Portsmouth: what’s the point?

Apart from it being the largest place in the UK I hadn’t visited up to this moment, why was I even here? Is there a point to Portsmouth?

Porstmouth Point sign

Well, I guess if you like boats it’s okay. On first impressions, the parts worth visiting have got harbour and dockyard written all over them; but what’s with the local sailor types dangling over the yardarms singing sea shanty’s?

Singing sailors

The word to keep at the forefront of your mind is ‘old’, as the aquatic warblers in the picture above are sailing into the harbour passed Old Portsmouth (where you will also see the aforementioned Portsmouth Point plaque). But, if you want a linguistic upgrade, this is definitely the place to try out ‘historic’.

The Historic Dockyards may well be the point of Portsmouth these days; catering to all manner of oldy boaty stuff. If you lament the loss of the British Empire, (or simply want to indulge some Brexit style Euro hatred), then HMS Victory will transport your imagination back to times when good old Blighty ruled the waves (with balls to the French, and all that kind of malarkey)…

HMS Victory [10]

HMS Victory [8]

Then again, if your passion is for doing creative things with leftover damp pieces of wood from the times of Henry VIII, try out the stunning Mary Rose exhibition…

 

 

 

 

For those who flunked in their woodwork skills, but prefer a bit of heavy metal, HMS Warrior 1860 has you covered. There is nothing like seeing a steam driven warship that never fired a single shot in anger for bringing out the pacifist in you! Come to think of it, the macrame specialists amongst you may even get some inspiration regarding what to do with all that surplus rope you meant to throw over the garden wall under the cover of darkness…

Moored aptly just outside of the historic dockyard is a 21st century wonder… a brand new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, with not an aircraft in sight! A great hunk of gun grey metal sits quietly representing Britain’s threat to the world. Just you wait Johnny Foreigner, as soon as we get out of Europe we will scare the world into signing free trade deals with us; or else we will recall the glorious ghost of Lord Palmerston!

Once you have exhausted yourselves spending a day around the historic dockyard, Portsmouth is not short on Historic Dickyards either! Wonderfully inviting port-side pubs simply ooze character and charm… but beware, the charm usually stops at the facade, because if you like your characters drunk and falling backwards off bar stools at 9.30pm, then this is the place for you…

Ship Anson at night [1]

At night [3]

Those of you who have managed to remain transfixed so far by this travelogue may well have just seen a glimpse of the point of Portsmouth! Just about anywhere you go near the waterside, you can’t help but see the spiky pointy thing…

And the point of Portsmouth has even been known to have a little added spice, particularly for those interested in mutual tonsil polishing!

At night [1]

If you don’t mind a bit of elevation, the views from the top can even help you plan your itinerary…

20170830_152429

20170830_153015

Until we speak again, this sea-faring extravaganza has just reminded me that the oldies are still good; for example, what is brown and steaming and comes out of the back end of Cowes? No, behave…

IOW Ferry sign

That’s the Isle of Wight ferry for the uninitiated.

Advertisements

Assault by noodles!

Is it a cafe or is it a pub? Only one way to find out I guess…

The Ship & Castle in Portsmouth is a quirky place, to be sure. Situated directly opposite the main gate to the Historic Dockyard, you would expect something nautical and historical to inform its character and ambience, wouldn’t you? Well, you get something that is long and narrow, maybe that’s like a boat, I suppose?  Then there is the rope tightly wound around the base of a couple of metal pillars… exponents of sailing paraphernalia may genuflect with respect…

Ship and Castle [5]

So, I decided I would go for the fish-like part of the menu, so I could at least pretend to myself that I was eating in the historic heart of nautical England.

Ship and Castle [4]

The Teriyaki Salmon and Roasted Vegetables were cooked to ensure scurvy would be far from any landlubbers mind. But, beware the crispy noodles! You can’t eat them whole, but when you try to cut them with traditional eating irons, they ping everywhere. The experience of being assaulted by your own food was not listed on the menu, but adds a worthy distraction from the watery thin Young’s London Gold liquid accompaniment.

Ship and Castle [3]

Until we speak again, there might well have been a backdrop of an old metal anchor outside the window, but look elsewhere if you want authentic nautical history infusing your your choice of vittles.

‘Titanic’ for dinner, anyone?

A trip to Belfast shouldn’t induce any kind of sinking feeling, even when you are greeted with a sign that could easily be directing you to some dismal place at the bottom of the Atlantic

Road sign

There is a distinct landmark offered by the twin cranes, Samson and Goliath, of Harland and Wolff providing a beacon to draw you towards the location where the Titanic was built (even when gazing out of the hotel window).

However, these are a relatively modern monument to past industrial glory (circa 1969). Back in the day, the Titanic was built in a backdrop of harsher times, and the following pictures contrast a vision of the early 20th century with the present day exact location of its construction (actually marked out in detail on the ground)…

In a world where everything that is rooted to the spot can now be classified as a museum, to something or another, the Titanic has been commemorated by a particularly spectacular building, where every dimension and use of materials symbolises something about the original short-lived icon…

Museum building [1]

Museum building [3]

But, what about that dinner? Well, you could try the Bistro in the museum itself. My time was limited so I sampled the wares of the sleekly designed Premier Inn hotel. After all, some of us are visiting Belfast for work purposes you know (with a wonderful welcome from the Belfast Home Treatment Team)!

Premier Inn

Here, a Sirloin Steak can be adequately complemented by a glass of a Malbec Reserva. Just remember, when your waitress asks if you would like water with it, the reply is ‘NO ICE’!

Premier Inn steak

Until we speak again, you surely didn’t expect a carnivorous cat to ask for a vegetarian steak, did you!? For the record, unlike on that horrendous day in April 1912, only one animal suffered in the making of this blog post.

Death in the Sun

Is it the sun or is it the moon? How am I supposed to know, after all this is Lancaster, and I am merely a cat from Cardiff!

sun-at-night-sign

A view from a different perspective confirms it is the sun, but not as astronomical scholars know it. This is Lancaster, a place of history, sandstone architecture; and it’s cold and dark so time to find out what else this historical place has to offer travelling cats.

sun-at-night-outside-view

What will greet the inquisitive traveller to this promised source of light and heat? Why, death of course!

Dead cow

sirloin-steak

Dead pig

full-english-breakfast

Dead lamb

lamb-steak

Vegetarian deadly options are available, but this being the north of England, a mere southerner cat from Wales would hardly want to invite a scourge of ridicule by even enquiring of such things. This is a place where Lancaster Blondes are apparently smooth and tasty temptations for the unsuspecting weary traveller…

sun-bar-3

 

 

 

 

 

lancaster-blonde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When daylight dawns there really is an abundance of old sandstone to navigate and cast an architectural eye over.

The good folk of Yorkshire might well lay claim to their county town of York being far better known; but the rival Lancashire has a county town well worth exploring, full of interesting knocks and crannies.

Until we speak again I can fondly remember a couple of ex-cats who would have gratefully ignored any architectural indulgence in favour of exploring death in a bowl! Juno and Bella always wore an indignant look when it came to food choice!

cat-matecall-this-food

Gothic cats

It was late one night… ‘after pub closing’ late at night; which might just help to explain the odd personal reflections on the stagger home! There looming like a gothic image, in the light of the full moon, was St Johns Church in the centre of Cardiff.

night-2

This place has some history when it comes to looming over weary travellers, whether on their way to the pub or on their way home…

old-cardiff-pic-2

It stands majestic, flanked by foliage with a brilliant crown piercing an inky black sky. A bit like me when the beer has given way to Jameson’s, which in turn gives way to instability of gait, and flight of thought…

night-6

x-ray-eyes

 

 

Talking of inky black and piercing… Until we speak again, I remember that Juno had her way of seeing right through my alcohol driven ramblings!

History explained

Stonehenge is a world-renowned heritage site, located in Wiltshire in south-west England. But it is Wales that lays claim to be the source of the historic stones. Could it be that Cardiff provides a source of evidence for this longstanding claim?

Combining an artistic frame for historic contemplation, this location deep in Bute Park, offers any cat with an interest in such things an opportunity for peace and serenity.

contemplation-in-bute-park

chilling-in-the-sun

 

 

Talking of peace and serenity, Bella always had a sixth sense for such things. Until we speak again, remember history is just a thing of the past!

What’s wrong with the old?

You talking to me?Juno never did seem to mind sharing her living space with what she would occasional refer to as an ‘old git’ (as long as she was fed to order, and everyone present fully respected her generosity in sharing HER home). But then her sprightly demeanour belied a substantial number of cat’s years (but beware never to ask a lady her age!).

She was also a secretly avid inquirer into the state of contemporary architecture and the ebbing and flowing trends between conservation and speculation. She always seemed content with her move from the Victorian terraced splendour of London to the relative modernity of docklands regeneration in Cardiff. But, she would occasionally suggest to me, as the cooler of cats have a tendency to do, that the race to build empty new offices to the detriment of the existing architectural gems was a tad out of balance (though I’m not entirely sure that ‘tad’ was one of her preferred turns of phrase).

“Where is your evidence for such assertions?” I would remonstrate. To which she would less than politely retort “Try walking around the place with your eyes open, specky!” She had a point… about the architecture that is, not about me! Just take a look at what’s up in the so-called Capital Quarter these days…

New offices

Right next to the newest largely empty office building is the erection of, you guessed it, another soon to be largely empty office building; with a crane out of view to the left starting on the foundations for… drum roll… another largely to be empty office building! Better than the previous derelict land, some might say; but the best productive use of such land? Guess who got to decide on that conundrum, the landowners & property developers or the creative locally knowledgeable minds of the indigenous folk?

What the world really needs now is more of the blandly cold looking accumulations of glass and steel that will be completely out of bounds to the vast majority of people living in the local area. Meanwhile, a mile down the road, we get to see the stranger side of the coin, as buildings that could surely outlast the current soulless edifices under construction receive treatment of a very different variety…

IMAG1298

While even more grand old edifices remain in a derelict condition, instead of receiving the attention that would restore their iconic visage…

IMAG1326

We seem to have developed an aesthetic ability to allow perfectly functioning historic buildings of architectural interest to rot to a point where more clamour mounts to have them bull-dozed. Then seemingly replaced by something altogether shiny but more flimsy and of a lesser potential lifespan. Juno would occasionally imply that these old buildings, even in their run down state of deliberate neglect, are far more visually interesting than the newer upstarts (or at least that is how I chose to interpret her meow responses when I was talking about architecture to her!). But then I would expect nothing less from a beautiful cat!

Until we speak again examine your own reflections on the possibilities of restoring the majesty of what we already have, before we rush to over-populate the built environment with a myriad of bland lookalike boxes (or don’t… however the mood takes you).