The train ride was only 15 minutes, so I got into town much earlier than expected, and far earlier than I needed to be. My eye exam is at 1pm, and it's only 10 past 10am at the moment. My search for wireless internet was fruitless, so I'm sitting now in a pub, writing, having already finished my first coffee. I'll save the second for the pub that actually has wireless internet.
The town of Romsey is wonderful. The centre has a very medieval feel to it, and was walkable from Clint's house. A great abbey stands watch over the town from the top of the hill. Surrounding this is countryside, as far as you can see, and in the springtime warmth, it's beautiful. Clint and I ran yesterday, down along the canal on a dirt footpath, over several small wooden bridges, through swampy wooded areas and along flat grassy fields. We only ran for about 30 minutes, but it felt much longer, for there was so much to see, so much to smell. The birds sang louder than my iPod and the warm air require the removal of my shirt. I was at home.
Clint took me to his village in the evening to meet Glenn for a pint. I haven't seen Glenn in two and half years, since leaving Christchurch on that morning the boys never returned from the pub. Nothing has changed, except Glenn has a beard now. It was great to see him, and the three of us relived the old times over a few glasses of beer in the village where they grew up. Clint complains of the village, but to me it was idyllic. The pub was white with wooden beams, and situated at the bottom of a small valley, the center of the small town surrounded by quaint and humble homes. Beside that, it was more farmland and countryside, rolling hills punctuated with brilliant yellow fields of rapeseed. The landscape was more fertile and blossoming than any I can remember. Maybe I'm here at the right time of year with the right weather, but I could have stayed in that village forever.
Southampton is not like any of that. Southampton is a city, but not a big one, and seems to be a large commercial port. Loads of cranes and trains lined the tracks coming into the central station. The city seems hastily put together, lacking the character of Romsey, the countryside of the village, and apparently the technology of wireless internet. But I'm here for a reason, and with luck I'll pass my test and eventually find my way to the waterside where hopefully docks full of sailboats will await my exploration.