As the sun was shining this afternoon and I had some time to kill while my buns were rising (not a euphemism), I decided to go for a stroll around Southampton Common to see if there was any sign of Spring.
The extensive grounds of the current Fish Towers – traversed on my way to the Common – could offer snowdrops, yellow crocuses and even a couple of early (and probably foolhardy) daffodils in bloom. Floral signifiers of the season-that-is-to-come were harder to come by on the Common itself, though there was a red rhododendron flowering and a very few clumps of mauve crocuses. I suspect the better informed stroller would have seen many more signs of future vegetative efflorescence – but as previously established, I dropped biology in the 3rd form and my botanical knowledge is somewhat rudimentary.
The Common seemed largely populated by those taking their dogs and/or children out for a walk. Both categories of the walked seemed very keen to get into any available water, though the children were (fortunately) restricted to puddles, mostly those shallower than their wellies. In addition to the walked, there were groups of young people engaged in a number of ball games – or training for ball games. Most of these seemed to be drawn from the broad range of traditional, winter-played ball sports with which I have at least some vague familiarity (if absolutely no skill). However, one group seemed to be playing a muggle version of Quidditch. As there appears no obvious shortage of magic-free ball games for people to play, attempting to translate a game for which the ability to fly is critical to both the players and the “balls” does not strike me as an obvious choice. Still, the young people involved seemed to be enjoying their rather earth-bound version of J K Rowling’s game, so perhaps the loss of its aerial element is not so important. Its playing may itself have been a signifier of the coming Spring as I have no idea when the Quidditch season traditionally falls or whether it has been changed by the intrusion of TV money.
However, one key and very welcome summer migrant was missing from the Common. I refer of course to the ice cream van with its familiar song. I presume they must still be wintering somewhere in Africa awaiting more consistent warmth before they return – though Chris Packham and co have yet to feature them on Springwatch, so I can’t be sure as to their migratory habits. Still, despite, returning home without a cornet (or any other brass instrument) I am reminded how great it is to have the Common so close to home and remain hopeful that winter is on the wane