Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 4th-6th

Sorry for taking so long to get this posted. I haven't felt much like writing lately, but here it is finally.
May 6th was a bank holiday here, so I spent the long weekend down in Alresford at my auntie Gaynor and uncle John's house. I caught a train down from Waterloo station on Saturday morning. I woke up a bit earlier than expected, to I got to the station sooner, and rather than waiting for the train I told them I'd be on, I just caught the first train. Normally I would have been going all the way to Winchester for them to pick me up, but the service from Basingstone to Winchester was having maintenance done, so it was bus replacement service. As luck would have it, uncle John was going to be in Basingstoke running his roundabout (merry-go-round) in the mall across the street from the train station, so auntie Gaynor was just going to come across the screen to meet me. As I got there early, I wandered around a bit to see if I could find where uncle John was, and I did find him without much trouble.
After loitering about for a bit, Auntie Gaynor and my cousin Rachel arrived. Rachel sure has grown since I last saw her. On the way back to their house, auntie Gaynor pointed out all sorts of stuff along the way, like the house where Micheal Jackson hid out, and the house where Thomas Sopwith (of aviation fame) lived. Somewhere along the way, we got to the subject of books, and I mentioned that I had just finished reading Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. As it turns out, Jane Austin grew up not far from there, so after having a quick bite to eat at their house, we headed off to Alton where Jane Austin's house is. It was quite interesting to see all the things there, and try to imagine the world she lived and wrote in.
On the way home from there, we made a brief stop at the railway station in Alresford, where they run steam locomotives from. It was too late in the day though, and the last train had already left, so I didn't get to see much. One of my other cousins, Lynsey happened to be passing by looking for us, so we stopped into a pub on the corner for a pint before heading home for dinner. Dinner was delicious, spaghetti bolognaise. We had some wine with dinner, and some wine after dinner, and many hours of conversation and catching up before heading to bed.
On Sunday morning, auntie Gaynor made me breakfast, egg on toast (reminded me of egg and soldiers. Mom, you should remember that!) The first outing of the day was to Twyford, where there is a Victorian era steam powered pumping station. They were having an open day there, so there were loads of people that had brought steam rollers (real coal-powered steam rollers), steam tractors, steam powered water pumps, and a few old cars. It was absolutely fascinating to see all of that, and the smell of so much coal being burned was interesting. Not unpleasant, but interesting, like the odour of oil and gas that seems to permeate most modern day mechanical places.
After that, we drove into Winchester to see the cathedral. We stopped for some tea first, to give our legs a bit of a break, but mostly to rehydrate, as it was quite a warm day. When we did get to the cathedral, I was in awe! What a mammoth building! In this era of 50+ floor metal and glass skyscrapers, it's hard to imagine how something "only" 3 floors high can seem so massive, but the sheer amount of stone, and the enormous gaping caverns of rooms inside just overwhelm the senses. We spent an hour or so wandering through the cathedral, with my auntie Gaynor playing the tour guide, and pointing out all sort of interesting bits of history that would have been completely lost on me otherwise. When we were through there, we stopped for tea and cakes. I had some fruitcake. I never used to like fruitcake. I must be getting old. I even scraped some of the icing off, as it was too sweet. Before leaving Winchester, we walked over to Wolvesey castle, which is an old castle ruin. On the way over, it started raining a bit, but luckily for us, it stayed quite light, and we didn't actually get very wet.
Back at their home, we had a wonderful roast chicken dinner, with yorkshire puddings, veggies, and loads of gravy. Mmmmmm gravy. More wine flowed with, and after, dinner, and we chatted until late once again.
On Monday, auntie Gaynor had to work, so uncle John showed me around instead. We went back to the station in Alresford, where this time there was a train getting ready to leave. It was there for around half an hour though, so I had plenty of opportunity for photos. I even got to climb up into the cab (is that what it's called?) and feel the heat from the boiler, and pose for a photo with the coal shovel. After it left, we drove to Ropley, one of the other stations along the Watercress line (the one that runs the steam engines), which also houses the engineering yard. Another train was passing through, and refilling the water in the boiler, and there was three sitting in the engineering yard, so there was plenty of targets for my camera.
Later that day, I caught the regular (electric) train back home, and went out to see the movie Persepolis with a few of my flatmates.
What a full weekend!

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