At Emsworth a gentle breeze is blowing and children are learning to dingy sail. “Tiller away from you”, “No, tiller away from you”, “… and go about”, “Yes that’s it, well done Henry”.
At Warblington a heart wrenching collection of infant cemeteries, some with sun bleached children’s toys and windmills. Harrowing inscriptions like ‘Born asleep’ or ‘Our runaway bunny’. Perhaps to see so many others bearing the same tragedy is some small solace to the parents. I pass a man in an open field with cellophane wrapped red carnations heading to the graveyard.
A dragonfly dances over freshly cut wheat fields, a single fluffy cloud hangs in the expanse of blue sky. The bridge to Hayling Island lies ahead.
Two young mothers with toddlers siting by the shore in Prinstead, one balances a miniature tambourine on the head of her child while asking her friend “You been to this messy play thing at Horndean?” “No, but I’ve been to Custard Club and she loves it”
At Farmington marshes flocks of bird watchers. A few sit with their partners on benches with huge scopes but most with tripods over their shoulders move between bushes like police on a manhunt. As normal in these situations I don’t see anything unusual other than the luminous green of estuary at low tide.
Sign warns that shellfish collected here may be contaminated. Roar and speed of the A27 – main roads always a surprise after many miles walked on foot.
Crossing the road bridge to Portsea Island with trucks speeding past, a large sign announces ‘Welcome to Portsmouth the Waterfront City. Home of the Royal Navy’
‘Langstone Harbour, Muddy but Magical’ another sign proclaims optimistically. A shop called The Larder lures me in with a sign reading “Come and check out our baps” They were out of baps but they did sell sweets called Camel Balls so all was not lost.
I couldn’t get around the shore at Fort Cumberland so I had my lunch – the area is popular with the Muslim community; women wearing hijabs fish off the pier and black leather jacketed young men lean on their cars with the doors open listening to arabic pop music while families picnic on the shingle.
Rounded the corner to be faced with the Isle of Wight very close and the Solent busy with ferries, massive container ships and a war ship, all in motion. In amongst the Goliaths tiny yachts dance around – to my untrained eye it looks like a moment away from disaster.
A lot of people are out running along the waterfront, most are women and most look very fit. A particularly focused duo are taking turns at timing each other to run up the steps at Southsea Castle.
Approaching Portsmouth a large Naval memorial for the fallen of two World Wars, dedicated to the “Ranks and ratings that have no other grave than the sea’
At Gunwharf Quays salsa lessons are taking place in a Spanish bar and a blood red sunset silhouettes the tall ship’s rigging.