Ferrytrip to South West England : March 2017
Day 1 :
This morning at 04.00 my alarm woke me up, off course I was not the only one awake, immediately there were 3 cats sitting on top of me to tell me to get up and give them some food … lol. I was ready within record time as I had prepared everything yesterday already, so by 05.00 I was on the road, it promised to be one of the longest drives I have done in recent years. Around 10.15 I took a break near the lighthouse of Pointe d’Ailly in Northern France. After crossing the famous Pont de Normandie and stopping at Honfleur for some photos of the bridge and some older lighthouses I finally arrived at the Ouistreham lighthouse at 13.15, by now I was exhausted from driving all day and decided to check-in at Brittany Ferries for some leg stretching and a quick bite before boarding the ferry. By 16.30 I was relaxing onboard the Mont St Michel and suddenly noticed that the ship was moving, on to Portsmouth.
The ship looks well designed and there is plenty of space to move around, there are 2 main restaurants and many different choices to go have a drink, since this is an evening crossing and the weather is great I took a stroll on the outside decks, surprisingly there is a lot more open deck space on this ship than any of the other ferries I have taken so far, even with the recently added 3rd funnel right between the 2 existing funnels.
After a few hours resting in the bar I got up to go to the restaurant Les Romantiques that opened at 18.15 (ship time is London time). When I finished my Tournedos de filet de Canard and Profiteroles as dessert we were only about an hour away from Portsmouth so I took the time to work a bit on my laptop until the ship was docked. Finally off the ship I went straight to my hotel in Southampton to get some much needed rest.
Day 2 :
This morning I slept a bit later and by 11.00 I was in Portsmouth again to meet my friend Louy at the Spinnaker Tower, after a quick walk around and some photos I took my “brunch” at the tower before walking to the Dockyard where I went to a small antiques shop in the Historic Dockyards before boarding the harbour tour boat, I noticed the Mont St Michel coming in and right after that the tourboat started the 1 hour tour, this is a very easy way to spot the Naval ships in Portsmouth.
After Portsmouth I drove all the way to the other side of the Solent to visit Hurst Point castle and lighthouse, from the carpark it is about 45 minutes walking to the lighthouse but it ‘s worth the trouble. When I left Hurst Point my plan was to see the cruiseships from Southampton passing at Hythe marina but both of them were extremely late so I waited for thr Saga Sapphire to pass although it was already dark, as I had already taken some photos of the Oriana and she was not showing any intend to leave I went back to my hotel for a small late diner and then off to bed.
Day 3 :
This morning I left early to start a long drive all the way to Plymouth where one of the most iconic lighthouses in history can be found, the former Eddystone lighthouse that was designed by John Smeaton stood on the lonely rock far out at sea for a long time until it was taken out of service and replaced by a new lighthouse in the 1800’s, the lighthouse was broken down to the foundation and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe because it was so important for lighthouse history that it had to be preserved, and the most important thing is that it ‘s open to the public, very cramped inside because of the way it was constructed but a great place to visit.
From Plymouth I drove all the way back to Portland to visit the famous Portland Bill lighthouse and because I had time afterwards I went to my local hotel to fresh up a bit before returning to Portland Bill lighthouse where I took a nice meal and dessert and waited for the night to fall to take great evening shots of the lighthouse in operation. This lighthouse was built in 1906 when the 2 former lighthouses were taken out of service, they were sold privately and are still standing today. The lighthouse hasn’t failed one single night since then and is still in full operation with the 4 flashes every 30 seconds as signature. Because this was a very exhausting day driving around the South East Coast I went back to my hotel to get some sleep.
Day 4 :
I slept a bit longer this morning and went to get a full English breakfast in the hotel to gather some strength for another long drive back to Southampton for a quick stop at the Cobwebs Oceanliner memorabilia shop before meeting my friend Louy again in Portsmouth.
Upon my arrival in Portsmouth the weather was going from bad to worse with some added rain and since most of the museums are closed on Mondays we decided to go somewhere inside so we went to the Round Tower where a small café offers protection from the weather. We went for a quick walk around Southsea castle but quickly went to his flat before going back to my hotel for a fresh up and then diner, after diner I went back to the hotel for the night.
Day 5 :
On my last day in the UK I woke up a bit later and took a hot shower first, then checked out and went for breakfast at the local Subway, I met my friend Louy again by 11.00 and we went to the Round Tower again to have a good view on the ships entering or leaving Portsmouth. Next stop was Southsea Castle again, this is an old fort that was built by Henry VIII to protect Portsmouth harbour from enemy invasion, it is free to enter and it also has a very cosy café.
We drove to Gosport where we had another view on the ships leaving Portsmouth before moving to Lee on Solent where we stopped at a local pub for afternoon tea and a light snack. We waited there for the Ventura to move from Southampton and went to the most Southern tip of land near Lee on Solent to have the best view on the Ventura passing by. By now it was time to get some diner at a nice traditional pub near the ferryterminal in Portsmouth and afterwards I needed to check in so Louy left me to go back home. Once onboard the Mont St Michel I took a last drink in the bar before going to bed.
Day 6 :
Upon arrival in Ouistreham I woke up from the anouncement and got ready for breakfast, because of the short time I took breakfast in the self service restaurant and afterwards stopped at the shop to buy my usual bottles of whisky. I went back to the cabin to take my bags and go to the cardeck, once out of the port I drove to the Pont de Normandie and on in the direction of Belgium, by early afternoon I was back from another succesful trip to the UK.