A dark wet start, beads of rain slide down the shiny developers hoardings of WestQuay Watermark abutting a section of Southampton Medieval city wall. Pavement glistens under orange sodium lights.
Most of the city was destroyed in the Blitz and the now has an ironically spacious and continental feel as a result of the rebuilding.
Escape from the rain momentarily in Town Quay Starbucks. All the coffee sippers around me are in full corporate mode.
To my left “As a line manager I have to mention this is preventing me doing my job”
To my right “I’m drip feeding that in and then rolling it out to the Ops team”
The Polish Baristas giggle over a private joke.
Queen Elizabeth and other cruise ships are in port, a temporary architecture dwarfing the stone buildings next to them.
Sheeting rain drives down yellow leaves onto the narrow path between a rail track and the container port.
Standing on a railway bridge overlooking the container port I take a photo, no sound. The shutter release doesn’t result in the familiar click. The mirror lifts but does not fall. Wiping the rain off the rear LCD I see “Camera err 30” and “Cannot communicate with battery”. Not good news.
Looking for shelter I go to the train platform I’m near to get out of the rain and try the normal tricks of changing battery and lens followed by multiple rounds of switching off and on again, but still “Camera err 30”. This is frustrating, I was expecting my body to give out before the camera and I cannot carry on without it.
In a last attempt to dry out the camera I find a McDonalds drive through, order a meal and take out the battery and card and lay everything out on napkins keeping my fingers crossed things will dry out. I wait 30 minutes as I watch drive through meals being handed out the hatch to cars with windscreen wipers on full.
It didn’t work. I had no choice but to break from the pull of the coast and go home for my backup camera. Serendipitous train connections and help from my father meant I managed the round trip in four hours, my underwear still wet from the mornings rain when I return to the path at Redbridge.
The backup camera, once my primary camera but unused for two years had a more assertive shutter sound and slightly different controls that feel unfamiliar.
Tombstone carver has a makeshift depot under the concrete piers of a motorway.
Leaving Marchwood a dangerous and busy road for pedestrians leads to a level crossing and a tranquil grassy track with horses grazing. The container port cranes poke over the trees lining the field edges.
As light fades under a tunnel of oak trees I slip, feel like I’m hanging horizontally in the air for a moment before falling, full body, into the mud. It’s raining so hard that by the time I reach civilisation at Hythe I’ve been washed clean.