Thursday, October 11, 2012

Something Old, Something New

I chose my  title in reference to this photo; it depicts HMS Warrior and, behind that, the Spinnaker Tower; but I might just as well have named it Robin Thursday, because this was definitely Robin's day.

It was raining when we got up this morning, and we weren't quite sure what to do. In the end, we went to Portsmouth to tour the ships. When we got to the historic waterfront area, I immediately got testy, because I couldn't see a Costa Coffee Shop, and there was no way I was going to go looking at war ships without a cup of coffee in me. "Where's Costa?" I cried. "I need a Costa Coffee!" But there was no Costa to be seen -- until we gave up and went into the building where we had to buy our tickets, and there it was. We drank our coffee, bought our tickets, and found out that our admission price included a harbour tour. The boat was to leave in ten minutes, so we got into the queue right away. For the moment, it wasn't raining, so we thought we would seize that moment. It was a good thing we did. We had about a 40-minute window of dryness before the sky opened again, and the cruise was 50 minutes long.

When we got off the tour boat, we scurried over to the Mary Rose Museum, where we found out that today was the 30th anniversary of the raising of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's favourite ship. The museum is in a bit of a schmozzle right now, because there is a new museum under construction, and a lot of the exhibits have been moved over there. The new museum is a dome; it is being built around and over the hull of the Mary Rose, quite a bit of which is intact. We watched a film about the ship and about the archaeological work that has been done over the last thirty years; and we had a look at what exhibits there were. One that interested me was the display of pocket sundials.  I had no idea there was ever such a thing as a pocket sundial, but by golly, there was.

Next on our list was HMS Victory, which involved a slog through the rain. Once aboard, though, we were mostly dry. There is a plaque that marks the spot where Lord Nelson was standing when he was shot.  My tour consisted of looking around, thinking [gun gun gun gun] Oh, look! A bucket. [gun gun gun gun] Oh, there's an officer's bed! [gun gun gun gun] Oh, my! Look at that writing desk.

I am not the best companion on tours of war ships. I pay attention to all the wrong stuff.

After walking through HMSVictory, we swam ran to HMS Warrior, a considerably newer, ironclad, steam/sail vessel. Again, there was some lovely china in the captain's quarters -- but my camera's batteries died suddenly, long before their time, so I don't have photos. (Next time, I'm going back to Eveready!) And by the time we finished that tour, even Robin had had enough of climbing up and down companionways while wearing water-soaked clothing. We drove home through a driving rainstorm on the M27, came gratefully into our hotel room, decorated its radiators with our various items of outerwear, and breathed great sighs of relief.

Later, we ventured out for a Chinese dinner down the street -- it had stopped raining, finally -- and still later, we went out to the pub with friends. The day ended a whole lot better than it started!


The Bug said...

As a history widow I have often toured forts and such & we always have to get a picture of Mike standing by a cannon. He loves weaponry discussions & such, but he ALSO likes to look at the other stuff that made up their daily lives, so it's not too unbearable for me.

Based on your blog & a few others that I read I've decided that about 98% of the time it's raining in England!

Sandra Leigh said...

Robin was an armourer in another life, so he loves looking at weapons. When he first took me to London, long ago, there was a lunchtime concert at St. Martin in the Fields. Robin's interest in classical music is about as keen as mine in weaponry, so I said "How about you go look at a gun, I'll go to the concert, and we can meet at Costa Coffee afterward?" That worked out beautifully for both of us.

Linda said...

I love history, but after so long I have to take a break from history, however the ships sounded pretty interesting. I loved our visit to the ship wreck museum in Michigan.

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