A Ramble through Romsey
While we were attending my uncle's wedding we stayed with my godparents, Vince and Tracey, in Romsey, a town just outside of Southampton, the place of my birth and my uncle's second marriage ceremony.
The wedding was as eventful as any family gathering can be, but I didn't take my camera because I didn't dare get roped into being an unofficial event photographer, and instead was focussed on consuming as much Pimms as I could get my grubby little hands on in the sunshine at the reception venue's beer garden.
The day we left Brighton heading for V&T's, I was pretty focused on driving around the million roundabouts we encountered. That evening, the first I'd seen V&T in about 5 years, I made the mistake of trying to keep pace with Vince and Dad on the drinking front, and when I woke up at 3am with jet lag, I also awoke with a wicked hangover. Still, it worked out pretty well because after some time spent in the bathroom and an Advil and a melatonin pill consumed, I woke up again at a reasonable hour right as rain and ready for a day with family.
It's a long way of saying I didn't take any photos the first day I spent with them either, but the third day, Sunday — the day after the wedding we spent recuperating — it may've been raining, but we didn't let that stop us from taking a bit of a stroll around town.
Romsey is a charming little town with a load of history. It may not be the best known in the area or the biggest, but I can see exactly what it is V&T love so much about it, and why they've chosen to make it their home.
It's also Gordon Ramsey's home, who owns one of the most houses in the town. Because I couldn't just leave the poor man alone, here's a photo of it. Well, he will have a nice house. He also had an Aston Martin out front under a tarp.
The last time I visited V&T they lived in a fairly iconic house themselves, right next to Romsey Abbey, which if anything were to put Romsey on the map would be it. It's the largest parish church in the county, and was originally built in the 10th Century. In the 14th Century, the town had a whip round and bought the abbey from King Henry VIII so it wouldn't get demolished. We walked in right as they were closing up for the night, but by the Lord's grace a kind caretaker with a rock band tattoo behind his left ear gave us a brief tour and a fascinating history lesson. Some of the building's original foundations are still on display under a perspex tile in the middle of the abbey.
Back out in the rain, Lia was very amused by all the thatched roofs, which I guess didn't cross the pond for practicality purposes — highly flammable roofs, yeah! — but were plentiful in Romsey. With her umbrella she did her best Singing in the Rain impression as we puttered around town.
The next morning, V&T's garden lush from the first rain the area had seen in almost two months, Lia and I went for a nosey and an explore before we began our long day of driving along the Jurassic Coast.
Their backyard stretched out for a deceptively long way, and because of all the beautifully maintained plants that had been left by the previous owner, had a real lush, secret garden type feel to it. Especially as everything was so grateful to have finally received some much needed water. After just a few days outside of America, where water is served at every turn and I love it, I was feeling a similar way to these plants. Look at me, at one with nature even abroad.
The highlight of the whole garden, which V&T are still in the process of tidying, was an old shed, filled with knick knacks that Tracey says were the edited collection. Apparently, when they'd moved into the house, the shed had just been overflowing with old relics and treasures, which she'd slimmed down dramatically to show off the best ones. You don't spend almost two decades remodeling and flipping houses and not have an eye for these things.
It had been dubbed Tracey's Murder Shed, so we didn't stay long, but long enough to appreciate a fraction of the goodies to enjoy. Now I want a greenhouse and a murder shed of knickknacks. I don't know how I'll manage this as I've no desire to live anywhere bigger than an apartment, but it's good to have goals. I've already got a Dyson vacuum cleaner and a Barbour jacket — both cast-offs from my Dad — so my middle class pipe dream has had to be drastically re-imagined. I was glad I could add these elements to the Kitchen Aid mixer, because my birthday's coming up and if I'd dared ask for that I probably would've just died happy at a tender 24.
As it happened, there were several stops along our drive over the next several days that I also would've died happy.
More to come on those...