Southampton is a beautiful city. However, we have a litter problem that too often detracts from that, and makes a place feel unsafe and uncared for. So, I'm really happy to see these new smart bins popping up all around the city, and most recently at Riverside Park. They have a bigger capacity, are solar powered, automatically crush rubbish to take up less space, and alert the waste teams when they're approaching capacity.
We can all make the city a better place to live if we pick up a piece of litter on our walks. Only do this if you can do it safely - don't directly touch litter (even a sturdy leaf might offer enough protection), and generally avoid certain rubbish such as glass, Covid waste, tissues etc unless you have specialist equipment, and as always remember not to touch your mouth or face until you get home and clean your hands.
Even if you don't feel able to pick up litter in general, the presence of these new bins means the litter we do need to dispose of ourselves means we can do so more safely and easily (using the foot pedal), and be more certain that a strong gust of wind or a curious seagull won't undo all your good work later in the day.
Here's a development I'm very happy about. As a pedestrian I have not enjoyed navigating the junction of Devonshire Road with Cumberland Place, with several near misses! The whole pavement is very narrow and a bit of an afterthought. I hugely support the council's move to make the ring road take the majority of the city's inter-area traffic and to reduce cross-city traffic on side roads, and this should do a lot for both the pedestrian / cyclist experience on Cumberland Place, but also traffic levels in The Polygon. An extra benefit for cars will be the improved flow of traffic without having to manage incoming / outgoing cars to the Polygon. The difference is huge:
This is only the latest improvement to the pedestrian and cyclist experience in the city. From the new segregated cycle highway on the Avenue, to pedestrian priority walkways in St Denys, and to a new pocket park in Townhill Park, things do seem to be on the up for making our a city an easier and more pleasant place to spend time in.
This article is about Mint Dosa but really I'm using it as a demonstration of a truth - Southampton is a great city for authentic Indian food. I learnt on travels around the world that I really took great Indian food on my doorstep for granted. Indian food travelling was often too sweet, too plain, often overpriced or clearly from a ready meal. With local knowledge of those countries I'm sure there are exceptions, but that was my experience. Only when I travelled to India did the food reach the heights of home and I learnt how lucky we are. In Southampton, there isn't just 'Indian' food referring to food from the subcontinent as a whole - you can be transported directly to Kerala, to Goa, to the Punjab, to Nepal, to Pakistan, or to Bangladesh.
Mint Dosa's food is described as South Indian and Sri Lankan, and of course dosas (giant pancakes made from ground rice and lentils) form a key part of the menu. I strongly recommend the special masala dosa, filled with a potato curry filling and served with coconut chutney, tomato chutney and a vegetable sambar soup - this is a great meal in itself for just over £6. However, I concluded that dosas probably don't travel too well, so I elected to omit them from my eat-at-home feast.
Not the best Internet food photography sorry! Pictured are a very small part of the Mushroom Manchurian (delicious battered mushrooms in a Chinese inspired sauce - very popular in India), Mutter Paneer (peas and paneer), Chana Bhatura (chickpea curry and bread), and coconut rice. We also ordered a Garlic Naan, a Peshwari Naan, Vegetable Manchurian and mango lassi to drink. For £50 there was enough for both of us to have dinner across two nights.
From Oothappam, to something called "Chicken Lollipop", to Masala Tea and Kingfisher beer (not available for home delivery - you'll need to supply your own), to the menu being split into "vegetarian" and "non-vegetarian" - there's so much about Mint Dosa that reminds me of India.
Mentioning all of the excellent Indian restaurants would take too long, but just quickly I'd like to shout out the following for being awesome: Sanjha, Dhaba 59 (new location at 59 Lodge Road), Baboo Ji, Everest, Basmati, Bayleaf, Kohinoor of Kerala, 5 Rivers, Tandoori (Woolston), and Gurkha Lounge. Some are open now for our takeaway treats, and some will be waiting for you when they re-open.
Southampton - you're truly lucky to have such awesome Indian food just a phone call away. I highly recommend treating yourself to a lockdown New Years fest.