Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It's Shorter by Water

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.


  1. What a charming house!
    And as I recall it, a halfpenny bought a halfpenny chew or two Black Jacks, or a Sherbert Flying Saucer. I preferred the last.

  2. I grew up in Gosport! if you liked the ferry you should try the Night Boat :)

  3. My mother remembers a pre war assembly of international warships off Portsmouth...it was your use of the words sinister and threatening which brought back to me how she described them....and how, in particular, the Japanese ships seemed silent, their crews detached from all the bustle of little boats sailing out round the fleets.

  4. Jenny Woolf:
    Yes, the house is charming and very close to the water at Stokes Bay. Perfectly situated as Jeremy [although 80] still takes a daily swim!!

    Those were indeed the days when a halfpenny did still buy something!!

  5. Eleni:
    Gosh, fancy your having grown up in Gosport! We once taught at Bay House School, but surely before your time as a schoolgirl?

  6. Love your photo of the Spinaker Tower! Also, Richard says HE knows the coins you speak of, he said they were called ha'pennies.

    I KNEW those were roosters! What a lovely thing to have and to remember a loved one.
    Hope you both doing well these days! :-)

  7. Dickens is rather topical as Miriam Margolyes is in Australia performing her Dickens piece. Nice deco featuring house in Stokes Bay.

  8. the fly in the web:
    In February on the day that we went, the sky and the water were both grey with hardly any discernible division between them. This did indeed bring back those memories of dark and evil looking warships.

    How interesting that your mother saw the ships assembled before the war, including the Japanese vessels. And, so intriguing the differences between them all.

  9. Kay G:
    The Spinaker Tower is indeed very impressive as it positively 'sails' out to sea. It is most intriguing at night when lit up and the restaurant in full swing at the pinnacle of the Tower.

    Yes, the name is often shortened to ha'pennies and we have a game called 'shove ha'penny' which involves pushing the coins on a wooden board.

  10. Andrew:
    Yes, there does seem to have been a great resurgence of interest in Dickens in this the two hundredth anniversary year of his birth. There were and continue to be many events in Portsmouth, the place of his birth, but also in Brighton with a plaque being unveiled on a hotel which was reputed to be the place where Dickens stayed on his frequent visits to Brighton!

  11. Interesting post with great photos. Not only do I remember the half penny with a galleon on it but the farthing as well. Did not the latter have a wren on it? Memories :-) Diane

  12. Like Eleni, I am also a south coast local, I grew up the other side of the water in Portsmouth. Delighted to see you had an enjoyable time by the sea!


  13. Food, Fun and Life in the Charente:
    You are absolutely right about the farthing, Diane, which most certainly did have a wren. We have several from the reign of George VI, from the 1930s and through the war, each one with the wren on the reverse side. If there were other designs, then we do not have any examples.

  14. My husband and brother-in-law often sail out of Portsmouth, whether they are going to France or Spain or, as they have done, sailed on the Tall Ships. I have also sailed out of Portsmouth and, I love coming back in.....it still looks oh so British to me for some reason.
    ....and, I'm afraid that I too remember the halfpenny. As Jenny Woolf who made the first comment said, you could buy so many sweets with a halfpenny. I also loved the farthing with the little robin.
    Lovely to see you both back Jane and Lance. XXXX

  15. Strawberry Fields:
    We did, thank you, Sarah, have the most wonderful day out with our friends in Gosport and how amazing that you come from Portsmouth. The whole area is steeped in history, we feel, much of it of course relating to Britain's maritime past. Although we have, many years ago, been around the Victory, we have yet to visit the Mary Rose.

  16. Jacqueline @ HOME:
    How absolutely splendid that your husband and brother-in-law have had the opportunity to sail on the Tall Ships, Jackie. They would have much in common with our friend, Jeremy, who at 80 still regularly sails and whose work was as a designer in the yards of Camper Nicholson. We do agree that there is something very English about sailing into Portsmouth Harbour and even the very name has a ring to it. Our friend, who we nursed during her final illness in 2010, lived along the coast at Lee on the Solent.

  17. Hello Jane and Lance. Though I've never done the crossing you write about or visited Gosport, we sail through Portsmouth harbour every year on our way to and from France, so those views are very familiar. When we see the Spinnaker Tower we know we aren't far from the ferry.

    Not only do I remember ha'pennies, I still have a few, though sadly seem to have lost my one precious farthing.

  18. Jane and Lance,

    Your connection of Dickens and the decline of The Fleet gives rise to so much imagery, most of it from books (since I am not from England). Harbors are always so appealing and filled with stories.

    You have the most interesting friends!


  19. Perpetua:
    The Spinnaker Tower is certainly a landmark, as you say, although to be truthful having heard much about it at the time of its construction we were a little disappointed to see it in the flesh, so to speak. We imagined somehow that it would be taller.

    Happily we still retain a number of farthings and also, when we looked today, a quantity of 'ship' half pennies. Our gain clearly being the loss of the London Missionary Society!!

  20. Hello, I have only visited Portsmouth once some years ago and that was to visit Dicken's birthplace. Coincidentally, my grandmother was also named Margaret Hope - but in her case it was O'Neill not Hattatt !

  21. Jen:
    Portsmouth Harbour does indeed have a long and illustrious history and so one cannot help but be intrigued by it all on a visit there. In recent years, the whole dockyard area has been developed so that there is much of interest to see.

    As we have mentioned before, Jeremy Lines is the grandson of the original three Lines Brothers who founded the Triang Toy Company which in its heyday was the largest toy manufacturer in the world.

  22. Sulky Kitten:
    How extraordinary that you too had a relative named Margaret Hope. Perhaps that was popular for women of that particular generation?!

    The area of Portsmouth where the Dickens museum is situated is very atmospheric we think and one can well imagine shady dealings with smugglers going on there!!

  23. It was so nice to see Hattatt in my list of posts to read again. We all missed you and hope your vacation was both restful and enjoyable.

  24. Starting Over, Accepting Changes:

    Thank you so much, Arleen, for your kind words. We have had a most relaxing break but it is good to be back at the keyboard!

  25. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
    Lovely to see you back, and as always with an interesting post.

  26. Lynne:
    Thank you too for your kind comment.

    We were saddened to read of the death of your adorable dog, Rufus. The past year has been full of sadness for you with your beloved hounds, so we hope that the year ahead will be brighter.

  27. The house looks charming and I love the stories and history behind certain areas and an era! Glad to see you two back!

  28. Nice to have you back after your break.
    We use the Caen to Portsmouth overnight ferry when visiting the UK. You're right the spinnaker looks very impressive at night. Not yet visited the Mary Rose though we keep intending to...

  29. LR@Magnificent or Egregious:
    It is an interesting house with many period features. Just a short walk from Stokes Bay, it enjoys a lovely situation and plenty of opportunity for Jeremy to 'mess about in boats'!!!

  30. I've only ever read of half pennies, how interesting that they were collected for charity.
    I love the image of the fleet of ships, thanks for sharing. "Si vis pacem, para bellum"... that gives me chills!
    The house that belongs to your friends looks so charming.

  31. Niall and Antoinette:
    Compared with many years ago, the shipping in Portsmouth Harbour is significantly reduced but it is good that crossings to France still occur regularly.

    Thank you for your kind wishes. We are pleased to be back at the keyboard!

  32. Dani BP:
    We have a collection of old coins and it is quite amusing to look back and recall what could be bought for ha'pennies not SO long ago!!!

    The sinister sight of nine lines of warships is still imprinted on our memories even after so many years. And yes, a chilling motto indeed!

  33. I read last week that the Royal Navy can no longer afford upkeep on HMS Victory and that she may be turned over to commercial interests. There was some concern expressed that she may be rented out as a party boat in the future. Surely not?

  34. A house I certainly wouldn't mind owning... or living in. Is the inside as elegant and clean-cut as the outside?

  35. Greetings! It is good to hear from you after a while. You have narrated the row of ships in such a beautiful way that I can see them when I read the lines. I am sure you had a good time with your friends.
    Best wishes.

  36. LX:
    We had not heard of any plan to turn HMS Victory into a 'party' boat, but the cost of upkeep must be horrendously expensive. At present the ship is undergoing a major renovation and it would be sad to think of a glitter ball hanging over the spot where Nelson died!!!

  37. Librarian:
    Yes, the inside of the house has many period features which we are sure you would find, as we do, most appealing.

  38. Paisley Curtain:
    We did have great fun with Jeremy and Claire. Their travel adventures alone are most intriguing as are their tales of boats, boat races and boat owners past and present.

    Than you for your kind welcome back!

  39. You mention the loss of the Empire, I long for lots of things to come back but don't think it will happen.
    Was it really so much better then or am I seeing it through rose coloured glasses?

    The old Halfpenny, I remember it well and the silver sixpences, not that I got to actually use the sixpence but I had some for ages in a bottle. Farthings and threepenny bits, all gone, such a shame.

    Well no good mourning things must move on......now, how does this wretched computer work ????


  40. My dear Jane and Lance,

    I felt a thrill in my chest when I saw you on my sidebar, this morning -- have been thinking of you.

    This post was like a voice from a different experience of being human for me. Your descriptions of the fleet in the harbor raised a tension in my person and made my skin prickle. Reading brief glimpses into another time and another way of thinking humble me in the best way.

    I have broken my Lenten fast quite early over at Analog Breakfast, and covet your company, as always, there. Selfishly, I hope you will be posting regularly, as I love to feel that thread of connection with you, however slender -- always a comforting tug at the other end of the line. (It's shorter by wireless.)

    All love always,
    Your Suze

  41. What interesting post!
    I love harbors, although I grew up in a river town, far from any ocean.
    Water transports me always in my mind. Your comments on Navy and the rather bleak impressions they have made when they were still an impressive power left me thinking of Trafalgar and Nelson and the few things I remember of sea battles, pIrates and wars..
    This is what I so enjoy about your posts: They always bring thoughts, memories and I learn something new!

    Ha'penny is something I know only from Austen and Dickens.

    Your friends have a lovely place and to go swimming must be a a source of renewal and strength! Water gives life!

    Your pictures are wonderful, the Spinnaker Tower so impressive. I would so love to travel there one day...

    Sorry to sound a little staccato...Just thinking as I write!
    Hope you two are all good and looking forward to the next adventure! Big hug and kiss!

  42. Fascinating and charmed lives are lead by you two. Love all your houses, rooms... Etc.

  43. Forgot to thank you for the explanation on your beautiful artwork! Thank you!
    Just got in the mail the fabulous book by Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson about Charleston, the Bloomsbury house and garden!
    I'll spend many hours now in England!

  44. My GG Grandfather x 4 was a Commander in the Royal Navy, we have original letters from him date 1799. He was the gentleman responsible for 8 years of family history research, during which I read up on his era and life in the Navy in general, completely and utterly fascinating. He would no doubt be saddened to see our Royal Navy today.

  45. I remember being dragged by my father to Portsdown hill to watch the ships come home after the Falklands conflict. 'You will remember this' he said, and I do. As far as the eye could see there were little boats all turned out to welcome the Navy home - it was very moving.

    What lovely photos these are - the shades of battleship grey in nature and manmade. You're just missing a Turner sunset! xxx

  46. Crafty Cat Corner:
    The whole scene at Portsmouth Harbour served to make us recall and reflect upon the loss of an Empire but we do not mourn for its passing nor do we wish for its return.

    We have always thought that the youth of the day are our future and we look to them to see what changes there will be. Sadly, we are concerned that perhaps the opportunities so freely available to us may not be there for them.

    In a drawer in a table in our Drawing Room we have a small collection of old coins such as those you describe here. They do serve to remind one of times when so little money seemed to go a very long way!!!

  47. Suze:
    Dearest Fairy Goddaughter, how lovely to hear from you!We do feel that although our lives and yours must be so very, very different in so many, many ways, nevertheless, we are 'connected' by a thread of humanity that seems powerfully strong in this virtual world.

    It is so fascinating for us to be allowed a peek into your world through your thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams and we are so pleased to think that you too might find something of interest in what we write.

    We are now back in Budapest where time to blog is more freely available. We have so many stories to tell, so watch this space!

  48. Victoria Art:
    The sea in all its forms holds an endless fascination for us, for many of the reasons you describe so well here. It holds so many moods; the glamour of ocean going yachts, the azure blue of the Mediterranean or the freezing grey drizzle when sea and sky are all one shade of grey as on our February day in Portsmouth!

    Your book on Charleston sounds wonderful. If you have not been, then you really must put it on your visiting list as we are sure that you would find it all so beguiling. The house, the garden and everything about the lives of the Bloomsbury Set is so wonderfully fascinating in our view!

  49. Beatnheart:
    We are so grateful to have the freedom to enjoy the lives we lead and, of course, are blessed with the most fascinating and kind friends.

  50. Susan T:
    Gosh, how absolutely fascinating about your ancestor and his Navy life. What a remarkable archive collection you must have which surely must be riveting reading. What stories he could tell....

    Yes, the Royal Navy of today is a mere shadow of its former self. Although, we believe, that it is still a major armed force in international terms.

  51. Mrs Exeter:
    Yes, we rather feel that our own 'review of the fleet' experience was undertaken in pretty much the same circumstances as yours. But, how marvellous it is to be able to recall that day today!

    Wall to wall grey was the order of the day on that February morning....and not a Turner sunset in sight for our return home!

  52. I most certainly will.

    Gratified to know you are safely back home.

  53. Suze:
    We know, for your support is without parallel and for that we are truly grateful and appreciative. And yes, after such time away, it is so wonderful to be re-establishing our home routines.

  54. This is nostalgic indeed, of times long gone. But still was the England of the 60s and 70s to come, to revive the constituency :-)

  55. Dang I love that spinnaker shot! My dad and I are avid sailor on San Francisco Bay, but where ever you are sailors are united across the world for their love of the sea:)

  56. Pet:
    Oh yes, Cool Britannia and the Swinging 60s....those were the days!

  57. Mark Noce:
    We are sure that you are right. Sailors the world over seem never to be able to be far from a boat, a ship, the sea or just some water!!!

  58. None of these memories are mine. I've lived in the UK for a long time but not quite as long as this.

    I am glad to see that you have been out and about again, seeing the sights and visiting friends.

  59. What familiar pictures - The Curate commuted for many years on the ferry to the dockyard. We swam in Stokes Bay and had a boat in the marina.I taught in a school in The Crescent. Happy days!

  60. Friko:
    We are surprised that we have taken you down memory lanes outside of your own experiences. Suddenly, we seem much older than we imagine ourselves to be!!!

    Yes, it has been so good to have had the opportunity to catch up with friends and to hear all their news. The past two years have been difficult for doing this and we are making up for lost time!!!

  61. Harriet:
    How amazing!! Such a small world. We too taught in Gosport for a while at Bay House School, just next door to where our friends the Lines now live.

    We don't 'do' water when it comes to swimming, however!!!

  62. I feel such a foreigner. I know nothing of boats and ships and queens and empires, nor even halfpennies, but it is so good to hear from you once again.

    It seems you had also fallen off my Google Reader but I think I have you back now by following you once again.

    Oh, I do know that that is one beautiful house.

  63. Rubye Jack:
    But how wonderful it is that we have such very different experiences from which to draw. We always find your posts so fascinating and from a culture quite different in so many respects from our own. Variety is surely the spice of life!

    There is always something odd going on with Blogger....eternal vigilance is needed to keep up!! So happy to see your picture at the head of our Follower list!

  64. Dear Jane and Lance,

    I had just a moment this morning before leaving for school to glance through postings. I was so pleased to see your name there. I knew I had something wonderful awaiting me once I arrived home this afternoon. So good to have you back. I love ships and frequently daydream of wonderful adventures. Bonnie

  65. Bonnie:
    Thank you so much for your very generous comment. We are really touched by your kind words.

    Ships can suggest the most wonderful adventures, we agree. A life on the ocean waves sounds so romantic! As it happens, we can row quite well and are always attracted to boating lakes!!Less glamorous, but such fun.

  66. I love the tower. There is something so refreshing and calming about being near the sea. As usual I love learning from you. Hope all is going well for you both. Fifi x

  67. Fifi B:
    The Spinnaker Tower is indeed an impressive sight as it soars out of the water in the harbour.

    Thank you for your kind wishes. We are both well and happy to be returning to the everyday life!

  68. So very nice to see you again. Were it not for my mate, who is English, and who will never forget that the family was late to the local celebration for the Coronation, I would have many fewer references points! The home of your friends is my favorite photograph--what a lovely welcoming place. Thank you for taking us on your excursion, and I hope you had a wonderful time.

  69. Dickens wrote a good book. What a charming harbor, and I love the 1930's house.

  70. Ahhh history... is there anything more fascinating? :) I love your pictures as well!


  71. What a wonderful post and the house is charming.
    I am glad to see your post today.
    I was thinking about you both when my son just said out of the blue a few days ago.. I think I would like to visit Hungary !
    Sometimes fate is a hoot !

    cheers, parsnip

  72. How interesting to learn about the use of the ha'penny for the London Missionary Society. I can imagine all the children putting their bit into the box on Sundays. The people in that organisation were very skilled in raising money for their work abroad.

    You also dropped off my list but you are now restored.

  73. Cead Mile Failte Jane and Lance and so lovely to see you back and posting.
    Portsmouth is all new territory for me and another place to visit.
    Clair and Jeremy's home is beautiful and no doubt you had a fun time.
    I'm burning the midnight oil, so will say Good Night and again lovely to see you and wishing you continued good health and joy.

    Helen xx

  74. Dear Jane and Lance, how happy I am to see your post!
    Welcome back, and thank you for these wonderful images, and always fascinating history.
    I love everything associated with harbors, marinas, open water...perhaps because of my place of birth.
    That is one sweet little (maybe no so little) house! For a minute there, I thought you may be looking again ;)
    Have a wonderful rest of the week, dear friends!
    Warmest regards,
    - Irina

  75. Susan Scheid:
    How splendid to have been late for the local Coronation celebrations!! We still have mugs, which were presented, from that occasion - now used to hold pens and pencils on a desk. Claire and Jeremy's house is lovely - a perfect period piece.

  76. M Pax:
    Alas, we have never been true fans of Dickens and now, for ourselves, with so much superb modern fiction to be read think it unlikely that we shall ever go back to him.

  77. Kasia:
    We do so agree about history which is, or so it would seem, to be found everywhere. Portsmouth, because of the naval tradition, is of course steeped in it.

  78. angry parsnip:
    Claire and Jeremy's house is, as you may imagine, a splendid example of early 1930s domestic architecture and is one of a pair.

    How splendid that your son should want to visit Hungary. If he were to come, then you must let us know as we should be delighted to meet him and show him around.

  79. Christine:
    It was only in writing this post that it came back to us not only about the 'ship' half pennies, of which we seem to have something of a stack(!!), but also how they were collected, at Sunday School, we think, to be sent to the LMS. We wonder if that society still functions?

  80. helen tilston:
    It is lovely to be back!! Over the last few weeks or so we seem to have been rather taken up with things but hopefully, now, life is settling back into a pleasant pattern which allows time for blogging.

    We do agree about C & J's house which is, as you may imagine, something special.

  81. Palomasea:
    We do so agree with you, Irina, about the lure of the sea - something which we very much miss in landlocked Hungary. Portsmouth is fascinating on account of its naval tradition but for choice we should always choose sea which is more rugged, perhaps in the way in which Nature intended.

    And no, no moves in the pipeline for the moment!!

  82. Regardless of the fact that we share bonding through the internet, you blog post appear as we are talking face to face. Harbors are very appealing.. Thanks for sharing so much with all of us.

  83. Wonderful to see you back with us all once again! Alas the currency you write so intriguingly of is part of English culture I cannot share, but which is intrinsic to my husband's memory -- and to which he constantly refers when commenting on the price of things! I confess to rolling my eyes and his wishes to return to the pre-decimal system and the time before everything, in his opinion, went 'pear-shaped'!!

    We both do, however, adore 1930's art-deco architecture -- the house of your friends does indeed look just wonderful as a building and it sounds like it can boast a perfect location as well!

    Unfortunately, I've never been to Plymouth, though it is on my ever-growing list of places in Britain that I wish to see. And I have determined to go exploring starting this year as I pursue my wish of obtaining British nationality!

    So... God bless you both, welcome back and we all look forward to hearing from you a bit more often for a while!

  84. Naqvee:
    It really pleases us to think that we may, through our writing, be entering into conversation with so many virtual friends across the world. So much to be shared and learned from each other, we think!

  85. The Broad:
    Thank you so much for your warm welcome back. It is so good to feel in touch again with our many friends and Followers.

    Yes, 1971 does seem to have been a watershed for so much in terms of British culture and, in our view too, quite a lot as well as the currency went pear-shaped after that date!

    The 1930s and 1940s do indeed hold an attraction for us in terms of architecture, fashion and decoration. The Lines's house is an interesting example, although maintaining in good condition all the metal window frames is a labour of love!!

  86. You write beautifully about history, about thoughts, about so many interesting things... and I stop at "ocean going yachts" ... I am sorry that little swallow inside me, is an eager travelling one ....

    love to you my dear Hattatts

  87. Dear Jane & Lance - this is just a private message to say you got the location right - very well done. You are the second to get the correct answer after Val. I will announce the order tomorrow, but do not want to let on today, so my reply may seem to avoid answering you. I will come back later in the day to make a comment on this post when I have got the washing machine etc on the go.

  88. Great photos. Nice to see a hint of blue sky in the first. Will have to get to Portsmouth one of these days. My brother-in-law and his wife, and my niece, now live there, and my grandfather lived and worked there for a while before continuing on to New York.

  89. Gosh, what a fine clutch of landmark dates and historic significances (yes, I know that's not a real word ...).

    Not something I really have to worry about downunder!!!

  90. Demie:
    The mere sound of 'ocean going yachts' does conjure up the most adventurous of images and a life of glamour at sea. Jeremy insisted that it is all a great deal of hard work, but we rather suspect that this is a screen!!!!

    Thank you for your kind words. We hope that you are well and enjoying a happy week.

  91. Mitch Block:
    You must be the eternal optimist, dear Mitch, if you think that there is a hint of blue in that sky!!! Everything was grey on that day and an icy drizzle just completed the picture!

    How interesting that you have so many connections with Portsmouth. A visit to follow in the footsteps of your ancestors is surely a must!

  92. Red Nomad Oz:
    At least our knowledge of History is passable....unlike our Geography!!!!

  93. Dear Jane & Lance, what a charming Art Deco house, and so nice that they have retained the original windows. I did not know the half penny piece had Ind. Imp. on it and that they were collected for the London Missionary Society, but I do remember the old ship.

  94. You know, I believe a coronation mug still lurks in one of our cupboards, too. I suspect the mate knows exactly where . . .

  95. Rosemary [again]:
    What makes Claire and Jeremy's house so appealing is that the interior too retains most of its original fixtures and fittings. We are somewhat surprised that it is not listed as Gosport in the main, and with the notable exception of Bay House, virtually next door and built for the Baring family by Decimus Burton, and The Crescent in Alverstoke, contains little of any great architectural merit.

    Obviously, as you will be only too aware, Ind. Imp. ceased to be included on the coins after 1946 and so there are none for the reign of our present Queen.

  96. Susan Scheid [again]:
    Now, you must really look it out. All part of our [doubtful!!] heritage!!

  97. What a stunning sight Spinnaker Tower must be against a bright blue sky!

    Leaving Portsmouth Harbour is a strange, reflective experience, passing by a place full of history, and going out to sea on the Portsmouth /Caen ferry a few years ago now, it was still full of those battleship grey reminders of a bygone era.

    Thanks for the interesting post, good to have you back!

    Gill xx

  98. thank you for this lovely vogage from your part of the world where everything is so dignified. how lovely that through a click of a keyboard i'm transported from california. thank you!


  99. Gillyflower:
    Sadly, there was not a wisp of a blue sky to be seen over Portsmouth Harbour on the day of our visit!!The Spinnaker Tower did, however, look exceedingly glamorous when lit up at night and the restaurant at the top must have the most wonderful views...on a clear day that is!!

    So much shipping has gone from when the harbour was in its heyday, but it is good that there are still regular ferry services operating to keep the place alive.

  100. the gardener's cottage:
    Sadly, we could not transport the wonderful Californian sun to grey, drizzly Portsmouth!! The pictures say it all.

    And, how wonderful for us to be basking in sunshine while reading your post of today! Hoping you are having a happy week!

  101. how fascinating..... I make the trip to the Isle of Wight from there where a friend has a lovely old converted barn....I love the ferry ride!!

  102. Young at Heart:
    Yes, we have seen the Isle of Wight ferries moored in the harbour. They look much more stylish than those of yesteryear which we remember so fondly!!

  103. Dear Jane & Lance,

    So much has changed. In Holland as well. We used to have a big fleet too, but that was a long long time ago in the Golden century.

    Fifty years ago we had several colonies. Now there is only a handful left. My grandfather lived in the Dutch East & West Indies for several years. My father was born in the West. He saw Holland for the first time when he was sixteen years old. I cherish his memories of a bygone era! It probably is all for the good, but I can't help feeling nostalgic now and then too, like you :-)!

    Have a lovely evening,


  104. Madelief:
    How absolutely fascinating all of this is. It seems incredible that in such a relatively short time so much has changed. It really does seem that the pace of change quickens with every year which passes but, we wonder, is that just a process of getting older?

    Yes, one cannot help but feel rather wistful when one recalls these moments of history but, as we know you do too, we must look to the future whilst hopefully learning lessons from the past.

  105. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Though I hail from the U.S., I have fond memories of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, in part because my grandparents bought me a beautiful coronation mug which I used daily for milk, and also because my mother purchased a souvenir coronation coach. With the horses included, it was about 16 inches long.

  106. That house really is a period gem! I long to live in a 30s house.

  107. Oh that tower calls to me, such a great shape it has. Traveling by ferry is so relaxing. I like to go on deck and have the breeze blowing on me and the spray on my face, somehow it makes me feel invincible, I don't know why. So glad to hear the two of you are taking it easy and enjoying time with friends.

  108. Mark D. Ruffner:
    We too have some memory of the miniature Coronation coach and horses which you describe here, Mark, and believe that today they are much sought after and of value. We wonder what happened to yours, and if you still have it stowed away somewhere? And do you still have the mug?

  109. Anne:
    We do agree with you that there is something very appealing about the architecture of the 1930s - all of those sweeping lines and clean, functional spaces.

  110. Linda Starr:
    The Spinnaker Tower is certainly impressive and we imagine that the views from the top over Portsmouth Harbour, the Solent and towards the Isle of Wight must be rather spectacular, particularly on a clear day. However, as we have mentioned to another commentator, we were a little disappointed that it was/is not taller!!

  111. Thanks for the lovely story! The friends' house is beautiful!

  112. Rose:
    Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, Claire and Jeremy do have a most attractive house and it is certainly of a period which we favour.

  113. I too was delighted to see you are back at the keyboard. I had only just found you... as a new blogger....and then you seemed to vanish. Delighted you are back, and thoroughly enjoyed this post, Portsmouth, ships, ha'pennies and all. best wishes J.

  114. Ahhhh, the smell of the sea, you don't have to sell it to me as well you know. What a lovely house. I hadn't noticed the painting when first I looked, they are wonderful. I did notice the hens :-)
    I hope you are both well.

  115. Janice:
    Thank you for your warm welcome. At first our time away was not for pleasure, but then we took the opportunity to languish in Brighton and time just ran away with us!

    The day in Portsmouth made us rather nostalgic....we are not quite sure why!!

  116. YONKS:
    Indeed, Dianne, when we think of you in your floating house we can totally see its appeal. the sea in all its moods is a source of constant interest and intrigue to us and, we imagine, to you too.

    We are both well, we are pleased to say and we trust that you are too!!

  117. As a young girl, i remember the half penny..
    That was before my parents ventured to darkest africa.
    I am not too sure..but i think the N R "Sagres" was amongst the tall ships on that day..
    I have never been to Portsmouth.. I have cousins in the navy there.
    I have sailed out of London docks on the big liners.
    During my travels with my parents.

    Sailing today, is mainly in the Atlantic and the med.
    One day i would love to sail around Portsmouth and visit ..
    As always Jane and Lance your blogs are so so interesting.
    Its always rewarding to be with old friends and catch up.. great photos..
    must mention.. our old yacht "Scally" was built and designed by a greek naval architect in south africa.. but the design was based on Camper Nicholsen.. a fantastic yacht..

  118. Val's Alentejo blog:
    What a small, small world! How intriguing that your boat 'Scally' was based on a Camper Nicholson design. Jeremy has been responsible over the past two years for the organisation of a vast array of archive material belonging to Camper Nicholson and it does make fascinating reading about who commissioned the boats, their designs, the materials and the cost.

    And, how interesting that you have cousins based in Portsmouth. Perhaps they can be the very reason that you make a visit there one day?

  119. What I know abut Portsmouth is a treaty of peace to mark the end of Russo-Japanese war in 1905. I didn’t know Dickens was born in Portsmouth. Is “grey gloom of sea and sky” typical there? The ferry’s color of green and blue brightens up the seascape a little. The 1930s house is charming, I’m curious what is on the other side of the door.

    Wish you bright spring sooner.


  120. Stardust:
    Well, now we have learned something. We have not heard of the 1905 Peace Treaty!

    It was particularly grey and gloomy on the day of our visit but we have visited in glorious sunshine and everything looks much more cheerful then!

    Yes, it is always enticing, we think, to have an open door. A very warm welcome greeted us from within!

  121. Yes indeed, I attended Bay House from 1996-2001, and my junior school was Marycourt, which is on Crecsent Road (surely the prettiest street in Gosport). Sadly the school is closed now, but it was old fashioned and lovely :)

  122. Eleni:
    Amazing! Our paths would not have crossed at Bay House as we left in 1989, but we imagine that the Head, Richard Cootes was still there for at least some of your time? And, by any remote chance, was Claire Lines, our friend, still teaching then? She taught Modern Languages.

  123. I am out of the loop here and have not a lot of knowledge of British history. But...I'm glad you are back...love that Spinnaker tower!
    And the home you stayed in.
    I see you taught school? And your friend Jeremy is 80 and swims daily :)

  124. Auntie Bliss:
    Thank you for your warm welcome. We often find ourselves 'out of the loop' so you are not alone!!

    Yes, we were both teachers at one point in our lives. English and Mathematics were our subjects,but it would be telling to say who taught what!!

  125. The Lines' house is lovely - but then I tend to think many things from the thirties are lovely!

  126. I, too, love your friends' house, Jane and Lance. It looks like a place where Hercule Poirot and his friends would feel right at home. :)

    Coincidentally I am reading a Patrick O'Brian book for the first time: MASTER AND COMMANDER. It takes place when England was master of the seas and few dared go up against her on the water.

    As usual, I loved reading your post. I always learn something new and interesting and always enjoy your point of view on the world around you.

    Glad you're back. :)

  127. How I do love those old pictures of ships... it was a different life once upon a time. Would that I could park my yacht in a comfortable berth! Those were the days!!

  128. ChrisJ:
    Like you, we feel that so many things of the 30s have great appeal, particularly in the areas of architecture and design. How dreadful it is that such a creative decade culminated in the most appalling war.

  129. Yvette:
    You are absolutely right, Yvette, the Lines' house could well be a set for Poirot. We have not read any Patrick O'Brian and so must look him up. Certainly Britain can no longer be considered the naval power she once was.

  130. lostpastremembered:
    Times, as you say, Deana, have certainly changed particularly where ships and shipping are concerned. At Portsmouth what was once space for Naval vessels has now be turned into a Marina.

  131. Time is so fast now, I notice. That we live with the past, whether it's the 20th century or an age much more ingrained, and somehow yet we zoom into an unearthly future. I'm glad your boat kept your feet firmly planted on the water!

  132. Gardener in the Distance:
    What you say here is so true, dear Faisal, so much so that at times the past and the present seem almost to merge.

    Yes, happily our ferry did land us on terra firma. But we sat next to the life rafts to be absolutely certain!!

  133. Kalimera(Goodmorning)Jo Hetveget!;)

  134. Becky:
    Greetings, Becky. It is always good to catch up with what you are doing and to be in touch.

  135. I am not sure how i missed this post got lost in blogland somewhere. Their homes looks beautiful and it looks like you had a lovely visit. Thank you for your lovely comment over at mine. The op went well but he is very sore and makes for a very grumpy patient bless him. Have a lovely weekend, dee x

  136. Delia Hornbook:
    Yes, Jeremy and Claire have a most interesting house in a wonderful position in Stokes Bay. We are sure that you would love all the period touches.

    We are so pleased that your son's operation went well. Now it is all over, he can focus his energies on recovery which is so much more positive.

    Wishing you too a lovely weekend!!

  137. Also here in Venice it's often shorter by water! Thanks for visiting.

  138. I've never been to Portsmouth before, but I have passed the Spinnaker Tower when I've cruised from Southampton, very impressive all lit up and glowing, but I don't know if it serves any useful purpose other than an observation tower.

  139. Hi there Jane and Lance,
    You and your vast audience of admirers can now relax. A drum roll is in order as one of my eagerly anticipated, much sought after, award winning comments, graces your illustrious site. I wonder if you will be amongst the finalists, perhaps the winners, of next year's 'Blogger's Got Talent'? After all, you have a rare gift, I firmly believe you could put up a photograph of the remains of a discarded kebab. A poignant reminder of any Friday or Saturday night, in any town, city or village in this green and pleasant land. Yes, you have my admiration and the zillion comments you get, are testimony to your ability to bring forth fascinating topics with photos that have interesting correlating captions.
    Anyway, dear Jane and Lance, I shall leave this comment rather short. So, without repeating what others have stated, all I can say is that this has brought me a yearning to revisit Portsmouth.
    Have a peaceful and positive weekend.
    With respect, shy and humble Gary

  140. dona:
    Ah, yes, but the waters of Venice have a universal appeal which has not, sadly, yet extended to Portsmouth.

  141. klahanie:
    You flatter us, and how delightful is that! Rather sadly, in our view, from the little we have seen and know, Portsmouth stands in the vanguard of the discarded kebab, and Coke tin come to that, which represent so much of the Britain of today. It seemed to us perfectly fitting that we should be crossing the harbour on the dullest of February days with the result that all of the images appear lifeless and grey. But, in these days of political spin, which we can only hope to emulate, however poorly, we have attempted to take a positive angle - hence the picture of the Spinnaker Tower!!

  142. Mitzi:
    In truth, and based on our very limited experience, you have missed very little indeed. But 'cruising' down Southampton Water - now surely there is a blog post there?!!!

  143. I adore Portsmouth, although I have relatives there, I don't often see them, I used to spend a fair amount of time in the Navy Docks, love the feeling of history on Victory, how wonderful it is to stand on the oldest commissioned warship in the world. I'm not sure what I feel about them selling it off like that, slyly and secretively and all because of government cuts. Oh I know they claim it isn't sold off, it is now a charity trust and whatnot, but, well, I'm moaning, sorry, I didn't mean to.

    I've always though Gosport was underrated too!

  144. A smaller fleet is a good thing....too many wars have been fought already....but the romance of the sea still sparkles....Ships at rest are a beautiful sight.....hope your holiday was full of fun and mischief!

  145. Hi again, Jane and Lance:

    Unfortunately, the collectible coronation coach was eventually lost in one of my parents many moves (my Dad was in the service), but I still have the mug and use it ocassionaly as a flower vase.

  146. Jason Shaw:
    We are so pleased to note that Portsmouth has at least one admirer!! Try as we might, we really cannot warm to the place and the wall to wall grey on the day of our visit reflected our mood completely.

    However, we totally agree with you about the Victory. Such a splendid and iconic piece of British history deserves to be preserved in style.

  147. Mermaid Gallery:
    Yes, we absolutely agree with you about the mighty Navy, we do not mourn for its passing at all. But, as you say, there is something romantic about ships at rest on the sea....perhaps it is the thought of which exotic locations they may be sailing to, even if it is only the Isle of Wight!!!!

  148. Mark D. Ruffner:
    Oh, what a pity about your coronation coach. Still, at least you are putting your commemorative mug to good use. Ours are all employed as pencil holders on our desk!

  149. First of all dear Jane & Lance...I thank you dearly for your comforting comment...I was very, very touched.
    Secondly, our weather right now looks exactly like your images - gloomy gray...not very good for the spirits. To have seen the harbour on a sunny blue skied day, in Nelson's day, would have been magnificent I'm sure...and very cheering & inspiring, shame the port isn't filled with the fleet any longer.
    Your friends house is wonderful...very 1930's, simple yet graced with the perfect amount of detail, wonderful!
    The very best to you both...and warmly again, thank you. ♥
    xo J~

    (By the way...nice to have you back!) :)

  150. Literally after visiting you just now, I alighted over to The Persephone Post's blog, and the most recents posts all have to do with *Brighton*...thought you might want to take a peek.
    xo J~

  151. 24 Corners:
    Thank you so much for these two comments, Jessica, as it is always so good to be in touch either here or at 24 Corners. We shall certainly look at Persephone Post's blog and how intriguing that she should be writing about Brighton.

    Yes, we imagine Portsmouth Harbour to have looked very different in Nelson's day and even in quite recent times when much of the Royal Navy was based there it had an air of purpose and activity which, sadly, appears to be missing today.

    After some lovely sunny, but cold, days here in Budapest, today has turned grey and overcast. No good for the spirits!!

  152. Thank you, dear Jane and Lance, for visiting! It is always a JOY to see your messages...
    Carpe Diem indeed! Thank you for inspiring all of us, and living this philosophy!
    Wishing you a beautiful day...hope you're having some mild sunshine :)
    - Irina

  153. Palomasea [again]:
    Dear Irina, it is always a pleasure to read your posts!

    It has been somewhat overcast today with a little rain. We are sure that once the sun comes out to stay spring will certainly be with us!

    Hoping that you are enjoying a happy and relaxing Sunday.

  154. Hello! Thank You very much for your beautiful comment in my blog! Yesterday I could not write the comment in your blog.You know that I do not know the English very well.I translated this post.It is very interesting post! Very historical. Beautiful photos!

  155. Amin:
    This is such a kind comment. Thank you very, very much. We think that your English is very good and we so appreciate your taking the time and trouble to read our posts.

  156. Hello Jane Lance,
    Happy to have you back...and oh another place I hope to visit one day. Your posts are always filled with history. Love your friends home. The doors and windows and facade are just beautiful!
    annie diamond

  157. Hello Jane and Lance, I hope you are all rested and that spring will not be too long a wait for you now. I feel a bit out of my element in this post. I vaguely remember we too had half pennies but cannot conjure up an image. Love the feeling you create with your words . . . ". . . silent ships at anchor, sinister and threatening . . . very poignant post. Want peace . . . prepare for war . . . Isn't that what Iran is trying for . . . How strange and frightening the world is.
    Your friends home looks charming in a sleek art nouveau sort of way. Greetings to you both from Massachusetts.

  158. Annie:
    Thank you so much. Although Portsmouth is steeped in history, mainly naval, and is Dickens birthplace, it is not, possibly, the most exciting place to visit. But that said, we do not know it at all well.

  159. Carol:
    Yes, there are, thankfully, already signs of spring and the days here not only are visibly lengthening but are also noticeably warmer. We do hope that it is the same for you and that soon you will once more be able to enjoy your garden to the full.

    We can never, for one moment, imagine you to be out of your element and certainly not in the way in which we are when it comes to butterflies. But thanks to your wonderful, beautifully illustrated posts on the subject, we are getting somewhere!!

    1. Jane and Lance . . . Yes, spring is here today and for a few more to come anyway. It is grand to have the windows and doors OPEN to the air! Snowdrops are up and the birds are sooo excited. I might just see my first butterfly over the next few days. The Mourning cloaks will be waking up. So glad you are enjoying the butterflies . . . I only have a couple more for that series. I have to be more careful in the habitat to attract more species here.

    2. Dearest Carol, we absolutely agree with you about being able to throw caution to the wind and open all windows. Sadly, the days are still not warm enough for that here although increasingly the sun's rays have more strength.

      You live in such a beautiful part of the world and take so seriously your role as one of Nature's guardians. You are an inspiration!

  160. I love the ocean! I love maritime history and it's a dream of mine to see the HMS Victory. Paraphrasing Peter Weir (famous movie director, responsible for the movie, "Master and Commander: on the far side of the world), "reading the 'Master and Commander' series of books [all twenty of them)] was the greatest reading experience of my life." It felt like going through a time machine and like I had traveled around the world several times over. Now, reading this post feels like reading the beginning of the sequel...

    You know, it's a funny thing how I have an alternate world that totally agrees with those stories - that we were 'the bad guys'. Captain Jack is quite the beloved hero! ;)

    btw, those ferries do just zoom along, don't they? It's a good thing because the trip always gets boring, after a while but, then, in no time, we're there.


  161. Oh! the spinnaker tower is BEAUTIFUL! =]

  162. Katy Noelle:
    It is many years since we last visited HMS Victory, but we are certain that you should love it. Such an iconic ship and to see the spot where Nelson died makes one feel part of history.

    We too love the sea in all its moods, indeed, in rough weather we feel that the sea is at its best, although that does not always make for the most comfortable of crossings. These days, when we travel from England To France we generally go via the 'Chunnel' and so really miss sailing across the Channel.

    We applaud your tenacity in reading the entire 'Master and Commander' series but can well imagine that it painted incredible pictures of maritime history throughout the decades.

    The Spinnaker Tower is an impressive sight and does appear to be sailing out to sea....!!!

  163. Dear Jane and Lance - the words "who now remembers" caught me totally off-guard. Indeed, who now remembers but those of us who care and, unfortunately, all too soon we will be fewer and fewer.
    Ah, I'm feeling bittersweet and overwhelmed but visiting here and seeing the water brings comfort. My beloved Appalachian Mountains bring comfort as well; both are a balm in Gilead.

  164. Remembering some of these moments of history is so important, we feel if one is to both acknowledge the past, reflect upon it and make for a better future. We can so easily see that for you at this particular time, this must be a bittersweet feeling as you look back on such happy, joyful times and face the future with a degree of uncertainty and trepidation.

    But, it is so true that water, the sea or the mighty ocean can all bring a sense of calm in troubled times. And, of course, that most inspiring and uplifting landscape in which you are so fortunate to live must bring you, we hope, a feeling of refreshment and renewal as the seasons turn.

    You are in our thoughts, dearest Sandra. You are not alone.

  165. Aha, I see from your footnote that I was no alone in wondering about the paintings, and whether the portrayal was of yourselves :)

    I am quite taken with both paintings, and have enlarged as much as possible on my small-ish computer screen.

    1. We are so pleased that you like the paintings. The boy on the mantlepiece was purchased from a friend's antique shop and the other was bought at a Brighton 'Artist Open House'.


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