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    • Day54

      Portsmouth U.K.

      May 8, 2019 in England ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Portsmouth UK.

      Today our unplanned visit to Portsmouth. Bucketing down this morning ,berthed right in the Naval Base, alongside the Cross Channel Ferries, Brittany, Cherburgh and even Spain..So exciting to drive on here, sail to another country, then drive off into your adventure, that must be so great, lots of Motorhomes going on ,with many trucks, cars, motorbikes and bikes. Naval ships of several kinds, some under construction.. So war is still a big thing…it seems.. Lots to see anyway.
      Fortunately, our Excursion today ,was for this afternoon, when it cleared, the sun shone, but the wind still blew, it was really cold, a shock to our systems really. Arundel Castle was the choice, I remembered Christian going a long time ago, and had good photos. Like a Fairy-tale he said…
      Oh to be in England.. I cannot help but think ,once we proceed into the countryside, glorious ,green ,huge trees, fields of rape, glowing yellow, the villages ,the swans ,just love it all. Through pretty places, like Chichester ,where we had a little look at the very tall spire on the Cathedral. So much history to learn, lost on the Americans, but our guide was a delight, so well spoken and interesting.
      Arundel not so far away, set high up above the quaint old village with its cathedral beside..A little climb ,not suiting some, [lots are so unwell and very crochety] a very solid and huge Castle, an older part ,and then much more ,its surroundings simply beautiful.
      So much to see, a very large place, so with advice of the highlights we were off at speed. Owned by the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, they reside in a private part ,but use the Castle on occasions, recently a christening. There have been many over the years but it is managed well, the treasures well looked after ,and preserved. Nice looking people, as the aristocracy go. The portraits through the years ,numerous. A place of “weapons rooms”..like Windsor ,many swords and killing instruments ,suits of armour etc, and lots of hunting trophies, heads of all manner of animals , even Lions as mats, one hopes, from days well gone by.!
      Dining room , gorgeous, all set up, and in the cabinet, the treasure of Mary Queen of Scots rosary beads, gold, that she took with her to her death…amongst other precious things. Very dark ,huge library ,of enormous proportions, everything behind glass, but two levels…
      The Chapel ,large and apparently divided, as these Norfolk’s are Catholic, but there is a place for Anglicans ,beautiful mellow stone that had to be imported for this to be constructed, from the Isle of Wight.
      Only flint here for building so walls of that, flint features on many older homes, looks like shells ,at a glance, but not so..Quite effective patterns. Beautiful views from the high windows ,to the courtyards below.. The kitchen wear, copper and skillets ,all displayed. Huge wide Hallways, and luckily it had copper radiators for heating, as it would be freezing, with little sun..
      The bedrooms, as in other grand places I have found ,were not actually very nice, dark coloured and a bit dusty looking…
      All manner of beautiful things throughout, but we had to speed onwards, as the Gardens were next…a good walk up, through the glorious spring green trees, all kinds of wonderful things, beeches ,oaks, jacaranda’s ,chestnuts in bloom.. Sadly the spring flowers were finished of course, had been miles of daffodil’s, everywhere ,and a tulip festival at Easter . Dashed into a walled part, and just simply stopped in my tracks, probably the best gardens I have ever seen, that just went on and on, with all kinds of precious views, of amazing things. In here many tulips still in bloom, in pots, the alliums always a favourite, hedges, driftwood forming one part ,Mum would love, it was actually very impressive, it just went on and on to the end where there was the Kitchen Garden, everything imaginable, all the berries, rhubarb, gooseberries ,raspberries, potatoes, silver beet, beans ..everything. Some devoted gardeners here.
      The smaller chapel, had a completely white garden ,so much to enjoy…Some intricate garden structures ,many very old, but some looked more recent , will need to research more. Stunning in everyway, what a find…!
      Seating in lovely places, unusual water features , just around every corner, sights to behold, felt so very grateful to experience such a wonder…Sam enjoyed it too, even at top speed ,I wasn’t going to miss anything. So back down the hill to the pretty village, adjacent, so old and special as well…
      A Romanian , in his nice Ice Cream shop, of a kind ,with special home made cones ,and delectable treats of strawberries ,in first… One year in business, and doing well in his new country , said we are the friendliest people in the world, Brits sometimes are not, and that is true, still reserved to an extent, there are quite a few here . A nice wander in the Village ,for a short time, it has many, many “Tea and Scone” shops… never enough time..! But a wonderful day in Britain… and so much information as well…Hard for photos in the gale, but we will see…
      The naming and pictures of the new Royal Baby, pleasing the Brits ,Archie indeed.!!! Looks a beautiful baby ,with very happy parents ,and will be an adored child.
      On departure we sailed down the coast of the Isle of Wight ,it’s a very large Island, and relatively uninhabited, in places ,on this side, some smaller towns, Osborne House, of Queen Victoria fame ,in a beautiful spot ,ferries cross from Portsmouth ,so easy access. Large tracts of agriculture ,which I didn’t imagine. It was getting dark by time we reached the white chalk cliffs of The Needles, at the end of the Island, dramatic in the dusk… Now we proceed at about 2knts ,to wait for our entry into the Thames ,in the early hours of the 10th.
      All our goodbyes today ,[so many people are sick, it’s really bad, everything crossed we can escape, but thinking that could be a miracle…!]..home beckons ,and we will be pleased to be back ,on the 19th,, after our stopover in Hong Kong, 3 nights in Tonbridge Wells, to see Molly and Peter. A lovely part of the world, so I will have pictures to share..
      Bye from us cruising ,very slowly, in the English Channel…
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      What a journey !! So much to see. So many cultures and lifestyles! Safe travels home .


      And so home to us. We will be glad, but this journey has been majestic. Mary coming for afternoon tea. Shelley and Murray in Wellington with Laura I have sooooooooo many leaves. Thank goodness for my leaf sucker blower. Hmmm all too wet yet. Fog slowly lifting. Looking forward to your morning tea with Nicola. Lol


      Ohhhh ell. Really

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    • Day24

      Portchester Castle

      August 24, 2018 in England ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Trifecta of a place just ouside of Portsmouth.

      1 ) Roman fort, best preserved in northern Europe built in about 260 AD to defend against Saxon Pirates.

      After the Romans left the locals moved and if you have an enormous walled area you stick in an Abbey and;

      2) Best and one of the tallest Norman Keeps in UK.
      Was royal palace of Richard II who liked to see stop off on way to France for the weekend and a;

      3) Church and graveyard in one corner which also runs cafe at the back as a little earner.

      "What have the Romans ever done for us?"

      And free parking.
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      Undeveloped block


      I think the last comment should have been here. Tomorrow is Bern's day, Shame Colin Firth won't be there.

    • Day8


      July 29, 2016 in England ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Ein Tag im größten Militärhafengebiet Englands. Hier liegt unter anderem das Flaggschiff Lord Nelsons, das immer noch in Betrieb ist. Auf der Rundfahrt im Hafen können sich Tourist und Militärspion für ein paar Pfund einen Überblick über die Flottenstärke der Royal Navy machen. Für die Nacht setzen wir über nach Salisbury mit seiner tollen Altstadt und den Überresten von Old Sarum - dem Herrschersitz der Angelsachsen und später von William dem Eroberer. Ulli feiert endlich auch ihren ersten Waschtag.Read more

    • Day291

      Portsmouth, United Kingdom

      March 23, 2018 in England ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      Just prior to leaving Spain, we spent a couple of days in a great campsite, just west of Bilbao, with great views of the beautiful snow-capped Picos de Europa mountains and surrounded by lush green rolling countryside. By the time we left Bilbao aboard Brittany Ferries along with, what seemed like, hundreds of other motorhomes and caravans all heading back to the UK, the weather had changed for the worst and our last night was spent to the sound of hailstones and rain.

      After a smooth crossing of the Bay of Biscay, we arrived in Portsmouth to smooth seas and a beautiful sunny day. Let's hope it lasts!
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    • Day52

      Setting Sail on the Ghost Ship

      October 15, 2016 in England ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

      Friday October 14th
      In Which we Set Sail on a Ghost Ship

      The 25,000 tonne MV Bretagne was launched in 1989 after a build cost of around 100 million Australian dollars. It plies the English Channel between St Malo and Portsmouth and normally carries around 2000 paying passengers. I say normally, but on this occasion in mid October, it was almost empty.

      We were somewhat sad to be saying adieu to St Malo. Although we had only had
      four nights there, we had very quickly fallen in love with its amazing sea views and charm. The incredible tides there mean that the entire appearance of the foreshore changes dramatically from one hour to the next. When the tide is in the sea looks like a unbroken expanse of water, but when the tide retreats it reveals dozens of small rocky islands. It must require a lot of skill to navigate such a waterway safely.

      After a short taxi ride from our hotel to the ferry terminal, we were surprised to find that the place was almost empty.

      We had expected long queues of passengers waiting to check in, but we were able to walk straight up to the desk without any wait. The same thing happened when it was time to go through the outward emigration control - straight up to the counter, get the passport stamped and through to security. There was no wait there either - or any security check either for that matter. When we walked our luggage to the XRay scanner, we were waved to ignore it and proceed directly to the ship instead. I guess we just don't look like terrorists.

      Once on board we were given directions on how to find our cabin. Yes, although the trip to Portsmouth only takes around 9 hours, it cost almost no extra to have a double cabin with full ensuite. We didn't spend all our time there, but it was a convemient place to leave our luggage and have a lie down.

      We were even more surprised to find that the ship was almost empty. Hundreds of luxurious arm chairs remained empty, the cafes and restaurants were deserted, the upper decks were devoid of passengers, it was almost eery. During the day they even had a series of floor shows in the large restaurant theatre. I felt sorry for the performers that I was the only audience member - and even I didn't stay for longer than a couple of minutes.

      The voyage itself was almost dead smooth. The first part was sailed in bright sunshine and we spent considerable time enjoying the warmth and fresh air on the upper deck. Later in the day the skies clouded over and a slight drizzle started. We figured it was just setting the stage for the English weather we were to get in the weeks ahead.

      We arrived at Portsmouth just a couple of minutes late at 6.10 pm, quickly passed through the deserted immigration check and jumped into a taxi to take us to our hotel. The room was a pleasant surprise and was much larger than the tiny rooms we had been getting used to on the continent. Tomorrow morning we collect our hire car and begin our exploration of the Jurassic Coast.
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    • Day59

      Portsmouth to Dover

      August 31, 2017 in England ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Where - Southern England
      Weather - can't remember, some rain, some sun

      Leaving Devon we drove to Portsmouth where Brad wanted to see HMS Victory which is still commissioned by the Royal Navy and was Admiral Nelson's flagship. The audio commentary took us through what it would have been like to serve on this ship and also the last moments and was killed at the Battle of Waterloo by the French. Nelson did not want to be buried at sea as most people at battle were, so his body was placed in a barrel of brandy (or it may have been rum - cant remember the details) to be transported back to England. Not sure where he is buried but they made a statue of him and stuck him on a pillar in the middle of Trafalgar Square.

      We stayed at Chichester, visiting Arundel Castle which was a pleasant couple of hours but Brad forgot to bring the camera so we don't have any photos. I did take some on my phone but they are not that good. Arundel Castle had lovely gardens and expensive furnishings (dozens od Chippendale chairs, elaborate Wedgewood dining sets etc) and there is still a family living in one wing of the castle.

      The next day we headed to Dover where we walked around the top of the White Cliffs of Dover before boarding the ferry to Dunkirk. Goodbye England, Hello France!
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    • Day53

      Our Car is Missing

      October 16, 2016 in England ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

      Sunday October 16th
      In Which Our Car Goes Missing !

      I suppose it was inevitable that in executing such an extended and complex trip, sooner or later something was going to go wrong. Up to now, it was remarkable that every arrangement, every booking had fallen exactly into place. We had completed the entire Odyssey Ride just how it had been planned to happen. Now Maggie and I were on our own, certainly nothing could go drastically wrong now ?

      Well actually it did.

      As part of our advance plans we had arranged to collect a hire car from Europcar's Portsmouth office on Sunday 16th October. I had even received a confirmation email from them just four day's earlier, confirming the collection details and informing me that they had already deducted the full rental cost from my credit card. Very efficient of them

      On the morning in question we booked a taxi to take us from our hotel in Southsea to the Europcar pickup depot. The driver was helpful and chatty and was happy to accept 10 pounds for the short ride
      "The place looks empty", Maggie commented.
      "No you will be OK, I drop people here all the time", the driver replied replied before driving away.

      We were left outside the office with our luggage. Rain had been falling most of the morning and looked about ready to start again.

      I tried the door. It was locked. The internal lights were off. Rising concern. Maybe we were just a little early. Maggie checked the sign with the opening hours. Someone had hand written "CLOSED ON SUNDAYS". I rechecked my details. They clearly stated that the car was to be collected at 10 am on the 16th October.

      We waited till 10 am. Still no one in sight.

      I tried ringing the Europcar rental number. My call was so important to them that they put me on hold for a long time (on international mobile call rates) before hanging up on me.

      OK, what do we do now ? Maggie politely reminded me of all the times that I had told her that I love the serendipity of travel. She now wanted me to practise what I preached. I was trying hard, but I was also angry that we had been let down. We had a written agreement that was apparently worth nothing. We didn't even have data access on our phones to search for other contact numbers. The only thing I could do was ring our hotel to tell them what had happened and to get them to arrange another taxi collection for us.

      By 10.30 am we were back inside another taxi and heading back to our hotel. Another 10 pounds wasted and NO CAR. The only positive thing I could be grateful for was that we had allowed for a second night in the same hotel. We had not planned to start driving till Monday morning. This gave us at least some extra breathing space in Portsmouth.

      Back at the hotel I tried to settle down and "look on the bright side of life". At least the weather had improved enough for us to take a walk along the beachfront to the nearby "D Day Museum".

      I paid the seniors entry fee and spent some time wandering the displays. They were tired and in major need of refurbishment and updating. The food in the cafe was deplorable - sad looking toasted sandwich, cold chips and stale cake. It fitted the mood of the day.

      Maggie was still recovering from the flu and walked back to the hotel while I wandered the beach, looking for a silver lining. It certainly did not come in the form of a lovely sandy beach. There was no sand in sight, just acres of rough stones. Even the impressive looking pier was closed down "for repairs". Compared to the magnificent beachfront at St Malo, our first impressions of Portsmouth left a lot to be desired.

      In the evening we walked to the strangely named "Gastro Pub" for our evening meal. It had been recommended by our hotel, although naming a restaurant "Gastro" did not auger well for the quality of the food. Fortunately the food was excellent and the place was clean and quiet. I hoped that things would go better the next day.
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    • Day39

      First night on board

      February 16, 2013 in England ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

      With it being the first night Sheila and I went to the restaurant for dinner, instead of the buffet which we normally use, mainly so we could see our other friends who are on this trip.
      We had a lovely meal and a good catch up.
      Pauline passed Jennifer and John and Sheila and I a card each which it turned out was from Hazel and "posh" Peter two other friends who were booked on this cruise but due to illness, couldn't make it.
      The card was apologising for not being here and wishing us all bon voyage and hoping we all had a great cruise.
      It was a really nice thing for them to have done.
      So if you happen to read this blog guys, thank you both very much and we wish you were here.
      Oh btw "Posh" Peter get well soon mate x
      I've been looking at some of the other passengers on board and I don't think the ships disco will be very busy on this trip.
      I'd say our company is among the youngest, and we're in our 50s and 60s lol.
      I passed Anderson's bar last night and I'm even more certain that you have to be certified dead to be allowed in there, I've never seen a more miserable place.
      It's now 6am and the weather isn't to bad, it's cold and the ship is rolling a bit, but no strong wind, rain or snow.
      That's all for now I'm going for another coffee.....
      Btw, Sheila had her picture taken with a famous film star (see pic)
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    • Day6

      New travelling partner

      December 4, 2015 in England ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      As we are on our way around the country to say goodbye, we have managed to aquire an additional travelling partner ............….……😎
      Name suggestions please ?

      Wendy Sprung pingu the penguin. Lol. Xxx


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