Above & Beyond

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 15 Oct 2015 15:14
Above & Beyond – Portsmouth UK
Two weeks to go and counting. Time to start winding things up this end with a view to packing, then draining down and locking up the caravan, returning the car, cancelling insurance and taking ourselves back to ‘Ajaya’. The last few days of chilly weather have convinced us that next year we need to be already back in Florida complaining of oppressive heat rather than in the UK complaining of being cold. These holiday vans are not built to be cosy in the winter months. And we’re not even in the winter months. BBrrrr!  It’s a toss up today whether to fire up the gas heating and stay inside or drive to a warm shopping mall with the risk of buying something we don’t need. Must get the balance right next year.
One advantage of these chilly autumn days when the air is cool with sunny skies and vapour trails everywhere is that the views across Spithead and the Solent (those famous stretches of water between the mainland and the Isle of Wight) are crystal clear for twenty or so miles. On such a day we drove into Portsmouth to visit the Spinnaker Tower a 170 metre high landmark guarding the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. It was originally named the Millennium Tower but wasn’t completed until 2005 which made that name a mockery.
It seems that just about everyone and their dog has visited this landmark apart from us – but we have been away quite a while. However, ‘Skip’s’ sales office from another era was situated just across the water in Gosport Marina which afforded a perfect view of the whole tower build process including seeing the self-build crane do just that in order to install the tower’s spire in place. Did he ever do any work?  Well, occasionally yes.
Anyway, it was time to pay our £9 entrance fees and be whooshed up to the viewing platforms by the inside high speed lift which climbs at an angle of 2 degrees to the vertical. This was operated by an enthusiastic young lady who obviously never gives a thought to the possibility of the cables snapping 100 metres up plunging everyone inside to a certain death. (Charming! – Ed) There was an outer glass lift originally installed but its reliability/maintenance was so questionable that it has been decommissioned. Hmm! Rumour has it that the Mayor of Portsmouth was trapped inside this device when the tower was originally opened. Well, everything worked on our visit including the lift and the views were just wondrous. There’s the ubiquitous glass paneled floor you’d expect in such a building which the kids love to jump around on whilst the adults gingerly tiptoe across glad to get to the other side. So, welcome to our neighborhood which is where our latest sailing adventure began seven years and over 23,000 miles ago.....
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Impressive views from the outside  
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Stomach churning views through the inside glass floor
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Looking eastwards across the south of Portsmouth.....                       .....towards the harbour entrance and Sir Ben Ainsley’s new America’s Cup HQ in the huge white building just left of centre
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Good timing! That’s the Landrover BAR catamaran heading out of the harbour to practice in the Solent                               Haslar Marina with the Isle of Wight in the distance
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Camper & Nicholsons Gosport Marina to the west.....              the moorings off Clarence Marina.....                                and looking up harbour with (right) the naval dockyard
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No, that’s not our reserve fleet in the foreground – it’s HMS Warrior, the first Iron-clad steam & sail powered battleship          Must be something of interest out there
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                                                                                 Refreshments Madam?                                       ...................................thank you my man
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It was rather a grand day out really.
                                                                                    Oh! and this is what the tower looks like from sea level!