Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thursday and my fifth day in Portsmouth

Here's another shot from the historic dockyard and the aircraft carrier Ark Royal. I've got a few hours of 'net connection left from my hotel room, so I'll give you a brief update on the day. It was pouring rain when I got up and stayed that way for most of the morning. It was also on the cold side. Time and again there were hints of snow flakes, but for the most part it was rain. This was the first day on my trip that it was bad enough to use my umbrella.

I spent most of the morning at the City Library sitting in on a meeting with Claire, Michael, Katie, and Neil. I met Katie and Neil for the first time today. Katie works at the City Museum and is responsible for exhibits. Neil is the academic advisor for the project and connected with the University of Winchester. The purpose of the meeting was to review items selected by Katie and Michael related to "The Hound of the Baskervilles" for updating one of the cases in the exhibit on display in the museum. They started first with the books and then moved to the archival materials (which included some very interesting stills, cards and posters from various movie adaptations of the Hound). There were also some other items, like pieces from a chess set. As the morning progressed the various items found themselves in either a "yes" pile or a "no" pile. The "yes" pile will be considered further in terms of what will work best in the exhibit case. There will be some additional material sought, e.g. Jeremy Brett and Ian Richardson items, but they seemed to make a good start on selecting items for the case. It was very kind of them to let me sit in on the meeting. Claire has a very busy schedule (which makes me even more appreciative of the time she's given to me) so bowed out of the meeting early on. I'll see her again tomorrow, along with Neil, for lunch. That will be my last full day in Portsmouth.

After the meeting broke up I made my way to one of the online catalogs in the library and played around with some searches for Conan Doyle, etc. I was able to do a keyword search on the collection name as well, so this gave me a pretty good idea of how much material is cataloged and in the system, i.e. somewhat around 6,700 titles. I believe this catalog is accessible from the web, so I'll have a chance to play around with it some more when I get home. But it does all the things you'd want a catalog to do such as narrow or sort search results. Most of the collection appears to be in reference, i.e. it doesn't circulate but is available for use in the library. I think that's a good thing.

After my time with the catalog I left the library and headed back to my hotel. I was going to take advantage of that time (and the poor weather, or "rubbish" as Claire characterized it) and get more work done, taking advantage of my 24 hour internet connection. But my room had not yet been made up and I didn't want to have to hassle with the cleaning staff, so decided instead to head back to the historic dockyard and use up as much of the rest of my ticket as possible.

I went first to see the hall that houses the remains of the Mary Rose. This was a ship in service during the reign of Henry VIII that sank (in his sight) during a battle in the 1500s (sorry I don't have the exact date) off the Solent near Portsmouth. It was raised during the last couple of decades and is undergoing preservation. The remains of the hull are being sprayed with a special wax that will get into the wood and preserve it. So when you go into the hall housing the ship you see the hull awash from sprayers. What is on display is very interesting and gives you a good idea of the structure of a Tudor warship. After the Mary Rose I went across the way to two more galleries that are part of the Royal Naval Museum. One gallery was devoted to Lord Nelson and the other to the sailing Navy. By this time I was just at the right place to catch the next harbour tour in a small launch. We sailed past much of the naval berths and drydocks and got some very nice views of ships, the city and the harbor. It was a bit nippy on board, with a brisk breeze and little sun, so by the end of the tour most of us had huddled in the enclosed part of the craft. Back on land, I walked across the way to the Mary Rose museum to view many of the artifacts that were retrieved during the underwater archeological process and to warm up. Here is another perspective on Tudor England, one that was very much hidden until the ship and some of her contents were re-discovered. After the Mary Rose Museum I criss-crossed over to the HMS Warrior. This is a much larger ship than The Victory, but actually had fewer crew (about 705). It was both sail and steam powered and in service in the mid-nineteenth century. The self-guided tour brings you through all the decks, down finally to the hold, boilers and engine room. I didn't have to stoop as much on board this ship and managed to make it all the way through without banging my head. Back on the upper deck the sun had returned. The late afternoon was bright and a little crisp. My feet were telling me that it was time to head back to the hotel.

So here I am, updating the blog, downloading photos, catching up on e-mail, etc. I've got about three hours of connectivity left before I'm shut down. If I think of anything else between now and then I'll shove in another post. Otherwise, you won't hear from me again until I'm back in London later on Saturday. Cheers!

1 comment:

Richard Sveum said...

Mary Rose sank on July 19, 1545.