Hampshire’s coastal residents on how they live, work & play
PUBLISHED: 15:20 24 June 2014 | UPDATED: 15:23 24 June 2014
Claire Pitcher discovers how those living on the Hampshire coast like to live, work & play
Jules Hewson, Deputy Launch Authority, Hayling Island RNLI Lifeboat Station
“The first time I came here was in 1979 as a student studying landscaping and was drawn to the wonderful opportunities for sailing. It’s out of the rat race, slightly old fashioned, and having lived in West London for many years, I found it very tranquil and calming. We used to stay in a static caravan on holiday here too and kept on visiting for 22 years. In 1998 we bought a cottage and five years ago we moved to the Island permanently.
It was almost four years ago I joined the RNLI here on Hayling. As soon as we moved to be within five minutes of the Lifeboat Station, a requirement for crew, I joined and I can now run from my house to the station in under one minute!
My role as Deputy Launch Authority means I’m the manager of Blue Watch, one of three teams of boat crew and shore crew. The team is on duty 24 hours a day for one week in every three. I co-ordinate each ‘shout’ when my watch is on duty, deciding which of the two lifeboats are needed and liaising with the Coastguards and other services as necessary. I am the team leader but also in many ways their friend, concerned about their welfare on and off the water.
One rescue that really sticks in my mind is when two fishermen were anchored quite a way offshore. When they came to leave they got their anchor rope stuck round the engine propeller. The older and heavier fisherman went to the stern to try to free the rope, which unbalanced the boat. A wave came over the back and swamped it causing it to turn turtle. Only the tip of the bow stayed floating. I knew how they felt as I am a keen fisherman and have also been in a sinking boat. Their lifejackets were inside the capsized boat. They clung to the bow for dear life and within about 15 minutes were picked up by a sailing boat. The lifeboat arrived very soon after this and took them ashore. At the station later, wrapped in blankets, they expressed their gratitude and relief at being rescued. The younger fisherman was getting married the next week and he told me, ‘I will be grateful all of my life.’ You feel really good about saving lives like these.”
Are you interested in joining the RNLI? Visit www.rnli.org for more information.
Lucille Scott, Blacksmith, Southsea
“I grew up in Finchdean and went to school in Southsea. I recall regular trips to the beach most evenings in the summer. I also had a summer job on Hayling beach in my late teens and I spent a lot of time cycling along the coast around Emsworth and Bosham throughout my youth.
I’ve always loved the brighter skies you seem to get on the coast, so I moved to Eastney in 2009 to get closer to the sea. It’s the light, open space of the coast that’s my main love. The great expanse of open views, the amazing changes of colour in the sea and the moods of the water, be it calm or rough, I like both equally.
I always wanted to be a blacksmith; as a young girl I used to watch one in the workshop next to my father’s factory. After seeing a couple of blacksmiths at a show I was reminded that it was something I wanted to do, so I retrained.
The Little Duck Forge has been open for three years now and it’s just a short walk from my home. The building itself is an old workshop on the site of Eastney Beam Engine House, a great museum open the last full weekend of the month. It’s a lovely place to be as the architecture is so attractive and the building is so historically significant.
As for my work, I mainly focus on smaller pieces for the home and garden, I don’t like making things I can’t lift. A number of my pieces also reflect my love of the sea. Quite a few represent seaweed suspended in the sea while in others I combine driftwood, stones and shells with the metal.
Away from blacksmithing, I’m working with stonemason Darren Somerville on making a showroom for our work in the form of a garden. His business is a great complement to mine. I also run workshops and experience days for those who just want some fun. Everyone creates a simple beam hook to get them into manipulating hot metal using a hammer and holding it with tongs. I then encourage everyone to come up with an idea of what they would like to make and I redesign it to fit the time, skills and materials available. I have great fun developing all these projects and working with such lovely people.
When I’m not at the forge I still like to take to two wheels and go cycling along the south coast, using the ferries to hop from one island to the next. I especially love the Hayling to Eastney ferry as it allows me to travel from Southsea to Havant without having to cycle on any main roads.”
Grab one of Lucille’s creations for yourself at www.louisconsulting.co.uk/littleduckforge.
Greg Pitt, New Milton, Fisherman
“My dad, Ray Pitt, first started taking people out on fishing trips in 1960 when charter angling was still a relatively new thing in our area. I first started tagging along with him when I was seven years old. I loved the fishing, even though I did suffer quite a bit from the dreaded seasickness at first.
Keyhaven was a great place to grow up, as a kid I was always out playing around the quay and the marshlands, waiting for the fishing boats to come back in so I could see what they had caught, plus we had the beach and Hurst Castle right on our doorstep. As I grew up I was always fishing in and around the river at Keyhaven on the hunt for Bass and Flounders from whatever dinghy I could borrow, or by getting a trip out with some of the local guys until eventually getting a small boat of my own when I was 12.
In 1999, the skipper (Robbie Russell) who did all the Mackerel trips for my dad’s fishing business wanted to retire. I had been working for Hurst Castle Ferries for 15 years and felt it was time for me to go back to fishing so I bought Robbie’s boat ‘Uncle Len’ and have been taking people fishing ever since. I sold ‘Uncle Len’ in 2006 and bought ‘Osprey II’, a 33ft Lochin sports fisherman, it’s still my boat now.
We do most of our fishing trips a few miles to the south of the Needles and during the summer months we do a lot of Mackerel trips in the Solent for families and people on holiday. This whole area is very popular for sea fishing because of the Isle of Wight. It provides a lot of shelter from the worst of the weather, which in turn means the Solent has plenty of safe harbours for boats to operate from.
I think part of why we’re so successful is because we’re a family business. Dad built up a good customer base over the years, mum is ‘the boss’ and is in charge of taking all the bookings and I have brought us up to date over the last two years by creating our website.
We’re not a big time business and don’t want to be really, to me it’s more about enjoying what you do and if I’m enjoying it that means my customers are too. Retirement, however, is probably a long way off yet for me; dad is 78 now and still working in the job he loves. He just has a few more days off now.”
Fancy a bit of mackerel for tea? Book on to one of Greg’s trips at www.raypittseafishing.co.uk.
James Golding, Chef Director at The Pig & Coastal Forager
“A day spent foraging on the Hampshire coast will usually turn up treats like Sea Beet, Sea Purselane, Lava Weed, Lettuce Weed, Gut Weed, Rock Samphire and Marsh Samphire. In fact one of my favorite dishes here at The Pig is a simple bowl of local cockles, mussels and clams steamed open in wild garlic butter, white wine and cream then finished with sea beet and crispy sea lettuce – it’s the taste of the sea in a bowl!
I grew up in New Milton and we used to go out on foraging walks as a family. Now I take my own two children, Rex and Rio, with me whenever I go out - whether it’s looking for samphire and seaweed at the beach or wild mushrooms and wild garlic in the New Forest. It’s become a family tradition.
It can be a dangerous pastime however, I recall a trip to Keyhaven to collect some Lava Weed from a small cluster of rocks for a dish I was thinking of putting on the menu. The only problem was there was a serious storm brewing. It was one of those occasions where, in the end, I managed to get a small amount, but almost got swept out to sea in the process. Now that’s what I call commitment!
You need that sort of determination to be a chef, which is why I decided to move to London from Hampshire when I was 16. I worked at The Savoy and for Mark Hix at Caprice & J Sheekeys; then over to Soho House in New York. We used to buy in all our wild ingredients, so when I came back to Hampshire I suddenly realised I was surrounded by them. Being a chef makes you look into how to incorporate these wild flavors into complete dishes. A lot is trial and error, but most of the time you end up with a very exciting dish.
If you ever get the chance, try a guided foraging walk. We offer walks from the hotel and it’s a great way to start understanding and recognising the edible varieties. It’s great fun for the whole family and is a real education in itself. A word of warning though, a good amount of research is needed and never eat anything unless you’re 100 per cent sure it is what you think it is! We have a rule at The Pig - ‘If in doubt throw it out’ - you should never take a chance, as some wild plants can be very dangerous.”
Book a table at The Pig to sample some of James’s catch of the day on 01590 622354.
Sean Crane, Hurst ferryman
“I live in Milford-on-Sea and have always been based in the area. The best thing about living here is, of course, the sea and how it constantly changes. You never know how the day will look from start to finish.
As a family, we’ve always had a connection to this area of Hampshire, and to Milford and Hurst Castle in particular. My father was castle keeper at Hurst in the 1960’s and when the opportunity arose in the mid 1970s, we took over the running of the ferry. It’s continuing on to the next generation of Cranes’ too as my son, Jason also works with us as a skipper.
Our boat count has increased significantly over the last 40 or so years - we now have nine of them working throughout the Solent area. One of these operates as a water taxi. It can carry 12 people in the Solent; so we can take visitors to their yachts, sightseeing, birdwatching, you name it. There’s also Solent Rose and Wild Rose, on which we run day trips over to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. It’s a very traditional vessel, but that’s what we like about it. You can leave Keyhaven at 10.30am, 40 minutes later be in Yarmouth where you can spend five hours ashore, before returning at 4pm. This is all weather permitting, of course!
We also maintain the Castle at Hurst and both the Needles and Hurst Point lighthouses, as well as undertaking the mooring work in Keyhaven. There’s certainly never a dull moment.
My favourite thing about living and working on the coast? Well that has to be the people; we get the most interesting characters down here.”
Take a trip to Hurst Castle on Sean’s ferry, find out times and prices at www.hurstcastle.co.uk/ferries.