I always head off to Winnall Moors with a spring in my step and the kind of anticipation you get on the eve of a special birthday.
It’s so close to the city centre and yet the moment you enter through its carved wooden arch you’ve arrived in a place called Somewhere Else, in this case a 64-hectare rural oasis of accessible wetlands.
Winnall is an eco drainage basin conservation project on the River Itchen, and the wildlife seem to have taken to the job of hydrological management with ease.
Here you can spot roe deer, New Forest ponies, kingfishers, a full catalogue of butterflies and – if you follow the right boardwalk through the reed beds – voles.
I’ve never struck lucky with the voles, but a chance encounter with Chris Packham or Clare Balding wouldn’t be a wild surprise given the raw beauty of this place.
And just when you thought paradise couldn’t get any better, there stands the Willow Tree pub with its sprawling garden, Greene King ales and Covid-safety measures running like clockwork.