Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Holidays.

A glorious Christmas Day here in Hythe, my morning run lit by the golden glow of a rising sun, the wind in the south west, the air mild and damp, an incoming tide, a robin in the Grove Gardens, two pied wagtails, a blackbird, oystercatchers on the shoreline, cormorants diving, gulls in the air, and peace, perfect peace.

The picture shows Happy Holidays from Hythe promenade.

To see more pictures from the Hythe Happy Holidays series, click on the links below.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).

Inspired by the moment and knowing that this time of year requires an emotional lightness of touch, I've turned to the music of Bach and the Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. I've been listening to the arias and choruses for a few days now and find my spirits lifted and my head full of trumpets - and very beautiful they are too.

I'm listening to an old recording of a fine performance by The Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. All the tracks are lovely, but there's one in particular that resonates with me and makes me want to listen to it again and again. It's Part One, No 8 Aria, Great Lord and Mighty King, sung by bass Olaf Bar, and I think I like it so much because of the pure joy of those soaring trumpets, the lilting, smiling happiness in the voice; I can feel myself positively levitating when I listen to it. It's just wonderful.

The picture shows the CD cover. Click on the link below to find out more.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Blue Sky Thinking.

Despite the meteorological office weather warnings of gale force winds, sleet and temperatures below zero, it was actually a very nice week here in Hythe. It has been cold, but not freezing, it was very windy one night, it was very wet one morning, but mostly there have been big skies, sunny days and moonlit starry nights.

The point is, although I carried on as normal and went hither and thither, out and about, and had a very nice time, I can't seem to shake off an underlying sense of dread. Maybe it's the time of year (December is not my best month), maybe it's my frame of mind, or maybe I just need to stop listening to the weather reports!

In a lighter moment and out with my camera, I snapped this wonderful stand of trees (pictured above) in the Grove Gardens, Hythe, set against the clear blue sky.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


We saw the first frost last week and as the outside temperature dropped and the inside temperature warmed, I felt an overwhelming urge to be outdoors. It was more than my usual desire for a morning run; I felt the need to be expansive, to look up at a big sky, to drink in the cold air, to walk, to stride out, to be in the world. I needed to move, to get a sense of space, to feel the possibilities.

And that's unusual for me, I always prefer to be inside. I like to look at the sky, to see the view, but I can look through the windows anytime, so I've been trying to make sense of this sudden need to be outside.

I think it's to do with movement. I don't like to be contained, to be still, to be restricted, so perhaps the first frost signalled the onset of winter, of ice and snow, slippery underfoot, difficult driving conditions, cancelled trains, severe weather warnings, don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary. It's not that I don't like cold weather, I do, and I love snow, I think it's the prospect of a world of limitations, the sense of dread, the lack of movement. I think I need a landscape full of possibilities, physically and emotionally. One of my favourite sayings is "I'm better when I move", maybe I've just fully understood what I mean!

The photo shows a birch tree on Hythe foreshore and perfectly demonstrates a world of possibilities; the beautiful tree, the blue sky, the water, the red funnel of the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 in the distance and, beyond that, the city of Southampton. A still picture of a moving landscape.

Click on the link to see a big close up of the birch tree.

Monday, 5 December 2011


This marvellous mound of fungi is growing on an old tree stump in the local churchyard (St John's, Hythe). I don't know whether they're mushrooms or toadstools because I haven't yet managed to identify them; but they're an astonishing sight and worthy of a mention.

The photo shows a scant half of the entire mound. To take a look at a wide shot, click on the link to visit my picture blog.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Art of Coincidence?

I spent a day in London earlier in the week and passing through New Bond Street, I nipped into The Fine Art Society for a leisurely look at the latest exhibition. The paintings that caught my eye were portraits by Gerald Brockhurst. Today I was in Southampton at the City Art Gallery and there he was again, just one painting this time, Portrait of a Girl, and very fine indeed. Until this week, I knew nothing of the work of Gerald Brockhurst, but coincidence has inspired me to mention it here and to find out more about his life and works.

The Fine Art Society exhibition of his work ended on 30th November 2011 alas, but the exhibition at the Southampton City Art Gallery is on until 2nd January 2012. The exhibition is actually a retrospective of the work of Boo Ritson, and the Gerald Brockhurst Portrait of a Girl is included in her choice of paintings from the Southampton City Art Gallery permanent collection. The Boo Ritson exhibition is well worth a visit; she physically paints her subjects in thick emulsion paint and then has the scene photographed while the paint is still wet.

The photo at the top isn't as irrelevant as it first appears; on the way out of the Southampton City Art Gallery, I was taken with the beauty of the banks of shrubs lining the courtyard entrance and snapped a picture; they're Viburnum davidii.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I've lately been polishing up my website and have just added two new picture galleries featuring my shoe collection. There are more Hythe galleries to see and I've also included picture descriptions.

Click on the link to visit my website, then click on Shoes to see the new shoe collection, and click on News to see all the latest additions.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Stormy Monday.

A broody day to start the week and, after a couple of days away, I'm at sixes and sevens, my head full of the weekend, my thoughts turning this way and that. I need to drink in this quiet morning, taste the air, feel the comfort of those heavy skies. I need to soak up the atmosphere. I need to be out there. I need my morning run.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Grey Day?

I woke to the sound of fog horns this morning and looked out to see a wall of mist obscuring the view to Southampton, spilling on to the pier and funnelling through the trees in the Grove Gardens. The tide was in, the water a silent silver, a pair of swans gliding towards the foreshore, two great crested grebes fishing in the bay, disappearing for minutes at a time and emerging like phantoms from the deep; it was a magical scene.

I love this time of year and I love a damp misty day; I love looking out at it, I love being out in it, I love the way it feels and I love the way it makes me feel; I feel happy, comforted, content and at one with the world. I mention this because yesterday was also a damp misty day and a trip to the village and a morning nod to a neighbour elicited a "miserable day isn't it" from her. I wanted to disagree, I wanted to wax lyrical about the beauty of it, I wanted to turn cartwheels to show her how good it made me feel, but I didn't, because that's not what's required, I just nodded and gave her a sympathetic smile. But I was irritated, I wanted to explain it to her, I wanted her to see the beauty of it, I wanted her to understand how I felt. And that's probably why I'm writing it here, sharing it and hoping someone else feels the same way too.

No pictures of the misty day but a link to the lovely grebes.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Dark Water.

A beautiful autumn afternoon yesterday, high clouds in a blue sky, the sun low, a brisk easterly blowing across the water, the air cold and sweet; I had an irresistable urge to be outside, so I headed off to Lepe, some twenty minutes south of Hythe, on the coast between Calshot and Beaulieu.

It was glorious, the tide was coming in, there were oystercatchers and gulls on the shoreline, yachts tacking back and forth on the Solent, the Isle of Wight in the distance, children playing, people walking along the shingle, people sitting on groynes, their backs to the wind, the sun in their eyes, everyone happy to be there.

But it was too lively for me, so I headed along the coast and off the beaten track to the quiet of the Dark Water; the ground soft underfoot, the reflected sky, two coots upstream and a kingfisher perched on a protruding post in the bank. Perfect peace, as you can see from the photo.

Click on the links to see more pictures and to find out more about Lepe and the Dark Water.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

More Mushrooms And Toadstools.

After much searching, I'm cautiously confident that I've identified these tiny orange cap mushrooms as Psilocybe aurantiaca (see my blog dated Wednesday 16 November 2011). Also known by other names and commonly known as Redlead Roundheads, they are usually found growing on wood chips and are described as poisonous. The question is, if they are poisonous, who first discovered that the taste is mild?!

Friday, 18 November 2011


Each morning for the past week I've watched flocks of birds gathering and wheeling to and fro over Southampton Water, some headed south, some headed north, most of them too high in the sky to identify. But yesterday I spotted a flock of 50 or so, and as they flew over, half of them peeled off and landed on the shoreline to feed; long enough for me to grab my binoculars and my pocket bird book to discover that they were lapwings. It was a bright, clear, autumn morning, the tide was coming in and the air was still, a perfect day for my first sighting of such beautiful birds. They look black and white from a distance and have a distinctive black wispy head crest - quite unique and very elegant. They were too far away to photograph, so click on the link to take a look at a picture and to find out more about them.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Mushrooms And Toadstools.

It seems to be a bumper year for mushrooms and toadstools in this part of the world and during the last week I've seen lots of beauties. There are shaggy ink caps in the grass of the Grove Gardens, verdigris toadstools in the bark mulch of the raised beds in Hythe Marina, tiny orange cap mushrooms I've yet to identify, also in the bark mulch, and all sorts of mushrooms, large and small, dotted along the grass verges through the New Forest.

The picture shows the blue-green verdigris toadstool; beautiful to look at but very probably poisonous.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Moon Watching.

I caught sight of the moon earlier this evening, in a cloudy sky and to the east. Described as waxing gibbous, 99% of full, it looked spectacular to me and I just had to take a picture.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Rainbow In The Mist.

A sharp shower followed by a burst of sunshine earlier today, resulted in the appearance of a lovely rainbow, streaming through the clouds and vanishing into Southampton Water. By the time I found my camera, the landscape was beginning to disappear into a mist of rain and the picture has a wonderfully dramatic softness to it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

New Moon.

The first day of November and my first sighting of the new moon. It's been out there, somewhere, for the last six days and today, at last, the clouds cleared to reveal a beautiful waxing crescent moon, still in its first quarter. The picture was taken early this evening looking to the south west; the moon is slightly hazy, but no less awesome for all that.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Blow The Wind Southerly.

A sultry southerly blowing this morning when I went out for my run; a cloudy sky, very mild, the air soft and damp, my head full of nothing at all, but the joy of being there and feeling the wind against my face. An incoming tide, two cruise ships in port, the marina deserted, the village coming to life, bird song in the Grove Gardens, a flock of goldfinches heading for thistles on the foreshore, clouds clearing, shafts of sunlight. A perfect start to a wonderful autumn day.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Southampton Water.

Wonderfully moody when I looked out early this morning; a brooding sky, lights of almost every colour reflected across the water, a cruise ship in dock, a ferry boat, tugboats, big cargo ship, massive crane. The picture perfectly captures the beauty of Southampton Water.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Crescent Moon.

A fabulous sunrise this morning and very windy; a brisk south easterly scudding the clouds across the sky. Not too breezy to venture out with my camera, early enough to catch the best of the sunrise, and just in time to see the clouds clear to reveal this beautiful waning crescent moon. There's a new moon on Wednesday and, as usual, I'll be watching the night sky, hoping to catch a glimpse.

Click on the link to see a full photo of the sunrise on my picture blog.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sea Mist.

I looked out across Southampton Water early this morning to see the top decks of the cruise ship Independence of the Seas; the rest of her bulk was lost in a dense bank of mist clinging to the water and obscuring everything in its path. It was an amazing sight, so I grabbed my camera and rattled off this shot; at just the right moment to catch the Hythe pier train glinting and golden in the rising sun!

Friday, 14 October 2011


For all sorts of reasons, I didn't get out for my early morning run until late this afternoon! It was a spectacular day; big blue sky, sunshine, long shadows, a brisk easterly, a nip in the air; perfect weather for me and ideal running conditions. AND there were three cruise ships in port.

Early mornings, I run along by the water, through the village, round the marina and back again; some thirty minutes all told; not far, but I keep a fair pace and barely pause for breath. So it was a real surprise to discover that my late afternoon run was a big effort; I had to coax myself every step of the way; my legs felt heavy, I was breathless, I had to slow down to a yomp when I reached the marina, and the best I could do was to stride home purposefully. But all was not lost, because the air was sweet, the water sparkled, I had a close-up view of Celebrity Eclipse and Azura leaving port; they blew their whistles and it was wonderful just to be there.

Home again, I was in good time to grab this shot of Queen Mary 2 nosing past the Itchen and preceded by her police launch escort.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Hythe Pier, Hythe Pier Train, Hythe Ferry.

A ten minute walk around the foreshore, through the Grove Gardens, along by St John's church and through the village will get me to the pier train that gets me to the ferry that takes me across the water to Southampton; a journey of some twenty minutes; a journey of sheer delight.

Hythe pier is one of the ten longest piers in Britain and the pier train is the longest running pier train in the world. In fair weather, it's a joy to walk the length of the pier to the ferry, but it's always a thrill to ride the little train.

The ferry across the water is always exciting; it's a short trip and there's so much to see, from the smallest yacht to the biggest ocean liner and everything in between. I've been delighted by the whistles of cruise ships, amazed by the size of roll-on-roll-off cargo ships, alarmed by the wake of the Isle of Wight Fastcat, charmed by the brute force of the tugboats, enchanted by the long view down the water to the Solent, and waved myself silly at a departing RMS Queen Elizabeth.

The picture shows the end of a deserted Hythe Pier, looking towards the village. Click on the picture, click again, and you should have a bigger photo to get a sense of the distance from one end to the other.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Wading Birds: Little Egret.

As I looked out over Southampton Water this morning, the sky was a cloudless blue, the sun shone, the tide was coming in, and the shoreline was dotted with gulls and wading birds. There are always lots of gulls; common, herring, yellow-legged, black-headed, black-backed; usually a good number of oystercatchers, curlews and turnstones; often a few godwits and redshanks; and sometimes an egret, maybe two. And of all these visitors, I love the egret most of all; with its fine black bill, white plume, slender neck and long black legs; it's such an elegant bird.... and then there are those great big yellow feet! They're wonderful - and so unexpected - I love them. And I think that's why I love the egret so much; I'm just longing to catch sight of those feet!

The picture doesn't quite show the egret's true elegance (I caught it hunched and ready to spear a fish, and it has an evil look in its eye), but you can just about see one of those big yellow feet.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Almond Tree: St John's Churchyard.

I was thrilled to see the almonds ripening beautifully on this lovely old tree in the local churchyard. I can't recall ever having seen ripe fruit on an almond tree in Britain; is it unusual for this country, or do I just need to get out more?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Weather Vane: Waterfront Garden Surgery.

The weather vane on top of the local doctors' surgery looked particularly good this afternoon as I passed by on a constitutional through the village and around the marina. The blue sky sets it off a treat. Aaaah!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Southampton Boat Show.

There were lots of handsome yachts on Southampton Water last week, tacking back and forth, to and fro, in and out, and round about the Southampton Boat Show. It's a wonderful event and there's a variety of fabulous things to see, from a rechargeable fog horn and an ocean-going yacht, to a super-absorbent quick-drying towel and a crystal-clear, unbreakable, non-slip acrylic champagne glass! I was torn between the navigational maps and the waterproof clothes; I love a good map and I love looking at clothes; I'm also intrigued to know how it's possible to move in all those layers - the great big hooded jacket, the thermal fleece, the salopettes, the beanie hat, the gloves, the non-slip boots, the lifejacket?!

The yachts and the boat show didn't make a good picture from my window, so I walked over to Hythe marina for a better view. I still couldn't find a good shot, but as I headed home I spotted this disgruntled seagull perched on the tip of a giant anchor!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Paddle Steamer Waverley.

The Waverley has been steaming in and out of Southampton for the past few days, at the start and end of her sightseeing trips to Portsmouth Harbour and round the island (the Isle of Wight), and it's always a delight to see her. She was built on the Clyde in 1946 and still cuts a very handsome figure. The picture was taken yesterday morning and shows her steaming down Southampton Water, the Itchen bridge in the background to the left.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The View From My Window: Hythe Clouds.

This week has seen a wonderful mix of contrasting weather; from high winds, storm clouds and heavy rain, to warm sunny days, big skies and spectacular sunsets. I've loved it all and I've especially loved watching the clouds, sailing, gliding, billowing, thundering in from the west. The picture sums it up for me (the trees to the left are in the west).

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The View From My Window: Hythe Sunset.

The view across Southampton Water is spectacular this evening; the air is still and cool, the lights are twinkling, all is quiet, just the sound of the tide turning.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I wore this hat to a late summer wedding last weekend, and it was perfect - the hat and the wedding. A small country church, St Mary's in the village of Barkby, Leicestershire, late 13th century, a spire, a peal of six bells and a winding pathway lined with yew trees. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome and everyone beamed as the sun shone and the bells rang. Congratulations John & Lizzie!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


I love roses and these are divine; they're a couple of weeks old now and fading beautifully. Don't you just love those colours!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Southampton Water.

The view across Southampton Water was just beautiful this evening; an incoming tide, blue sky, clouds lit by the sun - what a picture!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The New Forest.

Rambling through the forest last week was a joy; late afternoon, the sun low in the sky, a chance of rain, the air sweet and damp. I came home with a big smile, a bag full of blackberries and a handsome array of specimens for my nature table. I can identify most of them, the hawthorn, dog rose, pine cones, thistle, alder, london plane, blackberry, cobnut/hazel, heather, beechnut, blackthorn/sloe, but the long slender plant at the bottom of the picture - is it meadowsweet?, and the silvery green, sword-shaped leaves with the clusters of orange berries - very beautiful, but what is it?

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Moon 2.

After such a wet and moody day yesterday, the sky was a cloudless , bright blue early this morning and I was thrilled to see the moon, still visible to the west (centre left in the picture - click on it for a larger view and click again for a big close up). A beautiful day indeed and a fine day for a birthday. Happy birthday Sheila! And happy birthday to my brother John - it was his birthday on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Hythe Sunset.

An extraordinary sunset this evening, looking west, across Hythe foreshore, towards the village and the marina.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The New Forest Show: Celery.

I think I've always liked celery, it's an elegant vegetable, has a good colour, beautiful leaves, and a very particular flavour; works well on its own, with cheese, with apple, with walnuts, in a soup, in a stew, braised, roasted, raw, and is a fine ingredient for a sandwich.

I mention it now because of the photo. I went to The New Forest Show a couple of weeks ago and of all the exhibits - the cows, the sheep, the horses, the local arts and crafts, the fruit, the flowers - it was the vegetables I loved most of all. I was captivated by the beauty of four perfect potatoes displayed on a plate, three handsome carrots, tops trimmed, roots intact, cleaned and arranged with military precision, and of course, the two giant heads of celery, standing proud and emblazoned with a bright red first prize rosette - the best in show for me!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Moon 1.

I love to see the moon and each night I look out hoping to catch a glimpse. It hasn't been visible for weeks - too cloudy, or too low in the sky - but last night the sky cleared and there it was, in the south east, almost full and looking magnificent. I love a full moon and maybe I'll see it tonight, but most of all I love a new moon, so you can be sure I'll be scanning the skies until the end of the month, watching and waiting, hoping to see that magical sliver of light.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Mezzo-Sopranos: Dame Janet Baker.

I love a mezzo-soprano and over the years I've fallen under the spell of many, but I always come back to Janet Baker singing Handel arias. I need to be in a happy and expansive frame of mind in order to listen, otherwise I find them too strident, but when the time is right, they're a perfect fit and the gentle power of her voice, its depth and sensitivity, match my mood and fortify my spirit.

One particular aria, Dopo Notte from Ariodante, is my all-time favourite; it was made for me, it is me, and when I found the CD notes and read the English translation, my hair stood on end, it defined my very being and I understood everything.

"Dopo Notte"
Aria from Ariodante (1734)

After night, dark and mournful,
the sun shines more radiantly
and fills the earth with joy;
while in a frightful tempest
my boat almost capsizes
it arrives in port
and clings to the shore.

by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The View From My Window 7: Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.

Last weekend was spectacularly busy on Southampton Water; Ocean Village in Southampton was host to the start of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race (10 ocean-going race yachts set off from the Solent to take part in the world's longest yacht race - 31st July 2011 to 22nd July 2012 - twelve months at sea!).

On Friday HMS Illustrious arrived in port (the Royal Navy helicopter carrier). On Saturday morning the racing yachts started to arrive, along with three cruise ships (MSC Opera, Ventura & Celebrity Eclipse). On Saturday afternoon the three cruise ships left port and made lots of lovely noise with their whistles. On Saturday evening there was a fabulous firework display. On Sunday morning the cruise ship Aurora arrived, along with dozens of small boats, lining up to watch the parade. On Sunday afternoon the Parade of Sail set off down Southampton Water to the race start in the Solent - the 10 ocean-going yachts, followed by HMS Illustrious and surrounded by support vessels and every kind of small ship imaginable. The sun shone, the wind blew (a brisk south easterly), the water positively boiled with boats jostling for position, helicopters buzzed in and out, the marina was stuffed with sightseers, Hythe foreshore was humming, people standing, sitting, watching, talking, clicking cameras, pointing, training binoculars, children playing, gulls squabbling, the world was abustle. And then they were gone, silence, as though it had never happened, water lapping at the shore, a tern diving, the pier train rattling, Aurora still in her berth, Sunday afternoon at home, and just these pictures to remind me.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The View From My Window 6.

An early morning sighting of RMS Queen Elizabeth sent me scampering for my camera. It was getting on for 06:30 when she came into view on Southampton Water and she looked so majestic sailing silently into port - I just needed to capture the moment.

I love the cool, quiet of an early summers morning, before the heat gets up, and today it was bliss; the tide was out, the air was still and cool, an egret fishing in the shallows, seagulls calling, a flock of turnstones - it can't get much better than this.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

A Question 3.

Sometimes I just seem to lose my way; take me from my desk for a day or two and I'm lost, wandering around, unable to settle, too many things spinning in my head, shouting for attention, distracting me, my concentration shot, my focus gone; I feel at odds with the world, out of step, off-kilter, scratchy and uncomfortable, longing to find a new equilibrium. A morning run can help, writing a list can help, but the ingredient that always helps is time. And thinking about it, I realise that the time it takes for me to get to solid ground is equal to the time spent travelling from my desk, multiplied from hours to days. My recent trip to the midlands took four hours and, unbelievably, it was a good four days before I started to feel normal again. The question is, am I the only person to experience jet-lag without even leaving the ground!?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

A Weekend Away.

A beautiful morning here and I couldn't resist this picture of Ventura backing into her berth; Grand Princess is in the foreground, Independence of the Seas in the background and beyond her in the unseen distance is Oceana. I won't be here to wave them off tonight, I'll be a couple of hundred miles away in the midlands at a family get-together for my parents birthdays (both born on the 22nd of the month). Happy birthday for yesterday Dad, happy birthday for last month Mum.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The View From My Window 5.

Well, the rain didn't clear yesterday afternoon and I didn't walk over to the marina, but I did take this picture - a confusion of ships leaving port as another band of rain sweeps in - good isn't it!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The View From My Window 4.

It's wonderfully wet here today and as I look out across Southampton Water I can see six cruise ships. They've been coming in and out of focus all morning, as bands of misty rain sweep across from the south west to obliterate the view and add to the romance. I love a damp day, as I've probably said before; a soft, misty day is so romantic, I somehow feel safe and protected.

The ships are certainly a sight to see and six in one day is probably something of a record for Southampton (I think five is the previous maximum), making for a very busy day in the city. The passenger total for the six ships is 16,290 - Grand Princess 3,100, Ventura 3,092, Celebrity Eclipse 2,852, Artania 2,388, Balmoral 1,778 and Crown Princess 3,080 - that's a lot of people coming and going.

The rain is clearing now, there are patches of blue sky, and the sun is breaking through, so it looks as though it just might be a fine evening when all those ships line up to leave port. Maybe I'll walk over to the marina in a while, to join the crowd and watch and wave and wonder. But first I'll take a picture...

From right to left in the picture, the ships are: Grand Princess (bound for Stavanger), Ventura (also bound for Stavanger), Celebrity Eclipse (bound for Zeebrugge), Artania (not sure where she's going), Balmoral (Gibraltar) and Crown Princess (Le Havre).

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


When I looked out across the bay early this morning, the sun was shining, it was spotting with rain and there was a beautiful double rainbow. The photo doesn't quite do it justice, but you'll get the general idea.

Friday, 1 July 2011


I run for a variety of reasons, not least because I believe it's good for my physical health, but I realise more and more that running helps to clear a space in my head. It usually happens at around ten to fifteen minutes into the run, when I've reached a steady pace, and of all the jumbled thoughts swimming in my head, one will rise to the surface and start to dominate until all the others fall silent, my head clears and I can concentrate on that one idea. More often than not, it will be the one thing that's troubling me, a problem that needs solving, an underlying issue that needs attention. Sometimes the run will fix it, sometimes it fixes itself and sometimes it feels as though nothing will fix it, but for a while, at least, I feel more settled - and of course there's always tomorrow....

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


It was gloriously wet early this morning and as I looked out across the bay I saw a flock of some 20 or so godwits, drilling for worms on the foreshore as the tide came in. I don't know if they were bar-tailed godwits, or black-tailed godwits; it was impossible to tell from a distance, with a bird-spotting book in one hand and a pair of binoculars in the other, and it didn't really matter, it was just wonderful to see them there.

Friday, 24 June 2011

A Question 2.

On my morning run around the marina, I often see a group of women walkers; sometimes they are gathering at their meeting place by the fountain, sometimes they are stepping out, but always they are busy chattering. They look so relaxed and at ease with each other - it looks so nice and I feel slightly envious and wish I had the knack of joining in (not with this group of walkers in particular, you understand, but in general - having the ability to join in). I'm not very good in a group - I don't feel comfortable; I either want to be in charge (not popular), or skulk in the background (too sad), both of which could get me universally disliked (not at all my aim), so generally I keep myself to myself. This leads me to wonder if the group of women walkers look back at me and wish they had the knack of going it alone - do the joiners find their own company uncomfortable?

Friday, 17 June 2011

The View From My Window 3.

As the day progresses, the weather is really closing in, the rain is lashing down, the wind is blowing (an easterly) and as I look out across Southampton Water I can see Queen Mary 2 looking magnificent in the murk. She arrived from New York early this morning and this evening she is bound for Stavanger. Yes, she did blow her whistle as she pulled away and, no, I didn't wave from my balcony, I waved from inside, but I did go out to take this picture and, yes, I did get wet but I didn't mind at all.


The melancholy mood continues and I find myself drawn to the music of Purcell (Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary 1662-1694) and Tallis (Lamentations of Jeremiah). Despite the titles, I find these works consoling, healing and, ultimately, uplifting. I think it has something to do with the solemnity, the stillness, the purity of the voices - it resonates with me at a very deep level and helps to soothe my soul.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The New Forest.

I'm in a melancholy mood today and a trip through the New Forest this morning seemed to echo my feelings exactly. It's a sombre day, a light drizzle, mist hanging in the trees; at sea level, I feel this is the closest I can get to walking in the clouds. I love a damp day, and this quiet, closed-in atmosphere seems to reassure and comfort my heavy heart; the dense dark greens of the forest trees, a splash of colour, a buttercup, a clump of daisies, the landscape rolling into the sky. I feel at one with the world.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


Each morning a heron flies over my house. Sometimes there's just one, sometimes two, and this morning there were three. It's usually around 07:20 when I spot them in the distance, but this morning they were an hour later - who knows why? I don't know where they fly from, or where they fly to, and I never see them making the reverse journey, but I do so love to watch them. They cut such graceful figures in the air and are unmistakable as they languidly beat their broad wings; high in the sky over Southampton Water, by the marina, across the pier, closer, towards me, long legs trailing behind, over the house and gone.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The View From My Window 2.

As I look out across Southampton Water this morning, I can see five cruise ships, so it's a very special day and a bumper weekend - three ships yesterday, five today and two tomorrow. It's a hazy day, as you can see from the photo and I had to take a long shot to get all five ships in, but you can just about see them - from left to right they are:- Grand Princess, MSC Opera, Celebrity Eclipse, Azura and Oceana. They arrived early this morning; Celebrity Eclipse was already in dock when I looked out at 05:25 (!), Grand Princess, Azura and Oceana arrived between 06:00 and 07:00, and MSC Opera arrived as I was half way around the marina on my morning run at 07:30.

Grand Princess is bound for Las Palmas, MSC Opera for Amsterdam, Celebrity Eclipse for Gibraltar, Azura for Oslo and Oceana for St Peter Port in Guernsey. As usual, I'll be watching and waving from my balcony when they leave this evening and with so many ships in port, they're sure to blow on their whistles - I do hope so, it's such a wonderful sound. All three ships blew their whistles when they left yesterday, it was electrifying!

Friday, 3 June 2011

The View From My Window 1.

It's always a special day when there are cruise ships in port and as I look out across Southampton Water this morning I can see three - Queen Mary 2, Crown Princess and Oriana. In the photo, you can see QM2 (with the red & black funnel), the white nose of Crown Princess, and the Hythe pier train in the foreground - Oriana is unseen in the distance. Cruise ships usually leave port in the late afternoon/early evening and I'll be out there on my balcony waving them off and hoping to hear a blast from their whistles as they pull away. QM2 is bound for New York, Oriana for Zeebrugge and Crown Princess for Scotland. It's such a beautiful day and Southampton Water looks very glamorous in the sunshine.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


The July issue of Vogue thumped onto my doormat this morning, so the early part of my evening is decided; I'll be settling into a favourite armchair with my new magazine on my lap and a glass of champagne in my hand. I love Vogue and I love a glass of champagne, so this is the perfect way to spend an hour or two once a month. I'm not sure how it started, but it has become something of a ritual over the past few years and one I haven't yet tired of!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Chi Chi Nwanoku.

My Sunday afternoons just aren't the same without BBC Radio 3 Requests and Chi Chi Nwanoku. I love her voice, her choice of music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. I may well enjoy the concerts that are now scheduled for that time slot, but that's not the point - for the moment, I just miss the thought of tuning in and hearing her voice.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

A Question 1.

When I head out for an early morning run, my route invariably takes me around the marina, where I see lots of handsome boats with very particular names, ie "Miss Conduct", "Wasted Wages", "Resolution", "Prize", "Comfortably Numb". I rarely see anyone on board and I seldom see a boat in use. The question is, do the names of boats betray the psyche of the owners?