Blogging since 2004, about the significant people, places, sights and sounds of my world. Now dabbling with retirement! 👍😁
It’s that time of year again where a group of us Trainers (‘the 5ive’, because there’s 7 of us – don’t ask!) who worked together on the BA Project back in 1999 get together for a weekend of celebration. This year, there’s five of us – Antoinette, Angela, Philip and me – with June joining us on the Saturday.
We try and choose a different venue each year. After Stratford-upon-Avon (2012), Bath (2013), Birmingham (2014), Liverpool (2015), London, for my 60th (2016) and nothing in 2017, this year we’re in Southsea!
The majority of us are staying at The Best Western, Royal Beach Hotel for a couple of nights, beginning on the Friday.
So, first stop was over to Northampton to pick up the two studio photographs, then it was onto Chertsey Station to pickup Angela. Her train was on time, and we were soon on the last leg of the journey.
90 minutes later, after negotiating the very tight car-park, we met Antoinette and Philip who were soaking up the Sun outside the hotel followed by a swift(ish) check-in.
My room was ready but they were still working on Angela’s. Room 411 certainly had a sea view – and it was initially a little ‘toasty’ in there (until I found the electric fan!)
…not a bad view though!
By 2.45, Angela was checked-in and after a quick planning session by the four of us, we headed off to Gunwharf Quays by Bus. It only took around 15 minutes and we were soon wandering around, soaking-up the sun.
Wow! It was also as BUSY as I remember it! I think I assumed that being a Friday, it wouldn’t be too manic… how wrong can you be??? People, people everywhere. First stop was the Emirates Spinnaker Tower – an opportunity too good to miss with this glorious weather. Last time Ann and I were here was back in July, 2009 – and it was a fine day then too! In the intervening years, it’s acquired sponsorship by Emirates – and their branding was hard to miss – red, red and err, more red!
Age had its advantage as I got my ticket for a whole pound less than younger visitors!!
As expected, the views were spectacular! In addition to the spectacular views on the main observation area (that also included a small glass floor area, so visitors could enjoy the view vertically downwards) there’s an extra floor. This involved a short stair-climb where a small area had been converted to look like a garden – astro-turf and a few deckchairs! The unique feature, in addition to even more stunning views, was that it was roofless! What I thought was a really efficient AC unit working its socks off, was in fact the ‘breeze’ from the roof! Overall, it was a great experience and good to see the views across the Harbour and beyond.
We were now in need of some refreshment, and as Philip and Antoinette had arrived ahead of me, they’d already sussed a suitable watering-hole.
The watering-hole in question was The Canteen – a deli style café – a unique eatery that because of its location – in the Barracks of the ‘Hotwalls’ area in the old town. It was so close to the water that it advertised the times for high-tide so that patrons could avoid getting wet/get wet/watch others get wet!!! We enjoyed some small nibbles and a bottle of Champagne whilst occasionally watching other unintentionally dampens their socks from the safety of a ‘just-inside’ location.
Philip and Antoinette walked back to the Hotel whilst Angela and I tried out the bus-service. Confession time: I
redacted. We waited longer than expected but eventually the ‘No. 1’ arrived. After a quick change of clothes and then helping Angela determine her journey home (because of engineering works on Sunday), we were back out – after a quick drink in the Bar – and heading out for our evening meal.
Our restaurant of choice (there were so many to choose from!) was Bodrum as we’re all a fan of Turkish food. A £3 taxi fare followed, and we were soon seated and looking through the (massive) menu…
..and the food and service didn’t disappoint. It was all delicious. We learned that it’s a family-owned-and-run business. Dad cooking the meat (uniquely on show actually in the restaurant), Mum, back-of-house, whilst Sons made up the waiting-staff. It all worked very well and a friendlier team of waiters would be hard to find!
We wined, we dined and we wined some more! By 10.37pm it was over. And whilst Philip and Antoinette headed for their next venue. Angela and I called it a night.
Our plans for tomorrow are to have brekky around 8.30 and then head into the Old Town for a Harbour Tour and then do our own thing in the shape of the other attractions on offer.
June joined us today after breakfast (she travelled down last night and is staying at another Hotel up the road). Our plan today was to do the Historic Dockyard ‘to death’ – history will show that we succeeded!
First activity (after queuing for a bit) was another queue – for the Harbour Tour. This was clearly a very popular option and although we got in the queue by 10.35, we didn’t actually start boarding until just before 11am. The trip lasted just over 45 minutes and took in a comprehensive listing or more or less everything that was moored in the Harbour. Pity then that the Captain’s live commentary was being mostly ignored by most passengers under the age of 20 – more interested in stuffing their faces and taking selfies #GrumpyOldMan.
Our Boat stopped briefly at Gunwharf Quays before returning to where we boarded. It was brilliant!
This was a steam-powered and sail-powered ship. I don’t recall it all last time we were here, but apparently, it’s been in dry-dock here for 30+ years. Although a good example of ‘best technology in its day’, the overall experience was marred by a distinct lack of background information and hardly any volunteer exhibits. Worth wandering around it though!
Then it was off to The Victory. That’s more like it! Plenty of Volunteers around and a unique audio guide that filled all our knowledge gaps.
A spot of Lunch followed and then it was more exploring around Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard before retiring and reflecting on the day in a cool shady spot in the Old Customs House Pub. This was nice! We chilled for a bit before heading back to the Hotel
Whilst Angela took the Bus, the rest of us (partly) followed the Millennium Walk
Somehow, we ended up back at The Canteen – and another bottle of Champagne! This time, we sat outside and watched the Ship pass by – a unique location with a unique view. Perfect!
Our final meal was booked for 7.30 at Samphire – a Cocktail Bar and Brasserie…
A couple of us had assumed it was an Indian restaurant (me included), and now I’m not sure why! Still, the food was excellent – and we dined like Kings!
We finished the meal just before 11pm and decided t walk back together to our respective Hotels. Antoinette’s estimation of a “10-15 minute walk” was a little wide of the mark, but it didn’t matter, it was nice warm evening – and just perfect for a walk.
Thirty-five minutes later, as we approached the Hotel, I said my goodbyes (as I was travelling home tomorrow at the ‘crack of dawn’), headed back to my room, as did Angela. The others made even more of an evening of it, by heading off to a Wine Bar.
I woke at 3.30am and it didn’t seem worth going back to sleep. So, after a quick shower, at 4.15, I was checking out and soon on the road. It was fast journey home and I was indoors – 150 miles later – by 6.45am!
It was a great break, and Southsea exceeded my expectations, as did the Hotel. I’d happily stay in Southsea again and the Hotel too!
A bit of a rush today as I finished the Class at 3pm, drove over to Bedford and headed for the Capital.
The reason? The semi regular get-together members of ‘The 5ive’ – our informal gathering for those of us who worked with BA ‘back in the day’ on their SMA project. Tonight, we were a little thin on the ground, with only three of us – June, Antoinette and yours truly – but that didn’t stop us having a good time.
First stop was The Euston Flyer in the Euston Road accompanied by a glass of London Pride before moving on to Pizza Express in Euston Road a few doors away for 7pm.
…and the place was really busy! I think we got the one of the last few tables available. A few hours of catching-up followed, helped along by very good service, superb food – and the obligatory 30%-off voucher!
Ooo! that was spicy!
One of my ‘5-a-day’!
We managed three-courses, a bottle of vino and a tea/coffee, all for a very reasonable £25 each (and that included the tip). Not bad for this part of London! We even got to set a date for a pre-Christmas get-together AND weekend date for 5ive’s collective get-away in 2018!
We called it a night around 9 and wandered back in the direction of St Pancras. The girls took the Tube and I headed for the Bedford train. Perfect timing for me as I only had to wait about five-minutes. By 10.20, I was unlocking the car at Bedford station, and by 11 I’d hit the pillow!
A great night out!
It’s that time again when us Trainers (‘the 5ive’, because there’s 7 of us – don’t ask!) all assemble for our regular catch-up.
Venue of choice tonight was Strada in Great Queens Street, close to Holborn Tube.
Before the get-together I met up with Angela outside the London Palladium beforehand (Scooby-Doo? Boy, this place has gone down a bit!) as she’d found out about a FREE wine-tasting event courtesy of Mr Tesco, just down the road in Wardour Street.
Like many, I tend to associate Tesco with wonky trolley wheels and supermarkets, so this was almost surreal. It was a pop-up type venue, with security guards on the outside and reception staff beautified within an inch of their life. We got there around 5.15 and the place was already packed. After a short wait, we were led down (an almost vertical staircase) to immaculate seating area with four wines laid-out ready for our tasting-pleasure.
It was even more surreal when I remembered that it wasn’t just a Wine-Bar, Tesco was also presenting an invite-only wine-tasting evening run by two of their wine-buyers (I still found it difficult to believe this was a supermarket-driven affair). But what an affair! We were educated and entertained in equal measure and the whole thing was 101% professionally presented -we even got to (try and) take notes. In just thirty minutes, we were better informed about the wines-of-choice – and slightly p***** too. A perfect combo then.
And in a flash, it was over! and as Angela and I attempted to climb the (what now seemed even more vertical) staircase, we then jumped on a bus and headed for the restaurant – what a great start to the evening!!
We were slightly down on numbers this time around – just June, Antoinette, Angela and me, but it didn’t matter and we were soon catching-up with everyone’s news. The food and service were excellent – and the Waiter did well to cope with our (now legendary and regular) confusion at the end trying to sort out who-was-paying-what! For a group of so-called communication experts, it’s always a giggle seeing how crap we are at sorting out this simple task!
Time flew as it always does, and I left around 8.45 to give me enough time to get to St Pancras International and my timed train at 9.30. On arrival at St Pancras, it looked like there must have been a cancellation before mine – the waiting area was packed! and the train staff gave up managing the crowd when the platforms were announced – and simply opened all the barriers.
Luckily, I got a seat, and the hour-long journey soon passed. By 10.45 I was indoors catching-up with the latest Olympic results (aren’t we doing well!!)
It’s been another great evening with ‘the gang’, but I’m still trying to get my head round the whole Tesco Wine Tasting Evening!
It was down to London for me this afternoon, for my semi-regular meet-up with Trainers past-and-present, Angela, Antoinette, Carey, June, and Rick. Almost a full-house then with only Philip not being able to make it this time aorund. We call ourselves ‘The 5ive’, because there’s seven of us (yep, I know… and I’m supposed to be good at Maths – it’s a long story!!!).
Trainers seen in the going Wild
I caught the 3.30 out of Kettering and met up with Angela at King’s Cross to sort out a niggle she was having with her laptop before taking the short walk to the restaurant. Our choice this time round was one that Sally and I had discovered many moons ago when we both met in London – Pizza Express in the Euston Road. It’s hardly a gourmet paradise, but in the past the food has been hot, promptly served, delicious, and the staff are pretty friendly too!
And tonight was no exception. Even with the place busting at the seams by about 8pm, we were looked after very well – and the pizzas were as delicious as I rememeber them!!!
I caught the 10pm out of St Pancras with about 15 minutes to spare and was indoors by 11.30pm
Nice one Trainers – I had a great time with you all.