Join My Newsletter

Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

My amazing, PhD-seeking, incredible daughter had to go to Portsmouth in the UK for a conference about designing women’s sportwear. In case you don’t know, she’s working on a new body armor design for women warriors. They currently wear the men’s and as you can well imagine, it doesn’t fit very well. Let’s all wish her the best in finding a better way to protect the women who protect the rest of us.

Back to my story…Daughter’s hubby couldn’t accompany her due to a scheduling conflict so guess who she called? Me! I don’t mind being second choice. Hubby gave his hearty approval for me to go so off I went. We flew separately into Heathrow Airport, our planes landing within 20 minutes of each other in different terminals. If you’ve never been to Heathrow, the place is massive, but she found me!

After an uncomfortable, crowded train ride to Portsmouth, we disembarked and found it to be a lovely coastal town. The Atlantic Ocean laps at the warships and yachts anchored there. We stayed in Gunwharf Quay next to a great shopping area with lots of restaurants. Perfect! If only I could stay awake. Daughter got up early and went off to her conference and left me sleeping all morning. There’s seven hours difference between there and home which was enough to mess up my sleeping routine. Once I forced myself out of bed at noon (five a.m. at home), I went exploring.

I got a taxi for a ride to the D-Day Museum. I told the driver that what I really wanted was someone who could take me around and show me the historical spots in town. He told me he had time if I did. He first took me to the Square Tower, built in 1494 by Henry VII to help fortify the port. It was used as a governor’s house, a powder magazine, a store house, and finally a prison for those being sent to Australia. In 1587, the colonists that settled in Roanoke, Virgina left from Portsmouth. That colony had the first English baby in the new land, Virginia Dare, and was later “lost” meaning they disappeared and no one has figured out what happened to them.

Near the Square Tower is a monument to those who served in the Falklands War in 1982.

Next, he took me by an old church that reminded me of some of the courthouses in Texas. We also drove by Royal Garrison Church, built in 1212, that is still standing and partly used, but half of it is in ruins due to the Luftwaffe bombings in 1941. I would have loved to walk through the very old graveyard, but we didn’t take time for that. He was a very good guide, telling me stories, and letting me get out and explore a little. He even went along when I went inside the Square Tower and along the seawall. He must have turned the meter off because the ride didn’t cost all that much.

At the D-Day Museum, I learned part of the D-Day forces gathered in Portsmouth before the invasion. The bad weather had a huge impact on when the invasion occurred, and the troops got restless waiting for the word. The museum is a great one, and very interesting videos and recordings help make the day real for us who weren’t alive yet.

Behind the D-Day Museum is Southseas Castle build by Henry VIII in 1544. It was used as a military fortress until 1960, and now can be rented for concerts and weddings. I through the courtyard, into the gift shops inside, and along the walls which had a good view of the ocean.

The next afternoon, I visited a museum dedicated to the wreck of Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose. It sank in the quay during a battle with the French navy in 1545 while Henry watched from Southseas Castle. He probably wasn’t too thrilled since he paid for it out of his own pocket. In the 1980s, divers found that half of the ship had been preserved in the mud at the bottom. The exposed half had rotted away. During the excavations and bringing what was left of the ship, they found perfectly preserved cabins, personal effects, and equipment inside the wreckage. It is the best collection of 16th century life anywhere. They even found skeletons of the crew. Of the 400 people on board, only 35 survived the shipwreck. The museum is truly amazing. The wreckage is preserved inside a climate-controlled, three-story room. You see it through a glass, but on the third floor, you can go through an airlock and be in the same room with it. The displays of what they found inside the wreckage includes trunks and boxes of the sailors which still held their personal belongings.

I really enjoyed my time in Portsmouth although I didn’t get to the Isle of Wight like I wanted. With sleeping all morning (I couldn’t help it) and only two days, I couldn’t squeeze it in. People were very nice, the food was good, and the shopping was outstanding. I didn’t spend much but did buy my one souvenir there: a necklace. If you get a chance to go, do it.

Next week: our tours of London.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *