TRISH TAKES FIVE: Following Nelson onto the decks
of HMS Victory

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Harbour
HMS Victory at Portsmouth Harbour
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As we drove towards Portsmouth harbour, I could see the distinctive shape of the Spinnaker Tower against the sharp blue of the sky. This puzzled me.

“I thought that tower was in Plymouth,” I said to Dougie.

“Remind me what you did your degree in?” he replied.

“Geography,” I mumbled.

Silence ensued for the remainder of the journey; one of us was acutely embarrassed and the other was smirking.

We were planning to spend a day at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, but hadn’t anticipated how many other attractions have also made their home there, including Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

We made a beeline for Victory, as it’s a ship we hold very close to our hearts.

In 1998, 34 tonnes of Victory oak and copper were sold to three Norwich businessmen to raise funds for the bicentennial celebrations of 2005.

David Roger Burton was one of a few local craftsmen given the task of creating new items from the old wood.

We saw the collection at craft fairs in Norfolk and over a number of years purchased a few items from David’s shop, The Staithe Gallery, Wells-next-the-Sea.

It’s very special to have pieces from Victory in our own home: to touch them and wonder about the history within each piece of timber and copper.

HMS Victory is a stunner. It looks as if it’s been designed by Disney, so you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped onto the set of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Once painted yellow, scientists have deduced that its original colour was salmon pink so, as part of the current restoration, it now has a pinkish hue.

The masts are down at the moment for repairs, but it’s still a magnificent sight.

Visitors are given a superb audio guide, which works by pointing at a number of receivers on the ship.

It doesn’t feel restrictive, you can hear the clips out of order if you wish, but the whole story of the Battle of Trafalgar is told, the narration, which includes battle sounds.

Despite my advice to my 6ft tall husband to mind his head on countless occasions, he still managed to slam into a beam, just as were listening to Nelson himself being knocked to the ground by the fatal shot.

Dazed and desperate not to swear, he staggered around as we followed the action down below to where Nelson was cared for by the ship’s surgeon.

I think my own casualty was hoping the ghost of Dr Beattie might lay a cold compress on his bruised head. Certainly he was tempted to have a lie down in one of the hammocks.

“Kiss me Hardy,” Dougie said to me, hoping for, at least, a peck on the cheek and a word of comfort.

“Oh for goodness sake! Give it a rub. You’ll be fine.”

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