I am writing this sitting on my new decking in the lovely warm sunshine on Sunday morning. I really can’t believe how beautiful the weather has been every time I’ve visited Southampton, and more or less ever since I’ve been living on B5. For those I am very grateful as my first impressions of Southampton are not good.
I know it’s a city, and a port, where I’m used to rural Devon. Nor is it somewhere with the kind of cultural or historic legacy like, say, Bath, that pretty much guaranteed the great and the good would want to keep it looking attractive. No. It has its attractive bits (although apart from some lovely houses and gardens I’ve yet to find any) and it’s grotty bits. Sometimes they’re right next to each other. It also has many really filthy bits for which the city council should be thoroughly ashamed. If you have a dog and do a lot of walking, you notice.
The grot and grub I’m putting down to a) wheelie bins, b) poverty and c) the usual laziness of some people. The people that think it’s someone else’s problem, although to be fair these are usually a minority. I’m assuming that Southampton, like so many cities, is one where most of the housing stock is in the hands of private landlords, not all of whom are especially keen to spend any money on such simple things as a can of paint or some weedkiller. Grot and grub creeps through the streets like a disease when this happens. This is the ‘Broken Windows’ theory in action http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory .
The traffic system is awful as well. I gather there was a need to tackle congestion when one of the ferries disembarked, but I’ll have to take the word of the locals that this new system is better. I just find it a nightmare trying to drive anywhere. On the plus side though, there’s an excellent bus network, and lots of cycle routes. And of course the New Forest is very close.
I’m finding it much harder than I thought I would to adjust. I’m not confident in everything yet, although it’s all working exactly as it should. I have hot water, the bilge pump cuts in automatically and pumps the shower water out when I need it to, the fire gives of loads of heat when lit and my bed is (relatively) comfortable. The boat is stable, and there don’t appear to be too many leaks around the doors or hatches. I’m just not settled yet, I suppose.
My course starts properly tomorrow at 11am. I have two ‘free’ days – Wednesday and Friday (which means, of course, I can occasionally travel home on a Thursday evening). The downside is that lectures on Mondays and Thursdays don’t finish until 6pm, which will make things difficult for Millie. I will be able to get back and see her during the day though. I’m sure she’ll soon get used to the change of routine. She seems to have adapted well, although she’s VERY pleased to see me when I get home.
Of course, I’ll start blogging about that as soon as I can.
p.s. I wasn’t able to bring my bike because the tool I needed to fix it to the tow bar was – guess where? Yep, on board. So I’m doing lots and lots of walking instead.