I emailed Izzy and Adam about what I was doing and requested to meet up. They asked if I was available one Saturday afternoon as there was something they wanted me to experience.
I took a train to see them on the Friday evening before the Saturday event. They texted me their location and I found them sat beneath a large parasol in front of The Pig in the Wall: a hotel and deli tucked into Southampton’s medieval walls.
They asked if I was thirsty and then Adam got me a beer! How nice is that!?
Izzy told me that The Pig in the Wall is a baby piglet of ‘The Pig at Brockenhurst‘, a New Forest based restaurant and boutique hotel. She said the Brockenhurst restaurant has a ’25 Mile Menu’ sourcing local food; also that there’s a complementary shuttle service which drives PiW guests to and from PaB for supper.
Close to where we were seated is Mayflower Park. The park spreads along the waterfront of The River Test and becomes the site for Britain’s biggest annual boating festival, the Southampton International Boat Show. Adam and Izzy recommended the park as being one of the best locations to watch maritime traffic come and go from Southampton’s port.
Apart from time away at university, Adam and Izzy have lived in Southampton for most of their lives. Adam works in television and Izzy manages video content for the cancer charity McMillan. She regularly commutes up to London but says she doesn’t mind the journey as it gives her time to read and catch up on emails, the news, etc. – plus she enjoys returning home to Southampton at the end of the day.
I asked about the ways in which Southampton has changed. They recalled how the retail landscape changed with the arrival of WestQuay. Izzy said WestQuay was an excitement when it opened but then drained shops and footfall away from the high street, combining with the shift to online retailing to hasten the demise of places like Bargate Shopping Centre. However, recent investment in arts and culture, has helped stop further decline and instilled a renewed pride in Southampton’s rich historical heritage.
Adam and Izzy said they liked that the city’s ancient walls are being showcased more and they hope that something can be done in future to bring more of Southampton’s old cellars into use.
The topic of Brexit couldn’t be avoided. Both Adam and Izzy are ardent Remainers, and felt disappointed when Southampton voted to Brexit.
They gave me a match ticket for Saturday and told me to: ‘go see the Saints play at St Mary’s stadium – enjoy the game! More details to follow…’ Later, they emailed for me to meet Matt at 2pm by the Ted Bates statue, in front of St Mary’s Stadium.
Adam told me many of Southampton FC supporters deify the team’s Austrian coach, Ralph Hasenhuttl. I asked about anthems and Adam said the main anthem to sing is: ‘oh when the saints’.
Adam astutely observed that I had a German surname and so wondered where my loyalties would lie.
I guess we’ll see.