Portsmouth offers a great day out – who knew! Our chosen day to visit brought shocking weather, but on we ventured to take our step back in history. We set our seafaring hearts on finding a ship wreck, luckily there was one awaiting. The entrance to the dockyard was impressive with tall masts aplenty. We even managed to spy the new HMS Elizabeth being built. I should say that if you have more time you could spend all day at the dockyard, you can buy a ticket to visit all attractions. We unfortunately hadn’t realised this and had only pre-purchased tickets to the Mary Rose.
No sooner had we crossed the museum threshold than we found a rather stern looking King Henry VIII. We weren’t sure how our goddaughter (who bestowed the title of Queen upon herself for this visit) would take the whole experience, but it turned out that she loved it. The museum is dimly lit and quiet but with lots to look at, interactive computers and the requisite men dressed in tights and floppy hats on hand to recount grand tales. They’ve thought through the exhibit in detail and have done interesting things like projecting film onto the wreck to show the children how that part of the ship would have been used.
One thing I had remember from my own visit as a child was the constant spray, but the absence of it now, as it had been treated, was disconcerting. What remains of the Mary Rose is impressive in stature, well demonstrated by the layering of the exhibit around it. What’s also surprising is the sheer amount of artifacts rescued from the seabed. It meant we spent a good couple of hours looking around. I particularly enjoyed the part which documented the discovering and raising of this piece of history, it took me straight back to my childhood.
The Queen enjoyed dressing up as a royal (there’s a great dressing up area), sitting on the throne and giving her subjects a stern talking to. She found treasure (which wasn’t pre-bought from the gift shop at all). We felt sure she was having a good time but it wasn’t until we got home that we realised the full impact. All she could talk about for two days was King Henry VIII and his Mary Rose.
Our Queen decided it was time for a right royal feast and off we went to the Dockyard Café. As attraction cafes go, this isn’t a bad one. And it has a good gift shop attached. Once we had refuelled, we happened upon a number of children’s boats and The Queen had a lesson on how to drive one. Well worth the tenner. At age three and a half she was better at steering than most of the adults.
Our next challenge was to climb the spinnaker tower. It was disappointingly expensive, so The Queen and her Daddy made the ascent and left the rest of the party to do a bit of retail therapy around Gunwharf Keys. After regrouping the Queen enquired ‘so when are we climbing the tower’ much to Daddy’s amusement! Our day ended there. A lot had happened from the eyes of a toddler, and the Queen needed her bath and bed. I think we will go back to Portsmouth someday to visit the rest of the Dockyard. We went over the Easter holidays and I have to say it wasn’t as busy as I would have expected. All in all, a right royal expedition.