Out and about around Portsmouth

The historic dockyards at Portsmouth, (right near the train station, I might add), weren’t even a ten minute bus ride away from where I was staying so I arrived all fresh and ready for a big day out.

Reminded me of the time we took the kids to Underwater World at Mooloolaba many years ago, we were there about 8 in the morning and they didn’t open until 10!!! I wasn’t quite that bad, only half an hour early so I sat and started to try a boat sketch. Well, I’d not long started when I got a phone call, from someone who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are – having a dummy spit at me about something that was not of my doing and that I had no control over. After trying to help, shedding some tears, a couple of sharp exchanges and ruined mascara for the day I actually made it into the dockyard.

It seemed a bit expensive at £21 to see all the exhibits and museums, but it did include a 45 minute boat ride around the harbor and you could easily spend all day there if you were truly interested. Probably showing my ignorance here again but I was surprised by the number of warships there were floating around, the guide must have pointed out and named at least 20 I’d guess. I think they get partly built and fitted-out there?

HSM Victory was next, they say it’s the worlds oldest commissioned warship and still has a full naval crew – don’t know if she’d be much good in a war now though, she’s in a dry-dock!

Look how gorgeous the floor is - HMS Victory

Look how gorgeous the floor is – HMS Victory

Built in 1759 it was the ship Horatio Nelson was on in the Battle of Trafalgar, where he was shot and died. There’s also a huge barrel on-board where they put his body, and filled it with spirits to preserve it until they got back to England – true story, I kid you not!

The site I have linked to here is an absolute mine of information so I’ ll just post some pics and leave the facts to those who know them much better than I.

Just a few of HMS Warriors cannons

Just a few of HMS Warriors cannons

The only other visit I made was to the HMS Warrior, the first iron hulled armored warship, apparently. It was built in 1860 and was steam powered as well as having massive amount of sails. Considering this poor ships’ history, it’s amazing she’s still around. She was only in active service for 22 years, was a stores and depot ship until 1904, had something to do with the navy torpedo school until 1927 and was then an oil jetty until 1979. Can you imagine the amount of restoration required after that? It’s an amazingly lovely ship with some really spacious rooms for the officers and some pretty fearsome fire-power stashed all over the place.

I decided that the £1.70 bus fare more than outweighed the wear and tear on my poor old boots, so caught the bus back to Southsea, and walked down to the D-Day Museum. Blowing the sightseeing budget today – but well worth the £6.50 admission fee. I found the film and the reminiscences of people who were around at the time the really moving. I seem to have a bit of a fascination with war related history, but it’s more the effect war has that interests me, not the actual fighting aspect.

South Parade Pier, Portsmouth

South Parade Pier, Portsmouth

Still not finished for the day, I then walked further along the beach to the South Parade Pier. It was originally built in about 1860, was completely rebuilt in 1908 after a fire, was damaged by fire and rebuilt again in 1967, was heavily damaged in 1974 during the filming of the movie “Tommy”, again by fire – and rebuilt! I vividly remember going to the city to see that movie! Sadly, it’s closed because of safety concerns but I sat and did a bit of a sketch from nearby. I was reading it had been put up for auction last December, asking in the vicinity of £190,000 to £210,000, but wasn’t sold. It would be a shame if it goes down the same path as the West Pier at Brighton.

Anyhow, it was back to Ashby’s for dinner, a glass of red and more blogging for me after that.

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Filed under England, Mid-life travel, Travel

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