Diccon's Housewarming

(February 25rd - 26th 2006)

The start
Full marks for a well-planned weekend full of inventive things to do! We went round ships, submarines, museums, ate fish & chips, Chinese and in a Navy wardroom, played pool and even "painted" a room! The later possibly a tad alcohol-fuelled...
Those who arrived on Friday started the weekend in style with fine whisky drinking, which was probably a good thing given the freezing weather! On Saturday morning we gathered at the historical dockyards to begin our day with a tour round Nelson's ship the Victory. Being short (or the same height as Nelson!) had the advantage of not having to do monkey impressions in order to avoid banging your head on the deck above, but even so there were bits everyone had to duck for! Highlights included insights into the taste of ship's biscuit maggots (blancmange) and the speed a limb could be amputated (90 seconds)!
The Mary Rose
The best part of the docks for me was seeing the Mary Rose, whose raising from the sea bed I remember watching on the TV in 1982. The conservation of the ship is a fantastic project that's still ongoing - currently they are saturating the wood with a polyethylene glycol solution that will allow them to dry out the timbers without them collapsing. Despite the blurb saying how large the ship is, she seemed tiny compared to the Victory and of course modern warships. I couldn't help wondering if Henry VIII would be sad to see his favourite ship in such a condition, or touched that people would still care so much about her nearly 500 years after she was built.
The Mary Rose museum is a treasure-chest (literally!) of amazing Tudor objects, many of them unique. The shoes are pretty cool and bore an uncanny resemblance (in build that is, not in condition!) to my favoured footwear, DMs! I won't comment on the case containing dagger handles, except to say it was amusing, and that the curator who arranged the display has a sense of humour!
Make it so!
We followed these trips with much needed fish and chips. I wholly recommend the haddock as it was fresh and superb, and whatever fish you have, the chips are just great! Then on to Action Stations!, an, er, "interesting" propaganda film for the navy. We kept expecting the captain to set course at warp seven, make it so Number One! from here we went for a pint at Gunwharf Keys, then back home for food and drinks.
van Goghs hit Portsmouth
After distributing balloons liberally round the place (Diccon - have you found them all yet?!) we tucked into large quantities of Chinese and even larger quantities of alcohol. In which state we were more than qualified to paint Diccon's downstairs room with finger paints! I'm not sure what psychologists would have made of it all, but it certainly was colourful! However, I have still to understand why Spanna thinks of himself as a wazere!
Hangovers cured by a fry-up, we spent the next morning seeing the inside of a submarine! Pretty cramped but really really interesting! The guide was great and gave a really good feel of what it would be like down there for 3 months with rationed water, a watch system and a build-up of smells!
Wardroom experience
Then back to Diccon's and into our suits and smart clothes for lunch in the HMS Sultan wardroom - a really cool experience, with gentleman's club style lounge, cheap-as-chips drinks and a fantastic three-course meals! just to make people jealous: broccoli and stilton soup, roast pork with apricot glaze plus Yorkshire pubs and roast potatoes, and mandarin cheese cake! I'll blame the large and lovely meal for my unpredictable pool playing that enables the girls to pull-off a 2-0 loss against the lads. How come I can pot stuff right up until the end, when I miss and leave the black wide open?!
So all in all, a fantastic and varied weekend was had by all!

Last updated 21st May 2006 by Spanna.