Bill's Great UK and Ireland Adventure travel blog

Royal Garrison Church's bombed out Nave

Interior of Royal Garrison Church in Portsmouth

Middle section of stained glass depicts the "Blitz" with search lights probing...

Victoria Pier built in 1842 - and still standing

So-called "Hot Wall" part of Portsmouth's Esplanade

Square Tower on Esplanade

Spinnaker Tower






Hammocks in crew's sleeping area

Officers Dining Room

Newer British Naval Vessel

Long drive today from Plymouth to Portsmouth. All in all, the drive went smoothly except for the end. First, let me say that I like Great Britain, and the people I have met have been very nice. Given that, I am perplexed at the signage, or lack thereof, in most cities and towns. It's almost if there is some kind of VAT (Value Added Tax) for displaying them. Nonetheless, I foiled the system and found my hotel!!

Portsmouth is another seaside and naval town. As you will see from some pictures, there are some nice houses near the harbor. One of the city's call to fame is an edifice called the Spinnaker Tower. It's 557 feet tall, looks futuristic (and cool in my opinion), and somewhat resembles Seattle's Space Needle. On the latter point, this one does look different. I just said it resembles.

I took a long walk (but not off a short pier), and early on I found this small church on Penny Street. At first, I was confused by the name on the street with a church there. That's actually a joke for my friend, Penny. Royal Garrison Church is really only half a church since its Nave was fire bombed in WW II and the roof was never replaced. You will see pictures of the front, interior, and a stained glass window. All the stained glass windows were destroyed in the bombing, and the church gave license to artists to create new ones. The middle part of the one in the picture shows search lights probing the night sky during WW II's Blitz (bombing of England by the Germans).

Oh, I found out that General, and later Field Marshall, Bernard Montgomery was the garrison commander and attended the church prior to WW II. For those who don't know him, he was the British general who defeated Erwin Rommel in Egypt and who competed with General George Patton for glory in both Italy and France.

By accident, although I don't believe there are too many of them or coincidences in life, I met a guy named John in front of this big building. After asking directions (Yes ladies, there are men who do ask for directions.), we began a conversation. I found out he lives in the Cotswolds and works for Land Rover, which is going to sponsor Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) in the next America's Cup competition. Ainslie has won 4 Olympic gold medals in sailing. I could not see the 3 yachts stored in the building you'll see in a photo (one built especially to house 3 yachts at 4M Pounds each plus masts at 1M Pounds and ancillary equipment) or they would have to kill me (smile). New designs in yachts, or in this case the mast, are super secret. I would guess that each yacht with its total complement of equipment will tog out at 6M Pounds (about $9M US). Oh, that Land Rover in the picture, John let me sit inside, and it has all the proverbial "bells and whistles," with a price tag of 90,000 Pounds ($135,000 US).

My last stop was to see the HMS Victory, which was Admiral Nelson's flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson defeated Napoleon's fleet off of Spain, but died in the battle. His ship was moored in Portsmouth, and has been kept as a commissioned ship in the Royal Navy. Of course, it's a bit outdated, which you will see from pictures of the ship, its crew sleeping quarters, the officers dining room, main gun deck, etc. I would describe living conditions on such ships, without fighting in battles, as primitive. Not on a bet for me!! The ship is well worth seeing. The other ship I wanted to see was the HMS Warrior, the first English ironclad warship. It is undergoing extensive repairs, and I skipped touring.

As I have been typing this whole update, there have been church bells peeling repeatedly for the last almost hour (naming the pictures and doing the update). Interspersed, there have been cannons thundering. I have no idea why, but it's cool!

Tomorrow I head for Eastbourne. Oh, I drove by Cranbrook (for Barb & Bevin).

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