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16 December 2017


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Bitterne Parker: Liz Batten
Sunday, 07 December 2014 00:00

Liz Batten cropped
Liz Batten was born in Ebbw Vale in 1947 and has lived in Bitterne Park since 1999, when she downsized and gave up having to work to pay the mortgage. She used to help people quit smoking via Smokestop, a research project at the University of Southampton. Nowadays she uses those skills to help people change to a low-carbon lifestyle. She’s a founder member of Transition Southampton and one of the organisers of Southampton Repair Café. She has two sons, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, most of whom live in Totton.


The Qs & the As

What’s your link with Bitterne Park?  

I’ve lived here since 1999.

What’s your earliest memory of the area?

I can vaguely remember sitting on a bench by the river eating fish and chips with my two sons just after we moved to Swaythling in 1982.

How could the area be better?

Less traffic, more cycling

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

I heard from a neighbour that the two houses next to Barnardo’s have their back doors facing Manor Farm Road. The reason is that they were built when the river bank was all bulrushes and before the bridge was built and the road in front of them led to Manor Farm. He said there was a track to one side to walk down to the river to catch the ferry across. That, for me, sums up why it feels like a village here – that’s how it’s always been. It’s less than a century since Bitterne Park became part of the City.

What’s good – or not so good – about the wider city?

I absolutely love the energy in the place lately – there is a lot of good stuff going on. There seems to be a re-birth of the “can do” attitude that I witnessed way back in the 1980s when I first got involved in community ventures. Those who remember the Gantry will know what I’m talking about. People are just getting together and making things happen – arts, music, food, having fun, making stuff.

On the down side, our City’s political structure and the policies that drive it don’t seem to recognise what a tremendous bunch we are. Somehow we’ve got to get back the civic pride and sense of identity that is truly our own, and not imposed from some corporate ideal.

What’s your passion in life?

I am in love with the earth, our home. There I’ve said it – I’ve come out. I’ve witnessed a massive change in our environment since I was born and I often grieve for what is lost. And I will do what I can to look after this beautiful place. When I joined Transition Southampton it was out of a feeling of “there must be something I can do”. It’s been an exhilarating time – finding all these people who feel the same way – and starting up the Repair Café is an expression of how we can learn to repair, re-use, recycle and, most of all, share some fun times (with lovely cakes too). Next year I’m hoping to start some Cool Communities groups too (thanks to WinACC in Winchester) – “Drop two and a half tons of CO2 in 30 days” – I’ve run a pilot group and it was a hoot.

How do you put bread on your table?

I supplement my pension with odd jobs. It’s wonderful not to have to go out to work every day – although I do still work very hard.

What has your career taught you?

That if you follow your heart and don’t worry about the money, it will all come right and you will never be bored.

What really gets your goat?

People who have picnics in the park and then walk off and leave all their rubbish behind.

How do you relax?

Candy Crush Saga (I’m a late starter); a nice gin and tonic.

Which is your favourite pub?

The Butcher’s Hook.

What are you drinking?

There’s a very nice pink in Waitrose that hits the spot.

What do you listen to?

Radio 4, blues, jazz, aeroplanes overhead.

Can you recommend a really good read?

Memoirs of a survivor by Doris Lessing. She has put so much into this little book – I’m currently re-reading it and am so struck by her ability to see our possible future.

What’s a great day out?

A walk with friends across fields with panoramic views

What scares you?

Thinking about what my grandchildren might have to cope with when the effects of climate change become even more challenging.

What would you most like to change - in the world and in yourself?

More kindness and compassion, fewer aeroplanes

What’s on your ‘bucket list’?

I think I’ve done most of them – nowadays it’s more about slowing down enough to really appreciate where I am, who I’m with, what’s happening, in this moment, now.

Tell us a joke

Heard on the bus: Did you hear about the archaeologist? His job’s in ruins…

Finally, what would be another great question for other Bitterne Parkers?

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

Thanks so much for taking part!

Southampton Repair Café's Facebook page is here.

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.

Read about other Bitterne Parkers

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