Crusing into Phase Three of our UK trip

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Published: September 20th 2023

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Remnants of Henry VIII's timeRemnants of Henry VIII's timeRemnants of Henry VIII’s time


This was one of Henry’s defensive forts against the French and Spanish

Boy, did it ever feel good to get out of our stateroom, nice as it was. Even though the day after Dianne’s visit to Newcastle was an “at sea” day, at least I got to walk around the ship, visit the library/games room and stop at the ice cream stand. I was glad to have this day to rebuild my energy. It is amazing how tiring doing nothing can be.

Portland

One of the things I found strange was that even though the ship often docked in a port so we didn’t have to tender to shore, we often had to get on shuttle buses to get away from the ship because these are active port areas and they don’t want people milling about. There is a free shuttle bus that takes you to The Castle on Portland or to Weymouth, a resort on the mainland. Portland is a tied island. Google that and you may find more information than you want.

We got off the bus at The Castle and there was a mild panic because the sign said Closed. We were able to assure folks that it was OK, it didn’t open until 10:00 and it

Too much information?Too much information?Too much information?


Love the information signs provided at the Castle on Portland.

was only 9:40. Helps to read up on the sites you are going to visit (yes, Dianne does that). There was a small group standing around the bus stop talking to a couple of locals (they were obviously locals they had a dog). We chatted with them for about 20 minutes while the dog patiently waited to continue. They gave us lots of tips for a nice walkabout then a great place for cappuccinos.

Everything went according to plan and it turned out the coffee shop was right across the street from the D-Day Museum. Portland Island is directly north of the Normandy landing beaches and an obvious spot to build up your forces for an invasion. The Normandy landings are well known and, even though we had watched a presentation about D-Day on the ship, I had never given much thought to the build-up to it. Portland was a major staging point for the American launching point.

The museum was an incredible place to visit. They had all kinds of exhibits, posters, hands on equipment and volunteers. They had a soundtrack playing that gave you a bit of a feel for what it must have been like

A tied islandA tied islandA tied island


From the top of the hill on our walkabout, you can see the causeway that “ties” Portland Island to Weymouth on the mainland.

back in early 1944. You could sit in a Sherman tank, various trucks, anti-aircraft guns; they encouraged it, no signs saying Please Keep Off. I found it extremely interesting.

At the entrance there was a list of several hundred names of American soldiers who had gone through this area and what happened to them. You were encouraged to draw a name from a barrel and check the list to see what happened to your soldier. I wasn’t going to do it, but we had chatted with a very nice volunteer who pulled a couple of names for us. I couldn’t believe how emotional an experience it was to find out “my guy” had been killed in action.

The Castle was a bit lower key. One of Henry VIII’s defensive structures from the 1500s it was well preserved. You could almost imagine being one of the defenders.

To get back to the ship, we could get on the shuttle and be back in no time. Or we could get on the shuttle that went into Weymouth. Why not? It’s free and a double decker bus. When it stopped in Weymouth and everyone else got off, we got one

Historical postersHistorical postersHistorical posters


Loved the posters from back in the day. Like the ones on Guernsey, it helped make us “kids” aware of what our parents’ generation went through.

of the front seats in the upper deck for a great view on the way back to the ship. Our own version of a Hop On, Hop Off tour bus.

Disembarkation

All the bills are settled electronically, and the required disembarkation information had been delivered to our room. Everyone had to be off the ship by 9:00 (they have a cruise leaving that afternoon). Your luggage had to be outside your room by 10:00 pm so they could collect it and have it ready for you on shore the next morning. Luckily, we do our own bags so, after an early breakfast, we think we were the first ones off the ship. We sailed past row upon row of bags lined up for pickup. I would hate to have to deal with that. We cabbed to the train station and were sipping our cappuccinos before most of the travellers had their bags. It was painless.

Winchester

It’s a short train ride from Southampton to Winchester, the first stop on Part Three of our UK trip. As usual, Dianne had selected a great place to stay: close to the train station, well located for visiting the town

Hands-on equipment at the D-Day centreHands-on equipment at the D-Day centreHands-on equipment at the D-Day centre


Tanks, trucks, AA guns etc. Very popular with the kids and the kids at heart

and nice people. Sarah and Colin welcomed us on our arrival with a nice coffee break and discussion about what to see in Winchester.

As is our custom, the first day was spent walking around town. Winchester is a great town for walking. Everything seemed to branch off High Street which happened to be the street where we were living. We love walking along English rivers.

Winchester – St Cross

Our first full day was going to combine our love of river and our interest in old churches. We walked the river trail to St. Cross Almshouse. There are many almshouses still in existence. At St Cross they still have about 20 men living in a section of the grounds we were visiting. Most are elderly (whatever that means). The church was one of the nicest I have seen in our travels anywhere. Not too big, not too ornate, just right. We toured the grounds and the graveyard and visited the tearoom. I went back into the ticket office to ask a question and the porter said “you better sit down”. She was hilarious and very informative. A great place to visit. We had hiked a long

Alfred the GreatAlfred the GreatAlfred the Great


King in the 800s. Pretty popular guy in this area.

way, so we took the shorter path back to town. Busy street but a shorter way home.

More Winchester

Sunday was a quiet day. Church plus some time in the local library getting caught up on a few things. It’s nice to have a day occasionally where you aren’t always on the go. Especially when your host couple invites you to Sunday dinner. Bonus!

On Monday, we made up for our quiet Sunday by demonstrating how walkable Winchester is. We did a long walk along the river to Winnall Moors. The river isn’t wide or deep, but it is full of wildlife and very pleasant to walk along. For a change of pace, we headed over to the Great Hall (after cappuccinos, of course) which was a great castle started by William the Conqueror in 1067 but the Hall is all that is left. It is amazing that anything was left after the Civil War and Oliver Cromwell.

Next to the Hall are the Military museums. There were at least 5 of them. One was the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum. Any fan of Bernard Cornwell’s series would have to choose this one. It included a

Cathedral gardensCathedral gardensCathedral gardens


Lots of gardens with lots of niches for sitting around relaxing in the shade. It was pretty warm.

huge diorama describing the Battle of Waterloo with lights, sounds and 20,000 little figures. They said each figure represented nine participants. It was incredible. The sad part was to see just how many campaigns were fought between the American Revolutionary Wars and today’s campaigns.

We continued our walkabout marvelling at how you could see buildings built in different centuries starting around 1066 and continuing into the 1900s. Wolvesly Castle started in 1106 but now is just ruins. The buildings around Peninsula Square were built in the 1800s to honor the victors in the Peninsula Campaign against the French and are still used as private residences.

Even more Winchester

And to think we haven’t toured Winchester Cathedral yet. My knowledge of the Cathedral may have been limited to the Petula Clark song from years ago but the tour certainly straightened me out. It is a magnificent building. We also managed to fit in the City Museum, the Winchester College Treasury and Winchester College itself.

Off to Brighton

We have heard lots about Brighton and it is often referred to in British TV shows we watch. Holiday resorts are not really our thing but we are practically

Winchester CathedralWinchester CathedralWinchester Cathedral


Our first real view of it. We saw it from many angles, many times.

in the area, so it is on our agenda. ToBeContinued.






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