How many times has my mate John Gifford made the observation that when I leave somewhere in the world a disaster raises its ugly head there. Unfortunately the trend was set to continue as Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging lost his life only a few short yards from Parley Court Farm, a scene I had visited just 3 days ago. I have phoned my friends the Dampney's, who own the property, to find that they and theirs are all OK. This post is dedicated to Flight Lieutenant Egging and his Family.
Today has been packed full of nostalgia for both myself and Huck as we embarked on a trip to Pompey (Portsmouth) at one time our Maritime Home. Despite a few drops of the 'wet stuff' en-route there was nothing to detract from the amazing scenery that is this part of Hampshire. Having passed a few familiar landmarks on our way into the city, the first chance of a photograph was as we waited for the traffic lights just outside of what was (and maybe still is) the Wardroom (Officer's Mess) at the Royal Naval Barracks HMS Nelson. Once named HMS Victory, both of us were discharged from the Navy through its gates, and I was for a short while a Galley Rat (dog's body and washer up) in this building.
Once parked we headed for The Hard the thoroughfare running along the edge of Portsmouth Harbour affording us our first look at HMS Warrior, the first Iron Clad Warship in the Royal Navy.The ornate Figure Head of Poseidon
and the Port, Forward Anchor Arrangement
and a look at the Gosport Ferry that had taken us backwards and forwards across the harbour on many, many 'runs ashore'.
Down aft we found the Multi-directional Canon
while below one of three Gun Decks opened to us.
and close by Small Arms Quartermaster William (Knocker) White treated some of us to a magical demonstration of the smaller weapons carried on this mighty vessel.
We took a long pause at this gun mainly to look at the rack of Enfield Flint-Lock Rifles that Knocker had already described to us.
The Wardroom was laid for dinner
It was now time for lunch, and what better place than even more familiar surrounding one of the pubs we used frequently in the 1960's as a 'watering hole'. Changes here too included the amalgamation of what used to be 2 pubs, the building on the left having always been the Ship Anson while the other was once the King & Queen. PS thoroughly recommended.
Back inside the Naval Base we admired what was an exhibition of Morgan Sports Cars, of all vintages,
while from this vantage point we were able to view the new Stealth Destroyer HMS Daring these days a familiar sight along the Dorset coast. Probably an indictment to successive governments, that this was the only commissioned warship in the whole Base. We reminisced that in our day (yes, go on swing the lantern) all berths would hold vessels 3 abreast.
but unfortunately she has been closed to visitor for the last 2 years while works take place. Unfortunately again, we didn't find out the date of the opening of the new home.
There were more Morgans close to HMS Victory, and we did visit the ship, but time is running out so that side of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.
There was time to pop into the Museum to take a look at the Beira Bucket which in Royal Naval circle is steeped in legend and tales of the sea. An old, galvanised bucket became iconic during the times when at least one RN warship was stationed at the mouth of the Mozambique Channel to prevent oil tankers running a blockade preventing fuel reaching Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Their Premier Ian Smith and Prime Minister Harold Wilson's met aboard HMS Tiger in the Mediterranean to resolve the matter while warships changing duties passed the Bucket from ship to ship. We had our turn on HMS Eskimo but couldn't see the name painted on its surface.
Finally, Huck and I posed beside one of the old Field Guns which were use in the traditional Field Gun Crew tournaments at Earls Court, London.
Back in the mid-60's Huck and I used to train with the Field Gun Crew (but never 'ran' with them) event which had the team dismantling a Field Gun, transporting it over a chasm and re-assembling it on the other side. The depiction behind us is of the team member known as The Flying Angel who's task it was to transport the carriage wheels. Memories indeed!