Despite growing up on the Isle of Wight, I’d never been to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards. I had always fancied visiting the HMS Victory though, and we decided to go over and take the kids (I haven’t suddenly produced another one – we borrowed my friend’s daughter for the day!)
There was a big queue to get it, but going on the Saturday of Easter probably wasn’t the wisest of weekends to choose. I was quite surprised at the pricing of the venue – each of the attractions on the site are priced separately, so if you wanted to see the Mary Rose museum and the Victory, a family ticket for both would be £50 – so £100, and you couldn’t see the other bits. We ended up getting a £75 all attraction ticket, which was a bit steep, but we can use it again as many times as we want over the next year – lucky we visit the Island often, isn’t it?!
We enjoyed looking round the boatyard, and Rian quite literally leapt at the chance to try mast climbing. He’s such a brave little lad. Brave or stupid anyway hahaha (I’m a terrible mother)
After the bell ringing we climbed aboard the Victory. It was pretty bloody cool. So many guns and cannons and swords – the kids were delighted. A very informative guide cornered us and regaled us all about the sizes of the cannons and their weights. The ship fully outfitted weighed 3500 tonnes – how the heck did it stay afloat? Ballast apparently. That seems normal – let’s keep our ship afloat by filling it with enormous piles of rocks.
After the Victory we went to the new Mary Rose museum. It was awesome. I love a museum at the best of times but this one is just super. The eerie, dark atmosphere and the ancient hulk of the ship propped up in a pit is great.
You walk around it as if you were on its levels, and there is the soundtrack of groaning timbers and waves and gunshot to add to the ambience. The kids weren’t as interested at 6 and 10, but I could have spent hours poring over every single thing there. Rian was enterained by the mini suits of armour he was allowed to try on!
Despite the expense of ticket, it really was a good day out. We didn’t see everything either – there’s also an Action Stations section where kids get to do all sorts of navy-esque activities which we will definitely go back for – we also didn’t go on the HMS Warrior, which is also there. We might pick a less busy weekend next time though.