|Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth Harbour [click to enlarge]|
Crossing Portsmouth Harbour, as we did on the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, novelist and native of that port, and on the sixtieth anniversary [and one day] of the accession to the throne of HM Queen Elizabeth II, with HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship, visible in the grey gloom of sea and sky, we had cause to reflect, albeit momentarily and, we hasten to add, without the slightest pang of regret, on the loss of Empire.
|a yachting marina now stands in place of berths for warships|
At the time of the Coronation in 1953, the entire fleet of 197 warships of the Royal Navy, together with representative ships of the Commonwealth, Merchant and foreign navies, assembled in the waters of the Solent immediately outside of Portsmouth Harbour for a review by the newly crowned Monarch. Recalling the occasion so many years later, the memories are of silent ships at anchor, sinister and threatening, nine rows in total, enveloped in a fine drizzle, lending substance to the Royal Navy motto of Si vis pacem, para bellum - if you wish for peace, then prepare for war. Today the fleet is reduced to 79 serving ships!
|view across the harbour showing the former naval dockyard|
And writing of ships, who now remembers the old 'ship' half penny, pre decimal coins depicting on the reverse side a galleon in full sail? As children these were 'collected' in aid of the London Missionary Society, many of them at the time remaining in circulation from the reign of the late King and still stamped Ind. Imp. - Emperor of India.
|aboard the Gosport ferry whose slogan is It's Shorter by Water|
Landing on the Gosport side, propelled there at speed by the functional ferry which years ago became the replacement of the old Floating Bridge [just remembered], friend Jeremy, himself a designer of ocean going yachts, was there to greet us at the terminal. A short drive, passing en route the vast, now defunct Haslar Naval Hospital, within minutes we were being welcomed by Claire at the door of their most interesting marine home, a perfect period piece dating from the early 1930s.
|Claire and Jeremy Lines' 1930s house at Stokes Bay, Gosport|
In our previous post we showed two paintings in our Brighton 'rooms' together with a collection of cockerels. In response to kind enquiries, neither of the paintings is of ourselves. The figures in a café was purchased in 2010 through the Brighton Artists' Open House and is by Peter Morris. The portrait of a boy seated is after Duncan Grant.
The cockerels, in total twenty-five, represent part of what had been a much larger collection and which was inherited from Margaret Hope Hattatt upon her death in 1982.