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  1. #976
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    ^ I don't know what you're talking about. There's not a chance I'll get to stay in Bangkok next week.


    I've had a thing for Nelson for many years and the last week of our holiday really did involve a pilgrimage... to Portsmouth and the HMS Victory. The plan was to drive down with an old mate who now lives in Cheltenham but he had a late work day on Tuesday night so to save him a huge detour via Somerset we agreed to drive separately and meet up at the Old Portsmouth Holiday Inn on Wednesday afternoon. I mentioned to him hat we were going to call in at Stonehenge on the way down.

    Many years ago I went to Southampton Uni so well know the route across the Mendips and down along the A36 which I drove many times as a student. This drive was going to revive many old memories and I looked forward to it... in the late 80s I drove the old fashioned way by looking at maps and learning the route but now I had Google Maps and an eleven year old to help navigate so I hoped for a quick drive.

    As we approached Frome, the Google lady took us off the main road and down some side lanes so I assumed she knew some short cut... but the lanes became narrower and narrower...



    I kept telling the daughter to zoom out a bit to make sure Google was still heading us in the right direction but she was using my 4G coverage to watch crap on Tik-Tok and I felt that things were starting to go wrong. Eventually I stopped outside this lovely old church in a place called Stoke St Michael...



    But I hadn't stopped to admire yet another old building...



    (and yes, I really do have my own road...)



    ... no, I had stopped because of this road sign.



    I've always wondered what kind of idiot gets stuck down a narrow country lane because of Sat Nav... the daughter learnt a valuable lesson about not trusting everything she hears on the Internet... and she also learnt a few new choice words from her dad. We were getting behind schedule.

    Anyway, eventually we found the A362 and headed past Longleat and on into Wiltshire to Stonehenge. As a kid we visited Stonehenge by driving along the main road, stopping in a lay-by and walking across the fields to the monument before clambering across the rocks. Now it has been taken over by English Heritage which just seems to be a money making machine.

    First up... £5 for parking (by the shop and 'Visitor Centre' but a couple of miles from the henge)...



    And then on to the Visitor Centre...



    Ker ching... this just to look at Stonehenge and the visitor centre which comprised a very small mock Bronze Age village and a very disappointing exhibition. Out of all our excursions Stone henge was the worst value for money, I would say. All we wanted to do was see the damn henge.



    The henge was a couple of miles from the centre but they did offer free shuttle buses, or a 30 minute walk but I was determined to get my money's worth. And it was damned hot.



    Stonehenge is of course breathtaking despite a fence now cordoning it off. We walked around the perimeter of the 5000 year-old monument. No words needed.











    Spot the difference!

    Quote Originally Posted by Headworx View Post

    This apparently is the Heel Stone, aligned to the Summer and Winter Solstice sunrise/sunset positions (I think) and was the closest I got to one of the huge megalths.



    But there was no chance of getting a chunk for my rock collection... there were just too many tourists about and several English Heritage wardens were marching about. Anyway, I got a nice close-up picture of the megalith but wouldn't like to identify the rock composition from a photo... you need a fresh surface, preferably wet, to make a reliable identification and no way was I getting my hammer out there... or pissing on the fresh surface either (which is accepted geological practice). The megaliths at Stonehenge comprise a variety of rock and it's all on the Internet.



    I did manage to pick up a few pieces of the natural gravel I discreetly found in the stony soil which had to suffice for my collection.



    This was all hot work and I had an eleven year-old to keep happy...



    I can't remember the price but seem to remember it was under 8 quid for my 99 and and the daughter's whippy with no flake.

    She was well pissed off at the size of mine! The top of Stonehenge just to the left of my flake... these photos take some work.



    We went back to join the queue for our shuttle bus back to the 'centre' when an old guy with a boy said, 'look at these two stuffing themselves with ice creams!'. I turned back to the daughter, rolled my eyes and was about to make a rude retort when I realised it was my oldest mate and his son. He had decided to call in at Stonehenge enroute o Portsmouth as well and the timing was amazing. It's strange when you meet someone out of context... I'm so used to never seeing anyone I know, any place, ever, this caught me out completely. I first met my mate in 1981 when we sat together in Biology in the local comprehensive, and have remained friends ever since. I worked with him on the Channel Tunnel but he left construction and is now a solicitor, for his sins. Anyway, luckily I recognised him just in time before insulting him in front of his boy.

    After that we spent a few minutes in the visitor centre...

    A Bronze Age house.



    Megalith transport... some came from South Wales they reckon...



    And how the henge once looked...



    All very disappointing and not worth 40 odd quid. This was a shame as I've been really impressed with just about every other exhibit we've visited this holiday.

    And then on to Pompey.

    A typical English late summer scene. I tried for ages to get a good pic of a combine harvester but there was never anywhere to stop when we saw one.



    Salisbury Cathedral from the car. I'm all churched out... it's all on the Internet. That's the problem with England, there's 800 year-old buildings everywhere.



    As I was checking into the Holiday Inn my mate turned up, around 15 minutes behind us. I'd booked two ajoining rooms and as we were sorting stuff out the receptionist said that there was one double and one twin room... and that the kids could have the twin room. I realised to my horror that she thought we were a couple of queers and had to put that right... the receptionist was cute.

    The daughter was well pissed off we had the double room so she had to share my bed. Opening windows... take note Travelodge.



    Time for dinner... and just outside of the hotel was this...



    The great man himself. To whet the appetite for the following day!



    Old Portsmouth was well impressive with the Napoleonic (and older) sea defences.



    Lots of new apartments.



    And old defences.



    The Isle of Wight across The Solent.



    Offshore harbour defences seen through the opening. These buildings absolutely stank of piss.



    The Spinnaker with the old harbour in the background.



    This part of the harbour is called 'Spice Island' and is reputed to be where Sir Walter Raleigh first unloaded his potatoes from the New world. The Spice Island Inn has been a pub since the early 1700s and I reckon Nelson himself probably had a few drinks here while waiting for his orders.



    Steak and Kidney Pudding on the menu... what a day!



    Money...



    We walked back to the hotel past a load of maritime history...



    ... and I'd like to say I had a sleepless night in anticipation of finally stepping foot on Nelson's HMS Victory... but the kids got on like a house on fire and went back to the rooms to play Roblox together while meself and my mate drank cider and IPA to the early hours and got well and truly pissed. It was looking as though the culmination of my pilgrimage was going to be spent with a raging cider hangover.

    Last edited by Mendip; 14-08-2022 at 04:06 AM.

  2. #977
    On a walkabout Loy Toy's Avatar
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    Clear blue skies as well Mendy.

  3. #978
    Isle of discombobulation Joe 90's Avatar
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    Cool update Mendip!

    Surprised you didn't have a dip in the sea its been that flaming hot.

  4. #979
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    Why did you think the Stone Henge was disappointing? What were you hoping to see? Or was it the £40 fee? Iíve driven past it once but couldnít enter at the time due to foot and mouth disease.

  5. #980
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    Re: Stonehenge, since it's now closed off by a fence, so the groups who go there during Solstice (wicca/ witches/ etc) just stay outside of the fence during their worship times? Or are they allowed to go nearer? (it might be a stupid question, but whatever...)

    Thanks for the pics & stories, Mendip.

  6. #981
    Isle of discombobulation Joe 90's Avatar
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    Having sex inside in the Stonehenge circle was always the ultimate experience back in the day.

  7. #982
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    As I was checking into the Holiday Inn my mate turned up, around 15 minutes behind us. I'd booked two ajoining rooms and as we were sorting stuff out the receptionist said that there was one double and one twin room... and that the kids could have the twin room. I realised to my horror that she thought we were a couple of queers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    I'd like to say I had a sleepless night in anticipation of finally stepping foot on Nelson's HMS Victory... but the kids got on like a house on fire and went back to the rooms to play Roblox together while meself and my mate drank cider and IPA to the early hours and got well and truly pissed. It was looking as though the culmination of my pilgrimage was going to be spent with a raging cider hangover.
    Left us hanging a bit there...
    Did you wake up to a raging boner instead?

  8. #983
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    This is what my missus says when the phone's down to 12%


  9. #984
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    The great man himself. To whet the appetite for the following day!


    His final words lying there dying on that HMS Victory asking his mate for a kiss. What's all that about?
    Him and his master flagman Tom were a couple of raving bisexuals too by the sounds of it.

    Out of interest, did they spent there last night in that Holiday Inn?

  10. #985
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    ^ I don't want any anti-Nelson talk like that on this thread, thank you.

    There are rumours that on his death bed Admiral Horatio Nelson said, 'Kiss me Hardy', and that Captain Thomas Hardy kissed Nelson on his forehead and hands. There was no funny stuff. I've touched both the actual position that Nelson was shot by the French sharpshooter on the Quarterdeck of the Victory, and the exact location that he died down on the Orlop deck, but I have a lot of photos to sort out.

    Anyway, last night I had my last draught Inch's of the Pilgrimage.

    I really enjoyed the first half!


  11. #986
    Isle of discombobulation Joe 90's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    I really enjoyed the first half!

  12. #987
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post

    I really enjoyed the first half!

    Red owed.

  13. #988
    A Cockless Wonder
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    The great man himself. To whet the appetite for the following day!

    Looks like the admirable admiral dresses on the left as befits any proper gent.


  14. #989
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    ^ Which was just as well seeing as he was missing his right arm.

    That's another feature I have in common with Nelson. In fact I dress so far to the left I have to stand at a 45 degree angle to the right at urinals, which can get a bit awkward in busy pub toilets.

  15. #990
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    Pah! call that a column?

  16. #991
    A Cockless Wonder
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    ^^Did you hire a costume as an homage to the admirable bluff old cove while strutting the poop deck?

    Is that a telescope in your pocket or are you just stoked to be aboard!


  17. #992
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    Amazing Mendip...I read every poster you posted in the prison and found it absolutely fascinating and I read the Hornblower novels as a kid, seeing the Solent and Battery Row is pretty frigging cool. Thanks!!!!

  18. #993
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    ^ Topper, if you enjoyed The Hornblower I can highly recommend Patrick O'brian's Aubrey and Maturin series of books, they are fabulous. I read them years ago and am trying to re-read the 20 odd book series now but never get the time... I took the first on my Pilgrimage and am only on Page 16.

  19. #994
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    Cam you spend a night in that prison?

    Do the lights go off at 8pm then all the tents go up in the dorm?

  20. #995
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    Hardly a great recommendation for a page turner if you are only on page 16…

  21. #996
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    I've had a thing for Nelson for many years
    I was surprised you skipped a visit to his final resting place in the crypt of St. Paul's. It's more interesting than the average grave.

  22. #997
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    ^ I had to make many compromises for the sake of my daughter's sanity Shutree. Nelson's resting place will be next time.


    ^^ Yes, that does seem a bit strange but only because I'm so busy. My aim is to finish the first book before the end of the year


    ^^^ Yes you can. That was the plan but you have to be 18 so the daughter wasn't allowed. The night events are more corporate kind of team building stuff when you wander around looking for ghosts (the prison is haunted) but I reckon a night locked in a cell would be a good experience... so long as you can have alcohol and decent Wifi.

    Night Behind Bars - Shepton Mallet Prison



    The main event in Portsmouth was the second and only full day, which started as such... (Holiday Inn beat Travelodge hands down on the breakfasts, and it came with the room). This was just what I needed to help mop up the excess cider from the night before.



    And then on past Spice Island...



    The masts we were aiming at turned out to belong to the HMS Warrior, a steam-powered frigate built in 1860. I'm sure she would be very interesting but we only had a day...



    Soon after this we entered the Royal Navy museum that houses the HMS Warrior, Victory and the Mary Rose. I was with my daughter and my mate was with his son, and in his wisdom he'd bought us a 'family' ticket online which was good for two adults and up to three kids. When we checked in I could tell exactly what the guy behind the counter was thinking... a pair of shifters. Again. I spent some time patiently explaining that we both had wives but they weren't interested in British naval history. I could tell he didn't believe me.

    On to the HMS Victory. There were a couple of modern day aircraft carriers at berth.



    And finally, what I had been waiting so long to see.



    I've gotta say it was a bit disappointing to find that the HMS Victory is currently undergoing major refurbishment and was shrouded in scaffolding and covers... you could barely see her and the masts had been unstepped. But even so...

    That's me in front of Admiral Nelson's flagship, the HMS Victory, the ship from which he commanded the English fleet and won the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. This visit has been a long term goal of mine.



    Although I must admit I wish she had looked like this! As I was expecting.



    We travelled along a walkway past her stern enroute to boarding. That top row of windows belong to Captain Thomas Hardy's cabin and the middle row to Admiral Horatio Nelson's cabin, both of which we visited. he bottom row of windows belonged to the ships' officers wardroom which was out of bounds for visitors. The HMS Victory is still a commissioned vessel in the Royal Navy and as such has a constant naval crew aboard. I guess they need some privacy from the hordes of landlubber tourists and even from the more knowledgeable sea dogs and Nelson fans like my good self.



    Part of the Victory's stern was just visible, poking out from the shroud of scaffolding along her port side.



    And finally, after having our 'family' ticket checked one more time (much to my discomfort) we boarded. I've been up a few gangways in my time but none as momentous as this.



    There were many 'Mind Your Head' signs within the Victory and you can see why. Even being an old sea dog like meself, I managed to twat my bonce several times on the low decks. Whereas people tended to be shorter during Nelson's time there were many on the ship's roster exceeding six foot and the chief carpenter (only 24 years old) was 6' 4"... they must have had a nightmare.



    And so the tour began.


  23. #998
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    Family ticket?

    Bendy Mendy really is a bumdar!

  24. #999
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendip View Post
    I could tell exactly what the guy behind the counter was thinking... a pair of shifters.Again. I spent some time patiently explaining that we both had wives but they weren't interested in British naval history
    Where's your wedding ring?^^

  25. #1000
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    ^ This is precisely the attitude that made me feel uncomfortable. I'm no bumder and I'm as open minded as the next man but this seems to be the way people think, just because two very hetero guys have ajoining rooms in a hotel with their kids and then get a family ticket to view the nations glorious naval history.


    Anyway, as you can see from the pic when we boarded (on the middle gun deck) the Victory was a floating battery. Back then, the well-trained gun teams meant the difference between defeat and victory... the faster rate of fire would prevail and the English Navy were the best trained in the world. Whereas their French and Spanish adversaries usually trained by going through the motions without the cost of live rounds, the English gun teams trained with live powder and shot, with actual targets to destroy. The same for Wellington's Red Coats whose rate of musket fire was unrivaled.

    A 'monkey' holding 10 cannon balls... this one appeared to be made from wood but the saying about brass monkeys comes directly from these cannon ball holders when made from brass. In cold weather the metal holders would contract, forcing the balls to fall off the brass monkey. My foot for scale... I think these were 24 pound balls on the middle gun deck.



    The capstan on the middle gun deck. This is basically a huge winch... wooden beams were placed in the sockets and sailors used the leverage gained to winch heavy weights aboard the ship... or maybe even to winch the ship off a sandbank using the ships' anchors.



    But our tour was to start on the upper gun deck (top deck)... the Victory was a 'Ship of the Line' boasting three gun decks... upper, middle and lower.



    The upper gun deck... packed with cannon at the 'aft end. The two 'spikes' on the right-most cannon were stuck into the deck and used to lever and thus aim he cannon.



    Drummer boys around the same age as my daughter were used to drum the ship's crew to quarters. The upper gun deck was probably the most dangerous part of a ship during battle and to think that 11 year-olds were on the drums or supplying gun crews with powder (powder monkeys) doesn't really bare thinking about.

    My daughter feels hard done by after being forced to do 20 minutes recorder practice!



    The ship's wheel. For'ard of the wheel is the Quarter deck, where the ship's officers would pace back and forth during battle. Aft of the Quarter deck is the captains cabin... Captain Thomas Hardy in the case of the Battle of Trafalgar aboard the HMS Victory. Above the captain's cabin is the Poop deck.



    Who couldn't resist a photo at the HMS Victory's wheel!



    And looking for'ard across the Quarterdeck towards the bows, from the captain's cabin. That chap and his son appear to be emotionally viewing something on the deck?



    The daughter was also caught up in the emotion and insisted on doing one of her Thai 'points'...



    Yes, this was the exact spot on the Quarterdeck that Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson was shot with a musket ball by a French sharpshooter up in the rigging of the French ship Redoutable. Nelson insisted on wearing his fine Admiral's uniform which made him an obvious target as he paced the Quarterdeck of the Victory during the early stages of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Redoutable was alongside taking a pounding but also pouring in fire from her snipers... and a musket ball hit Nelson's shoulder and severed his spine.



    And the scene on October 21st, 1805... quite humbling to be honest.



    There are many accounts of Nelson's death but I think these are pretty good...

    What were Nelson's last words? | Royal Museums Greenwich

    Who shot Nelson’s killer? | Royal Museums Greenwich

    I think it's very sad that Nelson was taken out of the battle so early, before he knew if England were victorious... we were, and it was all down to Nelson's battle strategy. He was a master strategist.
    Last edited by Mendip; 16-08-2022 at 08:12 PM.

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