I got there early , as I wasn't sure how long it would take me to find, or how easy it would be to find, but felt that a bit of extra time by the sea would not be a bad thing!
In fact, I didn't have too much trouble finding Canoe Lake (no canoes, but giant swan pedalos) and the lane is very close (map here ) and people quickly started to arrive. (including some gentlemen from the council who carefully covered the road sign up so it could be unveiled, and a little later closed the road and set some chairs up for the visitors, and there was time to catch up with old friends and acquaintances and make new ones.
Neil lived near here when he was a child, and still has family in the area, many of whom had attended. There were also people who had known the family back then - there were clearly lots of people who hadn't seen one another for a while happily catching up, and I overheard one lovely, elderly gentleman saying to his wife's friend "look at all these people, I'd no idea David's boy was famous - did you know?" I love that he (and others) had come out because it was "David's boy" or a former neighbour who was being honoured, and not just because he is a famous writer!
Then Neil arrived, together with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Lynne Stagg (who, to my disappointment was not wearing her full ceremonial robes) and Sam Cox, Portsmouth's Poet Laureate.
|Happy Neil about to unveil his road|
The Lord Mayor introduced Neil, linking him with other literary figures who lived in Portsmouth (Dickens, Conan-Doyle, Kipling) and then Neil gave a short speech, and unveiled the road.(there is an audio recording of Neil's speech here ) and we heard 2 poems from Sam Cox.
After the unveiling, Neil stayed around and chatted and had pictures taken. Someone gave Neil a Cornetto, which he managed to eat while making polite conversation and giving an interview to the local Jewish newspaper, someone else, (or possibly the same someone,) got him to sign a giant model cactus, and everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves.
|(with thanks to the lovely chap who took this for me, whose name I didn't catch)|
And as you can see, the weather was lovely - they'd forecast rain showers, but it stayed bright and sunny (albeit rather breezy) for the whole of the event.
A really enjoyable afternoon. And the evening still to come..