Shirley's UK Trip 2012 travel blog

My wheels - with a licence plate like that, you'd have to...

HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship of 104 guns

The new Mary Rose museum

Portsmouth Harbour & the spectacular Spinnaker Tower

Portsmouth is about 1½ hours away which is one of the reasons I didn’t tackle it yesterday when I was tired. Today I got an early start & only made one wrong turn. There were 2 exits off the motorway close together & I took the wrong one. It took me a while before I could make a U-turn but I eventually I got back on the right track & arrived at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard just after it opened at 10:00am.

This was on my list of must see, must do places & was a major reason why I stayed in this area. Last year I went to Chatham Royal Dockyards in Kent & learned all about how Lord Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Victory, was built there in 1765. So when I found out that the ship had been preserved & was actually at Portsmouth, I had to see it.

However, it was a bit of a disappointment. It’s minus the top 2/3 of its masts & most of the rigging because they’re working on it plus there’s so much stuff around it that it’s very difficult to get a decent photo. To see the ship, you had to go on a guided tour & were allocated a time – mine was 11:10am. It was a very large group & we weren’t allowed to take photos which really annoyed me.

After the tour I asked the guide the reason for forbidding photos & he told me it was because it would take too long. From next Saturday onwards, they go onto their summer schedule when they stop the guided tours & there’s just free access to the ship & you can take as long as you like (& as many photos as you like). I would have much preferred that but you can’t win them all.

The entry ticket also included a harbour cruise which was very interesting because Portsmouth is primarily a navy port & there were quite a few ships here including the Ark Royal & the aircraft carrier Illustrious which was in for emergency repairs after it was rammed by a tug in Sweden recently.

The Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship & pride of his fleet, is also here but it’s not on display. It was sunk just outside Portsmouth harbour in 1545 but it was only discovered in 1971 & was raised in 1982, watched on TV by millions worldwide. They’re building a huge museum next to the Victory & Mary Rose will go on display later this year. But there are 19,000 artefacts which have been salvaged but currently they only have about 5% on display.

Another most unusual ship on display here is HMS Warrior. It was built in 1860 & when she was launched, she was the largest, fastest & most powerful warship in the world. She was the first iron ship in the Navy & was powered by both sail & steam but was only in service for 22 years, quickly made obsolete by steamships.

When she was under sail, the telescopic funnels could be lowered & the 26 ton propeller could also be raised into a special well. Under steam, she had 10 boilers each powered by 4 coal-fired furnaces. She once reached a speed of 17.5 knots under both sail & steam.

Here I was free to just wander although I found out later I could have got an audio guide which the lady at the ticket counter forgot to mention. So it could have been better but it was still a good day & I’m glad I did it.

I filled up with fuel at the local Tesco supermarket on the way home. There was a long queue but I got Unleaded for 139.9 cents per litre (about 212 cpl in our money) when it’s about 148.9 everywhere else.

It’s after 7:00pm so time to go & send this off, then have some dinner & relax.

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