I am now in my last month in Southampton; from next month I will be living in Salisbury, and to be honest I am not looking forward to leaving this city. I have been here since April and have made it my home from home. I have enjoyed looking at the ships and visiting the cemeteries. I have walked many kilometres, seen many things, and experienced “life at the seaside”.
It is not a perfect place, if anything it is somewhat of a tired, worn out place. Full of old buildings, strange road layouts, and peculiar idiosyncrasies.
Somewhere in its history it tried to throw away the old and bring in the new, and in doing so lost a lot of its own heritage. World War 2 also caused a lot of havoc with the city, destroying a lot of the heritage with as much gusto as the politicians who made the decisions as to what to destroy and what to keep. The harbour today is a mere shade of its former busy self, although it is still a working and effective harbour. Possibly it is a much more efficient harbour?
I had a unique glimpse into what goes on inside it, and experienced the seemingly chaotic period between when a cruise ship arrives and when it sails.
I have been cold, wet, hot, sticky, and almost blown off the quayside by the wind. I have seen pigeons and seagulls, often in strange situations…..
I have seen people of all ages, races and persuasions. I have walked where the Titanic sailed into history,
and seen the effects of the disaster in the many monuments and plaques scattered around the city. I have often heard the soft echo of a church bell on a Sunday, and explored some of the interiors of these grand old places of worship,
I have heard the noisy whine of the street sweeping machine, and the muted rumble of a ships engines, and the roar of aircraft flying overhead. All around me people have gone hither and thither, often caught up in the mindless pre-occupation of their cell phones. I have seen children laugh and play and cry and sulk, with parents that are often indifferent to the small munchkins that are growing up in front of them. I have almost been run over by people on bicycles and mobility scooters. Cars have tried to run over me, and large trucks have almost bowled me over with their slipstream.
I have seen the season change from spring to summer, and the sun rising earlier in the morning, and setting later at night.
And, as I prepare to leave the city that cycle is reversing and soon winter will be upon us and the glorious sunny days will be gone for another year. I have seen the women go from drab clothing to almost full on nudity, and I still shake my head at the fake tans and abundant tatoos. I have seen the after effects of a nights drinking in the park, and the detritus left behind after a festival. I have stood on the quayside till late at night, waiting for a ship to sail, watching the scudding clouds as they evolve and move onwards.
I have seen the tide come in, and watched the waves lap on the shore, in the timeless way that they always have.
I have stood where the mighty Itchen River meets the River Test, and seen the effect that these two rivers have on the city, and how important they are to commerce and leisure.
I have walked the ancient walls of the city and questioned myself as to what it must have been like so many centuries ago.
I have stood beneath the Bargate, once the gateway to the city, and today a mere ancient building with no function except as a landmark.
I have remembered those who died in wars at the cenotaph,
and I have visited the old cemetery where Southampton buried it’s dead.
I have seen and done many things since April, and when I finally ride the train for the last time I will be closing off this period of my life and will be starting a new one. I have not had full time employment since May 2011, and on Monday I am starting my first new job since then. Its going to be hard to make that adjustment to my life once again.
So, if things do quieten down a bit on this blog, you will know why, and you will understand that I have left the city I always wanted to see and am now in another, and hopefully will find much there to interest me, just as I did in Southampton.
Many of the places I visited were with my landlord, he was a true friend who helped me at a point where I hit rock bottom, if it had not been for him I would probably not be here today. Thank you Bob, I will never forget what you did for me.
As they say in the classics: It has been quite a ride…
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 11/04/2016