13th January Alton
I initially intended to walk the Watercress Line, but the dark clouds and weather warnings changed my mind. Alton is such a pretty village to explore, but sadly the high street is suffering, and many of the shops are vacant and empty.
I’ve recently discovered that Fanny Adams did not always mean ‘F*** All.’ My eldest daughter and keen historian told me the story of the real Fanny Adams.
The eight-year-old Fanny Adams was murdered in Alton, England in August 1867 by Frederick Baker, a 24-year-old solicitor’s clerk. Her dismembered body was found in a field near the town. She was buried in Alton cemetery. The inscription on the headstone indicates the strength of feeling against the murderer:
Sacred to the memory of Fanny Adams aged 8 years and 4 months who was cruelly murdered 24th August 1867.
Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul but rather fear Him who is able to kill both body and soul in hell. Matthew 10:28.
This stone was erected by voluntary subscription.”
The case was the source of enormous public concern and newspaper reports of the time concentrated on the youth and innocence of the victim. Everyone living in England at the time would have known the name of ‘sweet’ Fanny Adams. The British Royal Navy came to use the expression to refer to unpleasant meat rations they were often served – likening them to the dead girl’s remains. Barrère and Leland recorded this usage in their A dictionary of slang, jargon and cant, 1889:
“Fanny Adams (naval), tinned mutton.”
It wasn’t until later that ‘sweet Fanny Adams’ came to mean ‘nothing’. The term ‘f*** all’ has long been with us with that meaning, although how long isn’t clear as politeness caused it not to be recorded in print until the 20th century. There is more information about the murder here. www.historyanswers.co.uk/people-politics/the-gruesome-origin-of-sweet-fanny-adams/
We passed the pretty Church of St Lawrence walked through the Town Gardens and one of Oliver Cromwell’s houses. Although we didn’t follow any particular route, we managed a reasonable distance and resisted tea and cake.
17th January Millennium Promenade
The route starts from Spur Redoubt near Clarence Pier, Southsea and finishes on The Hard, taking in Old Portsmouth, the Camber and Gunwharf Quays. The journey is indicated by a chain motif set into the pavement. Historically it also refers to the chain, which used to be tightened across the harbour entrance at times of potential attack.
The most exciting part of the walk was witnessing a murmuration of starlings – a swooping mass of thousands of birds whirling in the sky above your head. A Fantastic sight against the sea and Spinnaker Tower. We stopped for coffee to celebrate.
Starting at Landport Gate in St George’s Road, this self-guided trail takes you through parts of the old town of Portsmouth, highlighting places and buildings of interest relating to Vice Admiral Lord Nelson and Portsmouth around the time of the Battle of Trafalgar.
18th January – Gold Hill
Not really a ‘walk’ but cool! Gold Hill or Hovis Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town of Shaftesbury in the English county of Dorset. Spent time with good company and scones.