Last Monday we went for a four night break to Portsmouth and environs. It was a trip of nostalgia as I was born and lived for many years in and around Portsmouth. Our first stop was at Butser Hill to remember my parents whose ashes were scattered there, at their request. They had visited Butser frequently and held a season ticket for the car park. We left two rosebuds from our garden, said a brief prayer for them and then had our picnic. The views from Butser are stunning. We then took a trip round Horndean and Rowlands Castle where both Ann and I had lived and where I was the organist & choirmaster for many years. At our Nuptial Mass the choir including 23 boys, one of the largest boys’ choirs in the Diocese were photographed with us outside the church..
We stayed at an hotel on Hayling Island. I’m old enough to remember going there as a child on what was known as the Hayling Billy, a small gauge steam engine. Although the line ran at a profit, it suffered the Beaching axe in 1963 as the bridge from the mainland onto the Island needed repair and it was considered too costly. It was great fun catching the train at Havant which during school holidays was loaded with kids but the station was quite a distance from the beach and we would walk there bearing our sandwiches and swimming gear. It always seemed twice as far on the walk back! In those days there was white sand and sand dunes everywhere but we couldn’t find any white sand and the dunes seem to have disappeared as well. Hayling is an area renowned for people quickly getting sunburnt and great care needs to be taken.
On Tuesday we went to Fishbourne Palace to explore the remains of the Roman palace. Although there were several parties from schools the children were all well behaved. It was then on into Chichester for lunch. Afterwards Ann visited the Cathedral whilst I stayed in the grounds as by then my legs were aching. I am delighted to say that Chichester Cathedral welcomes visitors without asking them to pay an entrance fee. I deplore being asked to pay to go into a Cathedral. I have visited Chichester Cathedral many times in the past so didn’t mind not being able to make another visit.
On Wednesday we visited Petworth House using our National Trust Life Membership which the parish gave me when I retired. Petworth House contains the largest collection of pictures owned by the National Trust but I can’t say I was impressed by the house itself. Having seen it from the road many times, this was my first visit and I was very disappointed. We were intending to have lunch at the restaurant at Petworth House but it was so expensive we went into the village instead and had a bite there with a wee drop of Gales HSB, my favourite beer. The drive to Petworth went through Slindon Woods which was picturesque and we drove back on the A272.
To be continued