Sunday 30 June 2013

A hot weekend

MrsJ  recently expressed a desire to get away for a weekend in the caravan, so I obliged by booking a couple of nights at a site in Bearsted, just of the M20 near Maidstone. I did tell her that I had an ulterior motive, and that was a visit to Chatham Historic Dockyard, some 20 minutes away. She thought it would be a short visit leaving time to go somewhere else!

We arrived about 10.15 to a nearly empty carpark, paid our fees (one and a cheap oldie) and spent the next 5 hours there. As we left the entrance building we saw the three historic ships that can be roamed around. HMS Gannett, the epitomy of Victorian gun-boat diplomacy currently being restored (I hope they fit replica engines, the boiler room looks so empty) and I took a few photos of the interior.
photo taken from bridge of HMS Cavalier
booked a timeslot for a tour of HMS Ocelot, the Cold War submarine (I know submariners were volunteers, I didn't realise they had to slightly barmy too). Various little snippets from the guide - crew only allowed one change of clothing, often wore same clothes all week then turned underwear inside out for a second week, 21 crew members living/sleeping/eating in a room not much larger than my garage, - I realise that those old films don't exaggerate the crowded conditions at all.
An audio tour of the 1940s/50s destroyer HMS Cavalier. we covered the whole ship from deck to bridge. Again, surprising how cramped everything was.

Mrs J to give a sense of scale. According to my memory of the information plaque (nothing to write with) this is a scale model of a Kilo class submarine, and was one of those used in the Bond film "Thunderball". We also saw a model of HMS Victory used in the film "That Hamilton Woman", again larger than expected.

A tour of the Ropery, still producing rope commercially but under private enterprise, was a joy. Our lady guide became a Victorian ropewalk worker and went through the whole process, ending up with assorted group members helping make a rope. It must have been extremely noisy when going flat out, and no Health and Safety either.

The various "show sheds" of models and paintings didn't allow photography, and though there were only a few of the models on display from the NMMs collection, it was possible to look through a window into an environmentally controlled  storeroom and see others. I believe that if you want to view a particular model this can be arranged In advance.

All in all, an enjoyable day, and MrsJ says that she wasn't too bored by it. I'll have to go somewhere feminine now, to repay her.

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