British Seaside

After a couple of quite days back home we started the second part of our summer break and traveled south together with friends from Switzerland to discover the British seaside. We stayed for five nights in Gosport and made trips to the surrounding sights.

Until the last quarter of the 20th century, Gosport was a major naval town associated with the defence and supply infrastructure of Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth. Gosport’s naval history is very long, and the town has several buildings of historic interest as well as connections with many people who became famous. Most of the former naval and military installations have closed since the Second World War,  leaving empty sites and buildings. In response to this museums have opened instead and some sites have been redeveloped to provide housing. But there’s still a lot of open space enclosed with barbed wires and several tumble-down buildings.

We visited first the Royal Naval Submarine Museum. It’s quite impressive to walk through a real submarine and get explained how the torpedoes were loaded, were the crew slept, eat and did their personal business, to look through a periscope and to learn what an emergency blow is. Because it was a warm and sunny day we got the chance to imagine how warm it has been back then 100 meter under sea level with 60 hard working mens and what the room fragrance could have been…

Later on we took the ferry to Portsmouth and visited the Historic Dockyard. We climbed through a couple of battleships. First of all HMS Victory best known as Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar an 21st of October 1805. And thanks that England has uncountable pubs called Nelson, Nelsons Head, Brave Nelson, Lord Nelson, Admiral Nelson, Nelsons Arms and so on. but incredibly the bold admiral didn’t get a place on the list of the 50 most popular pubs names. Headed by The Red Lion, The Crown, Royal Oak, White Heart, The Swan, The Plough, The Bell, Rose and Crown, Queens Head and Railway Tavern. And we learned that the MHS M33 has a cat flap into the wheelhouse for Miss Muggins the ship cat. And last but not least we found out that the Jolly Roger isn’t a famous pirate boat, no it’s the traditional English name for the flags hoisted to identify a pirate ship about to attack and along that a symbol used primarily by the Royal Naval Submarine Service, during WWI and WWII, to indicate a successful return from a mission.

The next day we appreciate the stone circles from Avebury and Stonehenge a visit. For me a stone is still a stone and as hard as I tried I didn’t felt any spiritual flows nor any curative vibrations. But the stroll through the Avebury Manor and Garden was worth the travel. The Grade I-listed early-16th-century manor house and its surrounding garden in which each room represents another period to reflect the inhabitants of the house and you are encouraged to sit on the furniture, lie on the beds and play snooker in the billiard room is very enjoyable. Did you ever bounce on an exercise chair from the Gregorian era?

The last point on our list was the Isle of Wight. This Isle was the reason why we choose this region for our trip. The evening before we googled about the different sights and attractions and opted for The Needles and a stop at Compton Beach, the pictures looked beautiful and the excitement was high. We went over by ferry and on the passage I started dreaming about our next summer break on this beautiful island…, we bought day passes for the island bus and off we went to our first destination. The isle was bigger than expected and when we finally arrived after a two hour bus trip with a few bus stops and growling stomachs we were gobsmacked what we found there. A huge parking lot, a noisy crowd of people, outmoded souvenir shops, arcade games out of the 80s, dingy rides, an overpriced chairlift (the free walking trail was closed after half way, of course without sign at the start) and the only good thing at the restaurant (I had a cool glass of white wine and a big pot of fresh mussels) was the name Marconi’s. I’m really sorry about that Guglielmo Marconi, you deserve more!! The idea was to admire an unique landmark and not to get stuck in a gross funfair.

Unfortunately or maybe thank goddess no    time left for the second stop we planned, a two hour bus ride back to the harbor, a short bathing and splashing pleasure right next to the harbor pier, a final ice cream and back we went to the mainland. By the way I buried my summer vacation dreams during this six hour stay on the isle.

At least we can ad this project on the list of Moms epic vacation failures. It will be in good company with Baby ‘r’ us, a short hike around Sedona, flying travel books in Tuscany, tipi night in Hildale, walking marathons in Manhattans and other adventures my family will remember lifelong.