The forecast for the weekend’s weather was all around pretty pants, so with a new book arriving on my Kindle I read that for a while & then it started to clear. If I had have known it was going to such a stunning day, I would have gone for a ride. Alas, I headed in to Lyndhurst eventually to wander around at leisure – having only ridden my bike through multiple times previously.
Last week, I finished a rather long historical novel centred on the New Forest for the last millenium – so my historical interest was piqued. The New Forest museum was well worth an hour to add a little bit to my appreciation of the past of the area. It was pretty pleasant wandering around the small town in the sun & it wasn’t as busy as it gets in summer. About the only thing I’ve noticed on previous rides through, is that there is a disproportionately large Ferrari & Maserati dealership at the bottom of the main street – I still can’t really figure that out, it’s not really central & while there is a bit of money around the Forest, I didn’t think it was that much. Still, the cars were nice to look at for a few minutes.
After an exquisite salmon lunch, I was off up tiny little lanes north, through Minstead & across the busy A31 to go & see the Rufus Stone. It’s supposed to commemorate the spot where William II was killed by an, apparently, stray arrow while hunting in 1100. However, it is now thought that he felled close to the coast down near Beaulieu.
More windy little lanes took me away from the main roads & I continued past home to Calshot – which sits only a few miles from where I live on a spit at the west of the entrance to Southampton Water.
Over to the Isle of Wight, ignore the gravelly beach
Those curious things – I’m still intrigued that you have to shelter from the weather so much, that it’s worth building a hut at the beach
Across the bay, Fawley Power Station on the left, Fawley Refinery centre background – not that I expect anyone else finds that noteworthy
On the spit, there’s another castle that Henry VIII built in his chain of coastal defences. This one is a little smaller than Hurst Castle, where I went not so long ago. The area was perfect for setting up a Naval Air Station just before WWI for sea boats. There are still a couple of the hangars, Sopwith & Sunderland (which is now home to a dry-ski slope, climbing wall, velodrome & other such indoor sports facilities). My enjoyable wanderings continued as there was little traffic on the rather circuitous route I took home. A nice day to be out before the summer rush arrives.
Not wanting to spend the entire rainy Sunday inside reading another good Ian Rankin, I popped out to have a look around the couple of villages further up the west side of Southampton Water – mostly because I had the time to finally check out the Eling Tide Mill, which I’d been seeing signs for since I moved in. In Marchwood there’s a big military port (where the Mulberry harbours were made), a big waste incinerator & a shiny new CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine power station).
But really I wanted to see the restored tidal mill – only one of two still operating in the country. It’s not overly big, but then there wasn’t much need for it to be big when a mill was first built here to harness the tides a thousand years ago. The incoming tide floods the mill pond & when the outgoing tide is low enough the undershot Poncelot wheel starts to turn the various gears and eventually the millstone. Only one of the two systems is restored – this is good because the working one is guarded, but you can still see all the details on the stationary one. With all the old gears, control systems (I use the term loosely), transport mechanisms, hoppers & so on I was well pleased to see the flour being made as it has been for centuries. I’ll stop boring everyone but Dr Hodge/Beavis now.