2005-12-19: Portsmouth

Games Workshop, Basingstoke

This weekend saw a return to Edyta works, I laze, then we both rush about under stress of time and travel on Sunday. Sunday began early, then predictably ran late as we missed the first train because we had to walk because buses don't run that early.That's good, because if we had caught the bus we would have missed the walk through the freezing cold morning. Then we caught the next train, the one that leaves after buses are running. Then at Basingstoke we were forced to take a 40 minute stop over waiting for the connecting train to Portsmouth. Edyta was tired and not happy at all at this stage but decided it would be better to follow my advice and walk around the town a little bit. This was lucky, as it cheered her up. We walked out of the train station and into a massive shopping centre. The place was huge! We got from one end to the other and back into a shopping alleyway and the cold. I was heading us up along the path when Edyta stopped and dragged me back. There in an alley was was a Games Workshop. Photo number one for the day done then. At the end of the mall was a market. The meat vendors didn't even need ice this morning. On the way back to the train we stopped in to a church for a brief look (while the congregation was still gathering, god those churchy types love seeing a fresh face in on a Sunday morning).

We got back for our connector to Portsmouth. This was a train that went in two directions and split at some station. We didn't know where the split was or when. We figured this out, partly from Edyta asking people, and the rest from announcements. I was stressing a bit (by now we all know how much I love trains that don't just go straight from A to B). When we were headed in the right direction I relaxed.

A merry Victory Christmas

The train eventually got into Portsmouth at about 11am. So half the days light had been and gone by then. We got off at the last stop and headed towards the old ship masts. We paid the expensive price of a ticket to visit the HMS Victory. The ship was still in pretty good nick and if left to wander the lower decks by yourself you could easily get lost (especially at the front where the powder was stored). The tour was aimed a bit towards the kids. From an adults point of view it was good hearing where the expressions "Let the cat out", "Not enough room to swing a cat" and others came from. It was also interesting to hear that good old Nelson, after engineering the victory of Trafalgar was ceremoniously stored in a casket of brandy to preserve him on the return journey to England. Edyta got to learn there was a Battle of Trafalgar and a Vice-Admiral Nelson.

Edyta enjoys all of our sandwhich.

The tour also included entry into some museums. I would've skipped the museums because of time but Edyta said we had paid for it so we may as well go in. Just as well, for otherwise I would have missed out on some excellent dioramas (what war games to these people play? I'd love to see their table). There was also an interactive movie display that was a bit cheesy. It was also involved moving, much to Edyta's disgust as she had just taken off her shoes to relax during the movie we thought lasted 15 minutes but only went for a couple before we had to walk to another section - and quickly or we'd be shut in where we were.

The tower of Portsmouth, looking like a big pointy thing

Once we were done with the naval yard we went looking for other items of interest in Portsmouth. A large spinnaker shaped tower caught our attention so we headed to that. First we had to get past the train station/ferry port. Two weekends in a row where a big port has got in our way. After a few starts in the wrong direction we found a tunnel that lead into some shops and to the base of the tower. There was a glass elevator on the side but it was out of order so we had to go to the top in the sardine lift (it opened at two ends, the people entering from one end got to push the people in it out the other end). The top of the tower was 110 metres high and neither of us could remember if it was taller than the Eiffel Tower. It wasn't as impressive. At the 100 metre mark there was a large glass floor you could walk over but it was covered in kids and hard to see the drop underneath it because of them.

The end of the daylight saw us having late lunch/early tea and then wandering the last few shops till darkness came. We moved from the quay through a park with the standard cage of various cute animals to make Edyta smile. We pointed out each of the gazillion guinea pigs in the cage and also looked at the rabbits. Edyta is now ready to move on from rats to guinea pigs (which I guess will hold her over till babies start popping out). The next set of shops in the town centre were all shutting by the time we got there. The British just don't know how to do shopping. One week before Christmas and Sunday trading was still 11am to 4pm.


With nothing else to do we caught a train. Well, we ran for a train as I saw the train we wanted (although Edyta couldn't figure out it was the one we needed and wanted to ask someone, which would've missed us the train). This train changed to another were we got to sit in a waiting room full of baby scout kiddies doing some sort of circling the poor old lady sitting on a seat. From the train we managed to get a bus back to home and had an early night (which was needed given Edyta had to start work at 7am the following morning).

Saturday had revealed to me one of Readings hidden treasures. There was a store that had an inflatable Dalek inside it, except it was never quite fully inflated leaving the nose and arms droopy and making it a sad Dalek indeed. I'd figured it was just some book store like W.H. Smith (a newsagent chain). In fact it was a store full of Manga, Anime figures, Doctor Who toys and even a good collection of D&D and White Wolf role-playing games. Unlike normal stores of this type though it felt clean and airy, not crowded, dark and full of scary looking youths with painful piercings.