Peter Harvey

27.11.03

The Birdcare Standards Association is reminding people to sweep their bird tables and refresh their birdbaths so the birds don’t get E. coli. We did a bit on bird feeding in September and, bolstered by a picture from our nature correspondent, Trevor Codlin, this might do for the front of the Mid Hants Observer. I want to get ahead of the game because two of us are off on holiday to Spain tomorrow.

Journalist Max Jones phones after lunch to say a white horse has been mysteriously carved into a roundabout near to a group of car-park protesters.

He is calling from the lofty perch he has attained to photograph the horse and says it looks like the famous one in Wiltshire.

There was a public outcry in the early Nineties when St Catherine’s Hill was cleaved in two and the M3 built through it and over Twyford Down. To appease the protesters, the powers that be promised the rest of the greenfield water meadow areas around the bypass would never be touched.

Fast forward to today and the city and county councils renege on the deal, bulldoze the butterfly meadow at Bar End and build a park-and-ride. Selfstyled king of the druids and road protesters, Arthur Pendragon, has camped by the site at Bar End ever since.

Pendragon says the Celtic earth goddess Epona miraculously carved the horse (CCTV cameras saw nothing) and it means “the cavalry are coming”.

“Birdbaths to page five,” say I.

28.11.03

Fly to Girona in Spain from Bournemouth International Airport with my girlfriend Nuala, deputy editor Rich Williams, his wife and two other friends. We arrive at 2pm Spanish time. We visit the city’s impressive cathedral, then go out for a meal in the evening. By midnight Girona is fully awake. We drink beers in a café bar by the cathedral.

29.11.03

We go to the Girona Cinema Museum. Shadow puppets and magic lanterns are covered in fascinating detail, but the narrative jumps abruptly from the turn of the century to the Fifties.

We eat at La Polenta, a vegetarian restaurant recommended in Lonely Planet, before heading to the Sunset Jazz Bar for some Argentinian/ Brazilian flamenco jazz.

30.11.03

Barcelona! Onehour on the train.

We visit Gaudi’s cathedral, La Sagrada Familía, an enormous, awe-inspiring, pointy undertaking. Then it’s a long schlepp on the metro to walk down the Ramblas. It’s a big, dirty city in marked contrast to Girona.

01.12.03

Arrive back in Winchester at 12.30pm. The ever-witty Sam Leyden had headlined the roundabout story “Horse in a round”. Get stuck in to the paper (Mid Hants) as well as can be expected after a 1,000-mile trip to work. Forty pages are done and dusted by 9.30pm.

Honest: a young mother’s depiction of her feelings about pregnancy

2.12.03

We launched our second paper, the West Hants Observer, three months ago and said goodbye to laid-back Tuesdays for ever. We produce the Mid on a Monday and the West on a Wednesday.

I read that a wildlife trust is planning to buy an area of downland – a whole hill, in fact – east of the M3 bypass to protect it from future development. Max is dispatched with a camera.

I attend a private view and performance at the Theatre Royal, Winchester. I meet a group of young mothers who have been involved in an art project. They have collaborated with a theatrical designer and a local sculptor to express their feelings about pregnancy and childbirth.

The ink on paper drawings are immediate and honest, as are the mothers. The seven women are between 18 and 23 years old and only two of their babies’ fathers are still on the scene. I quickly realised the project wasn’t about blame, cause or effect, but was primarily intended to empower the women.

The group has bonded over the 15 weeks of art and discussion. Winchester artist Sue Hitching explains she wants the mums to realise their lives are “interesting”.

The young women seem genuinely delighted with the experience and are relishing the media attention.

03.12.03

A helicopter crashes near Andover.

Rich has pulled all the details together with a picture of a similar aircraft by the time I get in.

The paper falls together neatly behind the sombre front page and we get the call from Pompey Pre-press that everything is ripped and we can go home at 6.30pm.

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