Thursday, June 2, 2011

Portsmouth to Wells

We set out early-ish for Wells, our "home" for the next two nights. It's really tough, we found, to get 5 people "up and at-'em" much before 10, especially these 5 people. It got tougher later in the trip.

Along the way, we came upon Arundel Castle, home of the Dukes of Norfolk for some 900 years. It looked interesting, so, even though it was not on our list, we stopped. We were disappointed to learn that, since it was Monday, the castle was closed. We did find a small craft fair put on by the Friends of the castle, bought some neat things and met some neat local people. One of them recommended the Black Rabbit pub for lunch. It was a great recommendation! We had our first English fish and chips there.

Fish and chips was a tradition at our house when I was growing up. My mom used a beer-batter recipe that was supposed to have come from our great-grandmother, who came from Preston, England (more on Preston later.) Grandpa (her son) and Grandma would come over many Friday nights, and we'd eat fish and chips. If we asked right and Grandpa could be convinced (not difficult; he was a big kid himself!) Mom would clean the deep fryer, add fresh fat, and he'd fry up doughnuts. We were considered too young to get near the hot fat, but we could roll the finished doughnuts in powdered sugar, and eat them!

This fish was made with ale in the batter, so it ended up tasting the most like our family's of any of the fish and chip meals we ate on the trip; and there were many!

We left and headed out to Portsmouth, where Ethan had told us we should stop to visit the Spinnaker Tower

and the Dockyards. There we would see the Mary Rose (built during Henry VIII's reign) and the Victory (which Lord Nelson sailed at the Battle of Trafalgar; he won the battle, even though he died during it.) Mary's goal was to repeat her brother's feat and do push-ups on the glass floor of the Tower.

Well, she did it.

And she earned a rest afterward.

She, John and Debbi went up; Janet and I stayed below. I have this thing, you see; if God built it, I can stand on it, walk around it, and enjoy it. But, if some guy built it, well, I'm not sure I can trust his engineering, you know what I mean? About the only exception to that is an old castle, but then, those walls are usually pretty thick.

We missed the Dockyards. The price to see one ship (only the Victory; the Mary Rose is closed while they build a museum around it!) was just too much to be sensible. I've since been told that, while the Victory is very cool, it's just like any other tall ship, except for the spot on the floor that they point out is where Nelson died.

Um, yeah.

We got in late that evening to our next home-away-from-home, passing by Stonehenge as we did. But we planned to see it the next day...

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