Autumn gold on Southampton Common

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Today’s visit to Southampton Common begins in the Old Cemetery, to pause and pay respect. I was lucky enough to bump into one of the Friends of the Old Cemetery during my wanderings this week, who kindly showed me a beautifully restored World War One grave, near the Cemetery Road entrance.
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This week the Common  has been stunning, with autumn colours everywhere. It’s been difficult to know which way to look as I stroll along, crunching through the leaves and exclaiming aloud, to anyone whom I meet or just to myself, about how beautiful this time of year is.

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JHT_0054JHT_0054_3When the rain rolls in, as it has from time to time, there is all that beautiful woodland to hide in, where I commune with the latest tiny fungi.
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So, this has been a fantastic week to aimlessly meander around, breathing in the golden glory of autumn on Southampton Common. If the wind and rain have left a few leaves, next week might be even better. But whatever the weather, Southampton Common is a wonderful place to be, and we are very lucky to have so much natural beauty in the city.

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Southampton Common: fluffy and bright

DSC_0097It’s been another sweet week on Southampton Common, with the moorhen chicks, coot chicks and ducklings all growing up fast.

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DSC_0140The coot chicks are still sporting their gloriously electric orange hair and outraged look, whilst their parents tirelessly feed them.

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DSC_0327The youngest moorhens are becoming a little less timid each day and scampering round the edge of the Ornamental Pond, showing off their incredible feet.

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DSC_0510Meantime, the older moorhen chick whose nest is at the other end of the pond is reaching an awkward but still rather delightful stage of gangly adolescence.

 

 

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DSC_0080DSC_0080Whilst all this is going on, amongst the reeds the damselflies are busy ensuring the next generation of insects!

 

 

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Away from the ponds, the colours in the Old Cemetery are spectacular at the moment, and across the Common there are carpets of buttercups, so that even on duller days the Common is looking bright and beautiful.

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Finally, back on the water, the male swans have spent the week closely guarding their nests and partners, and yesterday was the day when the little heads appeared in the nest on the island at the Ornamental Pond. So, next time I write, I hope to have some photos of the fluffy grey cuties to share.

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The sun and the rain on Southampton Common

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Easter is almost here. This always makes me think that summer is just around the corner (even when Easter is early, as it is this year), and at the beginning of the week that is exactly how it felt. Beautiful blue skies, delicate mist rising from the Ornamental Pond in the morning sunshine, and the lillies beginning to peep up through the water. It felt great, and I had a hot cross bun stashed away in my bag for morning snack. Life was very good, even if it was Monday morning.

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To see other photos of the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link

To see some photos of sunrises on the Ornamental Pond, please click on this link

Tuesday wasn’t quite so splendid, but the rather less promising weather didn’t put off a group of young women who arrived at the Cemetery Lake with a deckchair and bag of props in order to photograph one of their number in her swimwear. The wildlife generally carried on as if nothing was happening, although the pochards sneaked the occasional quizzical glance in the direction of the unusual style of camera action, and the swans seemed a little miffed that for once they were not being regarded as the most photogenic creatures present.

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To see more photos of the Cemetery Lake please click on this link
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Since then the Easter funfair has arrived on the Common and with it has come the rain. Nonetheless, despite everything being covered in a layer of raindrops the Old Cemetery is looking beautiful, with the flowers (both wild and cultivated) adding delightful splashes of colour to the tranquillity that exists there.

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To see some more photos of the Old Cemetery, please click on this link

The birds are busy building their nests, and I know that the butterflies are just waiting to appear and simultaneously delight and torment me. The rain is making everything a bit squelchy this week, but very soon I will be dashing between ducklings and dragonflies, not knowing which way to look, and very possibly teetering perilously at the edges of the ponds. Must check that my camera insurance covers summertime clumsiness!

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Mini Beasts on Southampton Common

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Last Thursday I was standing in Southampton Old Cemetery enjoying the sunshine and the return of the bees. Just three days later the Mini Beast from the East had arrived, and we were back in midwinter.

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The Mini Beast brought with it just enough snow to transform Southampton Common into a glittering wonderland, and on Sunday morning I had about an hour to explore the magical world that had appeared overnight before some slightly less glistening activities kicked in.

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The arrival of snow seems to cause us to become unusually friendly and helpful to our fellow beings. Instead of studiously avoiding eye contact with strangers we smile at everyone we see; exchange pleasantries with people whom we have never met before; and discuss the current snow, our cold weather attire, memories of the last time it snowed, and future possibilities for snow with just about anyone whose path we cross (including people whom we usually actively avoid). If we see someone who is in need of assistance, or looks as if they might be in need of assistance, we rush to their aid, with no concern about looking foolish or nosey if they turn out to be perfectly OK. Generally, this is one of the things that I love about snow days. Everyone in Southampton is my friend and wants to make sure that I am safe and well cared for.

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However, on this occasion I was presented with a slight dilemma as I was out and about with a camera and limited time. As a result, I spent much of my snow play time torn between the urge to join in the general camaraderie and good will and the desire to find photogenic spots with reasonably pristine snow in order to justify lugging a camera through the icy streets between my house and the Common. Consequently, I became a somewhat bizarre snow character, marching around the Common with a permanent precautionary grin on my face, speaking in a rapid but upbeat manner to anyone I encountered, whilst using my tripod as a makeshift speed-walking aid.

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Notwithstanding my personal peculiarities, the Common was beautiful on Sunday. People of all ages were having fun, sledges of various styles and sizes were out in force, and a range of snow sculptures adorned the main field. We rarely get snow in Southampton, and it is almost all gone now, which is kind of sad. Nonetheless, much as I loved the Narnia-style blanket that it spread over the Common, I am glad to see the spring flowers and blossom peeping back through. Now I can rewind my thinking back to the mini beasts of Spring and Summer. As an extra bonus, my train was delayed this morning and things were slightly chaotic at the station. This created one of the few other circumstances in which English people spontaneously and animatedly talk to complete strangers.

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