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Written in a Travel Lodge in Portsmouth

In the end, we didn’t manage to do very much of anything in Portsmouth, other than haunting the streets in an attempt to find our lodging. But I don’t regret anything, because we saw all sorts of cool stuff on the way.

C has wanted to see a standing stone, so our first stop was Avebury. We didn’t get to see everything (I want to go back and look at the museum), but it was the first chance that we’ve had to take advantage of our NZ Historic Places Trust memberships, and it was really worth it. The old st

The second chance we had to use our Historic Places memberships was for parking at Stonehenge. We didn’t go in, opting to stand behind the fence next to the road in the light drizzle, but you’re not able to get very close regardless. One of the things that struck us was how small the site was, compared to the cathedrals and monuments that we’d been seeing; but once the age of the place started to sink in, it gave a certain perspective. I could imagine going back for a proper look one day.

Our final tourist stop was Salisbury Cathedral. Once again, we managed to accidentally get caught up in a tour; this meant that we got to see things like the dip-stick they use through the floor to make sure that there is enough water in the ground underneath the cathedral (since if the ground dried out too much, the walls might shift even more than they have, and there might be an accident). It was interesting in a completely different was to the other two cathedrals we’ve seen – because they shifted the site where the town was in the 12th century, they were able to start from scratch, and because they finished building it incredibly fast (under 40 years), all the main features were in one consistent style. One of the guides speculated that the fact that there wasn’t any religious house associated with the Cathedral (no nunnery or monastry), they may have gotten off more lightly during the Reformation than other centres. Oh, and they have a working mechanical clock that was made in the 1300s, with all the mechanisms out on display. And one of the three copies of the original Magna Carta, which was… quite small, considering how important it ended up being.

We then headed into Portsmouth, where we were unable to find our accommodation until we gave up and asked a helpful barman; we then checked in, and popped into an Aldi to grab something to eat. It was… odd. Margie suggested that it was what it might be like if there was a supermarket that only carried Pams-brand products; and no-one seemed very happy to be there, including the staff. But we managed to scrape something together (cursing the fact that most places have no microwave or fridge – I had pot noodles), and then watched a bit of BBC news, chatted for a bit, and went to bed.