Mary Rose

When my husband, then fiancée, asked if I’d be willing to get married the day before his birthday I thought it was a wonderful idea. Our anniversary would be the day before his birthday always. This would mean he would never ever have any excuse for forgetting the annual celebration of our nuptials. Aha! I inwardly cried I am a genius! What I hadn’t fully considered was that by pairing our wedding anniversary with his birthday it would mean that when it came to any kind of future celebratory events it would be skewed towards what my husband likes. Not such a genius it turns out.

I absolutely cannot complain about last year. We went to Venice. It was beyond beautiful… and hideously stylish, gloriously fragrant, obscenely luxurious and disgustingly romantic.

Am I right or am I right?

However, last year not withstanding, we usually end up doing some kind of double whammy celebration where we can have a lovely old time together but it definitely leans towards my husband’s interests on account of it also being his birthday.

My birthday, being at the end of December, very much gets teamed with Christmas after all. Except let’s be honest it gets overshadowed by Christmas. Because Christmas is for everyone. Well it’s for anyone who wishes to celebrate it that is (I say this having known Muslim and Jewish people whose families celebrate the Santa Claus version of Christmas).

Once I have waded through work drinks and meals and parties and nativities and carol concerts and pantomimes and grottos and presents and food, food, oh so much food, I am exhausted. My birthday falls during the brief lull between the Christmas and NYE festivities so I need to grab my quiet time when I can.

This is all a very round about way of saying that we went to Portsmouth at the weekend. Why? Because my husband, a military history buff, wanted to see the Mary Rose and it’s his birthday so off we went!

I wouldn’t necessarily say I was dragged, I’m a nicer wife than that, but I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement about going to see a once-sunken shipwreck. But I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

When Henry VIII came to the throne he used some of his large inheritance to build his fleet. He named one of these ships, the largest, Mary Rose. Mary, after his favourite sister Mary and also Virgin Mary (the patroness of England) and Rose after the Tudor Rose and the virgin’s mystic rose.

In 1545, after 34 years of service, the ship sank in the Solent after a battle with the French and that’s where it stayed for 437 years.

The Mary Rose was raised from the seabed in 1982 and there began 36 years of conservation that is still ongoing. They had to spray it continuously for the first 10 years just to prevent it drying out. First with fresh water to remove the salt and then gradually changing it to a chemical mix containing Polyethylene Glycol to prevent shrinkage. What now stands in the specially constructed building in Portsmouth Historic Dockyards is quite spectacular. The photos simply don’t do it justice.

I was extremely impressed with the whole set up. From the building itself that holds the wreck to the perfect lighting, projected figures on the ship, air locks, viewing platforms, as well as the hundreds of artefacts and even human/animal remains. It was fascinating.

We also had a good wander around the shops etc. The souvenirs on offer were suitably tacky.

We had a nice wander around Gunwharf Quays for a spot of lunch and shopping. The weather was beautiful so it would be dream for anyone who loves anything remotely nautical. There are ships around every corner – look!

Very nice even if it isn’t a gondola.

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