Sorry that I have not updated in a while, I have been quite busy exploring both this country and another. Today’s post shall detail a day trip I had to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard while in the near future I shall bring Switzerland into the mix.
So, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. What can I say about this?
The Dockyard is very hard to explain. It is based on a functioning naval base and is just brimming with things to do. My first call of port was at the action station. The action station is probably one of the more high-tech areas of the Dockyard, being full of simulators, games, an infinite climbing wall, and a cinema. The film that played in the cinema basically provided the backdrop to everything else in the station. For a half hour piece, it managed to show all the areas that the navy entailed by incorporating said areas into a mission that one particular naval ship had to go on. The mission involved pirates, and while there were some more grown up themes to it (such as death) it was surprisingly good. Unfortunately it was on at irregular hours with no times up anywhere. Getting to see it seemed more based on luck than anything else. What made it more unfortunate was that all the games in the action station were based on aspects of the film. For instance in a landing game, you had to try to get a plane to land back on the naval ship as shown in the film. I quite like the way this tied everything together and gave the entire building more meaning.
After this, we went on a harbour tour. An hour-long boat ride around the naval base, it was freezing. Luckily the boat had two decks, one inside and one outside. I, being very clever, decided to spend most of the time on the outer deck, taking photographs. I think I managed to take around 100 photographs on during the time I was outside the boat, which did not even extend the entire hour. Other than the fact that the wind chilled you to the bone, the tour was very good. It provided a very good historical backdrop to the boats in port, as well as provided up to date information on the status of some of them, for instance the Ark Royale which has recently been scheduled for scrap (which really is unfortunate, it is a beautiful ship). One really excellent thing about this tour is that, due to the nature of the active port, it is always changing so that each time you come, it will be different.
Thirdly we went to explore the HMS Victory. This is a must for anyone going to the Dockyard. The Victory is a vital part of British history, for the simple fact that she was the ship that brought Britain victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, and she was the ship on which Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson died (though what a name, only made more awesome by the titles). As the world’s oldest commissioned warship, she is definitely something you have to visit. And boy is she beautiful. And giant. There is so much to see inside, you could easily spend hours there, exploring all the areas of the ship and imagining life on board.
Lastly, as we were running out of time, we went to see the ‘Les Miserables costume exhibition’. A fun fact for you all: The opening scenes from the Les Mis film, where Valjean is a prisoner, was filmed at the Dockyard. As a thank you, they got to put on an exhibition showing a few of the costumes worn in the film. This was particularly interesting for me as there was a video as well as descriptions of why costumes were designed they way they were, how they showed the stages in the character’s life as well as trying to be historically accurate.
I really wish I had more time there, as there is so much else to see. They are opening up the new Mary Rose museum this year which will be exciting to explore. For anyone interested, click the picture below to be taken the Dockyard’s website. I say it is well worth a visit. Even if there are certain failings in some places (but doesn’t everywhere have some of those?) Just be sure to visit on a nice day, or dress super warmly.