Clean Slate doctor-free PHD

Yesterday there was an update to Adobe Slate, my blogging software of choice these days. Suitably excited by my newly gained ability to correct typos using a web browser, I immediately took today off and arranged to do something of vague interest that would warrant a test-drive.

OK, so that's not entirely true. Perhaps I already had today booked off to get over the exertions of being an audience member at a grindcore/death metal show. And perhaps that dovetailed nicely with Helen having a day off between finishing one role and starting a new one at her work. And perhaps this gave us the perfect excuse to nip down to Portsmouth and pick up the annual ticket for the historic dockyard, which we bought back in August off Amazon Local (which now seems to be closing down; shame).

No manic early start required; we weren't particularly planning on doing much, it's just that the voucher runs out in late December. So since Helen wanted a lie-in and I was, as expected, hungover and exhausted, we didn't even meet in Surbiton until midday. Ravenous both, a healthy* Gregg's lunch was purchased and I filled out my freebie South West Trains tickets so we didn't have to pay for transport. 1230 to Woking, 1257 to Portsmouth Harbour. SWT are a very reliable train operator, y'know. The journey consisted of a huge brain dump about Helen's past and future work, punctuated by cattle breed trivia and my inability to claim "laughing cow" as legitimate. Also the beautiful lack of irony in a group of communists deciding to call themselves "left unity" when forming a splinter group.

We popped into Portsmouth back in June and Helen had been pleasantly surprised by the locality. So it's with great schadenforeman delight that today we emerged next to a building site, in bleak grey weather, with our view largely comprising two horrid 1950s tower blocks. But there was "The Hard Dock Cafe" to cheer us up. Some young lad was trying to make observational humour by asking what "light refreshments" meant, and what's a "heavy refreshment", but he kinda killed his own joke by saying "I guess full meals. Yeah."

Thankfully Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (PHD) is just a few steps away and after noticing the counter terrorism threat level said "elevated", we exchanged our voucher for real tickets, being served by an aggressive lass who tried to sell us the £6.50 guide book and begrudgingly handed us a free map when we refused.


But then, we were in! By now it's already 2:30pm and we're mostly concerned about visiting the Mary Rose before it shuts next month to be made much better in 2016. But first, a loo break and trip into shop number one, "Nauticalia", vendors of fake cats, interesting hats, and a bottle of rum for £610. Then past the small boats you can drive round an obstacle course and into shop number two which was nondescript enough that I can't remember what it sold. Boat stuff, probably.

A quick look at M33, on which a kid was moving the searchlight around and I thought, wow, that's cool you can do that. Let's queue up and go on it...and then a member of staff shouted at the kid and told them to stop, and get off the boat. Well OK then.

Not knowing the first slice of fuck all about anything, and not consulting the map at all, we wander around the perimeter of HMS Victory thinking it's the Mary Rose, which it isn't. And then we queue up to go in, getting a small briefing from an exuberant woman who tells us some of the middle deck is being refurbished and that we can't take flash photos. She also hands us a piece of paper telling us about how dangerous it is and how PHD won't be held responsible if we get injured or die.

Cannon and Ball. Rock on, Tommy.

Victory is fantastic. I learnt a bunch of things.

  • they had 400+ men on each deck
  • they had to shit next to cannons
  • some of the cannonballs were 68lb
  • everyone was really short back in the day

Seriously, they must have been tiny. All the doors and ceilings were so low even my 5'9 self had to stoop for most of the tour.

Nelson got to eat in a nice place, at least.

Look at the size of that saw!

And then, hello Mary Rose. I remember this being big news back when I was a nipper, but no details. So it's this old ship, built for Hank 8 in the 1500s, and it sank because, I dunno, it lost a battle or something? Honestly after the Henry VIII intro we basically didn't stop at any of the displays because there were people and kids everywhere. Apparently the serendipity of our days off didn't extend to us managing to visit an educational museum on outside of half term. Damn it.

Cracking interesting stuff though. The story of its discovery and salvage and ongoing restoration seems fascinating, and I did at least learn that they had 315,000 litres of beer on board for two weeks supply because everyone was rationed a gallon a day. A gallon of beer a day! There are loads of windows through which you can peer at the actual original hull in the centre of the museum and it's all fascinating. So we left and went through the shop and then headed towards the exit, via another shop.


This last shop was definitely a shop and not a museum. The antiques are for sale and you're implored by a sign on the door to only go in if you're intending to buy antiques or collectibles. So we wandered around gawping at all the fantastic stuff on sale. Old matchbox cars now sell for £25 a pop. There are military medals and swords and suits of armour and shitloads of guns and model boats and uniforms and action man toys and meccano trains and loads of stuff. No photos. Boo. Also, everything cool was really expensive. Boo two.

So long, Horatio.

FINALLY we leave, after, like, 70 minutes or so. Quite surprised we fitted so much in tbh. And now we can go back any time in the next 12 months for free, woohoo. On the way out I wanted a photo of the elevated terrorism risk but there were now two coppers stood by it, armed to the fucking teeth. Think I'll leave it...

Next on the agenda was a trip to Southsea to collect pebbles, but not before that slight diversion of what promises to be a fossil exhibition, out on the main drag. It's called the Genesis Expo but we don't twig until we're inside that this is an exhibition - full of actual genuine interesting fossils - which tells visitors that fossils, right, they explain about 5% of jack shit ... and the reason they can't is because God.

Yes, we'd stumbled into a creationist museum. Holy shit indeed.

I want to go back, as for some reason I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as I am now enthusiastic about the place. There are 15p printed pamphlets teaching you how the biblical flood really happened and stuff. There's a video to watch. And downstairs there's a shop chock full of bible DVDs and other proof that God God God God God.

Anyway, back outside and waiting for a bus next to the scrotes by the bookies. There is supposedly a bus every 10 minutes and it probably takes about that long for a number 1 to turn up, which crawls slowly to Southsea South Parade pier.

It's fucking fantastic. The pier is desolate and derelict and boarded up, although maintenance crews are working on it. It looks magnificent. Opposite is a worryingly blue hotel, occupied seemingly only by women over 65. And all along the coast is a long pebble beach, which is perfect because we're here to collect pebbles. Helen is an ace painter and decorator, by which I mean she knows how to decorate her flat well, plus she does drawing and painting. So we're there to collect flat pebbles for her to paint, and interestingly shaped and coloured ones, plus shells. I help, sort of, but mostly take photos of the pier looking grim, and of the peculiarly interesting flocks of birds above us.

Even the warning sign is fucked up. Wonderful.

The sun is about to set and we now have a heavy carrier bag full of pebbles. Back to the bus stop and we wait about half a fucking hour for one of these every 10 minute services. But it takes less time on the road and in the dark confusing one way system by The Hard we discover a craft beer and kitchen, so there's our spot for some nosh and sauce.

Actually, scratch the nosh. £16 a plate? Are you shitting me? But the beer was nice, and the TV was showing only ads for alcohol and tonic water. Strange. But Helen is starving so we wander back to the Hard and go in the fish and chip restaurant, which is sadly not licensed. I am still sworn off chips thanks to the promise I made my eldest niece in July, for fucks sake, so we confuse the waiter by ordering plates of cod with onion rings instead. They are bloody lovely, though.

Don't remember it looking this grainy.

It's time to head home by now, so we go into the co-op for some train beer. At the till I make a massive pig's ear of opening Helen's shopping bag and the till worker takes the piss out of me, rightfully so. Grr. While eating we had discovered there might be a bit of train fail so we walk to the station wondering what to expect. Oh dear.

The 1845 is on time, but not yet here. It's a terminus and 1835, so it really should be. National rail app says the inbound is cancelled. Hang on, what? The 1859 is on time as is the 1915. But this is all bullshit. No one has the faintest idea what's going on: passengers, station staff or train crew. Numerous announcements are made and numerous routes are flashed up on the board. The 1845 is upgraded to delayed. The 1859 remains on time, despite the time passing 1900 and it hasn't left. Helen goes for a smoke and while there, some train crew turn up and loads of staff shout at each other.

Upon her return, and Because we are the only people yet to have asked a member of staff for help, two of them proactively offer some and confuse us even further by seemingly recommending we get on the 1919 and delayed-but-honestly-almost-here 1845. We do the latter and it turns into a giant cab, almost; thanks to all the fail with a broken train on the line up in Witley, this one is taking the long way round but stopping virtually nowhere. Hurrah!

And then, with a Carlsberg next to me, I start on this very blog post. Slate seems no different on the client side, so it hardly seems worth writing much. And my neck hurts because my keyboard batteries ran out during the 3rd or 4th paragraph. Ah well.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.