Every now and then I have to keep my vast extended family happy by visiting either of them. And today, it was Grandad's turn. I was already in a sulk because I was playing Pokéminecraft and I sat by a Legendary Spawning point for, like, 10 minutes and no Pokies came along so I angrily battled rival tribes on my phone for 20 miles or so, and then we got to Grandad's place dead on time.
He likes teaching me maths (and cutting out newspaper articles saying things like only 5% of actors are employed at any given time) so we did the volume of a tea caddy and a box of Oxo cubes and then we estimated the area of Portsea Island to be 18 3/4 square kms.
We always have to go somewhere with a pub lunch because I consider the restaurant in the Elizabethan manor house to be too posh. This time, it was Eling, pronounced Ealing not Elling. This tiny village has been a working port since medieval times, has one of the 2 remaining tidal mills in the country, and has a smallish muddy nature reserve. We parked by a vast container wharf and dumping ground in a space marked "For Heritage Centre users".
The tidal mill is old and bent and apparently still mills grain for bread, but Ye Gifte Shoppe and Heritage Study Centre was closed for repairs. A huge family of swans eyed us suspiciously from the rapidly dropping water levels and we strolled off through the muddy marsh with reeds everywhere, like the ones they thatch roofs with.
The raised walkway has chicken wire on so it's not so slippery and Grandad said what clever chickens to nail the wire down like that. I babbled incessantly about the Dambusters and tried to hide in bushes but if you don't stop babbling it doesn't work. The graveyard was huge, something to do with the black death apparently. The church up the hill was nice (bells stolen in 1691) and it had a sign on the gate saying no kite flying here. As it was in dense woodland, we thought it rather strange but it was because by this bit of Southampton Water, many pylons carrying 400kV cross over the greensward. That's where we met 3 girls in a tree, must be half-term or something.
The same family of swans swam over to hiss at us and follow us around in the hope of food but we went inland to a small playpark with a single climbing frame shaped like a pirate ship. I stood by the Fo'c'sle and gave Grandad the synopsis of the play "Pirates of the Currybean" in which I played Captain Swaggersword, Chief Wonga of Wongaland and 3rd Naughty Rat. In the tunnel under the ship we found a single piece of graffiti in neat handwriting saying "Satan will rule" but not specifying when, most disappointing.
On the medieval toll bridge itself, we saw a sign warning of 'Fear of Drowning'. Shouldn't it have been 'Danger of Drowning'? Eling seems to have a series of bizarrely worded signs. There was a man in the little toll booth charging £1 per car (70p for motorcycles) to cross, but he's only there in the daytime. Personally, I advise you to go for the £5 weekly season ticket, or back in time to when the previous owners (Winchester College) charged fourpence.
The Anchor Inn gave us our promised pub lunch, Grandad and I both had the child-size spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread, and a sign in the gents said anyone found using illegal drugs will be barred from every pub in Totton so I made sure I wasn't found.
Back at Grandad's place I had a swim in his pool although I had to share it with some old codger getting one-to-one physio then when everyone else had gone, I nipped into the spa hot-tub (over 18s only) and afterwards joined Grandad in the gym for some weights, the bar you pull down and some up-slope treadmilling. Meanwhile, pumpkins ripened in the field next door, D-Day minus 5 for them.
I declared the whole day to be a resounding success, even the most pleasant walk, and ate every single raspberry for pudding, leaving Jof zero.