We sail the ocean blue…

I’m going to spend all my time in Portsmouth thinking of Gilbert and Sullivan songs.

28th September 2015

I’m actually writing this on the day that it’s happening before it’s all happened! (We’re still on the train from Bath.)

There was a lunar eclipse overnight, so Pen got up at 1.00am and went and sat in the bathroom and watched it through the skylight window until 3.00am. I was really tired and the blog was refusing to behave itself, which is why I didn’t upload last night, so I carried on sleep. Although Pen did get an “I’m awake” when she came back to bed.

I got up at 7.40 this morning, having spent an hour uploading the blog. I was therefore washed and dressed and heading downstairs to breakfast when Pen finally got moving. I hadn’t got very far into my fruit when she arrived.

After breakfast we had a good final look around for my sunglasses case and lens cap, and then lugged my suitcase back downstairs. I paid the final £90 owing and then we headed back out into Bath.

We did consider going to the Fudge shop again, but I decided to be strong. It would have taken me too long to make a decision. Pen did go to a convenience store and I went to a camera shop and asked for a “lens cap for that.” £7.99 later and I’ve got one with a longer cord that I shouldn’t have to remove from the camera when I put the lens hood on, and will hang far enough away from the lens that it won’t cause any problems… If I can get it to do its job and stay on the lens.

We caught the 10.35am train to Portsmouth Harbour. It was quite foggy in Bath as we left. I got some photos of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s handiwork before we left. I spent most of the time on the trip typing up yesterday’s blog and typing up to this point on today’s.
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A couple of days ago we’d bought some raspberries for our lunches and we finished them off while on the train. We were 1.5 hours into the journey and everything had been progressing smoothly when we hooked the raspberries out and opened the container. That was the moment that Pen’s white sweatshirt decided to take a dive of the overhead rack. Yes. Raspberry juice on the sweatshirt. Fortunately only on the hem and the train had a toilet on board so she was able to sponge it.

Then my jacket fell into them. This wasn’t such a major as it’s made of more waterproof material and is raspberry coloured anyway.

Now being typed in the bedroom the following morning.

Portsmouth (I just typed Portsmith – Kiwi accent?) has two stations. One more central in the city and one servicing the port. Go any further on the line and you wind up IN the port.

Because the port was the area we wanted to see, we’d taken a twin room in a former pub, the “Duke of Buckingham”. The room is comfortable enough, big enough for two single beds, a table, a bedside table and a wardrobe. The bathroom is a single room with toilet, shower, and enough room to turn around in at the end of the corridor and shared by all(?) five rooms on this floor. One toilet – in the shower room – for five different sets of guests. That must be interesting sometimes. (And was the reason why I got up at 6.45 and had my shower this morning.)

We couldn’t sign into the hotel when we arrived as reception was closed, but we were lucky enough that the receptionist happened to be there and was willing to store our cases for us. I didn’t fancy lugging mine around the port.

Firstly we went searching for lunch. We bought sandwiches at a “Co-op” and took them with us.

Portsmouth port is a lot like Auckland’s. (In fact as we came in on the train some of the buildings reminded me of those around the Seaman’s Mission on Quay Street). It was a working harbour that had been out of bounds to the public. Then the Gunwharf Quays was known as HMS Vernon, a “stone frigate” or navy land. When that was decommissioned it has been developed into shops, accommodation areas, and open spaces. Plus the “Spinnaker”, Portsmouth’s “icon”. I have to say that that’s more aesthetically pleasing than the SkyTower, but I still wouldn’t want it cluttering up my skyline.
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There are a lot of figureheads around the area, so I took lots of photos for Alan C.
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We then boarded a cruise that travelled around the harbour giving a commentary on the way. I sat next to an Australian man and we teased each other about our respective countries. (I think he picked my accent. What accent? It’s everyone else who has an accent!)

From the cruise we could see the HMS Warrior and HMS Victory and the building that’s housed the Mary Rose. We also saw a lot of the more recent warships of Great Britain. And an American oceanographic research vessel.
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Much of Portsmouth’s port had been dredged by hand by Napoleonic prisoners of war. (They had thousands). One visible reminder of this was the watchtower that still stands. I’m assuming that the clock is a more recent addition, but I could be wrong.
From the boat across the bay/harbour/river/whatever we could see Portchester Castle a Roman “Saxon Shore” Fort built more than 1700 years ago.
We sailed past Burrow or “Rat” Island. According to the skipper prisoners of war’s bodies were just dumped on the island (no burial) to get rid of them. Getting to that island would mean nothing to rats, and with a ready supply of food it was soon overrun with the vermin. Naturally the locals were concerned that they would spread the plague so the island had to be cleaned up.

We saw several ferries come and go, most much bigger than the one to Rangitoto, including the channel ferry and the one that heads across to the Isle of Wight.
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Having completed our cruise we decided to have a wander around the historic area of the port to get an idea of what’s there. We saw more figureheads…
And the nautical museum told stories of how the ships were built. Including how pulley blocks were made using Marc Brunel’s (Isambad’s dad) revolutionary machine that could make ten blocks at a time. (More photos for Alan C.)
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It was getting too late to actually check out the “floating” exhibits, but we decided to head over to the HMS Victory and get some photos while the light was nice and there weren’t any crowds about. I was trying to decide if it would be acceptable for me to stand on the concrete plinth of a canon to get a better photo of the Victory when a passing couple said: “Yes. Do it.” Then they added “Are you from New Zealand?” I think they must have spotted my Pikorua bone necklace as they pulled out their own Maori carving necklaces. Pen followed suit with her own. Apparently they were English, but had spent months in New Zealand several times and were planning to go back. The loved the place and the Kiwi accent. What followed was a discussion about my accent. (I told you people I don’t HAVE an accent! You do!) They had been to Thames, but not the Thames Historical Museum.
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We had a look around the souvenir shops so we don’t have to do it tomorrow, got photos and then went on a dinner hunt.

We found a place that had half price meals on Mondays. As today was Monday (I think I’ve finally got a handle on what day it is), we decided to go back to the Duke of Buckingham, check in, and then return to this establishment – The Lettuce and Slug.

We were most grateful when the (new) receptionist told us that she’d taken our bags upstairs. (Must have been why she put us on the first floor.) These steps weren’t as narrow as those at Bay Tree, but it still would have been hard going lugging my case up a flight.

We offloaded everything we thought we wouldn’t need, including my camera – Don’t do that again! – and headed back out again. There was a flock of starlings roosting on a crane, the Spinnaker was hit by the setting sun, and there was a lovely sunset. And I didn’t have my camera to record it.


We were a bit worried about the Lettuce and Slug at first. Not because of the name but because you entered through a Guinness Flamin’ Rugby World Cup archway. Before we took a table we checked there weren’t any matches on tonight.


Upstairs we would have been waited on. Downstairs we had to go to the bar to be served.

We went upstairs.

There was a twenty minute waiting time..

We went downstairs.

I had a burger with goats cheese on it, which was very nice, accompanied by chips and coleslaw. Dessert we had an equally nice chocolate biscuit… thing The drink was a Virgin Apple Majito. That was lovely and refreshing. I tried to find the recipe online, but none of them exactly match our version. This seems closest.

  • GLASS FULL Crushed ice
  • HALF A GLASS OF Ginger Ale
  • QUARTER OF A GLASS apple juice
  • 1 TEASPOON brown sugar
  • 8 SPRIGS OF mint
  • ONE lime
  • Mash the brown sugar with 4 sprigs of mint
  • Add a little apple juice as you mash
  • Add the apple juice, the ginger ale, 4 sprigs of mint and half the lime juice
  • Add 2 lime wedges to serve

I thought ours had ginger beer, and Pen said the sugar was white, but it was very tasty.

Then it was back to the hotel, wishing I had my camera to record the Spinnaker all lit up, and then to write yesterday’s blog.

More photos


Scott with Scott


Erm… Watch out for Daleks?


A sign I hope we never see in New Zealand.

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For Thunderbirds fans

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