Becca Jane St Clair

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UK Road Trip Part VIII, iii: Portsmouth and Isle of Wight

Tim had been given one “rule” for places to take me – I didn’t want to go to any military museums or see war stuff. I wanted history, but not war history. Tim asked me if I’d consider going to look at ships as “war stuff”, and then explained what he wanted to take me to. He wanted to go to Portsmouth and go see the Mary Rose, a ship ordered to be built by King Henry VIII in 1509! The Mary Rose sank off the coast of Portsmouth in 1545, but over half the ship remained intact and was recovered in 1982 by divers. I agreed to see it, as I’m a sucker for Tudor history, and we headed back to the train station and into Portsmouth. We got tickets that included entrance to the Mary Rose, the Victory, another warship who’s name I’ve forgotten, and several museums. Our ticket also included a boat tour around the bay, but they don’t run in the winter months. The nice thing about our tickets though is that they are good for an entire YEAR, so if I come back in the Spring and we go to Portsmouth, we won’t need to pay for admission again.

Seeing the Mary Rose was incredible. They managed to recover lots of artifacts from the wreckage as well, giving us a glimpse of life as a seaman in the 1500s. You can view the ship as it’s being treated with a wax drip. The hope is that the wood will absorb the wax to protect and seal it, so that the ship can eventually be walked up to and touched by visitors by 2016. While we were in the museum, they were doing a hands-on experience, so I got to hold an actual piece of the Mary Rose!

We then boarded the HMS Victory, the oldest naval ship still in commission, for a guided tour. The people running the tour warned us to be careful of headroom as we headed down into the lower levels of the ship, because the ceilings got lower, but even on the lowest level, I had no problems! I enjoyed the Victory, but not as much as I did the Mary Rose…and I also had a good giggle over it being called the Victory.

We headed into a few of the museums after a quick lunch and got to view the original Trafalgar sail. This was the sail used on the HMS Victory in 1805 at the battle. The sail has over 90 holes in it from cannon fire!

We also went into a museum showing ship figureheads, and experienced the “reenactment” of the Battle of Trafalgar.

I also found out that the story of the ship captain who had his body preserved in a barrel of brandy so he could be buried at home was the true story of Vice Admiral Nelson, who died during the Battle of Trafalgar.

I vetoed going into the other naval history museums, and Tim proposed an idea for the rest of our afternoon. If you’ve ever seen some of the Monty Python sketches, then you might be familiar with the line “my hovercraft is full of eels”. There’s also a website out there that translates that phrase into well over 20 other languages, including Welsh. Tim was trying to teach me how to pronounce it one day via Skype (I failed miserably) and I had asked him what a hovercraft was…

There is a company that goes between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight using hovercrafts! Tim suggested we ride over to the Isle and take a trip through part of the island via train, have dinner on the Isle, and then head back. I agreed and we booked ourselves on the next hovercraft.

My video of the hovercraft we were on taking off to go back to Portsmouth

The hovercraft was really interesting. I still don’t really know how they move, but I know they go quite fast! The train on the Isle of Wight is made from old Underground cars, and we rode it from one end to the other, where we got off to walk around before heading back to the hovercraft and the mainland.

Once again, we got back to N’s house super late, and after stopping to pick up snack food we headed straight to bed since we had a long drive the following day!

The picture didn’t come out the greatest, but that’s the Mary Rose!

More photos:

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  1. world war iii scenarios | Digg hot tags December 2nd, 2008 11:52

    […] Vote UK Road Trip Part VIII, iii: Portsmouth and Isle of Wight […]

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