For an expat, two confusing things happen in mid-March. The clocks jump ahead in the US two weeks before they do in Europe. And Mother’s Day arrives ahead of the daffodils. Mothering Sunday, as its known locally, dawned frigid and windblown, ice on the car and low clouds over the coast. The local café’s offered double scones for breakfast and free puddings in the evening; Tesco’s piled a mountain of flowers for sale in every doorway.
My landlord let me know that a new couple would be joining me at 5 Woodside. I’ve had it to myself since Christmas, too quiet sometimes, and it will be nice (hopefully) to have company again. I gave the kitchens and bathrooms a good scrub, caught up the laundry and trimmed the ferns, washed winter’s street grime off the car.
I’ve been looking for a good sculpture garden to visit, and the Cass Sculpture Foundation looked like a good one. Unfortunately, it turned out to be shut until April 11, when the new installations appear. Second choice was the Hansard Galllery, an avant garde offshoot of the University of Southampton which turned out to be closed for the season when I arrived. Nearby, students wrestled in paint and water for charity, but it didn’t rise to ‘art’.
I drove on to West Quay, looking for the museums and galleries that I had seen during an earlier visit. Unfortunately I’d confused my memories of nearby Portsmouth with the grittier Southampton dock area. There were satisfyingly large boats docked at Ocean Village, burly workers scrubbing the black hulls to a polished shine, but otherwise only cold wind across industrial landscapes.
Orienting to the local maps, I put a finger on the picturesque Lee-on-Solent for a last try at peaceful beach walks and cozy coffee shops appropriate to Mothering Day.
The village is beautifully set along the waterway, sailboats were racing and the Isle of Wight lay low and green across the channel. People shared ice cream with their mothers along the promenade.
‘Windswept and mostly still shut for the season, the town nonetheless had a lovely little chocolate shop doing brisk business and a nice local diner to warm in after a brisk walk along the gravel beaches.
It’s one of those days that I don’t exactly find what I was looking for but had a satisfying adventure nonetheless. In part, I get a good story for the upcoming week’s conversations (everyone will have recommendations for what to do in-season), and I lay markers for future outings and rambles along the coast.