Nov. 29th, 2010 01:03 pm
Although I was quite exhausted, I decided it was necessary to take Marios on a tour of Southampton, and probably bored him by pointing out the sights that were relevant to my life once. "I used to live here in the flooded basement amongst the stairs to nowhere!", "I used to rent foreign films from here, when it was Videotheque!", "This used to be the Lizard Lounge!", etc. The night before we had ended up at the Dungeon, which featured in my life a lot when I was a student in Southampton. On the Sunday, we wandered around the Avenue, and then Bedford Place (Marios was interested in the strange looking courthouse, and we walked through Little Mongers), and then through the parks, and around the town centre. To stop ourselves getting too cold, we popped into the various shopping centres (Marlands, West Quay, Bargate and East Street). The Bargate had some art in a shop which we went to look at, with t-shirts such as "If you cannot be a poet, be the poem", but the Titanic exhibition was closed. We wandered through the Bargate itself and then onto East Street. The East Street shopping centre is surprisingly still open, when I had imagined it would be closed down by now, as most of the shops are long since gone. We took advantage of the special feature in the shopping centre though - the bit of pipe in the middle. I climbed through it, as if it were part of an adventure playground. An elderly man spoke to us on our way out of the shopping centre, and commented on the emptiness. "Was there a plague here?" he asked.

The town centre currently has a German Christmas market on, so we had a look at that, and then after a while, concluded we were too tired and too cold, so unfortunately didn't make it for lunch with Nick & co, and instead just headed home. We walked through the little bit of park next to the station and stared at the new Ikea in the distance, and the bits of crumbling walls in that park, and also at the glorious brutalist Wyndham Court.

I actually forgot about Southampton for a few years, but visiting it again at the weekend made me realise that these days it feels more like home than most other places I have lived in. I suppose because I lived there for 9 years. It is not the prettiest city I have ever lived in, but there are excellent people there, and interesting little features of the town if you look hard enough, and well, I realise now that I miss it.

I want to read Militant Modernism by Owen Hatherley, since he talks about Southampton, including one place I lived for a year:
"The place in question was a 'cottage estate'; one of those built on the outskirts of the cities by councils in the 30s in woolly, vaguely vernacular fashion, with real homes featuring gardens and pitched roofs. Every road was named after a different flower, from carnations to lobelias, in true garden-suburb style. This didn't stop it from being one of the more impoverished, violent and desolate places in Southampton, feared most of all by the students of the nearby University."
I awoke at 6am, and after some delays, jumped aboard the train for Southampton, and stared out of the window at the icy, yet magical world outside. I wrote some of my NaNoWriMo novel and listened to songs about Southampton:
Back in Southampton by Gutta Percha & The Balladeers. "It's great to be back in Southampton, seeing old faces again."
The Woolston Ferry by Gutta Percha & The Balladeers. "The Woolston ferry doesn't travel very fast"
Southampton Clock Tower by Grant. "Southampton Clock Tower oversaw our lives / pulled us closer as we walked / we stayed up all night to talk / were we only sleep deprived?"

I eventually got to Southampton just after 10am and the weather was not quite as tropical as I had hoped, but it was at least 1 degree warmer than Oxford and no snow/frost covered pavements were to be seen. There were even palm trees.

I arrived at Soton BarCamp unable to see, as my glasses had misted up, but eventually found my name on a bit of card and tied it to my wrist with a piece of brown string. Then had some coffee and went to a talk in the "sofas" section of the Shooting Star (a pub I once knew as Legends, and then Kolebka).

The first talk I went to was on Home Camp by MikeTheBee. I always go to talks like this and think, "I should do more! I could connect up my Arduino to.. something! I could monitor things! I could save the world!" Although I am on the Home Camp mailing list, I have never got around to listening to any of Mike's podcasts, so should at least do that. I also went to Laura Cowen's talk on her Arduino Christmas project, which was on a similar sort of topic - monitoring energy use by making Christmas tree lights flash.

The best bit about Soton BarCamp for me was the people. It was great to catch up with old friends I hadn't seen in years and find out what they are up to these days, and also to meet new people.

I went to a lot of lightning talks, which I enjoyed, because it meant I got to hear about all kinds of things in a short time.. Town twinning, augmented reality, Southampton buses, chip and pin using spatial awareness, semantic web, perverse ubergeek news from a student household, and other interesting subjects, which I will have to look on Lanyrd to help me remember.

[ profile] elseware and [ profile] cminion did a great job of organising. Although when I first heard about the BarCamp being held in two pubs (The Shooting Star and The Hobbit), I was a bit dubious of how well it would work, but I think that actually helped to create the great atmosphere of the BarCamp.
I'm in Kent now and am tempted to play amongst the hay bales.
I watched Before Sunset again recently and am thinking about the scene where Céline says, "Now that we've met again, we can change our memory of that December 16th. It no longer has that sad ending of us never seeing each other again. Right?" and Jesse replies, "Yeah, you’re right. I guess a memory is never finished. As long as you're alive..."

I suppose that's how I'm trying to think at the moment, about Southampton, that my memories of it aren't finished.
I received the Open House London guide for September 15th and 16th and am trying to decide what to see. Is anyone else intending to go?
I wondered which Southampton was more real - the city with sunsets, glistening pools and colourful street art that I had taken photos of, or the Southampton from my undergrad days, when I spent my days and nights in front of a computer or standing on my head in lecture theatres, or at the Dungeon, drinking and dancing and kissing pretty long-haired guys, or the more recent version: days spent in offices gazing out of windows looking for rainbows, occasional evenings spent in random pubs having long conversations with fascinating people, and weekends sometimes containing art exhibitions and exploring the city, but more often than not, trying to escape. Perhaps none of them were the Southampton I lived in really.
Park in SouthamptonPark in Southampton
Reflection of a tree(Photos of Southampton, from my Southampton Flickr set, that are rated "most interesting".)
Jigsaw Pieces
I stepped between the jigsaw pieces that had been scattered on Archers Road, as my eyes jumped from one piece to another, trying to figure out what the picture was of, and at the same time, wondering about my life and all kinds of puzzle-related metaphors.

I smelt the ocean and then strawberry fields as I drove past them.

I tried to look further into the distance as I followed the signs that said "out of city".


Aug. 5th, 2007 09:57 pm
The sky flashed so many times, it was as if it wanted to take my photograph, like some kind of dysfunctional photo booth. I waited in awe, in the rain, at the bus-stop, listening to the sky, which had replaced my MP3 player, with gorgeously loud roars and crackles as music. The boy with blonde hair seemed to be looking at me, perhaps wondering why I was staring up at the sky and grinning.

I ate ice-cream as I wandered home, concluding once again that it does taste better in a thunderstorm.

The sun returned quickly and then the blue sky, but perhaps it will look dark over Will's mother's again soon.

Last Night

Jun. 9th, 2007 11:44 am
Amongst the Leaves
My to-do list for the weekend included:
1. Jump in a fountain.
2. Dance amongst brick dust.
3. Look for zig-zags.
4. Whisper secrets to streetlamps.

I only managed a few of those, but I also marvelled at the vivid green of the sand lizard; ate turkish delight ice-cream in the village where Alice is buried; shook ladybirds out of my hair; laid amongst long grass and wild flowers, while ‎I took photos of clouds, only to find [ profile] gevurah had laced my shoes with buttercups and daisies while I wasn't looking; noticed a heron glaring, perched in the corner, almost like a ghost; ate wild strawberries from the roadside; felt delighted at the sight of snakes and toads; retreated from the daze that being unwell and watching daytime TV provided.
Leading To..
Stumbling on the edges of the mapped world, I walked purposefully in the middle of roads, craving knowledge of the streets, with a GPS in my hand. Chanting road names like a mantra and scribbling rogue roads onto paper, I attempted to help with the OpenStreetMap project during the weekend of the Southampton Mapping Party.

I found there was plenty to discover, the maps becoming fluid and growing in a way that seemed almost organic, like the world is new again and no-one knows where they are or where they were. Sometimes I was asked if I was lost and I never knew how to answer that.

Sometimes I noticed road names that were damaged - one only had the letter 'D' left on a sign, as if the residents/vandals of that area had renamed the street themselves. Sometimes there were traces of former road names or perhaps just mistakes, and that reminded me of Reports of Certain Events in London by China Miéville. The story includes reports of sightings of viae ferae (feral streets), such as Varmin Way, that appear for a while in different towns, as if they were just visiting, before they vanish again. Perhaps some of the streets that I noted have disappeared already.

Abney Park

Apr. 19th, 2007 02:06 pm
Abney Park
On Good Friday, [ profile] wintrmute and I wandered around the intriguing cemetery at Abney Park, gazing into the eyes of ivy-covered stone angels and lions, as blossom floated past in the sunshine.

We found the statue of Isaac Watts, who was born in Southampton and wrote many hymns including the one played by Southampton's clocktower. He apparently helped to landscape Abney Park.

I wondered how people had died, but then about what was still alive. In English churchyards, ancient yew trees are fairly common, but often there are other plants and animals that are also interesting. Southampton's Old Cemetery has three-edged leeks, where as in the churchyard of St Martin's in Eynsford, Kent, (edible) Roman snails can be found. In Vienna's Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery), pretty red and black beetles are common, and of course, in the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris, there are a lot of cats. In Abney Park, I did see a few ladybirds at least.
Slap Bottom
In the forest, there are tiny islands, each made of only one tree. They appear to be floating through the rivers, but their roots twist and cling tightly to the riverbed. Leafless branches sway in time with the ripples in the water and my hair begins to swirl across my face as I try to peer at their reflections.

[ profile] gevurah and I imagine ghost trains trundling along the dismantled railway that we begin to walk the route of near to Slap Bottom and towards Sway. I sip rhubarb wine and wonder where my destination would be, if I was on that train.

Sunday, [ profile] ephoscus and I visit an exhibition that "explores what it means to be human in today’s world", at the Bargate Gallery. We tiptoe around encyclopædias covered in white dust and projected video speckles and then stare at photos of Bournemouth beach that look like an alien landscape,

At Mayflower Park, we dangle our feet towards the seaweed, while watching the water twinkle at us, as if glitter has been daubed across it. Southampton's elusive "beach" is also in view: the tiny metre of sand, where a fisherman stands, and even that seems somehow magical in the bright sunshine.


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