren’t going to stay in town but our actual destination would depend on what transport was available. The bus service was a bit thin in places owing to it being Sunday and a bank holiday weekend. We plumped for Hythe as the bus service was frequent enough both to get us there and – equally important – to get us back again!
Hythe is on Southampton Water and combines views of land and sea and shipping, pleasant on a warm and sunny day.
Incidentally, you may know that there is also a Hythe in Kent and that other place names include the word, for example Rotherhithe. This is because the word hythe or hithe, from the Anglo-Saxon, means a port, haven or landing place.
We lunched in Seashells on the waterfront looking out across the water watching the coming and going of the Isle of Wight ferries. At the end of Hythe pier, a small ferry crosses between Hythe and Southampton. The pier is about 700 yards (0.4 mile or 636 m) long in order to reach the deep water, and a small train carries passengers to and from the ferry.
After lunch, we went for a walk, first to Fawley and then on down to Ashlett Creek. On the way we met some horses who were very friendly but I think they were more interested in what we might have in our pockets than in us personally.
It was an enjoyable walk in the green and pleasant countryside with glimpses of the water and the ships. Less happily (though it is no doubt necessary), the region is the site of Fawley Power Station whose omnipresent chimneys continually stand out over the view.
We had some idea of walking on down to Calshot but there were so many paths that it was difficult to find the way so we eventually abandoned the idea and decided to return to Fawley and thence to Hythe. We had a good reason for stopping at Hythe on our way home, otherwise we would probably have headed straight for Southampton. What reason was this? Well, much as I hate to admit it, I had accidentally left my spectacles behind at Seashells where we had lunch and had to go back for them.
When the time came to turn back, I was quite keen to retrace our steps, though this wouldn’t have been easy, because of the large number of paths. Tigger, however, trusting to her “inner pigeon”, struck off boldly across country, assuring me that we would eventually hit the road. Hm. What we did eventually hit was this abandoned car park belonging to Fawley Power Station, decorated with “Private” notices and warnings that trespassers would be prosecuted. Double hm.
Fortunately, Tigger’s “inner pigeon” finally took us back onto the main road without anyone feeling our respective collars and we walked to Fawley where, after a wait, we got a bus on the Hythe. Walking along the road was not as pleasant as following the path that had afforded views of land, marsh, water, ships and sky, but the important thing was to recover my specs and catch the bus back to Southampton because today, they run at a frequency of only one an hour.
Spectacles recovered, we took the bus to Southampton and there boarded a train for London. As we had not done the shopping, we had a good excuse to have supper a Spices, our friendly Indian restaurant in Chapel Market. What better way to round off the day?