Aug 6, 2015

Stranded in Portsmouth

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written by Hannah

Twice over the Alps before ever I was born, my name is Hannah but when online I tend to go by Lunaed, or Eluned Francis. I like to live in the past or in other peoples' present. I live to travel and love to see the world from the perspective of others. I chew slowly, and absorb the world in much the same way: savouring it.

Sailing with Mike saw the number of days I needed to kill before heading back to Cowes reduce significantly by half, from an initial eight to merely four. Thanks to the fantastic invention that is Couchsurfing I soon found a place to spend the remainder of my time ashore, winding up with two fantastically friendly engineering graduates in a lovely flat overlooking Land Rover BAR’s headquarters in the depths of Old Portsmouth. I’m afraid I took very few photos due to having technical problems with my phone, but this was the sight that greeted me in the morning:

The flat that I was staying in was lovely and modern and my hosts were ineffably charming. We spoke about their current placements and reason for being in Portsmouth as part of a graduate scheme, as well as our hobbies and when we all came down with a cold we commiserated together. On the final night I spent with them they held a boardgame evening with a friend, a previous surfer who was still stowing away in this lovely old naval town and one of said stowaways’ colleagues. It was a great night considering how little commonality there was across the group in terms of established friendships; everyone got along like a house on fire and I was sad to leave.

During my time in the town I managed to sort myself a new mobile with a battery capable of retaining more than two hours’ charge, did some last minute shopping prior to my trip to Spain and frequented a gym with the most incredible view out across the entrance to the harbour from Gunwharf Quays. I ate dreadfully, subsiding on all things beige and enriched with butter and chocolate in a bid to blitz my cold through sheer calorific attrition and bloody mindedness (read: many lemons), but sadly became progressively more ill. With a full blown case of tonsillitis imminent I didn’t feel my best, but Portsmouth didn’t fail to deliver. I really like the city, small though it might be, with its grand architecture and abundance of oldy-worldy pubs. Besides feeling sorry for myself, whilst my hosts worked, I languished in the Historic Docks for the best part of three days and came away feeling as though I’d only seen half of what it had to offer and have therefore resolved to return before the years’ end. You can even volunteer on restoration projects!

I said goodbye to Portsmouth on the Thursday and made my way back to the Isle of Wight, whereupon I bought a day rider ticket for the bus and travelled around like a tramp burdened by too many bags. The tonsillitis was making me a little feverish and I felt incredibly weak, so walking with 15kg on my back felt punishing! Eventually I made my way back to Gurnard and picked up a parcel that had been delivered to Julia and Rich in my absence. They were in high spirits on account of the fact that the much anticipated cover for the swimming pool was finally being slotted together, and they weren’t lying when they said you could draw the sections across the traveller with just one finger! The parcel contained sailing gear, which I incorporated into my rucksack- having taken out some items that I duly packaged back up to be sent back to Cheshire again.

For the remainder of the day I travelled around by bus (as I mentioned beforehand, I must have looked bereft- ill and homeless), scouting for somewhere quiet to set up camp. I eventually came by a sleepy village called Whippingham. I traipsed along a public footpath down towards the Medina, and lurked until it was dark enough to unpack, all the while feeling and sounding so incredibly ill that the locals gave me a wide berth. As a result I was only disturbed by a couple of people during the night who were returning from the pub and once again come the morning by a dog walker. The walk back to East Cowes was hard work and I felt very anxious about how I’d survive Cowes Week feeling as I did, but that is another story for another post at a later date… I will therefore leave you with a poor quality photo of the view from my bivvy across the Medina. In many ways the location reminded me of views across the Stour around Wrabness.


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