The Building Of Chaos

It never ceases to amaze me that from the chaotic appearance of a building site, a structure is perfectly formed. When you peer through the fence that restricts your access, a construction site always seems unorganised and messy, with workman that appear to be doing nothing, the obvious clean outfit of the manager, and the apparent slow progress on a daily basis.


Having no real experience in civil engineering, the outsider could be forgiven for thinking that a structure would not be on display any time soon. I have the fortune or misfortune to have such an area both at work and in my domestic world, with neither project gathering pace through my untrained eyes, although never the less fascinating to watch.

So, once you look past the piles of rubble, the enormous hole that has been there for weeks, and the deep muddy tracks of heavy machinery, maybe you can see what it is going to look like when finished and after completion will you remember as it was?


Pave The Way (The Final)

Google maps

Google maps

It is with great delight and gusto that I report that Eastleigh Borough Council have seen the light, engaged some common sense and have finally repaired a set of steps that could have caused injury, within only weeks of being notified. A triumph for the pedestrian users of the once unsafe and bedraggled path blighting their shopping area. But lets just save the victory dance for a while whilst we analyse what has been achieved.


As you may or may not know, I decided to track the progress of a report of a crumbling stairway in the public domain, So I set about this journey using the official routes and directions, It soon became apparent that ownership of this piece of land was in some kind of legal limbo, and EBC were refusing to repair it regardless of their duty of care, which they also disputed.


A battle of words ensued with various people of varying status within the halls of power, all of whom would impress upon me their unwillingness to provide their parishioners with adequate footings, other than a vain attempt to exclude the area with barriers. I did however manage to become somewhat of an irritant, perhaps only outdone by a well known laxative chocolate, and caused slight discomfort among our peers in a position of power that we gave them.

You must understand that I am fully aware that I was not the only person on this trail for clarity and safety, so I will not take all credit for a well produced result for local inhabitants, but I will reiterate that the powers to be had great reluctance in acting upon it, also my belief is that in the meantime an injury was sustained at this spot, which may have prompted action sooner than it would have.

So safe in the knowledge that the people of Hamble are once again safe from suffering, I will fall back into the shadows until stirred again and say my farewells to all my new friends like Mr Bright of the EBC.

pv2pv1pvFor the full in depth story, scroll down and start from the beginning.


Botleigh Grange, Southampton

Once the centre piece of sprawling estate the Botleigh Grange hotel is now nestled in the middle of local businesses and offices on the outskirts of Southampton. This 17th century former family home has 55 rooms and a modern spa and is rated with 4 stars, and also is ideally suited to cater for weddings or large celebrations in style, but how does it fair for the one night stay customer?

Booking a room out of season was relatively easy and offers were available, one such offer that we took was dinner, room and breakfast for around £72 each per night in a double room. On arrival the reception staff were very polite and helpful, almost pre-empting questions I had prepared to ask, and we were told where to find the different areas and our room, as we had turned down an offer of help with our small overnight bag.


The room itself, although pleasant, was quite tired and furnished by more than enough antique looking wardrobes and bureaus, more than the average traveller would need, but was clean and with coffee making equipment at hand. Other facilities available were hair dryer, iron, ironing board, but no obligatory trouser press, and fresh white bath towels.

The “fine dining” experience, I feel quite honestly was that, delivered in my opinion by a talented chef and kitchen team, not only presented, but well thought out. The elusive bar staff were able to be found after time, perhaps embarrassed at the prices being charged behind it, also open to the public.

Although we did not visit the spa, we discovered that it was modern and well maintained, in comparison to the main hotel. So in general, the food was Michelin star, the staff 4 star, but the rooms were perhaps a little above 3 stars, but do still need improving.

The Village Inn, Swanwick, Hampshire.

Whilst looking for a venue to celebrate an 18th birthday with a meal, we were reliably informed that the Village Inn was a suitably ideal place to dine, fair pricing, good food and a friendly service, so we checked it out. Run by Ember Inns, this fairly local public house seemed charming when we visited it on the afternoon of the day to ask if we could leave the cake there for the evening, not only were they pleasant, but reassured us that everything was in hand and that they would adorn the reserved area with balloon and banners that we hoped to put up.


Sure enough on the night, seating for 14 was reserved and had a barrier to stop it being used for general use, and while most of our guests arrived before us, when we did, we were told we could use the area when we were ready. Not being a fan of the cask ales on offer, I was limited to bottled beer or as I had, cider on draught, although other members of the party were more than delighted with the choice.


The food was good, but basic, and more suitable for a lunchtime meal, and this is where I think I may have been disappointed in that there was no evening meals on offer, just “pub grub” which surprised me slightly as it had been recommended to us, although I am well aware that “one man’s meat is another’s poison”, so perhaps I am being a little unfair in my expectations. It was served in staggered formation, but this must be expected of 14 covers at once.

The staff were friendly, courteous and very helpful, especially after I mistakenly assumed that someone would take our order at the table, rather than placing it at the bar, but they very kindly took the order at our places, and it was served promptly. The ownership of the single stray hair was never established, but an adequate apology was accepted.

So, all in all a pleasant time was enjoyed by most, in it’s comfortable surroundings, a great place for a pub lunch, but maybe not a place for an evening meal.


Emergency Costs

Leaving the house to take the wife to the Doctors to have her painful wrist looked at, I was unaware of the events of the next 6 hours or the further education into human behaviour I was about to receive. It was 10.40am and I had barely risen from mid holiday slumber when I was throwing on clothes before leaving the house with a mouthful of coffee as my only sustenance. Typically the surgery was running behind, but of course you try to remain as calm as possible, although being the one not seeing the G.P. is slightly more frustrating, but we were seen 40 minutes later than planned.

Walking back into the waiting area my wife of 25 years informs me that we were required to go to the emergency unit of our local hospital, the obvious “but why” questions followed, but it was not in any doubt we would be going. A detour to a newsagent to pick up supplies for this appointment with the unknown, the long wait was prepared for.


Thankfully the kindness of a friend close by meant that we did not have the parking costs of today’s modern cash poor NHS, which we are all aware of. Strolling in to a mid-week accident department with a note from our Doctor in hand, I noticed a distinct lack of of the bustle you might expect, but this was no Friday night out on the town. We take a seat and prepare for our ears to be pricked by the sound of our name being called, and it was surprisingly short, not in time for me to spend the equivalent of the national minimum wage on 2 cups of vending machine coffee.

I stay behind in the waiting area, so the medical team can prod and poke unhindered, and this is where my journey into the world of humanity began. Using a people watching skill that I have only recently discovered, the next hour was about to be entertaining to say the least. A steady stream of “spot the diagnosis” came through the door, the hopping on one foot, the tea towel being held to the head and the sporadic vomiting teen were all in attendance, all being watched by the glare of the patient that had been waiting the longest.

When all of a sudden, from the wards appears a hospital gown clad, gaunt and painful female figure heading for the exit, and being aware that smoking is obviously not allowed, assumed that is where this skeletal figure was heading. It was at this point that I realised that the only piece of material protecting what was left of her modesty, wasn’t, and she wore an awkwardly placed dressing bridging the buttocks, and she could not have cared any less who was seeing it, and it was the same moments later when she returned. This pattern continued for quite some time, however it quickly became evident it was against the wishes of the medical staff and shortly thereafter she was dressed and leaving for the last time, well, for today at least.

I returned home through rush hour and roadwork traffic at 6.30pm without my spouse, who it appears had to be given treatment overnight, although, when I returned to collect her the following day, I was better prepared for what I was about to or may have seen.


Drinks At The Frog

A local public house with a cult following is on the way to enjoying a second wind after it has undergone a change of management and refurbishment. The Frog And Frigate has graced Southampton with it’s back to basics style for decades, and by the looks of things, will continue to entertain the children and Grandchildren of many customers far and wide.

Dancing on the tables back in the dark days of smoking.

Dancing on the tables back in the dark days of smoking.

Indeed, I was one such customer that visited this venue as a single man in the mid eighties and it was quite an eye opener. Weighed down with £8 in my pocket, I entered the “Frog” for the first time and nothing had prepared me for just how basic this place was as I believe still is. The immediate thing you noticed as you opened the heavily painted and layered bar door was the fresh sawdust laying on the floor, as this was early evening at a time of tighter licensing laws. Still light outside and only a few patrons in this rough creaky floorboard, rustic bar top and more or less empty shell, you were able to gather your bearings and decide on the nights tipple which was very limited and needed to be in a bottle, as it felt rather safer than the local grog, although I’m sure it was enjoyed by many. Finding a seat was relatively easy so early on, so I took a table with my friends as we decided whether this place was for us, there really was no general appearance of the other customers as they filled the single bar at a rapid rate. A chap with a guitar appeared to be setting up to begin to sing, and as he started to strum, he was taking requests from a willing audience, although had no real genre, and seemed happier for it.

Within a short amount of time the floor could not be seen and a sea of heads were bobbing up and down like a continuous wave, as the small room got smaller, hotter and smokier, the one man band never seemed to stop and was supported by the constant humming and roaring of the chanting crowd, who by this time were dancing on the tables in what was accepted and almost necessary situation. Walking to the gents over a path of feet, both male and female, without offending a single soul.

On leaving the venue with money still left over for the last bus home, we could hardly believe that places still existed, and it is still enjoying this almost unique atmospheric drinking experience.


Going Underground

It has been proposed that the unused portion of London’s historic underground railway system known as the tube would become an area that cyclists could ride around the capital in relative safety. An idea to revitalise an area not in use and to improve a congested road network you may think, but is this the start of human subterranean living that we have seen in so many Hollywood films?

subw Horror, action, mystic or romantic, most of us have read or seen a story such as this and maybe that is enough to forget such a scheme before it has a chance to be fabricated into a world missing natural light and fresh air for those who choose to use it.

Any solution to a problem creates another, and I assume that wherever a community exists so will the social negatives, such as crime and the rest of poor human behaviour will have to be regulated, perhaps by Ninja turtles.