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1/25-25/14 Recent trip to Portsmouth, England

Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
I hope that the Mods will allow this Trip Report to be posted here and I'll keep it as nautical, maritime, boats, seafood, ships, etc oriented as I can.

Got a third chance to tag along with the Admiral-ette back to jolly old England on another of her 2 week+ biz trips near London. I did two of these in late 2012 and on the middle weekend, we took off on road trips and she wanted me to plan out a third one on this trip! Now, England is not the best place to visit in January but these trips won't be here forever so we just made the best of it and still had a blast, regardless of the chilly temps, drizzly days and on this weekend WIND!

Portsmouth is right on the southern coast and on the English Channel. It was where Gen Eisenhower set up his command for the D-Day invasion and many, many of the ships sailed from the Portmouth area....... running due south to the Normandy shores on June 6th, 1944. Its history goes back to at least 500 AD.


I selected Portsmouth for this trip because I knew of its extensive nautical, maritime and military history..... all subjects that I love and have read about all my life. We got booked in to a small 'boutique hotel' and drove down there on the Friday night. Our car's GPS (complete with female English accent!) brought us right to the door and we checked in about 9:30pm. We unpacked and walked around the corner to the local pub, "The Florence Arms" to catch a beer and some dinner.


Problem was, the kitchen had closed! Since the motto there is "Go with the Flo", we did just that and snacked on some chips, nuts, etc while I enjoyed trying out a few nice beers. Met and chatted with some nice people!

Got up the next morning (Sat) with a self-guided walking tour of the port, shoreline and inner harbour as a game plan. Had a wonderful, 'proper English breakfast' of eggs, toast, sausages, thick bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes! Yummy!

Walked a few blocks down to the shoreline and immediately ran into a castle/fort! The Southsea Castle was built in 1544 by King Henry VIII.



This cannon on display is from the late 1800s and weighs in at 24,000 pounds!!


We pressed on and walked along the shoreline and into a solid 30 mph wind and temps at about 40! I'm sorry to say that a lot of my photos came out blurry due to the high winds! :banghead The photo below is why someone laughed when we told them that we were driving 'down to the beach' for the weekend! Nothing but rocks and broken shells!


We finally came to the harbour entrance. The harbour itself is huge but notice how narrow the opening is! Very easy to defend as you can see from the cannon holes in the very thick fort.


Yet, full sized ships can still use it! Jenn's been hanging around me enough to have said, "She must be empty.... look at her waterline"!


This vessel came out right behind the freighter.


And when the Harbour Pilot boat came out third in line, it made me wonder if the freighter was being 'escorted' out? The land off in the distance is The Isle of Wight and we may visit there on a future trip.


We then walked into the old, inner part of the harbour and passed this now, private home. Wouldn't you have loved to had a beer or two back then? Arrrrrrrrrgh!


My photo of the small fishing boat, Annebelle Marie did not come out well (thanks to the wind!) but I did chat with the crew. In the large bags are 'whelk' which is type of sea snail and sold commercially. The fish in the basket are 'dogfish' and they also are harvested but I'm guessing that they were bycatch. They are in the shark family. Nice guys!


Yep, same old, same old over there too!


As in my many reports from New Zealand, aluminum boats (and power catamarans) are also popular in the UK.


We walked around the corner to find another mini-harbour. Floating docks due to the high/low tides.


This fishing boat was popular with the birds because of the bycatch that was being shoved in the water near the stern! How many really rough seas has this boat been through? :huh


We finally got over to the historical section of the harbour. Here are various ships, museums, shops, etc and first up was the HMS Warrior. She was built around 1860 and was one of the first iron hulled, steam and sailing vessels in the world. She's been beautifully restored and the tour inside and down four decks was amazing! But, it was so cramped down there that I did not take any interior photos!


She's 420 feet long and has a beam of 58 feet giving her huge decks topside. She could make a top speed of 14 knots and had a crew of 700 men. Her hull was actually used during WW 2!


I pulled this off the Web of a gun deck on the Warrior.


Near the Warrior was the High Speed Launch (HSL) 102 which was operated by the Royal Air Force during WW 2. She was built in 1936 and her mission was to rescue downed fliers in the English Channel. She's 64 feet long with a beam of only 14 feet. With three, 500hp inboards, she could top out at 39 knots! For economy, she'd cruise on just her center engine. She's still in commission!



Next, it was time for one of the most famous warships in history, the HMS Victory. We got there too late to join the last guided tour but it was easy to walk around in her private dry dock.


At 227 feet long and with a beam of 52 feet, she was one of the largest warships in the world when she was commissioned in 1778. She projected three gun decks with 104 cannons and was crewed by 850 men! She is still 'in commission' and is the longest serving warship in history! Portsmouth was of course bombed by the Luftwaffe during WW 2 and in 1941, the Victory was still in combat when she took a hit from a German bomber! She could top out at a blazing 9 knots!


She is well supported in her dry dock.


She draws about 25 feet and here is her lone rudder.


Restoration is an on-going project as you can see by this tarp. That is a HUGE anchor!


Comin' at ya!


The anchor line is about a full foot in thickness!!!!


In The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson met his death aboard HMS Victory when he was hit by an enemy bullet during some close-in fighting. In that battle, 27 British warships defeated 33 ships from both the French and Spanish navies! At the big Maritime Museum in London, his bloody uniform jacket that he was wearing when he was shot, hangs in a glass case.

Across from the Victory is the HMS M.33 gunboat. She was commissioned in 1915 and went straight to the Med where she was involved in the Allied landings at Gallipoli, Turkey. Her 6 inch guns provided coastal artillary support. She also has her own dry-dock.


She's 177 feet long. Her paint job show an early form of camouflage.


Finally, it was well past time for a beer and some dinner! Our bartender buddy at The Florence Arms told us to make sure to visit The Old Customs House and we did!


It was busy but we finally found a table and I was happy that they served one of my favorite beers, 'London Pride'. It's great to order a beer (on tap) and have it served in a full, pint glass! For dinner, I wanted to try the 'Skate" dinner as I love to explore new seafoods. In most pubs, you order your food at the bar and then it will be brought to you and unfortunately, I had to settle for good old Fish 'n Chips. In this case it was haddock and it was delicious! Served with thick fries/chips and mushy peas. Jenn does not care for those but I thought they were pretty good! A great meal!


Since we had already walked about 4 miles, there was no way that we were going to walk another mile back to the hotel. So, we had the cab drop us off at The Florence Arms so that we could hang out with more of the locals and enjoy a few more great beers. As usual, I ended up on the floor with two dogs in my lap as it's not uncommon for people to bring their dogs with them to pubs! Here's the bar and we'd glady come back for another visit!


We had enough fun in Portmouth and missed out on enough fun things to do and see there, that we will try to come back again on a future trip. On our next trip (later this year), we may visit another seaside town.... perhaps Bournemouth or even Plymouth where the Pilgrims set sail in 1620.


  • Bimini DreamBimini Dream Posts: 407 Deckhand
    Fantastic photos of history there Gary. Thanks for sharing.:)
    A Part Of Paradise
  • Blue ZoneBlue Zone Posts: 414 Officer
    Very good stuff, Gary. I lived in Surrey (SW of London) for two years in the 80's and I can't say I miss the place, though I get back there quite often. I did, however, acquire a taste for bitter beer, but their cuisine was at the time rather unimaginative. Next time catch the ferry to Isle of Wight from Portsmouth. Plymouth is definitely worth the trip; a different world and they have some decent surf on the West coast from time to time. If you really, really stretch relative terms, Plymouth is the Conch Republic of the UK.

    Thanks for the latest travelogue installment; keep 'em coming.
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    Another EXCELLENT and informative trip report Gmon! Thanks for posting, some incredible history
  • testerman28testerman28 Posts: 1,329 Officer
    traveling is fun glad you got to go! thanks for the pics..
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    awesome report. thanks

  • RustynailRustynail Posts: 519 Officer
    Thanks for Sharing.
  • nuevowavonuevowavo Posts: 6,824 Admin
    Gary M wrote: »
    I hope that the Mods will allow this Trip Report to be posted here

    Well, G-mon, I guess you could consider Portsmouth to be "Tropical" (if you live in Nairn).

    Great trip, especially for a maritime history buff .
    But only 1 food **** shot? Oh well, you were in England, after all!
    Federales, bring my baby back to me!
  • PopeyePopeye Posts: 14,296 AG
    WOW! The trip of a lifetime!
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    Blue Zone wrote: »
    ...... but their cuisine was at the time rather unimaginative. Next time catch the ferry to Isle of Wight from Portsmouth. Plymouth is definitely worth the trip; a different world and they have some decent surf on the West coast from time to time. If you really, really stretch relative terms, Plymouth is the Conch Republic of the UK.

    One great thing about eating out in England is the huge selection of ethnic restaurants that are available. We love Thai, Indian, Vietnamese as well as meals at pubs, so it's rare for us to have a bad meal out.

    On the weekend before Portsmouth, Jenn made Res for a Sunday Roast Dinner at "The Bull Inn".


    Being only 12:30 it was a bit early for a beer, but I was NOT the only person in there enjoying a nice drink! Notice the lower ceilings in the old pub!


    I had 'prawns' for an appetizer and they were great as was the beer!


    I had the Roast Beef dinner that had potatoes, 'Yorkshire Pudding'..... which is just a big, baked roll/biscuit. Lots of fresh veggies too! It was a great meal that I could not finish! I use lots of Coleman's English Mustard here at home!


    After the great meal, we drove up to 'The Cotswolds" which is a beautiful area of England that is dotted with tiny 'villages' that may only have a few homes in them!


    I'm looking forward to my next trip to England. I was born there (at an RAF base) and we drove up in 2012 and visited the small town where I was born..... so, on our 'free' weekends on these 2-weeks trips. we GO!

    My next trip is a vacation week in St Maarten in the Caribbean in May, so that will be a Tropical trip!
  • duke6543duke6543 Posts: 336 Deckhand
    Great report. Cool history with tall ships.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    FYI, Rick Steves has nothing on you.

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    alacrity wrote: »
    FYI, Rick Steves has nothing on you.

    Haha! Thanks! I used to be paid to travel but now I (luckily) just tag along with the Boss!

    Next trip is St Maarten so I'm bringing the big-boy camera and I hope to get some great photos that I can post here on my next Trip Report.......
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    These trip threads are absolutely great... :)
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    Compleat wrote: »
    These trip threads are absolutely great... :)

    Thanks! This was only a single weekend of a 2-week trip so it was not long enough to rate an '-A-Thon' title!

    I enjoy 're-living' them when I get home and then write them up. Usually, even before I leave home, I already know that I'm going to post a Report here and during the trip I'll take specific photos that will hopefully be good to be included. I took a lot more photos but as I mentioned it was so **** windy that many came out blurry! I usually take 2-3 pics of the same shot (just in case) but even that did not work all the time that day! :banghead

    A couple of you guys like the 'food ****' shots so I've gotten to where I'm not shy about taking photos of my food!! In restaurants, bars, inside of an airplane..... doesn't matter! By cashing in a boat load of Freq Flyer Miles, AMex points, etc, I was able to sit in Biz Class on the way home and my camera was stashed in my carry-on bag, otherwise I'd have banged out a photo of the nice lunch that I was served as well as the many little Bacardi bottles that the F/A kept dropping on my tray table! Once she found out that I'm retired airline, the rum kept flowing! :Glass

    This is also a great way to share these trips with friends and family around the world. I just send them the link and don't have to write up another email/report.
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    Gary M wrote: »
    I'm looking forward to my next trip to England. I was born there (at an RAF base) and we drove up in 2012 and visited the small town where I was born.....

    I'll include these last photos from this unusual trip in Sept, 2012.

    On the first of these 2-week biz trips where I tagged along, Jenn asked me where I'd like to go for that middle weekend. I was born at Burtonwood Royal Air Force Base but USAF Capt Dad was transferred back to the states the next year and I had never been back to see where I was born. The base is long gone but there is a nice Museum on the former base property. It meant a 200+ mile drive up but Jenn was as gung-ho as I was, so off we went! Look at the big map above. Find Liverpool and Manchester on the central, west coast. Warrington, England is right in between the two and that's where Burtonwood was located. In the 1950s it was the largest NATO air base in the world!

    We finally found the tiny Museum!


    We spent the night there in Warrington and for Sunday's drive back south, we took the long way and drove through northeastern Wales. What a beautiful part of the world! Anyway, we were ready for a cup of tea and coffee after a bit of a drive that morning and as we drove along the nothern coast of Wales, we came around a corner and saw THIS! Is that a SHIP?????


    At the nearby coffee shop we asked about this 'ship' and were told that it was the 'Duke of Lancaster' and that we could walk out the muddy path and see her! So, we walked out there, trying to keep the mud to a minimum.... It looked like it had run aground!


    In fact, she was berthed/docked and then had tons of sand placed against the hull. She was built in 1956 and was one of the last 'passenger' ships built. Now (other than cruise ships) it's all car-ferries that transport passengers. She's 376 x 57 feet and could hold 1,800 passengers as she plied the waters of northern Europe...... topping out at 21 knots. She was retired in 1979 and was sold to be used as a leisure and shopping attraction...... hence the permanent placement/berthing. That never went forward and now plans are to make her an open-air art gallery!

    I will admit, that it was somewhat 'spooky' to see this rusting hulk, nearly out of water and up so close. Don't think that I'd enjoy camping out for the night next to her!

  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,736 Captain
    The old historic ships would make the trip worthwhile for me. Super cool!! Thanks for sharing the photos and stories.
  • Lazy BonesLazy Bones Posts: 941 Officer
    Great thread, thanks for sharing. History and geography lesson. Finally a good thread in Tropics
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    The old historic ships would make the trip worthwhile for me. Super cool!! Thanks for sharing the photos and stories.

    Thanks! If I do another England/Seaside post in the future, I'll be sure to include a photo of a palm tree as they DO have them along the southern/southwestern shoreline since our very own Gulf Stream flows by there on its own trip across the North Atlantic!
  • testerman28testerman28 Posts: 1,329 Officer
    great pics the giant graffiti dinosaur is priceless..
  • PaulBoatPaulBoat Posts: 4,389 Officer
    Great trip and report Gary
  • snookyjsnookyj Posts: 1,687 Officer
    dpdash wrote: »
    Another EXCELLENT and informative trip report Gmon! Thanks for posting, some incredible history

    I was thinking the same thing...i really appreciate the history lesson, i really learned alot from your thread!!!

  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,237 AG
    No sweat on the history info....... I've been interested in military history since the 4th grade when I started buying books!

    On my other weekend road trip we drove north of London and visited the huge military air museums at Duxford Airfield but that was a totally Non-fish/boat/ship/seafood trip that would be better written about over on my warbird Forums.

    I picked Portsmouth specifically because of all the nautical/military history and there was easily enough left there that we did NOT see/do to justify a future trip back again....... but only after checking out a few other port cities first...... just gotta keep my fingers crossed that the Boss still needs to go back again and again for more Biz trips.
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