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Posts Tagged ‘Portsmouth’

When An Idea Hits

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This is how I feel when a new book hits me.  A Plymouth Story had been wandering around for some while, here and there I wrote things down but nothing had fallen into place nothing solid or tangible, just odd ideas and feelings.  Then one day from out of nowhere something nudges you or pops into your head and there it is, the story. I have been used to characters dictating the way things should go so it was a bit of a shock when A Plymouth Story finally popped up as it had been hanging around in the background, always there but not quite ready.

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Strangely enough it wasn’t the boats in the marina where we went for coffee on a Sunday evening, or even the sea that was the trigger, it was this picture of the sun just coming up over the distant mountains that did it.  As I stood there watching dawn come tumbling across the valley, I remembered times when walking the dog I would stand on the beach and watch the sun rising over the horizon.  A sight that always made me think of sailing ships seeing a new day or perhaps sighting the enemy, of sailors watching the sun slowly climbing up the sky forecasting a warm day .  Little did I think as I stood there that one day it would inspire me to write a story.

Putting The Story Together

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I have always been interested in sailing ships and their history, perhaps it was the fact my birthday is on Trafalgar day, maybe  a bit of Nelson got me, who knows. What I do know is that my thirst for historical facts and figures, plus battles won and lost, fights, skirmishes, sneaky goings on and the personal history of those in charge has driven me to acquire a small library of books and information. Visits to museums, Portsmouth docks, the Victory and Warrior all contributed to my knowledge and writing.  My first attempt at this was the Jason Watson series. A look at the social side of life the things that were and weren’t acceptable, how the rich and powerful lived and carried on treading a line that was outwardly correct but inwardly often immoral. But it was not totally what I was after.

I wanted a personal story of life aboard ship for the ordinary sailor. Most men were pressed into the service or sent from prisons. So this is where I started from no rich parents to provide money and a step on the ladder, just an ordinary man who lived and worked on land on this basis I began to form the character  of James.

A Plymouth Story

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This is not Plymouth but Dartmouth, but try to imagine its Plymouth in the 1700’s and you’re looking at a street. Now imagine the houses without the main road and lighting. Instead picture cobbled streets leading down towards the jetty and sea wall. Picture houses packed together, horses pulling carts over straw covered streets to try deadening the noise.  Boys or men pulling hand carts along with sea chests on them on their way to an inn, people selling goods or just calling out to friends.  Into this comes a chandlers clerk, hardworking and honest, but at the beck and call of a mother who wallowed in her ill-health demanding this and that, a man with no life of his own. Watch as on his way to the apothecary for more medicine he is knocked on the head and wakes up far out to sea onboard the Frigate Amazon. This is a story of adventure, life onboard the Amazon seems strange to this man, but James has a thirst for learning, now you have the beginning of an adventure.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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DSCF3834 (640x480) We all have our favourite places and in regards to hotels this is ours. I have written in the past about the Hungry Horse and Lodge Inn in Portsmouth, well we were back again last week.  It was like coming home, friendly smiles and whats more the staff actually remembered us, and when you consider that they have hundreds of people walking through their doors that is no mean feat. BLESMA (3) After our journey from Torquay it was nice to be able to relax between travelling and stay somewhere you not only had clean rooms but a good menu.  I can honestly say that their curries are some of the best we have eaten, so much so that we had them two evenings running. DSCF0006 (640x480) (342x445)[1] We decided to do the tourist things again so bought a day ticket and rode round Portsmouth looking at the various attractions. The dockyard was very busy with groups visiting not only the Mary Rose exhibit but Victory and Warrior as well.  The University was heaving but it was the Spinnaka tower that took the night. During the day you can go up to the top and the view is spectacular but at night when it turns blue you get to see it at its best – well I think it is – as all you see in daylight is a concrete building.

But it is to the girls who keep the rooms at the Inn Lodge clean and tidy that I would like to extend my thanks and apologies for not mentioning such important people before.  Everything was in order and when my wife asked for extra milk, sugar etc.,  they were given with smiles and the question “was there was anything else she needed?”, this is why we like staying here when we visit.

Thank you ladies, see you next year.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

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Travel!!  Normally I don’t have a problem but this time we (my wife) decided we should take a case with us when we visited our relatives in the UK. Based in Catalunia most of the year it means we fly back for a few weeks, visit and do some shopping.  So everything was booked flights, car parking umm hotels????  But I digress, lets start with last night.

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As the fridge and freezer had been cleaned and turned off  we went out to eat arriving home in the dark under a starry sky with a big moon lighting our way. This then was the start of our little adventure.  Next morning we were up bright and early and off to Barcelona to park the car. Now we had booked the car into a very reasonable parking place but finding it – even with their maps – was not easy. We followed the instructions but somehow ended up lost – not that that’s unusual – so we stopped to ask a garage who gave us directions plus a map.  Easy I hear you say NO…. we were miles to the south and had to head back the way we came only to find we must have passed the car park at least twice but finally we got there.

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Our flight with Easyjet was fine, no problems. But then came the journey from Gatwick to Cosham on South West Trains.  We left Gatwick arrived at Three Bridges and stopped.  Trains came and went there were announcements about the delay and possibility of changing to other trains, none of which went to Pompey. I just knew what would happen, they would turn off all the passengers who wanted to go to Pompey then cancel that service  AND THEY DID…. The train was supposed to divide at the station, however first they said there were electrical problems, then no driver for the rear part, I just wondered why the front of the train could not continue and the rear go into a siding  – oh well now I can see why they run at a loss. At least THIS train ran not only on time but it was fun as well..

By now it was raining, again and I had missed my appointment, it also meant that we had to find a hotel.  So we headed for the Red Lion in Cosham, arriving wet and bedraggled only to find there were no rooms to be had ANYWHERE.  Seems we had arrived on Fresher Week, Southampton Boat Show week and Goodwood.  But the landlord of the pub eventually found us a room for the two days for which we were grateful.

So next day I saw the Doctor, phoned our daughter to let her know when we would arrive, then went shopping and did the tourist thing.  After all this excitement we settled down in the bar to watch some football while I enjoyed a steak and my wife had a curry.  Next morning we were up and away to Torquay.

This then was the first part of the adventure. Oh and the moon? well it’s romantic…..

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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On one of my visits to the UK  I stayed at the Farmhouse Inn Lodge which is attached to the Hungry Horse restaurant, so when my wife and I made our winter visit I booked us into the inn in the knowledge that we would be well looked after.

The Inn is situated in Burford Road just off the Eastern Road and next to Portsmouth public golf course. Was she impressed or what, I had a job to get her out of there.  The rooms are comfortable and warm with tv and free wi-fi facilities. The bathroom is well fitted out and the shower is strong and revitalising. My wife’s favourite part was being able to watch tv in bed and not have to worry about falling a sleep – usually when football is on – there, if she fell asleep, all I had to do was press a button to turn the tv off no waking up to go to bed, surprising how little things can please….

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But joking apart, we have stayed in a few hotels and this really is a comfortable place, the staff are friendly, helpful and funny, no sour faces here.  The Inn is always busy with functions such as business meetings, wedding receptions and parties. The rooms for the wedding receptions are decked out romantically and whilst we were there an RN Engineering Officer and RN Doctor were holding their reception there.  The party rooms are large and nicely decorated, there is also a ‘Pony Club’ room kitted out for the children to keep them amused.

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When we wanted something to eat we just wandered along the corridor to the Hungry Horse, where we could either eat in the dining area or the sports bar (this bar usually won). The menu is varied and value for money, especially the ‘large meals’ which having tried, and found them to be more than we could manage phew were they large, we decided to stay with the normal size meals. There are also special deals on certain days and their curry nights are something to drool over.

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The Sunday lunch is a must the carvery is superb, but make sure you arrive early this is a much sought after meal and you could find yourself having to wait mind you there is always the sports bar.

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This is a lively bar with televisions showing sport in the evenings but it is also home to Carioca nights and quizzes, so there is always something happening. They also sell a splendid range of wines including some Spanish – this pleased my wife – plus a large range of beers, ciders and the much sought after Guinness.

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At the time of our visit the Hungry Horse was due for refurbishment so on the Sunday evening the staff closed the doors and began clearing things ready for the builders and decorators. I wandered down to take a few photographs a sort of before and after thing, so take a good look at these guys, they are the people who look after you and make your time there so relaxed and fun. They are as fond of their restaurant and customers as they are of each other, this is not a job this is a way of life and as you can see they really enjoy it.  So next time you are in Historic Portsmouth be sure to stop here you will be well looked after.

Thanks to all of you see you soon really looking forward to seeing the new look.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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