The Hover Bus

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Sep 29, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Made the decision on the way back from Cambridge that we'd go to Portsmouth today so that’s what we did and we had another great day.

Bought 'anytime’ tickets and wasted a fiver each as we travelled off peak. Al has read that off peak only applies to the ‘out of London’ journey and not the return.  We travelled on Southwest or something today.  Comfy, pretty fast train.  They all seem to be.  Wish they could do this at home instead of our slow motion trains.

The weather looked pretty threatening as we pulled into Portsmouth Harbour Station and it stayed that way all day, and did rain a bit as our visit ended.

Three big attractions here – HMS Warrior, HMS Victory and HMS Mary Rose.  We were devastated to discover that we wouldn’t be able to see the Mary Rose.  The opening of her new museum had been delayed from the summer of this year until spring of next.  Seeing the Mary Rose was our number one reason for going to Portsmouth but in the end it didn’t matter.

The Mary Rose Museum, sans ship, was brilliant.  Lots of local people who sat around at displays and described bits of the ship, or how things would have happened.  We were able to touch and hold actual timber and ropes recovered from the ship.  It was fantastic.

Then we went on board HMS Warrior. At the time it was launched in 18600 it was the largest, fastest warship in the world and it was obsolete in less than 10 years.  It was very interesting even if you’re only the slightest bit interested in ships.  It even had a retractable propeller that would be drawn up into the hull if only sails were going to be used (to reduce drag).

Deeeeeeilcious fish and chips for lunch and then out on a harbour cruise.  Portsmouth is the Royal Navy’s main base so there were a lot of war ships including quite a number of the latest ‘stealth’ frigates.  Four mothballed Sheffield class destroyers all sad and forlorn, and finally the poor old, recently sold, Ark Royal.  How can all that metal truly only be worth 3,000,000?

Harbour cruise over so next visit is to the Victory.  She too is undergoing major restoration work so no masts, rigging, and a large forward portion of her hull removed.  Despite this it was truly incredible to wander around the ship and see the decks where the crew ate and lived and died.  And to stand where Nelson was mortally wounded.  Wow!!

Finished Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with a visit to the Royal Navy Museum.  More Nelson stuff then some more recent navy history.  We walked through an outlet kind of ‘plaza’ and then down to the sea front to see Britain’s (the world’s?) only commercial hovercraft in action.  It goes between Portsmouth’s sea front and the Isle of White.  It was pretty cool and actually bigger than I thought it was, but compared to the old Hoverspeeds that used to travel from Dover to Calais, a baby.  Then there was the hover bus.  Didn't seem to hover much though??

It was a long walk back to the station including another navigation dispute but we got there and were back in London in no time.
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