Another trip to the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth

Having bought a ticket for the dockyard which enabled me to go as often as I wanted for a year, when I felt like another day out I thought this would be a good idea.  I had the rest of “The Mary Rose” to look at and as it is inside it didn’t matter if it was cold.  I therefore used my Senior Railcard to get to Portsmouth Harbour – with plenty of time on the train to read my book!

On arrival, after the bag search and having my ticket checked, I went straight to the building housing the Mary Rose and had a coffee before going into the museum.

The Mary Rose building

The Mary Rose building

Having looked at part of it before, I knew to pick up a folding stool as I went in.  I then skipped the parts I had spent time on and spent about 2 hours looking at the rest.  I am still amazed at how much they have found and how much they can tell about the people on the boat, just from their skeletons and possessions.  Some things are in such good condition – musical instruments, shoes…….  I was glad of the stool at times!

Entrance/exit to the Mary Rose museum

Entrance/exit to the Mary Rose museum

By the time I had finished it was time for lunch, so I went to Boatshed 7 (I think) and had pizza and chips (and coleslaw).  The timing was such that I wasn’t sure if I had time to look round the Victory, but I decided I would and catch a later train if necessary.

Entrance to the Victory

Entrance to the Victory

On going into the Victory one is warned about slips, trips and low beams.  Only the first was not a problem as it was dry!  They also provide a free audio guide.  At various points on the tour there are places where one points the guide at a device and one can then listen to some information relevant to that point on the ship.  A lot of them were about the battle of Trafalgar. including the preparation for leaving port, until it got to the repairs needed after the battle (somewhat extensive!)

Top deck

Top deck

The bits I liked best were seeing the quarters of Captain Harvey and Nelson and also the below deck parts where it explained about the cooking and had models of the food provided.  The places where they kept the things needed to repair the ship were interesting, too.  Can’t say I was that interested in the battle but I do understand a bit better what happened.

After leaving the Victory

After leaving the Victory

As they said, the tour took about an hour if one listened to all the parts.  I then had time for a quick cup of tea at the Mary Rose cafe before going to catch the train home.

Was it a good day out?  I would say yes – could do just what I wanted and some of the things to see are fascinating.

Build a bookcase

A friend who is fairly disabled at the moment had bought a flat pack Ikea double cupboard with bookcases above, but was not able to assemble it.  I agreed to try to do it, with the help of another friend who can do the practical bits and help with lifting and moving things but can’t interpret the instructions.  Ikea instructions have no words, just pictures – of which some are fairly clear and some are not.  There are also little inserts and until one knows to look out for them they are easy to miss, which can cause problems.

We started one Saturday afternoon and it took us over 3 hours (probably nearer 4) to make one of the cupboards.  The hinges were the worst as it was not at all clear which way round they were supposed to be.  In the end we fitted them together with the doors off and then translated that into how to attach them – after unscrewing the supports about 3 times.  It took a cup of tea or two to get those hinges right!  I was really exhausted after doing it and muscles I didn’t know I had ached the next day.  I think it was from dragging and lifting the chipboard panels around and crawling and kneeling on the floor to get at the parts that had to be screwed together.

The next Saturday we managed to put together both of the top bookcases and the other cupboard and it only took  about 3 hours.  It helped that the bookcases were easier and we had a better idea what we were doing with the cupboard, but the hinges were still a bit of a problem.  I was still quite tired afterwards but not as much as the previous week and I didn’t ache anywhere near as much the next day.  It was a relief we got it done as I didn’t want to spend another Saturday afternoon on it.  The end result seems to be fairly satisfactory.

The end result starting to be used.

The end result, starting to be used.

We haven’t worked out how to fasten the two parts together – there didn’t seem to be a diagram to show that, so we just pushed them next to each other.  There is also a hook thing on one side and we don’t know what that is for either.  I still think I need to adjust one of the doors but I am not sure if the instructions on adjustments have been kept and the owner seems happy enough.

Would I do it again?  Not unless I really have to!  And I don’t think I would choose Ikea furniture for myself – however nice it is.

 

Go to the theatre

A friend was going to the theatre and the person going with her had to drop out, so I was asked if I would like to go.  I admit that I was a bit doubtful when I saw the information, but agreed to go.  The play was called “Joan” and was about Joan of Arc (sort of) but was a one woman show and had won prizes at The Fringe (2016).

P1010843

It was in the small theatre, which is a nearly circular set up, but when we got there we were not allowed to sit on the fixed seats but on others which they had set up totally in the round.  I think our timing was right, so we were in the middle row of three which was not too “exposed” (front row) and didn’t have the uncomfortable high bar type chairs (back row).  The actor was around already and did seem to be a bit nervous but was OK when she had got going.

The play sort of followed the life of Joan of Arc but was really about gender and whether it is OK to be cross-gender or act/behave like the other gender – specifically female as male.  The actor has been a drag king champion and I am not surprised at that – she took 3 separate male roles, as well as being Joan and was very convincing in all of them.  I was also impressed at how quickly and easily she put on make up (in front of us) to give herself a beard or moustache.  The play was very well done with the only props being 4 boxes, 4 mirrors and some costumes and the woman played all the parts – except a couple of men from the audience had to do things.

Did I enjoy it?  Not very much (but my friend thought it was really good).  I always dislike it when people are pulled from the audience and have to do something, especially if they are being made fun of – as one man was a bit in this.  I was not totally comfortable with some of the things that she did when challenging gender stereotypes either; they seemed a bit inappropriate.

Would I go to another “challenging” piece of theatre like this?  Maybe; maybe not…….  Lets say I might think about it a bit more carefully before I say yes.

Go to an event at a literary festival.

Salisbury has had its first literary festival!  Not that I would have known about it if friends hadn’t mentioned it.  There was one event with someone who wrote a book we had read and discussed earlier – Joanna Cannon.  Her book  “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep” is one I have never been quite sure about.  It is well written and a good book with some funny parts but I wasn’t sure that I liked it and I know that several other people felt the same.  I suspect, for me, it is because it is not a “comfortable” book – but you might have to read it to see what I mean.

One of my friends got the tickets – Saturday at 12.00 in the Playhouse.  We were to meet at 11.30 and I was on time, for once.  The friend who got the tickets was there before me though and she said that the friend who had been the one who was most keen on the book wasn’t coming.  The other person coming arrived about 11.45 so we went in and found seats.

I wasn’t at all sure about the whole thing, but Joanna was introduced and interviewed by one of the main people behind the festival and I did enjoy it.  She spoke well, but a microphone might have been good – I was straining to hear at times.  It turns out that she is actually a doctor – a psychiatrist, in fact.  She wrote most of the book in lunch breaks and was, I think, amazed when it became a best seller!  She is not practising as a doctor at the moment – too busy being an author.  She says she likes to go into the psychiatric hospital to encourage creativity of all types, as a means towards healing.  She started writing – a blog initially I think, as a means to relieve the stress of being a junior doctor in a hospital (not a psychiatric one, where she says she never feels stress!)   Knowing she is a doctor explains why there is an acknowledgement in the book I have just read to:  “Jo Cannon…. for answering all things medical”.  It didn’t make sense before I went to the event.

There were other events at the festival, including one with Phillipa Gregory, but I haven’t been to those.  Never read any Phillipa Gregory and not sure I intend to!

Would I go to another literary festival event?  Yes, I think I would, so will have to look out for the next one in Salisbury.

Would I read another of Joanna Cannon’s books?  She described a bit about her next book and read a bit and I think I will read it.  It comes out in the spring, but I will wait until the library has it or it is in paperback.  I think it again will not be a comfortable read and possibly might make me cry!  The one after that she has an idea for  might be the same……

We meet again……

…….at……

.......Chateau Impney, Droitwich.

…….Chateau Impney, Droitwich Spa.

Although we know our place and stayed in the apartments in……..

.....the stable block.

…..the stable block.

Initially everyone congregated in our apartment as we were there before Simon (this year’s organiser) and we had milk for cups of tea/coffee.  Also we were downstairs so easier to access and had no low beams to knock heads on.

(Apologies to everyone, but most photos of people have at least one person – and often more – blurred.  Mind you that might be preferable at our age!  People will move and talk….)

Sharing my apartment...

Sharing my apartment…..

......also sharing.

……also sharing.

Drinks and nibbles in the living room.....

Drinks and nibbles in the living room…..

....and in the kitchen.

….and in the kitchen.

Probably discussing football.....

Probably discussing football…..

We had dinner in the hotel bar.

Next day, most of us went to Droitwich in the morning.  Some people did the official tour and others followed the “Town trail” – after we worked out that the map went one way and the route described on a (separate) leaflet went the opposite way!  Quite an interesting town – they have natural salt springs and so had a salt industry from Roman times and still have salt baths – more salty than the Dead Sea, apparently – for “arthritis and nervous complaints”.

Mural showing the main features of Droitwich Spa.

Mural showing the main features of Droitwich Spa.

Those of us who did our own tour had coffee and biscuits in a church hall – a very nice one, with very pleasant people.  Thanks very much, Ken.

After the tour we split up, although many of us made our way to Hanbury Hall, where some looked at the house and some the gardens and some both!  Most then met up in the tea-room gardens, where it was pleasant to sit as the weather was warm.

Hanbury Hall

Hanbury Hall

In the evening we had our own separate room for dinner, which we had ordered before hand.

Dinner

Dinner

The meal was excellent and not too heavy, which was good when there are 3 courses.

Dinner

Dinner

The dinning room

The dinning room

They also arranged for us to have breakfast in the same room the next day, which was a very nice way to say farewell.

Many thanks to Simon for making the arrangements.  It was a very pleasant weekend, although we missed Susan, Hugh, Glynis and Malcolm – but hope to see you all next year.

GoFLY!

For Christmas, my brother gave me an “Experience” but suggested I choose my own so that it would be something that I wanted.  I decided it had to be fairly local and reduced it to 4 possibles:  a skid pan at Thruxton, a hot air balloon flight from near the leisure centre, a falconry day at the Hawk Conservancy or a flight/trial lesson in a small plane from Old Sarum airfield.    I decided the first was too scary, the second was a waste of champagne (why do all balloon flights include champagne?) and couldn’t decide between the other two, so let my brother decide.  I think he tossed a coin and it came out on the flight.  He then arranged this (the voucher was only for 6 months so not until a about May) and GoFly phoned me up and sent me the voucher.

Voucher

Voucher

I then had to arrange the date and time with the company and they sent me confirmation by email.

The day dawned and it was quite windy and a bit rainy, but that gradually cleared so the flight went ahead, instead of being cancelled as I feared.  The lad who had done the flight before mine, had his cancelled on 2 or 3 previous occasions. I arrived early – and managed to park in the wrong place so had quite a way to walk instead of just a few steps.  The young man in charge showed me the weather map and the rain going and the wind decreasing.  Then the instructor led me out to the plane.

The instructor on the plane

The instructor on the plane

He had to get on first to make sure everything was OK and to fit in the extra bottle full of water (seen below the wing) behind the back seats to give us extra weight for ballast.  I think I am not heavy enough!  The instructor then got on board and told me to follow him.  I should only walk on any bits painted black.  I got in, the door was shut, the seat belts done up and lots of pre-flight checks done.  Then the instructor spoke to the “control tower” (2 huts on top of each other!) and we taxied to the end of the grass runway.  He then did more tests, spoke to Boscombe Down air traffic control as they are in charge of the local air space and we had to clear the flight with them.  Heights etc would depend on what aircraft they were flying.  After waiting ages for the Old Sarum control to respond we were given clearance to take off.

We gathered speed along the (slightly bumpy) runway and were then in the air and banked to pass Old Sarum.

Old Sarum from the air

Old Sarum from the air

We then headed up the river, initially, and then up to the A303 and Stonehenge.  We didn’t get very close to Stonehenge as I think we were not supposed to cross the A303.

Slightly blurred picture of Stonehenge from the air.

Slightly blurred picture of Stonehenge from the air.

I tried to take several pictures of it but the wing blocked out most of them.  We then headed roughly southwest passing over the countryside where one can see some of the marks left from previous ages agriculture and settlements.

Wiltshire countryside

Wiltshire countryside

It is from the air that one can see how rural Wiltshire is and how the fields cover much of it and the houses and roads very little.  There are a few wooded areas and the instructor pointed out that the flight was more turbulent when we were going over the trees.

Some wooded areas.

Some wooded areas.

Then it was my turn!  The instructor pointed the plane in roughly the right direction and showed me where to aim for.  Turn the wheel left for left, right for right(!!), towards for up and away for down.  I was told the pedals are only for steep turns/banking.

My side of the controls

My side of the controls

I think I did OK – until it got a bit rough again and I wasn’t sure if we were going up or down – the control panels are all at the instructors side.

Control panel.  (Salisbury Cathedral in distance)

Control panel. (Salisbury Cathedral in distance)

After that we banked and turned again so that we were heading for the Fovant Military badges.

Banking to head for the Fovant badges

Banking to head for the Fovant badges

We flew alongside these…….

Fovant badges

Fovant badges

…….and the headed back towards Salisbury.

Heading towards Salisbury Cathedral

Heading towards Salisbury Cathedral

We flew south of the city ready to turn towards Old Sarum airfield.

Heading back to Old Sarum

Heading back to Old Sarum airfield

As we approached the airfield we had to look out for other planes, but we didn’t see any, which was good.  The instructor contacted the airfield and got clearance and did a really good landing – then spoiled it by saying he doesn’t always manage such good ones!  We taxied to the place where the plane was left – and that was my “experience” finished.

Plane returned

Plane returned

We went back to the headquarters of GoFLY – a wooden hut – and I was presented with my certificate!

My certificate!

My certificate!

Did I enjoy it?  It was slightly scary at the start when I saw how small the plane was and that it only had one propeller/engine!  But once we got up it was wonderful and it would have been great to have a bit more time doing the actual flying so I got a better feel for the controls.  I would love an hour next time (hint, hint!!) when I understand one flies down to the Isle of Wight and round the Needles and back.  With the sun out it actually got quite hot in the plane.

Many, many thanks to my brother for the experience.

Another trip to Bournemouth

My friend T tends not to go for walks unless she is with someone, so I said I would go for a walk with her one Monday and where would she like to go?  She later asked if we could we go to Bournemouth for the day instead.  Well a day in Bournemouth is a bit longer than a walk but I gave in, especially after another friend had pleaded for her – and at that stage the weather forecast was quite good.  As the day got closer the forecast deteriorated so I wasn’t happy, considering the weather last time I went.  In the end we had a bargain that if it rained she would buy my lunch and if it was nice she would come for a paddle.

The day came – cloudy and drizzly and it even rained while we were on the bus.  It had stopped by the time we arrived, so we could have a coffee/tea in the Lower Gardens.  Then we headed for the front.

T on the promenade

T on the promenade

As a walk had been the original purpose of the day I made T walk with me to Alum Chime as it is somewhere I remember my grandparents liked.  Having got there I didn’t dare tell T that I wanted to walk up and explore it!

Alum Chime from the beach

Alum Chime from the beach

This time there were quite a few beach huts open (there is one in the picture above) and more people on the beach.

People on the beach

People on the beach

Also more people in the sea.

Swimming and paddling

Swimming and paddling

However, having reached Alum Chime it was time to head back to town for lunch at a cafe T had in mind – if she could find it!  This was successfully  accomplished – a place called “Flirt” which she told me was an LGBT cafe.  I probably wouldn’t have realised if she hadn’t told me, but there were features which did indicate it!  As it was not raining we paid for our own lunches.

Then we headed back to the beach.  On the way we passed a “Build a Bear” shop, which I had heard of but never seen so I insisted that we go in and have a look.  We got the general idea – choose bear (or dog or …..) get it stuffed to ones required hardness, get it sewn up, choose extras.  The clothes for bears seemed quite expensive and I don’t think I need another bear – Arthur might get jealous.

We then made it to the beach for our paddle, but couldn’t go in deep as T’s jeans wouldn’t roll up very far.  Guess what?  It was cold!

One wet, sandy pair of feet

One wet, sandy pair of feet

And a second pair

And a second pair

Even though she had been reluctant, T decided that she had actually quite enjoyed the paddle.  The sand now seems to be at the same level as the promenade so there was nowhere to sit to dry our feet and put our shoes and socks on.  We had to lean against a lamppost instead.

It was then time for our ice-cream, but on the way we encountered a group of drummers and stilt dancers.

Stilt dancer

Stilt dancer with drummers

The drummers

The drummers and dancers

Female stilt dancer

Female stilt dancer

As there were people talking to some of the audience I think they were trying to convert us – but I am not sure what to!  They didn’t approach us so we went and got our ice-creams – not the nicest we have had, but a necessary part of the experience of being at the sea-side.  We sat on a wall to eat them, but T’s legs were too short so she was swinging them backwards and forwards like a small child!  (I have seen her do the same in church sometimes.)  However, it was me who spilt ice-cream down myself.

Eating ice-cream and swinging her legs.  I like the street name too - very appropriate,

Eating ice-cream and swinging her legs. I like the street name too – very appropriate.

It was then time to get the bus home.

Was it a good day?  Well T said she enjoyed it!  It was MUCH better than last time because although it wasn’t sunny it was dry, much less windy, mostly quite bright and warm.  It was good to paddle and have ice-cream and walk and have a good lunch – so yes, a good day.

 

 

Take things to the charity shop

As I no longer work at the charity shop I have been building up a pile of things as I don’t take them when I am going anyway.P1010753

The white bag contains “clothes rag” i.e. clothes that have got beyond the stage of even wearing them round the house!

Mostly books....

Mostly books….

The items are mostly books and jigsaws – some of which I got from the shop in the first place!  There are a few gifts which I know I will never use and the pot was given to me with the instruction to take it to the charity shop if it was no use to me (it wasn’t!).P1010754

I have replaced the suitcase with a new one with wheels and the bag had gone into holes – a pity, it was very useful.  I used  those to take the things down to the shop – although I have only done one load so far…..

Will the things be useful?  Well, I hope they can sell some of them and they were always wanting books when I worked there.

Drink coffee with friends

Meeting in a coffee shop for a drink and a chat is has become a major part of weekly retirement activity – perhaps too major?  I have two places that I often go so have loyalty cards for.

The first is the SP2 coffee shop & community centre, where I volunteer on a Thursday morning.  I have several friends who I meet there, usually on a Saturday morning, but it can be at other times too.  If I go in and am not specifically meeting anyone there is usually someone around whom I know and chat to.

SP2 loyalty card

SP2 loyalty card

The other regular haunt is the Cathedral Refectory – the plumbery, as it is where they used to do the lead working for the Cathedral roof.  There is one friend whom I meet there and we go so regularly that we are sometimes mistaken for Cathedral guides, who I think get reduced rates!  We haven’t taken advantage of this mistake, though.

Cathedral Refectory loyalty card

Cathedral Refectory loyalty card

There is a major problem to this – I have decided that I am not sure I really like coffee!  The instant stuff is fine but the real stuff is a bit strong and bitter and the milk is a bit filling.  In the Cathedral I have started ordering “one shot, skinny” which is usually OK but is still too strong sometimes.  In SP2 I have been having a can of Elderflower Pressé when the weather is warm – but that doesn’t count on the loyalty card which only applies to hot drinks.  Otherwise I can have a pot of peppermint tea or sometimes a regular latte or cappuccino if I need waking up and it is not near lunch time.  When I work there I get a free drink anyway.  I used to have a mocha, but I have gone off that at the moment, too.

SP2 is closed on Saturdays over the summer – so where are we going to meet?  And the other friend whom I see at the Cathedral, has a sick husband, so is having problems leaving the house for long enough to go into town for coffee!  Fortunately I have plenty of other things to do……

So?  I don’t have to worry about what I want to drink until September!

Have a day in Bournemouth

As another of my “days out instead of a holiday” I had been planning to take the bus (using my bus pass!) to Bournemouth.  I really wanted to go before the school holidays proper started, so as things worked out it had to be the day after visiting the “dig”.  As my grandparents used to live in Southbourne (50 years ago!) I always assume that I know Bournemouth, but in fact I don’t think we often went into the town and even if we did it has changed enormously since then.

I packed a rucksack with suntan cream, sun hat, cardigan and waterproof – but in the end only needed half of those!  What a contrast in the weather – it was very hot and sunny at the dig, and though the forecast for the next day was cooler, it turned out to be damp, drizzly and misty with a cold wind – typical British summer holiday weather, in fact!

The bus down was better than a “standard” bus – the seats were more like those of a coach and more comfortable, too.  It takes about an hour and a quarter (depending on traffic and number of stops and number of passengers).  The only excitement on the way down was when the driver had to break hard as a trailer in front “lost” two portaloos!  Don’t know how he would get them back on – and they spilt chemical as they landed on their sides, of course.  We didn’t wait to see.

The Lower Gardens

The Lower Gardens

I got off at The Square and walked through the Lower Gardens to the sea-front and pier.  First stop was the Information centre to pick up and up-to-date map.  Then it was time for a coffee – but looking at the weather that changed into a hot chocolate!

Cafe for a drink - not very busy as it was a bit damp!

Cafe for a drink – not very busy as it was a bit damp and cold!

I looked at the pier and the beach.  There were some brave (mad?) people in the water, but it wasn’t very enticing.

The pier - and people in the water!

The pier and beach.

So I decided to walk along the Undercliff to the lift.  None of the beach huts along there were open – what a surprise, considering the weather.

Beach huts along the Undercliff

Beach huts along the Undercliff

When I got to the lift I had a surprise – there had been a cliff fall so the lift was closed.  One of the rails is bent and it was very obviously not up to being used.  They are checking the stability of the cliff and have matting to help and say it will be at least 2 years before it can be repaired.

Damaged East Cliff lift

Damaged East Cliff lift

Instead I walked back a bit and up the zig-zag to the top and the Overcliff.

Half way up the zig-zag

Half way up the zig-zag

I then walked back along the East Overcliff Drive to the pier, stopping to look in the gardens of the Russell-Coates gallery.  As it was lunch time and I couldn’t be bothered to go into the town, I had lunch at the Oceanarium cafe.  When I came out the land-train was there but it wasn’t due to run for nearly an hour, so I walked westwards along the promenade to the west cliff lift.  There didn’t seem to be much sign of that working, either, so as it was very damp and misty and windy with no views I walked back to the Lower Gardens……

Lower Gardens

Lower Gardens

……and strolled through them (less misty and breezy) and across the bridge back to the bus.

Lower Gardens bridge

Lower Gardens bridge

There was a short wait for the bus – which became full of foreign students – and an uneventful journey home.

So was it a good day out?  Well, I have known better, but it did help me re-orientate myself to Bournemouth.  I will have to go again as I didn’t paddle or have an ice-cream – both compulsory for the sea-side, but it really wasn’t the day for either.  I might get off the bus at Boscombe next time and walk towards Southbourne.