March 18th – March 31st 2016
Later in March we finally did return to the Salisbury Markets for lunch and came home with all kinds of nice things including delicious cheese and pies to heat up for our dinner, as well as something to add to Lloyd’s sister’s birthday present, which we’ve been puzzling over for a while. The normal shops around here don’t offer much interesting to send as a present, so markets present a special opportunity to get something unusual.
This expedition was followed by a week in which I caught the cold/flu that Lloyd had previously suffered from, and the very fast approach of Easter. The University of Southampton was closed from Easter Friday to the following Wednesday, giving Lloyd a fairly extensive break. We looked into a few possible activities, including potentially using our free cinema tickets that we get from our bank (no remotely interesting movies were screening) and visiting the Isle of Wight (very expensive when you add the ferry cost to a bus to get around on the island and spending money for visiting attractions and getting local food). Eventually we laid plans to catch up remotely with our immediate relatives all together as well as a few close friends, play extra role playing games, visit the fair and market that appear on the Southampton Common at Easter and travel to The New Forest.
First up for extra chat time was my friend Clare, with whom we attempted to have a bit of a music session on Saturday morning, following the moderate success of the St Patrick’s Day singing and music. This time, however, with whistles on both ends of the chat and my attempting to play guitar, we had a lot more trouble with the delay and really couldn’t play at the same time at all, although we had some hilarious attempts and a lovely conversation before my phone battery decided to die.
The local fair was a bit disappointing because the market turned out to only be clothes and fabrics and similar, not any local produce or crafts, as we were hoping for, and the fair mainly featured scary rides and expensive games with prizes that just would have cluttered the flat. So instead we headed down to a small pop up market which had appeared in Above Bar street outside the WestQuay shopping centre, where we got paella for lunch and some special cheese and sausages.
I made Lloyd an origami rabbit lantern and filled it with some small chocolate eggs, and he bought me some loose leaf teas from the one local tea shop. I lamented the impossibility of giving friends and family origami rabbits full of goodies.
On Easter Sunday we jumped online for our regular role playing time with Emily and Ashton, had an intense game and then spent the rest of the day playing music and writing. Lloyd had given me the idea to create a page for my writing and produce a daily short story brief enough for a busy online audience, as a way of starting to commit to my creative writing and work towards gaining some street cred. So I spent some time setting that up and writing my first story entry. The short stories can now be read by going to the ‘short stories’ tab at the top of this page, or by visiting and liking the Facebook page www.facebook.com/phdancershortstories.
On Easter Monday my parents got together with Lloyd’s parents, sister and grandma for dinner, and we had a chat with the whole group over google hangouts. This was laced with technical difficulties as their laptop seemed to be struggling, but we all got to see each other.
Tuesday was our big adventure day. We got on the train and headed out to Brockenhurst, the largest of the villages inside the New Forest National Park. There we got bakery food and had a pot of tea while trying to work out where to go to find the walking tracks into the forest. Unable to locate a place to get maps, we used our phone maps and information from various websites to work out where to go. Then we set off and had our picnic a little way in on a fallen log. It was very peaceful and beautiful with just birdsong as background noise.
After our lunch we decided to explore a little further, and promptly became lost because of the lack of any kind of signs, arrows, or markers on the tracks and lack of reception on the phone. Luckily, after moving around a bit we regained reception and were able to use my phone map to find our way back out. There is definitely a lot more to explore there in the New Forest and we plan to return for much more extensive adventures with a map, a compass and possibly bikes. We didn’t see any deer, because it was the middle of the day and lots of people were walking dogs, but we did see a lot of free range ponies, and a pair of donkeys walking up the main street.
Wednesday was our final day of Easter break and we spent it in an extra role playing game with Emily and Ashton, which Emily ran using the rules Ashton had worked out for her birthday game. It was a quirky and whimsical environment and we ended up with a great story full of weird dreams and spooky unresolved threads.
When Lloyd returned to work at the university on Thursday he discovered that the market that normally only occurs on Mondays was on, so I walked to the university for lunch and we got some fruit and veg and goodies to eat. The dalek I had spotted previously had got some extra painted bits, and a sign had appeared explaining what the shop is for. I took the opportunity to photograph and film the university campus again as it was looking magnificently Spring-like with bulbs flowering everywhere. I also finally remembered to take a picture of Lloyd’s office with his title on the door. As we ate our market lunch on a University bench, a red robin approached right up behind us, evidently hoping some crumbs would be dropped from whatever we were eating. Thus March ended with the definite arrival of Spring and the beginning of a new project for me with the short story page.