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Other Bits of the UK

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Dining at the harbor in

Old Portsmouth as the sun sets over the harbor.



Portchester Castle

St. Mary's at the castle


Portchester Castle Keep

Glassless windows, ha.

Dining near the castle, Portchester


Ferry on Isle of Wight route

Isle of Wight

This is the train station in Ryde.

Below is the train arriving from the pierhead, bringing

passengers who arrived by catamarran from Portsmouth.

Beach huts in Shanklin.

Below is promenade in Shanklin.


Portsmouth Museum.

Two views of Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

 The top floor is open-air, the bottom floor has a glass

floor in the middle, and the center floor is a café.

Clarence Pier, Portsmouth

Royal Garrison Church, Portsmouth (dates to 1212)

Sculptures on the promenade between the Round Tower

and the Square Tower, Portsmouth


Dusk in Old Portsmouth


Garden of Walmer Castle


Deal Castle

Deal Pier



Statue in courtyard of

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral



Reading, UK

Concert Hall at Town Hall, Reading

Canal walk in Reading




Street market in Folkestone

On the zigzag path, Folkestone


Seven thousand prisoners were jailed  at one time in  Portchester Castle during the Napoleonic Wars. It's built on the site of a Roman fort that was at the northernmost point of Portsmouth Harbor 2000 years ago, but the castle itself is only 1000 years old. Only.

     On the day that I rambled around the grounds, families picnicked on the vast lawns and school children on day trips climbed about the buildings of this historical site.

     At one corner of the immense property is a burying ground and a church, St. Mary's. Here I had tea in the church café which is operated by a troupe of lively ladies. They hammed it up for an audience of diners who tossed out suggestions on how to fix the dust bin (garbage can).

     When I recall pleasant outings, life's trivial tidbits turn into noteworthy events in the annals of my memory.


The castle can be reached by a short bus ride from Old Portsmouth. Natives will tell you which bus to take and where the closest bus stop is and they are quick to let you know that they themselves don't use the bus. See FirstGroup for schedules.



Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth was completed in 2005 as the spotlight of harbor redevelopment. Initially it was intended to supplement millennium festivities, but construction delays, cost overruns, politics.... Dubbed the Portsmouth Millennium Tower, it was designed to resemble a sail. Finished six years after its intended completion date, it was renamed Spinnaker after a type of sail.

     Since it is visible from as far away as 23 miles, I used the tower as my compass to navigate the area. It was a short pleasant walk from my hotel on Spice Island...a hop, skip, and jump if I could walk on water.

     Views from the three observation decks are captivating. I did not realize how many harbors within a harbor Portsmouth has. I observed maritime activities, in particular the ferries to the Isle of Wight. Car ferries operate near the tower, as do catamarans from the rail station. Hovercraft are visible down the coast.

     The first level open to the public is an enclosed observation deck that has a glass floor in part. One level up is a glass-walled café where I continued to photograph as I sipped my tea. The floor above that is open-air, again enclosed on its sides by green-tinted glass. It has no roof on this level.


Nice to know: You can take in the tower easily when visiting Gunwharf Quays or the Harbour Rail Station.

See Spinnakertower.co.uk/ for prices, hours, and directions.



There are three ways for the public to get to the Isle of Wight by surface from Portsmouth. If you are traveling by car (against my recommendation), you can board a ferry at Gunwharf Quays. I watched many embarking and disembarking motorists from my spot on Bath Square steps from my hotel on Spice Island. On this route, you and your vehicle will be deposited at Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. This is not where you'll spend much time likely, but since you have a vehicle, you can easily move on.

     If you are a foot passenger, you can board a hovercraft at Southsea, Clarence Pier. This is a pleasant walk from Bath Square on Spice Island. The pier is mainly an amusement park on pilings, but it has a history. On this route, you will disembark at Ryde, which is most likely where you want to start your exploration.

     The third option is what I chose: catamaran from Harbour Rail Station. This also is walking distance from my b&b on Spice Island (if one is not toting luggage). Here again, you are deposited at Ryde Pier Head. If you know enough to ask for an inclusive ticket on the catamaran, you have free use of the train from pier head to beach. Otherwise, it is a pleasant stroll from catamaran to shore. An inclusive ticket takes you anywhere on the mainline railroad, which is as far south as Shanklin. This I did.


Travel tip to skip Portsmouth:

Note that train connections to the catamarans are very easy for travelers who want to skip the amusements of Portsmouth. Trains arrive in Harbour Station a few steps away from where the catamarans depart

     See Wightlink for ferry fares and schedules.                        



Dodging London on excursions to Britain has its rewards, chief among them: money savings. Away from the capital, lodging costs about half of what metropolitan London does.

     Dr. Samuel Johnson once said: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." Although I never tire of London, in recent years the delights of broader Britain hold greater appeal to me, perhaps created by disparity of nautical life and desert dwelling.

     Portsmouth was a new destination to me on this trip. It served as a base for visiting Chichester, Portchester, and the Isle of Wight.

     Folkestone is my all-time favorite city in Britain. This time, I went to Deal and also Walmer Castle.

     In Reading, along with hundreds of locals and few tourists, I went to a choral concert at the town hall.


Travel tip to skirt London:

If you disembark at Heathrow Airport, take the eleven-minute ride by rail to Hayes and Harlington. From that station, you can hop aboard trains headed west.

     If you are deposited by air at Gatwick Airport, you can grab a south-bound train in the airport and arrive 30 minutes later in Brighton (on the Channel a destination in itself) and then head east or west.

     If your plane plops you in Manchester, you don't need my advice.

     See National Rail to plan itinerary. 


























Newly-reopened Vinery which

hangs on the cliff in Folkestone


I joined this bloke's picnic in the Vinery:

 sandwiches from Tesco, ambiance from nature.


The sun was low in the western sky as I walked the Leas on my first evening after a seemingly eternal trip from the States.


A good place in Chichester to buy comfortable shoes after you wear out the first pair tromping the beaches and footpaths of the UK.