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Posts from the ‘UK & Turkey ’12’ Category

London (& UK) last hurrah

And then my five weeks were up. I had one final day to tick off some final things before dad and I were due at Heathrow in the evening. Mum on the other hand would be staying on for another week to partake of some Diamond Jubilee events (including a concert with her beloved Russell Watson).

The weather was again amazing and it lent itself to covering a bit of ground on foot. Which wasn’t the best for dad’s knee but he coped admirably. He and I set off, leaving mum behind to catch up on stuff. We tubed to Trafalgar Square and trotted off down Whitehall.

The Cenotaph – tricky to get a clean snap through the streams of traffic

My main priority of the day was to go through the Churchill War Rooms.

Nice pose Father

The rooms were really interesting and I ran out of time to do justice to the huge wealth of information in the museum at the end. Needless to say, dad was done and dusted long before I emerged.

From the map room

Door to Churchill’s underground office and bedroom

Our arrival at the War Rooms had coincided with the arrival on Horse Guards Rd of a long ribbon of Foot Guards en route to the parade grounds. A really impressive sight and after cross-checking photos with information, I think all five army regiments from which Foot Guards are drawn were represented.

And as if through divine synchronicity, by the time I emerged from the War Rooms they were heading back.

Off to the marching grounds (shoes = immaculate)

Returning (shoes = filthy)

The Horse Guards parade ground – quieter than it was a few minutes before

I wanted to show dad Buckingham Palace and the NZ War Memorial in Hyde Park Corner so we did the Mall and Constitution Hill circuit.

St James’s Park

Heading off down The Mall, the various barricades and Jubilee preparations getting in the way of a usually very scenic walk through the St James’s Park area

Containing the masses outside Buckingham Palace

I had to do some tippy-toe contortion, around people and above their heads, to get a photo through the fence of the goings-ons in front of the palace

Walking to the NZ War Memorial

The wreaths may have been from ANZAC Day one month earlier

By now dad’s knee had had enough so we tubed back and found mum. The rest of the afternoon was sorting out stuff until it was time for us to do the final luggage heave-ho down to Paddington where mum waved us goodbye onto the express train to Heathrow.

Dad was well ready to be getting back to familiar surrounds and I had loved my time in the UK but was looking forward to getting back home to Mike and celebrating my birthday. (I had fleetingly considered timing the flights such that I would spend my birthday in the air, which on the return would mean losing a day… meaning I could avoid actually turning 40…)

I think dad was quite pleased to be going home

Just 24 hours in economy to endure first. Sigh.

Big day of London sights (and a rooftop bar)

It was our second to last day in London and the weather gods were still in a good mood. This meant one thing: we had to get out and see stuff, as much stuff as possible. Mum and I had swapped notes about things we were each keen to see and with it being dad’s first time in London, a hop-on / hop-off bus tour made sense.

We made our way to Trafalgar Square where, somewhere, I was to pick up the pre-booked tickets.

Olympic clock in Trafalgar Square

Big kitties at the bottom of Nelson’s Column

Easier said than done (let alone where in this large area the bus stop actually was) and with a dented sense of patience we eventually connected with a bus.

A snap from the bus

And another

It was fairly slow going but we were on the open deck and had plenty of time to study our surrounds and take many uninteresting photos.

We got off at the Tower of London as much of what we wanted to see was in that area. This didn’t include going into the ToL as mum and I had been there done that previously (and dad wasn’t all that bothered).

We went to the Tower but not into the Tower

The first sight I was interested in was the nearby remains of the original Roman wall. This stuff fascinates me and later on I hunted down another section of it in the financial district.

A small section of the original London Wall near the Tower of London

And another section in Noble Street

With dad’s dodgy knee we had to watch the amount of walking we did but for now it was ok. We wandered across the iconic Tower Bridge which we had cruised under the night before.

Tower of London with financial district backdrop

I did a double take at the tractor on Tower Bridge

Busy! The Queen’s Walk from which we would access the HMS Belfast

I wanted to look through the Belfast, a museum ship since the early 1970s, and figured dad would probably be keen to as well. It had only been reopened a couple of weeks after being closed for six months following a partial collapse of the gangway.

View through a porthole

On the top deck

Activity overhead

With all my camera faffing around dad finished long before me and I eventually collected he and mum from the embankment to continue our improvised walking tour. Plans had been made to catch up with a cousin of mine after he finished work and it made sense to head to the financial district and stay there until it was time to meet Steve.

View from London Bridge

We stopped by the monument to the Great Fire of London

Mum and I left dad to rest his knee at the statue of Wellington near the Bank Station crossroads and we went off to find churches and stuff.

Walking round the side of St Paul’s Cathedral

We popped into St Paul’s before retreating at the sight of the entry fee. Still I would’ve felt short-changed to have paid all that money and not have been able to take photos. Anyway, the exterior is stunning enough.

The front left tower of St Paul’s

We then split up so that I could find the Temple Church and more of the London Wall. I was half successful. Conveniently, the Temple Church had just closed before I got there so I had to again be happy with a nosey around the outside. The wall I found after a bit of a walk and was worth the effort.

A statue at the Temple Church

I found mum and dad back at Wellington around the time that normal people were finishing work. Steve and Sheree arrived and whisked us to nearby bar Coq d’Argent – the perfect choice for tourists as it turned out. A rooftop venue with a lawn area and fantastic views. Very cool.

Mum and dad waiting for drinks to arrive on the lawn of Coq d’Argent

Superb views, though my squeamishness with heights didn’t see me peering over the edge for long!

Drinks now acquired: me with my cousin Steve and his girlfriend Sheree

The locals took us somewhere else for dinner – and with the promise of a restaurant that served only steak and chips, I suspected dad would feel the long day had been worthwhile! I don’t often blah on about restaurants or food-related travel experiences because it’s typically not something I’m interested in reading about myself, and I’m not a foodie (except when it comes to consumption). However, Relais de Venise l’Entrecôte deserves a mention because it was fantastic.

At dinner (which was utterly YUM)

No menu, just a salad starter and steak plus frites for the main, served in two batches. There’s no way in heck I eat meat that’s anything less than well and truly dead and mine came out beautifully well done. The sauce was so delicious it would probably be liquid death if you came here too often. Not quite done after that, we all embraced the occasion with dessert. I chose profiteroles. Wow.

Full of enough calories to last the next week, we shared a cab back home. It had been a big day, but there would be no slacking off tomorrow!

Thames dinner cruise: a day-to-night perspective from the river

I looked into river tours while researching stuff to do in London with mum and dad. An evening cruise with dinner sounded good as being after hours it would give us more flexibility to squeeze in daytime activities to our very limited time, and I liked that it went up to the Thames Barrier (in fact that was quite a selling point for me). I booked three tickets for Sunday night – the same day we went to high tea. Call it a continuation of my London birthday.

We reported to Westminster Pier at bit after 7pm and found a bunch of others also waiting for the ‘Showboat’. Once onboard we were shown to our table in what was a large restaurant type space, and the dinner service began. I think we stayed moored until the meal was fairly well advanced.

Waiting. Would we be caught in the crush of a boarding frenzy?

The pier was just across from the London Eye and County Hall

Appreciators of the starter which contained icky seafood things

Once we were away and puttering downriver, mum and I were more interested in taking in the sights from the upstairs deck and would dart up and down in between completing the courses. I was surprised that the majority of people stayed inside for the whole trip.

That big clock tower thing

One of four Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) stations on the Thames

Under the Millenium Bridge

Southwark Bridge with the recently completed Shard, a new landmark on London’s skyline

Ahead is Tower Bridge as we approach the permanently moored HMS Belfast

The Belfast was on my to-do list

At some stage the ‘show’ part of ‘showboat’ cranked into gear. A covers singer. She was good, and I’m pretty sure there was dancing, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. There were lots of other partakers though.

I was more interested in not missing the sunset!

Me with my trusty point-and-shoot. It had served me well for the last couple of weeks after my other camera threw a hissy fit

Cruising through Greenwich where, somewhere nearby, are the sources for both Greenwich Mean Time and the prime meridian. The boat is the Cutty Sark, which had recently been reopened after a fire in 2007, and the dome houses one end of the Greenwich foot tunnel which goes underneath the Thames

These stunning buildings (best seen front on) are known as the Old Royal Naval College, which closed in 1998. In its former lives it was also a palace and hospital

Greenwich Power Station is 100+ years old but is still used as a standby electricity supply for the London Underground

The O2 arena

We sort of saw the Thames Barrier

This was disappointing. I was really quite interested to see the Thames Barrier and this tour seemed to provide a good opportunity. Luckily we were upstairs at the time our proximity to the barrier got a brief mention on the commentary as we were suddenly turning around to head back to town. My opportunity to see it was rapidly evaporating so I quickly snapped a few photos but they were rubbish. I felt the tour under-delivered (or over-sold) this feature and I gave them feedback accordingly.

About to go by The O2 again. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the pole in the top left corner is part of the Emirates Air Line, the cable car across the Thames which opened a month later in time for the Olympics

Me getting in the way of a perfectly good view of the Tower Bridge illuminated

And by now we were well ready for the tour to finish. It was worthwhile, the views from the river in daylight and dark outweighing any negatives. The meal was good and there was opportunity to both enjoy the food and nip upstairs for unobstructed city views. And we lucked out on the perfect night weather wise.

Bed was a couple of tube rides away so we lingered locally for a couple of uniquely London photos on our way to the station.

A girly afternoon in London

After playing ladies and gents at The Ritz I decided to spend the afternoon with Danielle. It would be good to see the neighbourhood she had settled into and, no doubt, find a cold wine (or two) somewhere.

It was a stinking hot day. I’d already had to scramble an outfit to wear to the high tea, as what I brought over from NZ was going to be ridiculously hot. Our hotel was half an hour’s walk from Long Tall Sally, a shop I occasionally mail order from, so it had been a novelty to visit in person the day before.

So while I solved the first problem, now that I’d be spending the afternoon mostly outside, I was overdressed. Melting. Sticky. Ugh.

We bussed over to the Sloane Square area and popped into Dan’s apartment. A quick tour and wardrobe change later we left and she introduced me to one of her neighbours, Peter Jones, whom I took a real shine to. PJ is of course a honking great department store and our mission was to find something a bit cooler for me to change into. There were so many gorgeous clothes I could only wander round in a random, slightly dazed manner, but with Dan’s gleeful encouragement a couple of purchases were made.

As I wistfully walked out (enjoying the slight breeze that was now able to blow around my legs), I secretly hoped that this wouldn’t be a one-off fling. Perhaps I’d be able to visit PJ again one day.

Meanwhile, Dan had a plan for where we could find a wine (or two). Now clearly there aren’t a shortage of licensed establishments in London but she had been somewhere before which had a garden bar, and that sounded just the thing for a hot, sunny day.

Not really knowing how far up such-and-such road it was, we walked… and walked. Feet gradually acquired blisters but being the big girl I am, I sucked it up and besides there were so many distractions around. This was about a week or so out from the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Bunting was up in many places we visited on the trip – it created not just a nice aesthetic but a festive atmosphere

Many shops had window displays themed for the Diamond Jubilee

Have I become little or is that corgi especially large?

And finally with the words “ahh there it is” Dan found our watering hole. We procured a shaded table in a little corner of the garden, the perfect place to while away a couple of hours with a wine (or four).

What better way to round out the afternoon?

All too soon it was time to find a cab. We could easily have carried on but I needed to get back to the hotel to meet mum and dad, for there was still the Thames dinner cruise left on the day’s agenda.

A brilliant afternoon.

Birthday High Tea @ The Ritz

We left our cottage in Durley, said goodbye to the Merc in Reading*, and caught the train to London. A budget hotel near Paddington would be our home for three nights, then dad and I would fly home.

* where I managed to leave the mount for our satnav still attached to the windscreen, not discovered until I got home. Dummy.

I’d been to London briefly twice before (including at the start of this trip) and had expected to not like it. The opposite happened. So I was glad to have another couple of days there – even if it was only a couple of days. And even if this time would force me to start crossing the threshold into another decade….

Ten years ago for my 30th I had a joint party with my father who turned 60 around the same time (it was billed as our ‘90th’). As it transpired, within a few months I began my 30s by leaving a city and a marriage and starting what has become a great new life in Wellington.

I wasn’t as inclined to be quite so dramatic this time round. But what to do for the 40th? Another party? Travel? Both? 🙂

The trip concept with mum and dad started to take form, which was partially built around being able to celebrate dad’s 70th in St Andrews. Between that, the family history stuff, and proximity to my birthday, the trip went from concept to certainty. I would meet mum and dad in Scotland at the beginning of May, take dad on a side trip to Turkey, meet back up with mum in England, and finish up in London where we’d have an early celebration for my birthday.

The dilemma then became what to do in London that was a bit special, a place in which you’d never be stuck for choice? As well as my parents, I have a couple of friends there who I was keen to include. It was pretty easily decided in the end: high tea with everyone, and a dinner cruise on the Thames with mum and dad.

So where for high tea? You could lose yourself in the research as it seems there are so many excellent places these days. But I wanted more than just great food, service and reputation, I also wanted the ambience and decor – and in looking at websites it wasn’t always obvious what the dining rooms looked like.

I chose The Ritz. It seemed to tick all the boxes.

At the beginning of this year, four months out, I decided I better make the booking. There was only one viable day and I’m lucky I didn’t muck around any longer as I only had the choice of an 11.30am sitting or 7pm! ‘High lunch’ it was.

The day arrived, a really hot day. This was London’s heat-wave-before-the-many-weeks-of-dismal-weather-before-the-Olympics. We caught a cab and loitered outside the prestigious address until my friends arrived. It was lovely to see them.

Inside we transited through the amazing hotel entrance and lobby were shown to our table in a very proper, naturally, but friendly manner. I was so pleased with the choice: the Palm Court was stunning. Golden tones, elaborate furnishings. It was buzzing with other high tea goers in this two-hour sitting.

Louise has been a friend since babyhood and has lived in London for several years. Danielle I met soon after moving to Wellington. She moved to London at the beginning of the year and it was great to share my 40th with her, as I travelled to Vietnam to help celebrate hers a couple of years ago.

We all enjoyed the tea offerings. To be honest though, I went to a high tea at one of the nice Wellington hotels last year and while The Ritz tea may have been more traditional (?) I didn’t feel it was any better in either quality or taste than my enjoyable local experience. We happily nibbled from the tiered plates of food, alternately sipping between chosen teas and glasses of bubbles.

But there was also cake! There was a minute of happy embarrassment as the cake was brought out and the staff sang happy birthday. Everyone at our table had to have a compulsory slice though I don’t think anyone had room.

Dad and Louise. Until recently, when dad retired, he worked for Lou’s father in rural West Auckland.

The time flew. It was sort of like a wedding day – a bit surreal; lots going on and not enough time to do proper justice to the company, the food, the surroundings. All too soon it was time for us to vacate our seats as groups for the next sitting were already hovering in the lobby. It’s a shame you can’t linger for longer, but it is a hugely popular activity and their several sittings per day are usually booked solid for at least three months.

(The balloon was part of the gift from Louise!)

Not sure what I’m looking at!, but around that time an odd man watching our proceedings shouted a few offensive things at us. That didn’t mar what had had been a fantastic occasion, especially the brief catch-up it enabled with the girls.

And after dipping my toes in the waters of 40, I wasn’t feeling too bad. Just very full.

Other stuff around Portsmouth: Family past and present

As I’ve mentioned once or twice, Portsmouth featured prominently in our itinerary because of dad’s origins. His dad was born there and lived there until late in his teens when he moved to New Zealand. My grandfather had a few sisters and as a result, dad has several English cousins who materialised only in recent decades.

During our week in and around Portsmouth we saw all and met all we could with a tie to dad’s family.

Meeting up with dad’s cousins Ray, Rosie & Helen at the Churchillian pub on Portsdown Hill in Portsmouth. We must be related – we’re (mostly) all tall!

Mum and dad with cousin Helen in the cafe with the best views in Portsmouth

Me, dad and Helen during a visit to an old family church at Farley Chamberlayne

Dad and more first cousins who we met in the gounds of Portchester Castle

The Porchester Castle meeting place was also handy to the parish church of St Mary, which held significance for dad’s cousins

Dad and his cousin David visiting his parents’ memorial plaque

My great grandfather was a Royal Marine for 18 years

He was based here at the barracks in Eastney, now home to the Royal Marines Museum and private residential apartments

One of the navy ships he worked on, the HMS Victory, one of the main attractions at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

He also worked on the HMS Illustrious.

Dad at his grandparents’ grave. Two of his aunties are also buried there

My great grandfather was only 46 when he died

My great grandma stuck around another 30 years

Dad’s dad lived in this street in Southsea when he was born

When my great grandfather died he left six children, my grandfather being the eldest and the only boy. He emigrated from England on his own as a teenager under a scheme which was to have seen his sisters and mother eventually join him. However for various reasons that never happened and he never saw his family again. Happily though he met my grandmother and they proceeded to have 10 children, who produced 24 grandchildren (voila, me!).

My grandparents. Unfortunately my grandfather died before I was born

I’m sure my grandparents would have been blown away if they could have seen this gathering of their descendents in March 2011

When we left Portsmouth for London that was the end of the family history theme of the trip. It was this theme that prompted me to travel around with my parents for a month, particularly as mum has collected so much information about who-what-where-when. Between her ancestral ties with Cornwall, dad’s with Hampshire and going to these places, have to say I’m pretty happy with my English roots and my decision to have gone on the trip.

Family portrait of sorts in the pub (how English!)

Other stuff around Portsmouth: Portchester Castle

Our stay in Hampshire was drawing to a close and the day before we left we had arranged a couple of catch-ups with some of dad’s cousins.

One was picnic lunch at Portchester Castle. I still wasn’t bored with castles, ruins and so forth (unlike a certain male member of my family) so I was keen.

The castle is a landmark you can see for miles, situated out of Portsmouth but at the head of Portsmouth Harbour, and within the walls of a former Roman fort.

It’s a large space, with the castle in one corner, a church in the opposite corner, and loads of green space in between. Entry into the complex is free though the castle is managed by English Heritage and has an entry fee.

There was time to race through the castle/bailey before the others arrived and I excused myself a little later to continue.

The fort probably dates to the 3rd century and the castle came long in the 11th century. It was a royal residence and fortress for a few centuries and later served as a prison during several wars

The moat originally encircled the castle both inside and outside the Roman walls.

Part of the moat was remodelled in the 18th century as a swimming pool for prisoners, before being changed to its current statue in the 1920s

The inner bailey or courtyard of the castle

The tower, or keep, with ruins of another building in front

Remains of wall murals in a room inside the castle used as a theatre

Narrow winding staircase within the castle – not a big fan of confined spaces so I didn’t exactly love this

View from the top, this angle takes in the parish church of St Mary. I don’t do heights easily so I crept around the edge, juggling my firm grip on the barrier with my camera and making sure my skirt didn’t shoot up to the heavens courtesy of the strong winds

Originally there was a gate in the middle of each of the walls of the Roman fort. Shown here along the west wall, heading inland, is the appropriately named Landgate. On the opposite wall, nearest the water, is the Watergate. Simplicity eh?

That would be my father, acting up for the camera

Picnic lunch with dad’s cousins

In the grounds of St Mary’s, the church in the corner of the castle grounds

Racing circuit remains at Brooklands

From Brighton we were in reach of another old racing circuit and as it was only mid afternoon, off we went.

Brooklands in Surrey opened in 1907 and was the world’s first purpose built banked race track. It closed temporarily during World War I but closed for good in 1939 when World War II started. With an airfield also on the same land, the facilities were needed to produce military aircraft.

I love visiting old circuits. I am fascinated by the remains of tracks and buildings, knowing that cars and perhaps bikes once hurtled around under the rapt attention of huge crowds; the contrast between places that were once so full of life and noise now lying in a state of quiet abandonment and deterioration. A couple of years ago when Mike and I were in Europe I was thrilled that we could visit the old track at Reims in France and the old Monza oval while at the Italian grand prix.

So I was super keen to go to Brooklands.

When finally we were in the area the TomTom was a bit misinformed. His ‘point of interest’ directions took us into the grounds of a commercial office complex. Scolding him had no effect so it was a case of going back the way we came until the old fashioned method of navigation kicked in: we saw a sign to the Brooklands Museum.

The museum captures the history of the circuit and airfield and gives you access onto part of the track. It is located down a long access road, past Mercedes-Benz World, a huge site combining car show room, offices, museum, venue and driver experience facilities. Our Mercedes rental felt at home, if a little inadequate.

Mercedes-Benz World opened a few years ago on part of the huge infield area within the racing oval. That’s a purpose built handling track in front of the building

I made a beeline for the museum entry, to have my spirits dashed.

Bugger – it was almost closing time!

All the faffing around trying to find the place had unfortunately taken us over the last entry time. Soon my disappointment would increase when I would discover that there seemed to be no other way to access or properly view the track.

O well. I was going to have to come back another day with Mike in any case. But all wasn’t lost as the visitor centre and excellent gift shop was still open and well worth a poke around. I asked where the toilet facilities were and as they happened to be within the museum buildings I was allowed to go through – which let me have a quick peek at some of the exhibits.

A quick and unfortunately blurred snap of some of the fabulous machines on display, taken en route to the ‘ladies’

These sheds could be rented by drivers and motorcyclists

Then I scurried out of the museum grounds and down the road to see if I could find any other track viewing points.

The best angle I could achieve through the fence!

This was the second production Concorde and flew between 1974-1981. After being used for spare parts until Concordes ceased flying, it was given to the museum where it was restored and opened as an exhibit in 2006

This wee building from 1911 is thought to be the world’s first flight ticketing office

I found a path which I followed off the road down toward some trees beside the river – and through what seemed to be a section of missing race track. Vegetation is taking over but it looked like a sodding great slice of track had been cut out and the ends patched up. It wasn’t possible to see any of the track, just big green-covered ends. I felt robbed yet intrigued (what-happened-and-where-did-it-go?), not to mention a bit awed by how massive the track and banking had been.

If I have associated correctly my research findings for this post with my location on the day, it had been a section of banking called Hennebique Bridge that went over the River Wey. In 1969 this section was indeed demolished to provide a bit more room so that big jets could take off.

A glimpse of the Members’ Banking. Very disappointed I couldn’t get closer!

Beyond the missing section of track is an old access tunnel under the railway viaduct

Back out on the road I continued along a bit further to where I could finally see a decent stretch of track – albeit flat.

Top of Railway Straight where it comes off Members’ Banking, and part of the track near Mercedes-Benz World now owned by M-B for parking and driving instruction

The circuit ran anti-clockwise. This is looking down Railway Straight, the blue cones being part of M-B’s setup

In writing this up I have come across this excellent reference which, while a few years out of date now, points out where to find a huge section of track that still remains at the opposite end of the circuit. If I had known the difficulty I would have I might have researched things a bit better.

By now it was early evening and we needed to start heading for home. Can’t wait to return!

Brighton – not what we expected

Mum wanted to go to Brighton, just for a look, and failed attempts to do this on previous trips had only served to build up her anticipation. After spending a couple of hours at Goodwood we continued east 30 miles or so.

I didn’t really know anything about Brighton but had some mental images of what it might be like and I’m sure mum did too.

We reached the city and headed in to the centre, driving through what seemed to be run down areas. Except the run down areas didn’t end. We slowly realised that imagined Brighton was quite different from real Brighton.

After parking the car near the landmarks we wanted to visit we went in search of them. Walking along the busy streets this seemed to be a fringe city; eclectic, shabby, with a hippy vibe and a young population.

The beauty of the Royal Pavilion building and gardens is perhaps an odd feature in amongst this – though I think this contrast also makes it fit.

People people everywhere

The pavilion was built in the late 1700s / early 1800s as a royal residence for George, Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV. However, fast forward half a century and Queen Victoria wasn’t a fan of the place and the Royal Pavilion was sold. It was purchased by the town which has enabled it to become the immaculately maintained attraction it is today.

And immensely popular. Happily, in light of the congestion, mum wasn’t fussed about going inside and so we just walked through the grounds.

Far from the madding crowd there are places to admire one’s surroundings

The North Gate entry into the Royal Pavilion Gardens


We wandered down this side expecting to be able to find an exit… but no. Plenty of opportunity then to admire the striking and elegant building

This busker fits my new perception of Brighton perfectly

That ticked off the list, we walked in search of the beachfront.

And found it. Hard to miss really.

There we have it, Brighton Marine Palace and Pier – or just Brighton Pier

In the same general area is the beach, aquarium, ferris wheel and pier so you can guarantee this is going to be a busy place. There is just one ‘pleasure pier’ but there were two others at varying times, the remains of which are nearby.

Still feeling a bit out of sorts with the city we didn’t want to linger, save for a quick look on, near and under the pier.

We moseyed along this end of the pier but didn’t go through the main entry

From the pier looking west

I was intrigued by the structure out in the water which turned out to be the remains of West Pier which opened in 1866 but closed in 1975. It was to have been renovated but it seems a bit beyond that now, not helped by fires and mother nature

Looking east. The Brighton Wheel is relatively new

They ain’t dumb

Wiki lists Brighton as one of the world’s notable shingle beaches

Ladyhawke is a New Zealand musician so had to take this pic!

And with that we concluded our fleeting experience of Brighton. What was so unexpected was how different it was compared to most of the other towns and cities we had visited with (by and large) their historic buildings and associated aesthetic. In Brighton’s case, much of its growth and development happened relatively recently, in the middle of the 20th century. Ultimately it’s a very subjective thing and some places you just don’t get a good vibe from.

So we left Brighton and continued on to the next stop as the day was by no means over yet. I was happy as the motorsport theme from earlier in the day would make a return.

Goodwood Circuit

Motorsport has been a long-time interest of mine and I was keen to weave that into the trip somehow. I figured the best option was to see if I could visit a race track or two, and had a few scoped out which were reasonably close to our main path of travel.

The first couple of options earlier in the trip bombed due to time constraints. But during our week in Hampshire I was able to instigate a day trip involving a visit to the Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex.

If I had to visit only one track, I really wanted it to be this one. As well as being an historical circuit well-known for its classic car events, Goodwood is where the founder of the McLaren Formula One racing team, New Zealander Bruce McLaren, died in a testing accident in 1970.

I was excited to arrive here on what was a beautifully fine mid-week day.

Yay I’m here!

The track came into being after World War Two on land which had been the RAF station Westhampnett. Its opening in 1948 brought the first major racing event in the United Kingdom for nine years.

The name Goodwood is much bigger than just the circuit. It is an estate covering 12,000 acres on which is also housed a race course (for singular horse power), golf course, airport, Rolls-Royce plant and HQ, hotel, the very grand Goodwood House (which we didn’t see) and that’s not an exhaustive list.

Start grid

The circuit was in use, I think for a ‘track day’, the term given for days where drivers have the chance to take their cars out for a fang in a non-race environment.

Pits, clock tower and keen track day entrants!

A few weeks after our visit was the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, a hill climb event held not at the circuit but in the grounds of Goodwood House. That would be brilliant to attend.

But today it was enough to just wander around taking it all in.

British Racing Green phone box 🙂

Being a flag marshal myself I always take note of where flag points are. You don’t get shelters like that at NZ tracks!

Woodcote Corner. Bruce McLaren’s fatal crash occurred just before the entry to it, and a few weeks prior to our visit a driver was killed after crashing into the tyre wall just after the exit

GT40 having a bit of a blow out

I immersed myself in their excellent gift shop when I found myself in the vicinity of it. Their fantastic selection of vintage style posters had me deliberating for several minutes (which reminds me, I must get mine block mounted and up on a wall somewhere!).

Tummies were insisting we find some lunch so after getting directions to the cafe, we drove through the underpass into the infield area.

Tunnel under the track to get to the paddock and aerodrome. Dad is just poking into view above the fenceline at the top!

The cafe was in the aero club. While in the process of wandering around in the grounds nearby we came across a few memorials in a nice quiet (well, on that day at least) well cared-for corner of the circuit. I didn’t know for sure if there was anything remembering Bruce McLaren at the track, let alone where it would be, but that was soon answered. I was really pleased to find it.

Memorial to Bruce McLaren who is arguably the world’s most famous New Zealander for his Formula One legacy. It looks like a headstone but his grave is in Auckland, NZ

Memorial to British racer Mike Hawthorn and Jaguar team manager Lofty England

The fighter ace Douglas Bader flew his last mission from the RAF base that was situated here before the racing circuit was built

Beyond the memorial garden is the Aero Club where we had lunch

After lunch it was time to think about going. It had been a great visit but we still had a big afternoon ahead.

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