Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday and my fourth day in Portsmouth

Well tonight I'm going to take the plunge and purchase twenty-four hours of internet time. In my free moments I've been trying to keep an eye open for some kind of free internet hot spot, but I've not come across any. I really need to check in and see what's been happening back home, so at this point there's no way around it. But before I log in and start the clock running I'll recap my Wednesday.

I worked in the archives this morning and into the early afternoon. My plan was to look at more items, but late last night I came up with another reason to continue working in the Calm database--it would allow me to search for booklets and pamphlets that may not yet be listed in my Doyle/Holmes bibliography. I was able to check everything from 1994 to 2004, so feel that I came away with a pretty good list of items to check. I think at this point I've got about ten pages of notes plus some printouts, so there's a pretty good record of my research and its results. When I get back home I'll take the time to cross check my bibliography.

Shortly before 1pm I left the archives and took a stroll across the plaza to the public library. It turned out that nothing was scheduled with the library staff on the project so I ventured through three floors of collections and was very impressed on how busy it was (so busy, in fact, that I saw few open public terminals; those that were open were dedicated to the online catalog). I was tempted to spend some time searching, but realized that I'll be back at the library tomorrow for a meeting with the exhibition staff, so I'll try to get some exposure to the Spydus system when there are some staff who might be able to show me some of the fine points. Equally tempting, and one that I sucumbed to, was the sunshine and good weather. So I took the afternoon off (my back was also showing signs of starting to spasm) and walked over to the historic dockyard district. After a walk around (I found out that the large ship I spotted on Sunday was the aircraft carrier Ark Royal) I decided to spend a bit on a ticket that would allow me into the various ships and museums. My timing was good for the 3:10 guided tour of Vice Admiral Nelson's ship, The Victory, that was so key in the Battle of Trafalgar. For its time (I think it went into service about 1760) it was an amazing warship. The cost of the ship in today's money would be about 50 million pounds. I had to watch my head during most of the tour so I wouldn't bump it on the ship's timbers, but beyond the stooping it was a very interesting tour of the ship. We traveled through all the decks, down into the bowels of the ship, and also saw the spot were Nelson fell in battle on the upper deck. There's a lot of information out there on Nelson and the battle, so I won't go into more specifics here, but I'm really glad I took the tour. It opened a new dimension to this point in history. If I heard correctly from the guide (who was very good), the crew was over 800. After the tour of the ship I went across the way to a museum dedicated to more information on The Victory and the Battle of Trafalgar. I stayed until the museum closed at 4:30.

After that I wandered around a little bit more. All the other exhibits in the historic dockyard close about the same time, so I'm going to make at least one (and maybe two) return visits. My ticket is good for a year (with the exception of The Victory and the Mary Rose, the ship from the reign of Henry VIII, and a harbour tour--you're only allowed one visit per ticket for those features), so I'll have plenty to occupy any remaining free time I have in Portsmouth. It looks like I might have tomorrow afternoon free and later on Friday; we'll just have to play it by ear. My feet are still playing havoc with me, so the going is a little slow, but I'm managing.

It was turning much colder as the sun was going down so I headed back to the hotel for the evening. The forecast is for frost in the morning and temperatures near freezing. I'm certainly getting a variety of weather.

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