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Posts tagged ‘hampshire’

Why we never did make it to Southampton

One of our to-dos while in Hampshire was a visit to Southampton, which partly influenced our choice of accommodation. While the main family connection was with Portsmouth, Southampton also had some relevance and there were other general interest reasons for wanting to go. We would be there a few weeks after the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking.

A day trip was scheduled mid-week. Dad’s cousin Helen would come with us and we would detour to a family church on the way.

That was easier said than done. The church was in a rural parish that had been known as Farley Chamberlayne but it’s not on the map, nor just Farley, so the satnav programming required a bit of lateral thinking. Once we were in the depths of the countryside driving down Farley Lane we just had to keep going and hope we came across the church or a signpost.

We found it. After not knowing what to expect or if we’d even get there, it was good to find something substantial. Historic church, beautiful location.

St John’s Church at Farley Chamberlayne. For such an out of the way place there were two other lots of visitors including three on a photo shoot for a book

Me and dad with his first cousin Helen

The little Norman church is several hundred years and perhaps up to 1,000 years old. There was likely another church from Saxon times on the site before this. My ancestors attended this church from mid 1700s for about 100 years

The beam work is striking. We were told it was sourced from a ship

If doorways could talk… the notches were made by returning crusaders (circa 11th-13th centuries)

We hunted through the graveyard but if there are any family members buried there it was impossible to tell, the age and condition of the headstones making most names illegible

The church is at the end of a lane in the quiet countryside between Romsey and Winchester

Not a bad location eh?

Me and a new friend

A view from out the front of the church. All was serene, though not for long…

Our respective wanderings moved to various parts outside the church grounds and it wouldn’t be long before we’d be leaving and off to Southampton.

Suddenly I heard a small commotion and saw the photo shoot ladies run toward the neighbouring house. Not sure what was going on, I hurried over – to find Helen sprawled on the ground.

She had tripped or twisted her ankle on the uneven surface and fell quite hard. I didn’t hear it but others did: apparently there was a loud crack as she went down and she was convinced that her ankle was broken.

Everyone was in agreement that she shouldn’t be moved so we made her as comfortable as was possible and I got on the phone to emergency services.

While the photo shoot ladies protected Helen from the sun by holding up a large reflector!, I called for an ambulance and hoped my vague location description made sense

Given the remoteness, I drove down the road so that I could direct the ambulance when it arrived. I waited half an hour or so at a crossroads not far from the church

Having skilfully pointed the ambulance in the direction of the church (waste of time as it turned out, one of the ambos knew the area well), I returned to supervise proceedings as they assessed Helen and got her comfortable

Helen was to be taken to the hospital in Winchester and so there was nothing else for it but to abandon our Southampton plans and follow. Mum accompanied her in the ambulance, dad and I going ahead in the car. We’d fill in time and mum would keep us posted with proceedings at the hospital.

Winchester wasn’t in our plans and I didn’t know much about it. But turns out there were some landmarks of interest and so I began to look at our change of plans positively.

However, after we found some lunch and took some up to mum, Helen was almost ready to leave. The doctor didn’t think she had broken her ankle and so she was discharged, albeit still very sore. We left without really seeing anything of Winchester and returned back to the Portsmouth area.

So that was that. The church had stopped the day from being a complete loss and well, it gave me a sort of medical emergency to write about. I’ll have to catch up with Southampton next time I’m in the south of England, whenever that should be!

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A first peek at Portsmouth

Day one in Hampshire was a low key affair and after a lazy morning we had a fairly leisurely expedition into Portsmouth.

As mentioned, dad’s dad came from Portsmouth hence our reason for loitering in the area. Dad still has a few cousins in England, several of whom he hadn’t met, but the one he knows best lives locally. We picked Helen up from her place and ventured out for a late lunch.

Sunday roast for lunch (when in Rome and all that) at a pub in the Bere Forest area on our way in to Portsmouth

It was a slightly hurried affair. A gypsy fair was being staged in nearby Wickham the following day with many of them arriving that day, which prompted police to advise local establishments to close mid-afternoon on account of the trouble that may otherwise arise. That teensy observation of how cultures adapt to each other was quite interesting.

We drove on to Portsmouth, specifically the original historic part of the city known as … Old Portsmouth. (Can you see what they did there?) We parked and wandered along the waterfront.

A series of memorials for things such as the Falklands conflict and an expedition that circumnavigated our dear neighbour Australia

The Round Tower, part of Portsmouth’s first permanent defences, flanked by what was the Eighteen Gun Battery

Inside the Round Tower – me with dad and his cousin

Great walkway along the old wall defences

The lay of the land in this part of the world is a bit confusing without the context of a map, on account of the higgledy piggledy coastline and numerous waterways. A good chunk of Portsmouth is actually on an island (Portsea) and other islands take up quite a bit of the harbour. The harbour entry is quite narrow and what you assume is another part of Portsmouth across the water actually isn’t. The Isle of Wight is a short ferry ride away, though we wouldn’t be going there on this trip.

A border agency boat enters Portsmouth Harbour past part of the old naval facilities in Gosport

Old Portsmouth Beach

So far I was liking this city. Waterside location, lots of old bits, especially defences and fortifications, and some grey boats.

Peeking through Old Portsmouth to a moored naval boat

At Spice Island, one end of Old Portsmouth

After pausing in the Spice Island Inn for a fortifying red bull for me, cup of tea for the grown-ups, and warm chocolate brownie, we walked inland 15 minutes or so to where dad’s dad’s family had lived. Mum had been here before so kinda knew where we were going.

A thingy on the Portsmouth Cathedral which our route took us past

What you can do with those cannon barrels you no longer need

Street where dad’s dad lived when he left on his own for NZ as a teenager

The house was where the dark brown brick dwelling is now

A shame that the original house is no longer there but it was great to see the location all the same, and its proximity to the old city. There would be more family places of interest during the week, things that for me were worth the entire trip.

Walking back to the waterfront, we made one more stop in another area. We’d only been in Portsmouth five minutes but it was obvious and surprising how extensive the coastal defences were that once served the city. I saw church ruins nearby and like a magpie distracted by something shiny, I immediately detoured.

The Royal Garrison Church dates back to the 1200s and if not for a fire raid on the city in 1941, it may have been a bit more intact today

A good first day and I was looking forward to coming back tomorrow. Between the Royal Marines Museum and the Historic Dockyard it was going to be a busy one.

Swallows and horses: our cottage in Hampshire

So we arrived in Hampshire, looking forward to staying put for a few days. The ol’ bag heaving routine does get a bit wearisome after a while, especially as we had managed to stay in places where bags had to be heaved up and down stairs.

Our accommodation was self catering, but after such a full day a pub dinner was the way to go.

Though the high pitched high volume voices from the tottering heeled young females near our table was almost too much to bear!

Hampshire was part of our trip because that’s where dad’s dad came from. Portsmouth was the main interest here, but Southampton also featured, and so mum suggested we stay in easy reach of both. Accordingly we chose a cottage in the rather obscure location of Durley village.

Swallow Cottage on Snakemoor Farm was a lovely, quiet place where the three of us had all the space we needed.

Our home for a week

I was a bit lax in considering wifi access – not sure why, I don’t think I was ditzy enough to assume that it would be generally accessible. So that was a downer but the only one really.

(And I was able to buy some access online and if I sat in the car at the end of the driveway, could get 1-2 bars.)

Not called Swallow Cottage for nothing…

We had lovely neighbours too.

Stables were spitting distance away

It was a busy place with horsey comings and goings. The clip clopping of hooves was a fairly regular soundtrack as our neighbours were led past and out to the paddocks.

Meet Crunchie…

…and Sandy

We began our stay with a bit of a day off but the rest of the week was busy and I’ll cover some of that in the posts to follow.

End of the week and back into that pack-up-and-leave routine. Look at that weather!

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