Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Southampton
Westminster Abbey (on Monday) was really impressive. I must have seen cathedrals before -- when I was 9/10 my family lived in England for 9 months or so -- but this was my first for a long time. I didn't even go into the royal tombs and the poets' corner -- there was too much to look at without that. I couldn't get over just how disorganised it was - 12th C abbots buried next to mass graves from the Black Plague next to an 18th C plumber and so forth. Tomorrow I'm off to Winchester and then Salisbury, so I'll see at least two more cathedrals in the next few days.
Tuesday (in Portsmouth) was pleasant but not so exciting. Apart from the naval dockyard (with the Victory, the Warrior, and the Mary Rose) there's not much to see, really. Also my B&B was a fair way out (in Southsea) from the interesting parts of town.
Yesterday was the best day of my trip yet. I met Neil at Portsmouth, then we caught the ferry over to the Isle of Wight and spent the day wandering around there. From Ryde we caught the train to Briding, where there was a pleasant old manor house and a Roman Villa (foundations only) to explore. We then walked -- about 10km -- to Newport. Walking along the chalk ridge that forms the "backbone" of the island, we had great views; in some places we could see the sea to south and north at the same time! We stopped at Arreton for lunch and a quick look at a lovely old Norman Church, before pushing on to Carisboke castle. This was the first castle of my trip, and I haven't had time to get blaze about them. It has everything from an old Norman keep to a Tudor artillery fortress. Then we caught the bus to Cowes and the ferry to Southampton. Neil has a conference today, or we'd have stayed out there longer.
Today I plan to explore Southampton's city walls and an assortment of museums, and to buy the maps for walking from Winchester to Salisbury.