by Katie Isham.
As the autumn days tumble into winter, you could do worse than kick some leaves on a walk around one of our city centre’s fine parks. We’re spoilt for choice in terms of green spaces within the walls of Southampton, so maybe it’s prudent to combine a park outing with a chance to enjoy those very walls.
Instead of suggesting a mere walk, I’m daring enough to suggest a whole day out. Start in the heart of Southampton’s Old Town with a wander through the wonderful Queen’s Park. The usually verdant lawns are now ablaze with fiery swathes of fallen leaves. Visit now, before the turning point and decide for yourself whether there are more colours in the branches or on the ground. Throw caution to the wind and skip through the piles of crunchy colours. Feel the serotonin surge as the leaves swirl with every swish of the shoe.
The park is surrounded by knobbly trees; not being an expert, I have no further information. But they’re grand, flaunt an array of colours and look mighty fine against the winter skies.
Surrounding these trees there’s another layer to see. The buildings in this stretch of the city are works of art. The majestic South Western House stands watch over the eastern end of the park, passing the time watching the outside as it ever waits for the next train.
Once done frolicking in the leaves or exhausted from sitting on any of the many benches and spotting dogs (numerous) or parakeets (elusive), exit the park at the north-western corner. Follow Briton Street until you reach the Back of the Walls. It may not seem that enticing, but stroll along the old town ditch – stay with me – to walk in the footsteps of the past. These walls are a piece of history. Be part of it.
Talking of being part of something, after all that wandering, it’s time for a nice sit down and to occupy idle hands. As the ditch bends into Winkle Street (worth the trip alone for a selfie next to the sign), God’s House Tower rises from the walls.
This is a refuge in the city: a place of tranquil inspiration where the stories of Southampton, past and present, are played out in the creations of today’s residents. And they have some cracking buns.
God’s House Tower is an arts and heritage venue. There are always exhibitions and events happening and right now is your chance to be part of something special. Knit the Walls is a community of people, an ongoing project to stitch together the stories of the city in a woollen recreation of the walls that have stood so solidly in Southampton. Artist Sarah Filmer pulls the strings here to drive this bastion of calm creativity. All are invited to come and be an artist and to be heard. Prior knitting knowledge or skill is not necessary. There are no patterns or instructions. No rules. Sit, knit, drop a stitch, listen, create and be part of something bigger.
There are few better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than tramping through some leaves, contemplating your own small role in the tapestry of life and then sitting in a room that’s seen 700 years of history (with a more recent, delicious bun). Sit there in the cocoon of the walls and listen to the soft chatter and clacking of the people joining together to be there for that moment. At the risk of sounding like a cult, come join the community.
Cost: Free to enjoy the park and walls. Free to take part in Knit the Walls on the next two Saturdays 12-4pm. Get your pennies ready for buns at the tower (and a whole spread of local artists’ merch – perfect gifts for all).
Accessibility: Paths around the park and pedestrian routes around the walls. Lift access upstairs in God’s House Tower. Queen’s Park and God’s House Tower both sit along Town Quay and Platform Road as Old Town dissolves into Southampton Water. Car parking nearby and directly passed by numerous bus routes from both First and Unlink.
Facilities: Many benches in the park. God’s House Tower is an oasis of facilities: toilets, café, art, history, a library and as much wool as you dare to knit.
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