I met Colin van Geffen, (the local artist who designed my covers and historian who checked some of my facts) outside the Bitterne Heritage Centre. Both Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home and Riduna are for sale there. It seemed a fitting place to meet since that’s where my research in the area began several years ago.
Colin suggested The Yacht Tavern for our lunch, down in Itchen Ferry. For those of you who have not been locals to Woolston for very long, Itchen Ferry is the area to the north of the Woolston Bridge, the south side being Woolston, and the villagers have been very protective of their patch for a couple of hundred years or more.
The welcoming landlady Jacqui was really interested in Ancasta, and that we were going to be on Radio Solent in the afternoon. She confirmed that, although the current buildings had probably been there since that area of Woolston was regenerated in the years after WW2, (The Supermarine Works was bombed out during a severe air raid over Southampton) she believed that there was an original public house called the Yacht Inn, on the same site before the war. This confirmed the truth of some of my research and so I was able to say that The Yacht Inn is featured in Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home. (watch this space)
We had very pleasant,freshly made baguettes before thanking Jacqui and heading over the bridge for Southampton.
Once through the security of the BBC we waited in the foyer, sipping tea and chatting. I was trying not to be too nervous, especially when it was 2.25 and we had not been called, but Colin took it all in his stride and reassured me that it was normal and any minute now we would be collected.
Sure enough, a few seconds later, the friendly face of Rebecca the producer popped her head around the door and lead us up to the studio. I had no time to worry at that point, since Katie greeted us cheerfully before we were positioned in front of two large black microphones and within moments the introductions were made, the questions came and we were on air, with no time to think.
Katie, is a natural. The conversation flowed quite naturally between the three of us, my nerves dissipated and within moments it was all over.
We took photos are were soon ushered out, with Rebecca putting us both on the spot to ask us to share any special memories on Southampton, before we left through the revolving doors.
As I tried to get to sleep last night I was buzzing with all the things I could have said to the people of Southampton.
- Why Ancasta ~Guide me Swiftly Home is such an appropriate name for the novel and why it is part of Southampton’s important heritage.
- Yes Ancasta tells the story of the birth of Supermarine through the eyes of the family who lived in Woolston between 1910 and 1920 but it is about far more than that – The change in women’s roles during WW1, life at Gillkicker Foft and The Queen Victoria Hospital-Netley and the role of the Hampshire 9th Cyclist Regiment in the war………… in fact the history of the area during that time, including the Titanic
On reflection though, in the light of this morning, it all went extremely well and I would like to thank Jacqui, Rebecca and Katie for making me feel so welcome.It was not only an enjoyable experience but a truly memorable day out in Southampton.