Last weekend was the Druid Gorsedd (more about that later) which was held in Wickham, a village just outside Portsmouth. I was in two minds about attending, because I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable driving all that way myself and the train journey seemed convoluted and expensive. Mr Stoatie came to the rescue by offering to drive me down in the camper and stay over by himself for a couple of nights, in order to drive me back again.
We went down on the Thursday so we could have a day together before the Gorsedd began on Friday tea time. There were quite a few campsites in the area but when we started ringing round the nearest ones were fully booked and so we ended up on a site in the New Forest. It looked pretty dreary when we arrived but I expect it is lovely in the summer when the trees are in leaf. Without the dogs we could stay in the wildlife area by a large pond which was home to some really noisy canada geese and a few mallards. We had a torch lit walk down to the local pub for our evening meal which Mr Stoatie had told me was half a mile a way but which seemed a lot longer in the dark.
On the Friday we went into Portsmouth to visit the Historic Dockyard. We had an interesting time trying to find a car park with no height restriction and at one point had to reverse off a ramp when we realised it would be a bit of a squeeze. In the end we managed to park on the road side about a hundred metres from the entrance to the Dockyard which couldn’t have worked out better.
It was a drizzly cold day so we decided to miss the harbour tour, which is included in the admission price, and instead concentrate on seeing Victory. About fifteen years ago I had a spate of reading historical fiction, and in particular the naval series set during the Napoleonic Wars. For some reason there are loads of these and I managed to find and read my way through quite a few of them (at least 75+ books) – I must confess I wouldn’t mind re reading them now I’ve seen a 78 gun in the flesh, but sadly all but the O’Brien’s were sent to the charity shop in the second or third ‘great purge’ *sigh*
We had a great time exploring the ship and it really brought the books to life. Unfortunately her masts have been stored while she undergoes her latest renovation but I managed to get a picture of her in her full glory from the information board (you can see how wet it was from the raindrops!) There is a museum nearby which has a lot more Napoleonic Naval and in particular Nelson exhibits which is well worth a visit.
Lessons learned from this trip …. if you are pitched near geese, check your shoes for poo when you get back in the van. Try and find a suitable car park before you drive into town, and remind your other half to check what he is throwing in the bin before he moves off. We carefully carried home a carrier bag of rubbish, while the bag containing 15 quid of groceries were slung in the bin at the campsite 😦