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Published: July 17th 2018
Wednesday 14 June we left Plymouth behind and made our way to Portsmouth via the motorway and pretty English villages. We are staying at the Royal Marine Club for six nights - a very nice hotel just near the harbour. Parking at the hotel was at a premium but John found a parking spot for our little red bus and there it will stay until we leave.
Thursday we bought ourselves a ticket to the historic dockyards which allows us to explore this great place over a number of days. Our first stop was HMS Warrior 1860, a 40-gun steam-powered armoured frigate built for the Royal Navy in 1859–61 and HMS Victory. She is best known for her role as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalger in 1805, the shop he died on. We had a great audio tour of the ship, up and down decks with lots of exhibits and original furnishings etc. to look at. In 1922 she was moved to Portsmouth Harbour and preserved as a museum ship and is the world's oldest naval ship still in commission.
But our favourite was the Mary Rose exhibition - absolutely gorgeous. She was King Henry VIII's
favourite ship and sank in battle in 1545. The wreck of the Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1971. It was raised in 1982 by the Mary Rose Trust in one of the most complex and expensive projects in the history of maritime archaeology. The surviving section of the ship and thousands of recovered artefacts are of immeasurable value as a Tudor-era time capsule and the excavation and raising of the Mary Rose was a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology. We also enjoyed a visit to the birthplace of Charles Dickens who was born in Portsmouth in 1812.
One night over dinner we met a bonnie Scottish "lassie" by the name of Rosie. She and her husband were down from Aberdeen, he wanting to do the whole historic dockyards tour which was going well until he slipped from a ladder on one of the ships, landed badly and broke his hip! We took her under our wing, met each afternoon for drinks in the bar and then proceeded to dinner - she finding some comfort in a few whiskeys each evening and grateful to John and I for spending time with her after she'd spent a long day
at the hospital. Her husband ended up having his hip replaced in Portsmouth Hospital and they returned home a few weeks later. We've kept in touch with Rosie and all is well now!
We caught the ferry to the Isle of Wight and what a beautiful place it is! We boarded the local bus that wound its way to the western side of the island, to Yarmouth, a town, port and civil parish and enjoyed lunch there. On the island’s western point, we saw The Needles, three huge, white chalk rocks, guarded by a 19th-century lighthouse. I wished we'd known about the Isle of Wight sooner as it's definitely a place to spend a lot of time. Maybe next time...
Soon it was time to leave Portsmouth and travel to Brighton where we booked into a B&B in Hassocks, a quaint little village nearby. We caught the train into Brighton and wandered around the town and onto the famous Brighton jetty. It was a very hot day - at least for the Brighton-ers who were out in force on the pebbled beach, one girl so sunburnt we wondered how she'd be when she stepped under a shower later
on! We chatted to two dear little old ladies on the pier who were fascinated by our Aussie accents and wanted to know all about us.
We met up with some chums we met in Canada a few years ago, David and Christine Farmer, who live in Hassocks, for dinner at a local hotel. It was great to see them again. We last saw them in 2014 when we journeyed to England with D&G and had a very long lunch at The Victoria Hotel in Paddington - something we still talk about!
I will confess that I am typing this blog 13 months (July 2018) after our return home from the trip as I 'got lost' along the way with updating my notes and photos each day so they're a bit light on but suffice to say, we had a great time in the south of England, tootling along in our red car and thank goodness for the GPS! We loved catching up with cousins in Whitley Bay, our Welsh chums in Newport and meeting Rosie in Portsmouth. I won't be so slack next time!
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