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16 December 2017


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Bitterne Parker: Sue Badcrumble
Sunday, 08 June 2014 00:00

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A typical day in the Badcrumble household!

Sue ‘Badcrumble’ – the name she’s mostly known by – looks after her family and enjoys being a ‘maker and baker’. A keen sewing upcycler, she takes remnants and turns them into new items including patchwork and appliqué quilts, cushions, shopping totes & purses, and bunting for children's bedrooms. She says a story lies in every little fabric component, and recycling has been important throughout her life. She’s also a keen baker: “I enjoy creating celebration cakes for friends and acquaintances – the challenge of representing odd things in edible cake form is great fun!”

The Qs & the As

What’s your link with Bitterne Park?

After fifteen years in St Denys, it was finally time to become one of the diaspora who seek a bit more house room and relocate to Bitterne Park!

What’s your earliest memory of the area?

I think after joining the St Denys Sailing and Rowing Club, and pootling up and down the river (in a beautiful 80-year old skiff), I came to realise the 'Other Side' looked rather appealing!

But I think I first ventured this way by accident – long ago as a uni student, I tried to understand where some of the bus routes went, and did the wrong loop of the old number 3.

How could it (the area – or indeed your memories) be better?

We live in hope that some of the fab new businesses at the Triangle will truly stick. Annoyingly, the greengrocers and PO closed just before we moved here; but I want the Triangle to remain a vibrant and surprising little nook for shops and services. And if someone had vision and loads of investment, the Bitterne Park Hotel could be such a hub for our area – coffee, beer, music, club meets – and surely there's a local need for somewhere that can supply a few rooms accommodation when people have a big family do on? There's no option for miles around.

Tell us something we probably didn’t know already about Bitterne Park

On the 1897 OS map of Bitterne Park, there is a 'Cobden Bridge Brewery', sited roughly where Homespinney House retirement flats are now. I wonder whether the Butcher's Hook could replicate some of their old local brews?

What’s good about the wider city?

I like the way that despite being a rather boring urban sprawl, (the convenience of city life outshines its lack of appeal), many of the individual suburbs do have a distinct character, and feel village-like. I especially like the many secret greenways crossing Southampton, and the fact that from many vantage points, you can see nothing but trees.

Southampton: points for improvement?

Something never seems to quite join up with the various themed events and activities that go on each year – it needs someone with a massive vision to bring it all together. Maybe because of the aforementioned sprawl and separate suburbs, people have more affinity to their own area, and don't feel much love for the city overall, and it's sadly a lost cause?

Southampton could make more of its historic ocean liner past – e.g. what stories are to be had from the laundries that lined the Itchen all the way up to Cobden Bridge, servicing them in those old days?!

What’s your passion in life?

I want to know!!

If I or my family don't understand something, we want to find out, to explore, to understand! And often in a practical way too; hence if I see something I like, my response is to go home and have a go at making it for myself, to understand how it was made, and how much hidden effort went in.

And I would go barmy if I couldn't escape to the outdoors as often as possible too.

How do you put bread on your table?

Usually from the bread-machine, but Co-op is there when things go wrong!

Seriously – we operate on a 'make-do, mend, use things up till they are truly gone' approach to life, so that our family earnings, like everything else we have, don't go to waste.

I can't even look at a few slices of stale bread without thinking of the potential for a scrummy bread-and-butter pudding to put it to good use!

What has your career taught you?

In a previous existence, I worked as an agricultural entomologist, researching how farmers can work with nature, particularly beneficial insects to help control pests, and lessen the need for unpleasant chemical applications. As a job, it taught me slow, methodical patience, a good eye for the little things (quite literally, when it came to catching tiny beetles in the field!) and doing, believing nothing until you have proper, scientific evidence to support it.

What really gets your goat?

Waste! I can't bear how much stuff people through away as their 'rubbish', when all I can see is useful resources, valuable materials and things with much more life in them. I really hope that the attitude that 'one's person's trash is another person's treasure' grows – places such as Freecycle and Ebay perhaps are starting to help change attitudes. Consequently, I loathe the concept of 'fashion'.

And don't get me going on laziness! If you want something done, don't keep putting it off - get going on it, you might even enjoy yourself!

How do you relax?

I relax by making and baking, no surprise! Or spending entertaining moments with my guinea-pigs.

But ultimately, give me a hilltop, an open moor, a secluded river... with no-one around for miles, aside from my loved ones.

What’s your favourite dish?

A really unhealthy gungey treacly oozing sticky pudding, with lashings of double cream. Oh yes!

Which is your favourite pub?

Fantasy pub: the one you reach after hiking for miles, when the rain is finally starting to seep through your boots, with its log fire, real ales and quirky home-made pies...

What’s on your iPod?

iWhat? Far too modern for me. Radio 4 half the day, mind-refreshing silence the other!

But from time to time, a good bit of...banging trance, heavy metal, and maybe some haunting baroque recorder – rather wide-ranging tastes, but it's got to move me.

Can you recommend a really good read?

Again, rather eclectic tastes, ranging far and wide - from the somewhat obscure, and sometimes surprisingly feminist classics, to some good imaginative sci-fi. Iain (M) Banks is rather fine!

What’s a great day out?

Finding a fantastic fascinating castle, full of people in period costume keen to let visitors have a go on the archery, pottery etc. Followed by a beautiful wildlife-filled walk and picnic.

Tell us a secret

Our newly built garden wall, replacing a lost Edwardian one, has our hidden time capsule... let's hope it lasts another hundred years!

Tell us a joke

Brace yourself for a corker:

What's brown and sticky?


A stick...


Thanks so much for taking part!

Tune in next time when another Bitterne Parker answers our searching questions. But before then, do you know a Bitterne Parker we really should feature? If so, please nominate them by emailing us using the contact form, and we'll do our best. No promises, mind.

Sue “flings all her makes & bakes” onto her online portfolio.

Read about other Bitterne Parkers




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