|March 31, 2010||London|
|Weather: Cold and very Windy||B&B: Kathy’s (Pimlico)|
I mentioned in a previous post that I purchased a return ticket from London Waterloo to Southampton Central for the unbelievable price of £2.50 and today was the day I got to use it. When I read the fine print I noticed that there was a designated car for MegaTrain.com customers so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I needn’t have worried … the fresh straw made all the difference! In actual fact the guard told me to sit anywhere I like.
There were no delays on the 90-minute journey and so I found myself on the streets of Southampton by 10:15am. I’d never been here before and so I wanted to do a bit of sight-seeing and also look up some of the places related to the Harris’s, my great-great-grandparents on my mothers side. First up was the last place they are related to – the Old Southampton Cemetery.
Many months ago I had contacted the Bereavement Services people at the Southampton City Council and they forwarded me a lot of detailed information on where my relatives were located. I have to say I’ve dealt with several Bereavement Services departments in Britain and all of them have provided excellent information at no charge and very quickly too.
Maintenance of the cemeteries is a different story and I soon found myself knee-deep in thorns in a desperate search for Harris’s and Acton’s. While there was no guarantee there would be headstones I felt the chances were good as one was a grocer and the other an engineer. Fortunately my efforts paid off and I located the headstone for the Harris’s. I was surprised to find that someone spelled my great-great-grandfather’s first name incorrectly. My only explanation is that the stone was placed there after my great-great Aunt died in 1978 and that there were no Southampton-based family left to notice the mistake.
I then spent the next several hours walking all over the city. Southampton was heavily bombed during WWII and so it’s architecture is a real mixture of old and new. I also whiled away the time in two excellent pubs, The Platform Tavern on Town Quay and The Guide Dog on Earl’s Road.
It was an extremely cold and windy day so the winged-back chair next to the Platform Tavern’s fireplace was the right place to be. I enjoyed an extremely nice pint of Gales Seafarer’s Ale while reading one of the many newspapers on hand. The pub was doing a roaring trade in food and if it hadn’t been for the bacon bap I ate an hour earlier I think I would have ordered too. It would have been soooo easy to order another pint (or two) and relax next to the fire but I figured this wasn’t the time to develop these sorts of habits or I’ll never make it to John O’Groats.
I headed back into the windy streets and marched north to The Guide Dog … as long as you walk between pubs its ok. 🙂 This was a real local pub, nothing fancy, just a nice quiet place to enjoy an excellent range of real ales. They had at least half a dozen on offer, including Bowman’s Swift One which went down very easily. They were promoting Cask Ale Week in Britain and so my pint was available for a very reasonable £2.20 … that’s only $3.50 for a nice pint of well-kept beer.
Cask Ale Week Quiz – “Unlike most lagers Cask beer is a fresh, live, natural product. It must be sold within how many days after being placed on sale?
a. 1 day
b. 3 days
c. 5 days
d. 7 days”
Answer: tune in tomorrow!