A better weather outlook for today, and a trip down to Pompey, with 4:30pm looking the limit before the skies were to fall in. I always love walking round what I consider my home town, nay city, not necessarily for its scenery but for the memories. It is interesting, though sometimes upsetting, to see what has happened to places that were quite important to me in a younger life.
I starting from Southsea, very close to where I lived for 18 years. There are too many places that have restricted parking, particularly with those teasing “maximum 3 hours, no return within 4 hours” signs but I still have a little local knowledge and find a good spot. I then made my way south west past the cathedral, the place that defines any city – in fact, a city cannot be a city unless it has one – well that is, unless the said place has to apply for city status. The wind was really picking up as I walked along the sea front for a couple of miles and really sapped my energy with the sea also splashing onto the promenade in some places. I turned inland and I was more than amused to see there was a Shabby Chic Café in Highland Road, and reasonably well populated too. That’s so Pompey.
Another 15 minutes and I was feeling quite hungry – I’d also drunk my litre of squash. Yet another note to self: if you still have a reasonable distance to walk, avoid fast food outlets. But I was so desperate for food that a KFC and a thousand calories were irresistible. Quite what got into me (apart from all that processed pseudo-meat) to make such an irrational choice when I could have done the Shabby Chic Café is nobody’s business.
Lucky Break Number 1: Within two minutes of entering, I saw the clouds scud and gather overhead and dollop their contents. By the time I had stuffed myself and left, the rain had ceased.
I was briefly re-energised and strode northward from the Fratton Park area and through Copnor to the southern part of North End. I bought a half-litre of water and a small bar of chocolate just to see me through another couple of hours walking. A couple of bites and it was just a couple of minutes before I was suffering nasty stomach cramps. I decided to walk in a more direct direction back to the car, still a few miles away from where I was. Suddenly, I was desperate for a number two. Anyone who is in touch with local Portsmouth issues might well know that a number of public toilets have been closed recently for the council to save money. I really didn’t know what to do, this was a recipe for panic, not the sort of thing you want when you’re in the predicament that I found myself. I was even considering any back alleys that might be sufficiently secluded, a possible option for a number one but much more impractical for a number two. It is difficult to relax in those circumstances but it was mind over matter – I walked towards the main road (London Road / Kingston Road), figuring that facilities would be more likely.
Lucky Break, er, Number 2: As soon as I got there, and just as I was reaching near-desperation point, there was a welcome “WC” sign and, hope against hope, the toilets were open, inhabitable (and with toilet paper). I did have a couple of tissues in my pocket anyway but it was a relief.
I soon felt considerably lighter and strode back, even taking a diversion in order to increase the distance to what amounted to around 12 miles. I made mental notes of all public toilets on the remainder of the route for future reference, but I still wasn’t in a brilliant state and felt a bit light-headed and was happy to reach my four-wheeler just on 4pm.
Lucky Break Number 3: While I was changing from my walking boots into my trainers, I was disturbed by light tapping on the windscreen, followed by heavier and more persistent taps, raindrops turning to a torrent.
They say troubles come in threes, today it was my luck that was triple-fold.