Living in Oxford, although it is a beautiful city with the River Thames and other gorgeous sights, my Salve peers and I have been hoping to see the ocean. We had considered visiting the beach, but due to Oxford’s inland location, that would be difficult. Therefore, when our history professor decided to take us to the Royal Navy base, we were excited!
Yesterday we spent the day in Portsmouth, England, which is about an hour and a half from Summertown, England- the small town we live in. Fifteen of us piled into a bus, led by our history professor, and explored the historic dockyard for the day. Upon our arrival, we had our bags checked, as the dockyard is an active navy base, and hopped on a boat tour. Throughout the boat tour, my peers and I developed a list of questions:
-Do the members of the British navy have to know how to swim back in the day? Today?
-Who knew that Portsmouth is where the U.K. receives the majority of their banana imports?
-When is lunch? (we were hungry)
-What are leeks? Are they good in Macaroni and Cheese? (Answered that- they tasted
pretty good, potentially onions?)
-What is the U.S. equivalent of Portsmouth, England?
-Where can I find a dinosaur hat like the two-year old sitting next to me has?
-Who designed the Emirates Spinnaker Tower? (pictured below)
-Is it going to down pour?
-Should I pay 50 pence for an old fortune machine with a dummy fortune teller? (I absolutely did, but was incredibly disappointed by the results)
-Did sailors get seasick often?
Although I ask myself questions like this all the time, today I decided to write some of them down. As you can see, they range from dumb questions to actual academic inquiries. My Salve peers and I agreed that today was a good day for many reasons-
-we broke the large group up in two (half of us went to Portsmouth and half of us stayed in Summertown with another professor)
-the cafeteria served a delicious lunch and the workers were surprisingly kind (customer service is not emphasized here)
-the weather was cool, but not freezing
-the huge elementary school groups made us feel like a cohesive, mature group (not always the case…)
-returning to the ocean was amazing, going to school in Newport and being from Maine, I missed the ocean!!!
Spending the day combining my love of the ocean and my interest in history was a win-win! We explored the HMS Victory, a commissioned naval vessel, and managed to visit each level of the ship. Imagining what it must have been like to serve on such a ship was difficult, but there were many exhibits throughout it that brought the ship to life. We navigated our way through the decks, ducking and dodging, but mostly laughing at ourselves.
After the investigating the ship, we all headed into a few Royal Navy museums. The museums featured interactive displays that the younger school groups loved, but I’d argue we loved more! I had the opportunity to practice Morse code with my friends and could have done that for a few more hours! We also practiced detecting submarines with echo-location using a video-simulation of sorts. Very cool, but also nerve-wracking! The exhibits also included places you could listen to sea chants, dress up in sailor clothes and learn about what it was like to be a woman aboard the vessels. After exhausting ourselves with knowledge and laughter, we congregated and headed back to the center of the dockyard.
We concluded the day with a stop at the gift shop before loading back onto the bus. The bus ride home was a quiet one- with most of us, including me, enjoying the time to sleep.
What a day in Portsmouth!