If I thought of Portsmouth in the past I would think ‘commercial port’ and I think the navy might use it as a base as well. It wasn’t on my radar to visit (except on route to France by ferry). We are just back from a week on coast in West Sussex near Chichester. We went with my mum and stayed in a lovely house with direct access to the beach via a gate in the garden. I pictured a week of digging sandcastles, jumping the waves and picnics on the beach. It didn’t quite turn out like that as it rained every day. We did manage one day on the beach in West Wittering and we did indeed build a sandcastle mermaid and run around in the shallow water.
On the other days we went to a butterfly garden (the children enjoyed it but it was a bit grotty), we took a little ferry over from Itchinor to Bosham (and then back again as we realised the walk from the little footpath where we were dropped oof to Bosham was a 45 minute walk and we didn’t think that Little T would make the round trip.
Then one day we decided to visit Portsmouth. We went to the Historic Dockyard and paid our entry. I think it was about £60 for us all to go (2 adults and 3 children) but I think it has to be one of the best places to visit with children. We started off with a harbour tour in the rain. This is obviously where I found out how wrong I was about Portsmouth. We passed so many war ships (although most of them seemed to be awaiting their fate or already decommissioned). You could see the Ark Royal, one of the newest warships as well as HMS Victory and HMS Warrier. It was very impressive and we all loved it.
We then went to take a look at HMS Warrier which was launched in 1860. She was the largest, fastest and most powerful warship in the world. HMS Warrior has been beautifully preserved and you can see what life was like for everyone on board from the trimmers, who shovelled coal to the furnace doors at the bottom of the ship, to the men who lived on the gun deck between the guns in groups of 18 where they ate, slept and relaxed. You could see the Officers’ and Captain’s Wardrooms as well as the Admiral’s day cabin and sleeping quarters.
We then went on to see HMS Victory. Obviously we visited them the wrong was round as we should have started with Victory (launched in 1765) and then seen how much progress had been made in 95 years. There is a lot to see on both boats and the children were a bit tired at this stage. HMS Victory is very impressive though and there is so much to see and it is the place where Admiral Lord Nelson died in 1805.
We could have seen more as we still had the Mary Rose Museum and the main museum on our ticket but everyone was tired so we made our way back to the holiday home. The ticket is valid for a year so we might try to pop back again to see the rest. Work was going on at a good pace on the Mary Rose which is due to be finished in December 2012.
The las morning of our holiday was blue sky and we had to be out the house by 10am! We had seen lots of interesting things though and also did lots of crafty things during the week. I taught 8yo how to knit again, we collected stones from the beach and decorated them with enamel paints, ran in and out of the sea and mum and I went out for supper one evening.
On the beach This is a video link of the kids on the beach running away from the waves and is very sweet.
We are going to Suffolk at the weekend to my sister’s new house so hoping the English weather will be kinder to us then!