London and Portsmouth

We had a successful couple of days in London. Mark claims to have mastered the use of the “Lobster Card” (not including topping them up as yet; he doesn’t want to try to run before he can walk….). We negotiated the bus and tube without incident, although I did notice him clinging to the back of my coat as we went through a couple of busy tube stations, apparently so that he “wouldn’t get lost”. Here’s Mark setting off on his first bus trip, Lobster Card at the ready…..

We spent all day on Tuesday in the Imperial War Museum. It was a bargain day out – we spent a grand total of £3 each on the bus. As you’ll see, Mark had no hesitation in finding a suitable corner to eat his butties (yes, Carol, he did pick up all his crumbs….).

On Wednesday we headed to South Kensington (thus incurring extra expenditure on the tube…. buttie rations may have to be cut back…..) with the intention of visiting the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, but as it turned out we spent all day in the Natural History Museum (which does mean the Mark will have to brave the bustle of London again at some point….).

Mark was very keen on the dinosaurs. They have a huge moving / roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex (which Mark says I can best describe as an automaton) which will no doubt have caused many a flood of kiddy tears since installation. Mark was disappointed to see that the dinosaurus exhibition did not include his favourite, the one-eyed dinosaur dyathinkisaurus.

We studied all of the other galleries in depth, and in the minerals gallery we found this display cabinet on building materials. Now of all the brickworks in the country, they would have to choose and proudly display an engineering brick from the NORI brickworks in Accrington….. NORI, as some of us know, is the name of a group of ageing nutters (including Wells Senior) who still meet up every year to this day, although the climbing and camping exploits of their youth now seem to have been replaced by cushy stays in the Travelodge and meals in pubs…..

We did well for food on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday night we were fed a casserole and dairy-free Victoria sponge by super-chef Gene, whilst young Louis extracted the necessary information on the Aurora Borealis for his geography homework and younger brother Alex regaled us with “prepoooosterous” impressions of some posh woman on I’m a Celebrity – highly entertaining although we don’t watch the programme and haven’t the faintest clue who the woman in question might be.

We stopped off for a look at Steyning on our way South on Thursday. It was on our route and gets a paragraph or two in our Great Britain guide book. It was indeed very old and very pretty.

 On Thursday night we camped outside Mark’s Auntie Wen and Uncle Keith’s house in East Preston on the South coast, and had some fantastic spare ribs with rice and salad for tea. Wen, who needless to say is Mark’s most favouritest auntie, has gone and told him that she thinks he’s “gorgeous”. Mark’s male ego has fully taken this on board and is wasting no opportunity to remind me of it….. Reminder to self: I must ask Gene what ear plugs are in French…… Mark’s cousin Tom and his wife Jude popped round; Mark reckons he hadn’t seen Tom for at least 20 years and had never previously met Jude. After a fun evening we retired to the roadside and after bacon and eggs on Friday morning, set off for Portsmouth.

We parked for two nights at a beach car park on Hayling Island. It’s £10 a night but has all the necessary facilities so we can set off for France full / empty as appropriate.

Saturday was Hairy Nose day (as Mark has been calling it for months – it’s the Mary Rose to normal folks). I didn’t manage to whip the camera out fast enough to capture the look of absolute glee on Mark’s face when we arrived at the Historic Dockyard and he saw that “all attractions” tickets are £32 each…. Tesco Clubcard voucher codes were duly handed over, and in we went.

The Mary Rose exhibition is very impressive, with the route taking you the length of the ship on three levels, with exhibitions at each end on the artefacts found on that particular level. There were a lot more artefacts than I had expected, and an impressive variety. The things I liked best (but couldn’t get a focussed photo of through the glass) were the beautifully decorated tiny little sundials – an early forerunner of the pocket watch I guess.

The Mary Rose exhibition is closing soon for a few months as the ship has now dried out (they sprayed it for 20 years with a liquid wax, for want of the actual name of the substance, which escapes me for the moment, and now that it’s stabilised have been drying it out since 2013). The black pipes will all be taken away and they’re removing walls so you’ll be able to look at the ship directly from a walkway rather than through viewing windows.

We then looked at the Victory and had a good guided tour explaining all about it.

Finally we did the Royal Navy museum. Here’s my top exhibit – Captain Hardy’s drinks cabinet. He seems to have drunk the lot…..

We’ve got lots more to see but luckily our tickets are valid for a year, so we’ll have to visit Portsmouth for a couple of days on our way North to get out Clubcard Points-worth out of the tickets.

So here we are at Portsmouth ferry terminal, all checked in and waiting to board in an hour or so.

This just leaves time for a bacon and egg brunch before boarding….

Further updates to follow from “the other side”….

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