Originally moored at Calshot Spit, this lightship was a floating lighthouse at the entrance to Southampton Water. It guided flying boats into their terminals and warning ships of sandbanks at the Brambles.

Six crew lived in cramped conditions keeping the light and foghorn operating. It was replaced by a buoy in the mid-1960s.

A New Forest Church.

On this dull Wednesday, we stopped off at our favourite New Forest Churches.

St Nicholas Church Brockenhurst is the oldest church in the Forest. It is positioned on a mound, on the edge of the village which may have been a sacred site since pre-Christian times. A church is recorded at Brockenhurst in Domesday but the original Christian church was quite possibly established by Augustinians who established the priory at Christchurch. This church never seems to change except with the seasons. today it looks exactly the same as it did in 1980 when we got married there.

Male and female Blackbird.

War Graves in the Churchyard.

Details re the war graves copied from Commonwealth war graves commission webpage.

“Due to its proximity to the port of Southampton, its railway connections and an abundance of large houses in the area, Brockenhurst was chosen in 1915 by the War Office to become a hospital centre. Initially, Lady Hardinge’s Hospital (named after the wife of the Viceroy of India) for the Indian troops of the Lahore and Meerut Divisions was established south of the village. This was then replaced by No.1 New Zealand General Hospital in June 1916, after the Indian Divisions were replaced by ANZAC troops. The New Zealand Hospital remained at Brockenhurst until it closed early in 1919. The churchyard contains 106 graves of the First War, of which one hundred are in the New Zealand plot. In addition to the 93 New Zealand graves, there are also three Indian and three unidentified Belgian civilians (employed at the Sopley Forestry camp). On the East side of the New Zealand plot is a memorial incorporating a Cross.”

The snake man.

Harry ‘Brusher’ Mills was a hermit, a resident of the forest, he made his living as a snake catcher.  It is said he caught around 30,000 snakes during his 18 years as a snake catcher.

He was a man of few needs who loved the simple life, in a mud hut apart from a spell in the workhouse after catching influenza.

He was a popular character in Brockenhurst, regularly enjoying a tipple at The Railway Inn which today is named The Snakecatcher in his honour.

You are never far from a Robin in the New Forest.

A town park.

A few hours in Mayflower Park Southampton this morning.

Mayflower Park is a waterfront park, in the old part of the City with views over the River Test. It is on reclaimed land near where the Mayflower left Southampton 400 years ago, Pilgrims embarked on their historic transatlantic voyage on August 15 1620. They were on two ships – the iconic Mayflower and the lesser-known Speedwell. The park is the only city centre waterside park with views across the River Test.

Feeding Gulls in the park.

There are always some shipping movements near the park.

An interesting lifeboat launch system on the bulk car transporter.

Herring Gulls, All different ages.

There were a few Oystercatchers on the grass of the park as the tide was high. One was ringed. So I sent off the details and I hope I will get some information on this bird. I will update my blog if I get any feedback.

Lepe Beach D-Day Relics.

Lepe Beach and country park has many relics that date back to WW2 and link it with D-Day and the invasion of France in June 1944.

One of many Mulberry Harbour construction and launching sites was constructed at Lepe 6 concrete Phoenix Caissons that were simultaneously built on these platforms from January 1944 so that they could be directly launched into the sea by May 1944. They were towed up Southampton water for finishing.

Mulberry harbours were temporary portable harbours following D-Day, two prefabricated harbours were taken in sections across the English Channel from the UK with the invading army and assembled off Omaha Beach (Mulberry “A”) and Gold Beach (Mulberry “B”).

Many Allied troops waited for D-Day in camps in the New Forest. Some of these embarked from Lepe, and others used embarkation sites to the east or west. The group of camps was known as Marshalling Area B. On the beach, at Lepe, there was room for four Landing Craft Tank (LCT).

Remains of the “Dolphins” part of the pierhead which was used to load landing crafts.

Large Bollards for tying up Landing craft.

Concrete blocks known as “chocolate Blocks ” were used to build a roadway over the beach for vehicles to load onto the landing craft without getting stuck on the soft sand and gravel.

Launch block blocks where the large caissons were winched into the sea.

Large contraction platforms where the caissons were constructed.

Monuments remembering D-Day and Poppy display in support of the Royal British Legion 2022 Poppy appeal.

Timber from the New Forest.

At the start of World War, One much of the timber required by the UK came from Canada. By 1916 Canadian timber could no longer be imported on a large enough scale to meet requirements for the war effort as there were not enough freight ships for all the country’s munitions, food and other essential items. Timber production from English forests and woodlands had to be increased to meet the Canadian shortfall. Labour was short due to the war. To harvest local timber the First Battalion of Lumbermen was formed of 1500 Canadian workers who started coming to the UK. The Canadians brought over their own equipment an initial advance party of 15 Canadians set up in a camp near Lyndhurst. which quickly grew and later received help from Portuguese labourers.

The camp was some 4 to 5 acres in size and surrounded by fences It was like a self-contained village with over 25 huts. Including workshops and even a hospital. At the height of the camp’s usage, there were around 100 Portuguese and 200 associated workers on site. There was also a Light railway that helped speed up timber production. Other camps were set up mainly in Southern England.

Little remains of the timber camp today as most of the buildings were wooden.

Concrete remains of the sawmill.

Now a monument “The Portuguese fireplace” is the chimney of the former cookhouse.

Timber Work in the New Forest is still being undertaken.

Runway walk.

RAF Beaulieu was also known as USAAF Station AAF 408. It is located near the village of East Boldre, and about 2 miles west of the village of Beaulieu. The area had early links with flying. During the First World War, a Royal Flying Corps training airfield, RFC Beaulieu, at East Boldre was established this was closed in 1919. The World War 2 RAF Beaulieu was built on the opposite side of the road to the aerodrome it opened in 1942. During the war, it was used as a bomber and fighter airfield. After the war, it was used for experimental work before it was closed in 1959.

The area around the airfield is heath and made a good circular and flat walk this morning. Some areas of the runways remain but much has been removed.

Lots of Fungi were starting to show.

Kestrel. We later watched this bird catch a snake and fly off with it.

Step back in time.

Sitting on the beach on Tuesday morning around Calsholt spit came the Paddle Steamer Waverly making speed towards the Isle of Wight. Every time I see this paddle steamer I think of the Section in H G Wells’ book The War of the Worlds when HMS Thunderchild a Royal Navy warship sacrifices herself by ramming two tripods in order to protect the evacuation fleet including a paddle-steamer off the Essex coast.

PS Waverley is the last seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer in the world. Built-in 1946, she sailed from Craigendoran on the Firth of Clyde to Arrochar on Loch Long until 1973. Bought by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and restored to her 1947 appearance and now operates passenger excursions around the British coast. I did a trip on her in 2015. {see link}

A Paddle Steam along the coast. | REFLECTIONS ON MY WORLD (

She has been listed on the National Historic Fleet by National Historic Ships UK as “A vessel of importance”.

Tall ship off Isle of Wight