Our week in Devon draws to a close so Nick and I must head north and west. We call in at our home at Winterborne K to deposit field gear, laundry, foodstuffs that we will not need for our onward journey. We are due in Godalming late afternoon to collect young Ted from school to take him home. His parents are abroad for a spell and Nick and I are in charge. We have fixed a supper party at our old house for close and dear friends from our early days in Godalming. Fortunately COOK is able to supply all the necessaries for a meal and there is a lively exchange of views on our current reading matter and of course, even livelier debate over the fiasco, furore and utter confusion that surrounds what will happen next after the disastrous Leave vote in June. It is a bit sad that some of our number who were Remainers are now becoming the Resigned. Not me though.
Saturday arrives and Ted wakes us early. Today we are going to go to Portsmouth to climb the Spinnaker Tower and visit the Victory. We finally get away late morning, drive to Gunwharf Quay and park. I had forgotten how compact and comprehensive the shopping complex there is. Everything cheek by jowl and I think it would make a great destination for our future French guests as an alternative to London. The Spinnaker Tower is not busy so we work our way up through the floors. Once again I teeter across the glass floor, the conflict in my mind being rampant. A bit of my brain tells me that the glass is strong and will surely hold, but the other bit of my brain looks down to ground level and freaks. In the end I make my way across looking straight ahead with my arms outstretched as if I am on a tightrope. At ground level we repair to Giraffe and have a lunch.
After we head for the Historic Dockyard and after a bit of reluctance on Nick’s part to pay for the full monty, we buy tickets to cover all attractions and then discover that this ticket is actually a one year season ticket which makes it very good value. We walk on down to the Victory and tour over it. So much more of the vessel has been restored since I last visited it, I think with Sam and Joel when they were smaller. In addition to walking round the decks where the action took place, you can now go down to the lower levels where the crew, ate, relaxed, slept. A guide answered some of our questions. He said the ship had to be provisioned to allow for six months at sea. Supplies might be brought to the ship whilst she was at sea in service, but you could not count on it. In fact Victory’s longest spell at sea was more than two years.
Adjacent to the Victory is the Mary Rose Museum. The ship captured the world’s imagination when she was raised from the Solent in 1982. Her dramatic story is revealed in full inside the purpose-built, award-winning £27million Museum, which opened its doors to visitors in May 2013. It certainly captured my imagination. One of the new things that was introduced to the Museum when it was reopened in July 2016 after additional work was a series of tableaux of life-sized projections of the crew, populating the ship so that visitors can see what life was like on board a busy Tudor Warship. We were all much taken by the museum and the story it tells.
We wrapped up Ted’s visit with a pootle round the pool in front of the Action Stations complex. There Ted steered a small boat with an electric motor round a course of floating obstacles with aplomb.
Refinding the car we then drove to Winterborne K where we supped and watched the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring. In the morning we finished the video and then spent four good hours ranging around Monkey World which Ted knows well. He loves wildlife and is knowledgeable. He speaks with great pleasure about his experiences on safari at the Madikwe Game Park, the animals he sees, the twice-daily drives with his friend Michael the Ranger. He has a particular fondness for primates and Orang Utans in particular. He takes us round the complex, he knows about individual animals and I get a chance to revisit my friend Jethro the White-faced Saki Monkey. I saw him not long ago when I visited Monkey World with Anne and Noe. There is something about his features and they way they are set within a face of white fur that gives him a thoroughly worried expression. It verges on sad and as I stare at his face I find myself wondering just what emotions he might be experiencing as he returns my stare, often with his pink tongue hanging out 🙂 . He is definitely my favourite primate.
On Sunday evening I must drive back to Godalming ready for a school week where I will be helping out to give ‘nanny’ care since the departure of Demi. I manage to fit in lunch with Lis and Charles at their home. On Friday I drop Ted at school then head down to Dorset where I will sleep in my own bed for one night before flying up to Hackney to see Lola and Ruby perform in a Variety show.