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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

MY VISIT IN THE ANCIENT CAPITAL OF ENGLAND

by: MisS VictoriA DaviD

I was away for a couple of nights as I travelled to the South West of England. The Southampton bus from Victoria Coach Station took me and the other 19 passengers to Winchester!

As there were only 20 passengers boarded on the bus, the inside was very spacious and cosy. No one sat beside me, as each row was occupied by one! It was good to see the streets of London as we made our way-out of the city. One of the streets we passed that impressed me was Brompton Square. A place where most of the designers' shops can be found. It was like being in gay paree! The journey took me an hour and 10 minutes and a few of us disembarked and the rest traveled to Southampton.

I am finally on the ground of Winchester, THE ANCIENT CAPITAL OF ENGLAND!

The statue of King Alfred was very visible and close to the coach station. This is why they called the station KING ALFRED STATUE COACH STOP. Now we know! I waited for my friends to arrive and stood beside a red building, pretending that I wasn't feeling anxious and afraid. While waiting for them to arrive, I observed that the place was also a tourist destination.

Once we met, we went to the King Alfred Pub located in Hyde Street to fill our hungry stomachs. We sat in the garden and waited for the waitress to serve the ordered fish and chips as well as my favourite lasagne.

When we finished eating our meal and partially satisfied our hunger, we toured around rather than go directly to their place. We passed a posh school good for silver spoon children. Just a few steps from the school was the preserved Jane Austin's house. As we walked on, we entered a portal that led to the PILGRIMS' CHOIR SCHOOL BUILDING. This hall is used by the schools for lessons, practices and rehearsals. Opposite of the building was the right wing of the WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL.
(Top to Bottom: Pilgrim's Choir School Building and Winchester Cathedral' right wing)

WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL was built in 1079 and is now the major landmark. The right wing of this Gothic building was used in the film 'Harry Potter'. It was not just a holy place as it was also a graveyard and a freedom park for families and visitors. I took a few pictures of the Cathedral including a fully grown PINK CHERRY TREE. It was a magnificent man made structure that is central to the history of WINCHESTER.
(Top to Bottom: Cherry Tree and Winchester Cathedral)

After being amazed by the Cathedral, we walked and passed a SQUARE occupied by restaurants. This square was a short cut onto the HIGH STREET with an ancient clock that had been renovated. At the end of the passage was the statue of Bishop Wykeham known to the locals as MARKET STATUE.
(Top to Bottom: Square and Market Statue)

The street wasn't wide as it was elongated! It was occupied by shops and eating places. We mingled with the crowd and walked uphill to the HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COURTS. This court had a rounded shaped area in front and is used to prosecute high-profiled criminals in this country. On the side was KING ALFRED's GREAT HALL use as an OATH TAKING OFFICE for people who met the qualifications of becoming naturalised British citizens.
(Hampshire County Courts)

There was a marbled sculpture that celebrates Queen Elizabeth II 50 years reign, called QUEEN'S JUBILEE COMMEMORATIVE SCULPTURE. And adjacent to this sculpture was a preserved medieval castle.
(Queen's Jubilee Commemorative Sculpture)

It was a lovely day! We passed and saw people in BROADWAY GARDENS enjoying the warm sunshine that penetrated their skin. Spring flowers were blooming and added colours to the green atmosphere. Grasses were trimmed well and trees were no longer bald. It's already Spring, the breathing of fresh air was enjoyed without the worry of the freezing weather like in the winter. It was nice to see how people appreciated a sunny day in this county and in England, as a whole.
(Broadways Gardens)

It is not a big county, however, there are interesting places that I admired and was fascinated by, too.

Just a few minutes walk there was a gently flowing river that snakes its way through mid- Hampshire. It is a premier chalk stream that has a total length of 28 miles, the RIVER ITCHEN. It is a natural habitat for all forms of animals. The river served as a boundary, the right side was a relaxing place where you can sit on benches while looking at the crystalline river. The other side was occupied by big and posh houses with beautifully-maintained rear gardens. As they loved their gardens, one of the house owners was refurbishing and redesigning his backyard to make it more attractive and he had a concept of creating a bench over the river. I couldn't wait to sit and dip my feet in the water!
(Top to Bottom: Owner's Garden and River Itchen in the City Centre)

The city exploration was exciting and visiting historical places was very instructive. As we were quite tired and wanted to rest our weary bones, we headed to the car park and drove to their place!

It was a lively and warm Saturday!

I dressed the vegetable and tuna salads for our breakfast and prepared the table in the garden; we all ate together like a family. We had a friendly conversation that made me feel so comfortable being with them, it was like having an extended family in this county. It was a pleasant feeling to meet them who warmly welcomed me into their lives. 

When we finished our breakfast and we're ready to go, we first visited a private estate with big houses and showed me those ample houses. Then, we drove to a beautiful Georgian town called Arlesford and parked closed to the old pond which is fed by the RIVER ITCHEN. The crystal clear water ran quietly and flows into the Southampton water. There was a house mill erected over the pond and located a few steps from the pavement. It is owned by a family, who were delighted by the lovely weather in their garden. We passed a number of visitors enjoying their exploration of the pond while we were walking along a narrow footpath. It terminated on a highway with Georgian houses and restaurants. An uphill walk led to a pub, the edifice was very basic but the backyard was breath-taking. It had a panoramic view of a lake and a closed island made of wild tall grasses (bulrushes). There were white swans at a distance and the grasses served as their nest, to raise and nurture their offspring. We left this delightful setting by backyard gate and it led us to an uphill street.
 
(Top to Bottom: Old Pond in Arlesford, House Mill and Pub's Backyard)

As we parked the car near the pond, the strength of our legs and propulsion of our feet were well used in walking, from one area to another. We entered a private property where the oldest train in Hampshire is to be found. The train is still functioning and is used by a group of people who booked for a vintage ride. There was also a group of MORRIS DANCERS performing their traditional steps. It was delightful to witness their costumes and the chanting music they played on their instruments that made my feet boogie.
( Morris Dancers)

I thought we would drive back home when we headed to the car. However, they showed me a few preserved and historical places that were used in many international films. We passed pastured lands and I saw big bulls too.

We stopped. I changed my sandals to boots before we cross a footbridge that had two flowing rivers. The water that flows was part of the RIVER ITCHEN; what a well-rounded river! There were 2 footbridges, one took us to a family restaurant. We saw a father and son trying hard to catch big fishes, they even dipped in the water wearing waterproof trousers in the hope of luck! When we reached the footbridge that was connected to the restaurant, we took a few pictures but didn't go to the end of the bridge. On our way back to the car, we passed a few couples and group of youngsters, then drove to a petrol station that was just a few metres away from their place.
 (One of the Twin Rivers)

I enjoyed the placid lake, the island grass, the twin rivers, the wooden footbridges and the animals. I am thankful to see all of these gifts created by nature.

I like the modernity of the High Street but the wilderness refreshed my second day in Winchester!


 (Top to Bottom ,Clockwise: High Street, Broadway Gardens, Winchester Cathedral and Queen's Jubilee Commemorative Sculpture )

It is time for me to leave my friends place as I was ready to go back home!

My travelling bag was packed with used clothes in a plastic bag; my personal kit was zipped properly and a magazine inserted in one of the pockets.

We had breakfast, bowls of cereals with milk and cups of hot peppermint tea. Very healthy and reviving! A few minutes prior to my departure time, we left their place. It was just a 4 minute drive to the King Alfred Statue Coach Stop.

The bus wasn't on time so while waiting we had a nice conversation in the car. A few passengers sat on benches with their beloveds. The bus arrived and was already occupied with passengers from Southampton. Most of the rows were filled but I found a vacant aisle seat. It moved-off slowly and we all waved our hands to our family and friends.

The bus snakes through the City Centre before it reached the motorway and zoomed to the City of London. There was a friendly atmosphere, the driver behaved like a tour guide. He chatted and shared information while driving, mainly touches of history about the places we were passing. He was not just a driver as he was also a sensible, thoughtful person.

I was awake the whole journey and pre-occupied with my pen and notebook. I always look outside as it gave me ideas on what to write and remember. As I was quite busy, I didn't notice that we had arrived at Victoria Coach Station. I stepped-out into the bustling terminal and found my way easily to the exit.

Victoria Train Station was a few blocks away and I carried 2 different-sized bags while following the street signs in order to catch and board my desired train back home.

My journey to Winchester was educational and refreshing!

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