Roland Turner

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Nelson's Victory, Portsmouth, Hants, United Kingdom

Today is the last day of our trip. Our first stop was Stonehenge where (a) visitors can't closer the 20m to the stones and, lacking a telephoto lens, can't get to a decent photographic vantage point and (b) it rained on us, again. This is not to say that it was not worth a visit (and I had not been aware of the use of mortice and tennon joints and grooves to hold the stones together, that was most interesting to hear about and to see), but that perhaps I was a little jaded after seeing Cornwall's antiquities.

Our second stop was Salisbury Cathedral. Once again, perhaps I was suffering awe-fatigue, it was a nice cathedral, but not one that I'd have gone out of my way to visit (well, it was on our way :-)).

Our final stop was something that I hadn't even known still existed: Nelson's Victory, the ship on which he died, whilst (successfully) defeating Napoleon. I have some interest in marine engineering and warfare generally, but I have never been onboard a ship that was built exclusively to be a mobile platform for cannons. This ship (not a reconstruction, it's the real thing - now in permanent drydock) is extraordinary. It has an upper deck, three gun decks and a hold. The crew's living space is amongst the cannons on one of the gun decks; their tables sit in between the cannons, their hammocks hang above them. Even the officer's quarters were dual purpose; beautifully furnished staterooms out of battle but, when a threat appeared, the furniture was folded up and stowed the hold and cannons wheeled in. Nelson had the great luxury of a personal cot (rather than a hammock), suspended between two cannons just outside his stateroom. Additionally, the tour guide appeared to know his stuff; when pressed on fine points (e.g. whether or not the decking was original), not only would he give us the official line, he'd explain the controversy and his own theory (that it was not original because the current timber was in short supply at the time of its construction, but readily available at its last refit). This was well worth a visit, and a great end to our trip.