Southsea Castle Lunch


Fine weather, and a luncheon date with our daughter, took us down to Southsea.

A short stroll across Southsea Common and we arrived at Southsea Castle.

This is where Henry VIII watched Mary Rose, the pride of his fleet, founder and sink.

The castle is now home to The Courtyard, a good quality restaurant. Due to ongoing Covid precautions we waited to be seated by a very pleasant member of staff.

We were served our drinks …

Pimms O’clock

….. followed shortly by our chosen meals …

…. mine was this very delicious Bhudda Bowl.

The girls had Scampi and a Southern style burger.

Appetites suitably satisfied we made a short tour of the castle walls …

Down from the ramparts and a short detour, by me, to take a quick look at one of Southsea’s newest attractions.

LCT 7074 is the last surviving landing craft tank in the UK. LCT 7074 is an amphibious assault ship for landing tanks, other vehicles and troops on beachheads. Built in 1944 by Hawthorn Leslie and Company, Hebburn, the Mark 3 LCT 7074 was part of the 17th LCT Flotilla during Operation Neptune in June 1944.

WIKIPEDIA

Not one for the girls, I have pencilled in a return visit, for when I am on my own.

Then it was a gentle stroll back to my daughters flat for a cuppa. Before venturing out to do battle with the evening traffic as we wended our way home.

A Birthday Treat


It was my wife’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and as a special treat I took her up to London for a bit of sight-seeing, a meal or two and a show. We stayed at the Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square which, although not cheap, is very handy for all the touristy things in our great capital city.

Citadines
Citadines Hotel Trafalgar Square

A surprise notification of a parcel delivery delayed our departure, causing us to arrive in the late afternoon. On arrival we were efficiently checked in, and soon installed in our room. As we were meeting up with our granddaughter and her husband later for a meal we didn’t immediately head out to explore. Our decision was cemented by the fact that it was raining outside. We therefore, elected to relax a little, with a cup of tea.

Later that evening we met up with Hayley and Nick, at Skylon where we had a very enjoyable meal.

To start, Gerry had Pressed Watermelon (with Avocado, Shimeji mushrooms, yellow baby plum tomato, lemongrass, chickweed), Hayley had Smoked Salmon cannelloni (Creme fraiche, gribiche, salmon caviar, chervil). Nick and I both elected to have the Pan seared foie gras (Pickled cherries, apricot gel, toasted hazelnuts, oats, nasturtium leaves, cherry blossom).

For the main course I had Scottish Angus Cross beef fillet (Wild garlic, grelot onions, crispy shallots) while the others all chose the Roasted Lamb cannon (Crispy belly, wild mushrooms, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes).

A hard act to follow but none of us could resist having a dessert. Gerry, a sucker for strawberries, had the Gariguette Strawberries (Elderflower meringue, rose jelly, strawberry sorbet) while the rest of us plumped for the Iced Cappuccino Souffle (Bailey’s chocolate bon-bon). Gerry’s dessert looked fabulous ….

Restaurant
Skylon – Gariguette Strawberries

All of the food was superb and even better, that evening, there was a fifty percent discount celebrating Skylons new chef. Suitably sated and buoyed by a great evening we trudged back over the river to our hotel for a good nights rest.

The next morning we headed out to do a bit of touristy exploring. Our initial target destination was Westminster Abbey. Neither of us having been there before, despite many visits to London.

Whitehall – London

Travelling on foot we strolled through Whitehall Gardens, situated between the Whitehall buildings and the embankment….

There are three statues within Whitehall Gardens. They commemorate William Tyndale an English scholar who became well-known for his translation of the Bible into English, Sir Henry Bartle Frere  a British colonial administrator who had a successful career in India eventually rising to become Governor of Bombay and General Sir James Outram an English general who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Looking across the river we had a distant view of the Shard seeming surrounded by the many cranes that dot the London skyline.

Shard – London

None of those cranes are anywhere near the Shard, just an illusion of perspective.

Also across the river is the iconic London Eye, towering over the nearby buildings. Principle amongst them is London’s County Hall.

London Eye & London County Hall

As you can see from the sky, the weather was very dull. Although, thankfully, not a drop of rain.

As we strolled along the embankment we came across the Battle of Britain Memorial Sculpture. A very striking work which certainly captures the emotion and horror of the times.

By now we were in sight of the Palace of Westminster, aka the Houses of Parliament.

We arrived at Westminster Abbey shortly after eleven AM and joined the throng making their way inside this ancient building.

Not unexpected, but security is tight and, from the notices, I was concerned that my camera bag might be deemed too big. However, after a short wait in a queue and a cursory check by the security guard we were in. Unfortunately, no photography of any kind is allowed inside the abbey. So the previous shots are all either outside or in and around the cloisters. However, they do make photos available for download, free. So here are a few ….

After so much history and culture we were not a little peckish. So we partook of a rather nice lunch in the Abbey Cellarium Cafe where Gerry had the Bream and I had the Chicken & Leek Pie.

After lunch we strolled over to Covent Garden. Enroute we passed the Cenotaph and the Monument to the Women of World War II. The Cenotaph was originally a temporary structure, erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War. It was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom’s official national war memorial.

The Monument to the Women of World War II depicts 17 sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of jobs women undertook in World War II, and then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war. They include uniforms as worn by the Women’s Land Army, Women’s Royal Naval Service, a nursing cape, and a police overall.

Also along the route we passed Downing Street, Horse Guards and the Coliseum Theatre, our venue for later this evening.

Covent Garden is a district of Westminster and is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market which is now a popular shopping and tourist site. The district is a mix of independent shops, street performers and historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museum and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

As we arrived there was an escapologist reaching his grand finale.  We spent an hour or so browsing the many shops and stalls intermittently being entertained. There was a juggler ….

Juggler – Covent Garden

…… a contortionist or, as he would have it, a Yogi ….

Contortionist – Covent Garden

And then while we were sitting having a cup of tea we were entertained musically by an opera singer, followed by a string quartet ….

After a super day we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before heading out to the theatre where our day was completed by possibly the best show in London at the moment, Bat out of Hell, the musical.

Carnarvon Revisited


 

Having spent a couple of nights in Exmouth we headed back south to Carnarvon. As we left Exmouth, heading along the Exmouth Minilya Road we stopped very briefly to visit the Potshot Memorial site.

The Potshot Memorial commemorates the use of the West Australian coast for the allied attacks on the Japanese. US submarines used this area as a refuelling base and an airstrip was built for the fighting squadron

We returned to Carnarvon, to stop overnight, for no other reason than to break the journey to Kalbarri. I know many folks like to dose up on energy drinks and punch on down the road and get the journey over with. Some folks have told me that they drive from Perth to Exmouth in one continuous bash, stopping only for fuel and pee breaks.  Madness is what I call it, certainly asking for trouble.

Driving all that way is tiring and boring, yes boring. Long, very long, flat, straight stretches of road with countryside that doesn’t change very often. Nothing to keep you alert. Which is why we purchased some CDs. Nothing like singing along to ELO, Fleetwood Mac and of course, it had to be done, Men at Work’s greatest hits.

At times the bush is fairly close to the edge of the road, meaning that you get a form of tunnel vision. You become mesmerised staring off into the distance. That is the time that you get a cow, sheep or herd of goats or a kangaroo wander out into the road. There are plenty of signs along the roads, where collisions were not avoided.

Rkill

We observed some very fresh road kill, a young cow that was decapitated and it’s entrails spread along the road, providing fresh food for the scavengers. Not a pretty sight. On our journey I learnt to look ahead and spot the dark clusters of crows which would reluctantly scatter as we got nearer. As soon as I saw the crows I would slow down and prepare to deviate around whatever carcass was laid there. The roadsides are littered with skeletons and desiccated corpses. I dread to think what it must be like to hit something the size of sheep, let alone a kangaroo or even a cow. Although our car had “roo bars” fitted, I suspect hitting a cow at the state speed limit of 110 kilometers per hour would be pretty devastating for all involved. Luckily, whenever something chose to cross the road in front of us, I spotted them early enough to slow down. And, on at least one occasion come to a complete stop. Luckily there was nothing following behind me. I wouldn’t want to be stopped in front of a road train.

On arrival at Carnarvon we booked into the Best Western Hospitality Inn. Very friendly receptionist who dealt with us most efficiently and we were soon stretched out having been folded in the car for several hours.

After our last experience, looking for an eatery, in Carnarvon we chose to eat in Sails, the motel restaurant. The food and service was very good. Although, the breakfast was another story. The food quality was okay but the service was somewhat off kilter since this was provided by a very pleasant, chatty lady. However, her normal role was in the laundry. Consequently, she didn’t have all the information regarding food options.

Overnight, the weather had changed. There had been a nice sunset in the evening but we were greeted with a dull and overcast morning. As I packed the car, ready for our onward journey there was a pleasant surprise waiting for us.

IMG_5470_edited.jpg
Cecils Calling Card

Tucked under our windscreen wiper blade was a card, left by Cecil. He had cleaned our windscreen while we were tucked up in bed. A nice touch.

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Moored on the Fascine – Carnarvon, WA

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Fascine View – Carnarvon WA

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Satellite Earth Station –  Carnarvon, WA

This satellite dish dominates the Carnarvon skyline. The following has been lifted straight from Wikipedia.

The OTC Satellite Earth Station Carnarvon was established to meet the need for more reliable and higher quality communications for NASA’s Apollo Moon project. NASA contracted Australia’s Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) “to provide an earth station nearCarnarvon, Western Australia to link the NASA tracking station in that area to the control centre in the USA”

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Foreshore Fascine – Carnarvon, WA

 

Limousin, France – Day 9


Day 9 turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. One of our happy band of travellers wanted to send an email a family member based in the US. The email had been written but, due to the fact that the gite was pretty much a dead zone for wifi and mobile technology, we decided to take a trip to MacDonalds.  Normally you couldn’t get me to within a mile of one of their establishments. Leastways not without a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth and not an insignificant amount of kicking and screaming.It’s not that i don’t like burgers, it’s more that I don’t like the way they are served to you. Wrapped or boxed and slowly going soggy in their own steam. Best commercial burger I ever had was from Fuddruckers in Austin, Texas. fuddAnyway, I digress.

So we trundled off to our nearest McDonalds as they have free WiFi and so that we didn’t feel guilty we actually sat inside and purchased coffee. However, the coffee was as awful as I remember and so was the WiFi coverage. The laptop containing the email could not even see the McDonalds WiFi and would not connect. My Blackberry could see the “see” McDonalds WiFi but also would not connect.  My wife had her iPad with her and that could “see” and connect to McDonalds WiFi. Isn’t technology wonderful. Three devices but no way to get the data onto the device that could talk to the outside world. In the end, after nearly an hour, it was decided that when we returned to the gite, the email would be transcribed to the iPad and then we would make another foray to McDonalds.RONALD MCDONALD

So our slightly subdued band of travellers headed off for their second visit to Limoges. There are lots of things to see in Limoges. One of the things I like about France in general is that they don’t just leave blank walls on buildings. They don’t leave them to crumble or fall foul to the vandal graffiti artist.  I don’t have anything against graffiti in general, just the mindless desecration perpetrated by those who just leave their name or a pretty poor caricature of a penis. In fact I see some graffiti as a perfectly valid and useful art form. In France they turn blank walls into  huge canvasses to provide street scenes, country views or truly humorous cartoons.

Église Saint Michel Des Lions, Limoges, Limousin, France
Église Saint Michel Des Lions, Limoges, Limousin, France

Here in Limoges, with the Église Saint Michel Des Lions as a back drop, the end of  a building has been painted not only to extend the street view but also to provide one with a voyeuristic insight on what may be going on behind closed, or in this case open, shutters.

The Voyeurs View - Limoges, France
The Voyeurs View – Limoges, France

Everywhere you walk in Limoges there are reminders of the past.

Limoges, France
Limoges, France

With differing architectural styles jostling for attention.

Limoges, France
Limoges, France

It is with that in mind that we have chosen to explore one of the most famous areas of Limoges, the Quartier de la Boucherie, the Butchers Quarter. In the 14th century this district was inhabited by families belonging to the brotherhood of the butchers and many of the original half-timbered buildings remain. Although few, if any, have the same purpose as you can see in the next picture….

Hot Rocks Boutique - Limoges, France
Hot Rocks Boutique – Limoges, France

The old doorways give evidence to our ancestors diminutive height and at times the old buildings seem to resemble a jumbled stack of packing cases …

Quartier de la Boucherie - Limoges, France
Quartier de la Boucherie – Limoges, France

Every now and then as we explored we would stumble across a real gem.

CHAPELLE SAINT-AURÉLIEN
Chapelle Saint-Aurelien – Limoges, France

 

Chapelle Saint-Aurelien - Limoges, France
Chapelle Saint-Aurelien – Limoges, France

On almost every street there is something to draw your attention…

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Limoges, France

Be it old, ancient ……

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Just Chillin’, Rue du Canal – Limoges, France

….. or modern …

street_detail3
Mask – Limoges, France

Walking the lanes of  the “Quartier de la Boucherie” made us a tad peckish so we took lunch on a terrace overlooking the Central Market building.

Central Market - Limoges, France
Central Market – Limoges, France

The market, built-in the 19th century, was designed using a mix of materials, including iron, glass and ceramics. The result is this beautiful building with Eiffel-inspired architecture (or so I read somewhere). Just round the corner from here is Place Saint Michel, a pleasant square adjacent to the church.

Église Saint Michel Des Lions - Limoges, France
Église Saint Michel Des Lions – Limoges, France

Place Saint Michel as well as providing access to the church has a number of shops and cafe’s. Of immediate interest was the Belgian chocolate shop.

Place Saint Michel - Limoges, France
Place Saint Michel – Limoges, France

However, we all agreed that we could each of spent several hundreds of Euros in “Comptoir Famille”. This establishment sells some very stylish items for the home. It is a good job that our vehicle was stuffed to the gunnels on our journey into France and wasn’t getting any lighter during our stay and i was rather taken with a rustic wooden storage / display unit.

So we dragged ourselves away from the delights of Place Saint Michel and headed over to Limoges Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges), an impressive gothic building started in 1273 and only finished in 1888 when the nave was connected to the bell tower.

cathedral
Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoge, France

Makes you wonder why the bell tower was not built as an integral part of the main building. There is much to see inside the cathedral. The following photo shows an ornate gallery. Sadly all of the statues have been damaged, their heads are missing.

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges - Limoges, France
Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges - Limoges, France
Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

Detail inside Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges - Limoges, France
Musée municipal de l’Evêché & Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges – Limoges, France

There are some beautiful gardens in the cathedral grounds….

Cathedral Gardens - Limoges, France
Cathedral Gardens – Limoges, France

Cathedral Gardens - Limoges, France
Cathedral Gardens – Limoges, France

Limoges is also home to the Musee de la Resistance which is just a short walk from the cathedral. As with Oradour, I found walking through this museum quite moving.  The exhibits set the part played by the people of Limoges into the proper war-time context.  Great focus is always given to the capital cities such as Paris .This museum puts the records straight. And again, as with Oradour, I found myself leaving the museum with an underlying feeling of anger towards the politicians who took all of europe and most of the world to war.

By the time we left the museum it was time to look for a place to eat. Our day was completed by a really nice meal provided by Restaurant “La Maison des Saveurs”

 

Aubergine – Bangladeshi & Indian Cuisine Restaurant


Last evening we popped down to see how my daughter and her husbands new venture was progressing. They have just opened Glam & Glitz Boutique in Albert Road, Southsea. Since it was near closing time we all decided to go out for a meal. Albert Road is a great place to go if you are hungry. There are eateries catering for just about every taste imaginable.

We chose to try Aubergine, a small Bangladeshi and Indian Cuisine restaurant. aubergineWhat a good decision that was. There were six of us and we hadn’t booked. This didn’t phase them and very quickly they shuffled some tables and chairs and we were quickly seated.

I ordered a starter, “Luck Now Ke Seek Kebab” described as “Minced lamb with chefs own spices, coriander, cheese, moulded on to skewers” which was quite tasty. This I followed with “Juicy Gosht” which was effectively a lamb shank in a spicy sauce. My description is probably doing it a disservice but it is not on the internet version of their menu so I couldn’t plagiarise their description. However, it really was juicy and the meat was oh so tender. This was the star of the evening, and, ably supported by  Pilau Rice and Bhindi Bhajee was a meal fit for a king.

Two of our family group kicked off with the the mandatory “Onion Bhajee” and two more decided to try the “Tandoori Champan”, which comprised “Tender of lamb chops marinated with fresh garlic, ginger and other spices”. For their mains two brave souls, including my wife, went for the Lamb Jalfrazi.

All agreed that the service was good, the staff friendly despite my introducing confusion by ordering a refill beer brand that they didn’t sell.

I would say that Aubergine stands out as one of the good restaurants in the area and I heartily recommend a visit. I for one will certainly be going back.

Cams Mill – Fareham


Had a super meal, last evening, at Cams Mill, just outside of Fareham. We met up with some friends there after a big recommendation.
Cams-Mill-1
This is a brand new building, constructed in the style of the original tidal mill that stood nearby, around a century ago. I think they have struck the right balance. This place has old, rustic appeal and a friendly atmosphere. Definitely not one of your ultra modern, noisy, plastic pubs. This is a place to meet and enjoy the  social event, have a conversation without having to shout. Top it off with good food and drink.

Our small group started with Crispy Hampshire Hog (Breaded pork belly)with Cox’s Apple purée, London Porter Smoked Salmon Terrine with Cucumber, Quail’s Egg and Tomato Bread. For the mains we tried the Steamed Mussels In Seafarers & Lemon Sauce & Fries, Steak & Ale Pie with Mashed Potatoes, Winter Greens & Gravy, Pan-fried Calves’ Liver & Smoked Bacon served with Mustard Mash, Roasted Carrots in a Forest Mushroom Sauce and, finally, a Lamb Rump Steak served with New Boiled Potatoes and Minted  Peas.

The food  was well cooked, well presented and really tasty. All in our party commented on how tasty it was.  Portion sizes were about right, especially for me, since I am on a diet. If it hadn’t been for that “Vintage Ale & Molasses Sticky Toffee Pudding ” I would have met my daily target. Ah well !! As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it.

The staff at the Mill are friendly and attentive without becoming obtrusive. Once we had finished our meal they left us to chat at our table with no pressure to move on. This was a Saturday night. When asked they delivered the bill promptly.

All in all a very nice experience. Not bad for £90 including the drinks.

New Development Proposed For Waterlooville BAE Site


Proposals have been put forward to Havant Borough Council for the development of the BAE site in Waterlooville. This site comprises the land bounded by Elettra Avenue, Silverthorne Way and Hambledon Road.

These proposals include

  • 60+ Bedroom Hotel
  • Restaurant
  • Drive Thru Restaurant
  • Car Show Room
  • Industrial Units

BAE_Site_Plan

If these proposals go ahead they could bring many benefits to the town, not the least of which would be the employment opportunities.

However, this would also be tempered by the additional industrial traffic that would be required to service the new industrial units at the heart of this proposal.

I have a growing concern that many of the new developments, being proposed for the Waterlooville area, include industrial units but there is no sign of the businesses that are going to take up these new properties. In the meantime there are many existing industrial units  that remain empty.

Waterlooville seems set to be swamped with such “opportunities”. One only has to look to the plans for the Dunsbury Hill Farm site.

Havant Borough Council and the developers are always quick to point to the number of jobs that these developments will create. However, they aren’t so quick to highlight that these are “potential” jobs. At no time do you see them parading a list of employers who have committed to move into these new premises.

Of course, in such economic times as ours it is always good to be prepared for the upturn.

And how about the existing Aston Road industrial estate. That could do with a bit of a facelift. It really does look a bit tired now.