Posts Tagged 'winchester'

Itchen Way again

Map showing the Itchen Way between Eastleigh and Winchester

Click on the image to get to navigable GoogleMap

Despite all good intentions Dan and I hadn’t done the Itchen Way walk for almost 18 months. So a fortnight ago we set out to do the walk with a couple of friends. I thought I’d post about it as my previous post on the subject, Itchen Way: Eastleigh to Winchester, is one of the more popular on my blog.

The last time friends had tried to do the Itchen Way between Eastleigh and Winchester they had reported footpath closures, so we set out on a slightly different route from Eastleigh to Brambridge – shown in green on the map.

If you’re interested in walking the Itchen Way then I’d recommend visiting the What’s Happening – Itchen Navigation website for links to newsletters and a schedule of works to find out which bits of the route are likely to be closed.

Hat Fair 2009

English Gents @ Hat Fair 2009

English Gents @ Hat Fair 2009

Another year, another Hat Fair. It’s becoming something of a tradition for Dan and me. We first went together in 2007, when we were first getting together as a couple. (Though the main thing that I remember from that year is being ridiculously hung over from the night before when I went to Point in the Park in Eastleigh and stayed up until 2am drinking wine.) I bought a hat, all was good fun. Last year was pretty cool as well.

This year I had two goals – 1) Get some cool photos on my digital SLR, as it was last year’s Hat Fair that inspired me to want one, 2) Get a new hat – my awesome Hat Fair hat of awesome got broken at the Isle of Wight festival, soI needed a new one.

Well I got loads of photos which will be uploaded to flickr at some point, but I failed to get a hat exactly like my old one.

In terms of acts my favourite this year was the English Gents, pictured above, they did some truly amazing acrobatic feats. Brilliant.

Haggis and Charley seemed less awesome this year. It was the same old patter, and their hearts didn’t seem to be in it this time.

We also saw a troupe of four whose act centred around one of the girls being bad at all the acrobatics in a scarily clumsy fashion which probably took twice as much skill to pull off. It was good and funny until they went into a long skit on bottles of water, which lost our interest so we wandered off to see some other acts.

There was an interesting mechanical structure in one corner of the field which I thought might have an interesting show associated. Unfortunately when the show came on it was quite boring and quite far up its own arse. Another thing we walked away from early.

The rest of the acts were pretty good, we stayed to the end before coming home to make chilli and watch zombie movies.

Awesome Weekend: Sunday

Pictures from the Hat Fair 2008

Pictures from the Hat Fair 2008

Sunday was the last (and best in my opinion) day of the Hat Fair. The Hat Fair is a festival of street performance that takes place in Winchester every year on the first weekend in July. Friday and Saturday there are performances and stalls in Winchester town centre, but on the Sunday the fair heads up to Oram’s Arbour, a big wedge shaped grassy park up the hill from the station.

We arrived at Oram’s Arbour in the drizzly rain at about half twelve – which was when the first act was scheduled for. Nothing was happening, and I was quite worried that the whole thing would be a let down with none of the performers wishing to risk their lives in death defying stunts on sodden, wet, slippery grass. However we’d barely stepped on to the field before the sun came out and by the time we had walked to the ice cream van it was so sunny that there was no excuse but to have an ice cream.

With the sun out the organisers leaped into action setting up pitches, amps and speakers. I had just enough time for another ice cream before the first act started. The first act was Bill Ferguson, who spent quite a while gathering his crowd with a combination of pointed comments at passers-by and hostage taking of gullible people’s possessions. It felt like he had the biggest crowd of all the acts I saw, even though it was still early in the day and there weren’t that many people yet – then again he did have no competition from other pitches. The climax of his act was juggling a pram, a crutch and a fold-up stool, which was pretty impressive.

Next act we saw was Shep Huntley, whose impact was lessened by the fact that we’d seen him last year. The first half of his act was pretty much identical to last time. But last year (as far as I recall) he ended by laying on a bed of nails, this year he climbed up a 3 metre pole and juggled knives and ate an apple at the same time.

Mr. Spin was the third act we watched. He was another who we had seen last year, though last year he was performing with Pandora Pink. Again I think he was better last year – mostly because he let her do all of the talking and patter. He was the most technically skilled performer I saw (I missed out on Haggis and Charlie this year), with a higher trick to patter ratio than the others. But the patter he did have got old very quickly – there’s only a certain amount of times a man can giggle manically and scream out “rock ‘n’ roll” and have it be funny.

Next was a magician – Andrew Elliot. He was really good. Normally I’m a complete old cynic with magic (having read too much on the subject for my own good) but his show had quite a few moments that took me by surprise. I was very busy thinking “Ha! I saw where those oranges came from.” when I got surprised with a “Where on earth did that watermelon come from?!?”.

Last of the day was Famos Bramwells. He was the act I was least blown away by. Granted he had it tough being the last act, he was following a magician who had a lot of good tricks with his act that contained two easily explicable tricks, and I was mainly there to be impressed by jugglers rather than by magicians. But still he was my least favourite act.

For overall performance I’d have to say I liked Bill Ferguson best, and for coolness of skills Mr. Spin.

Another Hat Fair has come and gone, and I can hardly wait until next year. Though one thing’s for sure – next year I’ll have to have a better camera. The three shots at the top were some of the best my little compact could manage. I’m definitely going to have to buy a digital SLR in the near future (or at least drop weighty hints to my loved ones in November/December time).

Itchen Way: Eastleigh to Winchester

Map showing the Itchen Way between Eastleigh and Winchester

Click on the image to get to navigable GoogleMap

Dan and I walked a section of the Itchen Way today. We took a train to Shawford and ate lunch in the garden of The Bridge pub before walking on to Winchester. In Winchester we had dessert and drinks at the Bishop on the Bridge before taking the train home to Eastleigh.

Usually we would walk from Eastleigh to Winchester, in total about three and a half hours not counting pub stops, but today we got a late start so decided to do the second leg only.

Last time we did the walk it was earlier in the year; the paths were muddy but the vegetation was subdued. Today the paths weren’t muddy, though they were waterlogged in a couple of places where the river had overspilled its banks, but the nettles at each side were like a jungle. Where’s a machete when you need one?

Overspilled banks on Itchen Way

Overspilled banks on Itchen Way

Edit: Banks are fixed to the north of Shawford now. Though a few footpath closures for works. Revisited the walk and have updated the map. See new post: Itchen Way again.

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