The day came for us to move on to Southampton, the interim stop between London and our cruise. We set the alarm and got up early so we’d be ready when our car got here. Tony arrived spot on at 10AM … but he told us he was there 45 minutes early, around the corner, to make sure he was on time. He owns the company that specializes in transporting people to/from London and cruise ships. We had a nice chat on our 2 hour drive to Southampton. He told us that he works 7 days a week during the season, and takes the winters off. During the season, he has multiple drivers working for him, but we lucked out because we were his only fare for the day we chose.
Tony wondered why we were going to Southampton early, as there isn’t much there. We told him that we just like to make sure we have a buffer when we travel, so we don’t wind up being late. After we got here, we agreed that maybe we should have stayed in London one more night, but oh well.
We arrived at our lodging for the next two nights, the White Star Tavern. It is one that Tony recommends, and it gets good ratings on line. They were very friendly and took our bags to hold until check in time, 3PM. Our room is on the second floor, on the left hand side of the photo below.
We walked around Southampton a bit, but it was very hot and humid, so we wound up back at the tavern just after 3. We got checked into our room, which was nice enough, but unfortunately it doesn’t have air conditioning … it was very hot!! The artwork over the bed is Titanic related. The ill fated ship stoped in this port on its last journey.
One of the pieces of artwork is a rendition of the Morse code for SOS (save our souls) and CQD (come quickly distress). When my dad heard about this, he sent over this link to more information about maritime distress codes in Morse code: http://www.telegraph-office.com/pages/arc2-2.html
We didn’t do much this day. It was too hot and we really had a hard time cooling off, even in our room. We walked around a bit and had a bit to eat near the marina. Then we wound up sitting in the tavern bar and I tried a couple more gins. Really liked the Whitley Neill rhubarb and ginger, but not so much the Sharish Blue Magic (which changes color from blue to pink when tonic is added). Brad finally got his fish and chips dinner. Then we went upstairs and tried to figure out how to sleep in the heat.
Our room includes breakfast, so the next morning we came down for our meal. Brad got the full English, while I got eggs Florentine.
We pondered the possibilities for what to do today, and settled on an outing. Brad was in charge of procuring tickets for our ferry ride over to the Isle of Wight. The clerk asked him if he was a senior so he could get a “concession” ticket. Then she asked if his wife is elderly too (I was off getting some water). Brad said … I don’t think of myself as elderly! She took that as a yes, so we got a round trip for just 20 GBP. We chose to ride out on the slower, car carrying ferry (Red Funnel) and ride back on the speedy passenger only ferry (Red Jet).
We weren’t expecting much from the day, but there turned out to be some nice surprises on our journey. We arrived in West Cowes from the Red Funnel. We stopped and had a coffee with some summer fruit crumble with custard. Then we headed off to find the “chain ferry” AKA the “floating bridge”. The town of Cowes is half on one side of the water and half on the other, so the ferry takes people across. Brad captured our entire chain ferry ride on his facebook page, if you want to travel along with us: https://www.facebook.com/1378800972/posts/10212598078371772/
East Cowes had a lot more to offer the uninformed tourist. It has a cute little old town area with shops and restaurants, which we spent some time walking around. our two favorite encounters during our tour:
It was clearly time for a drink to cool off. Brad kept his eyes open for a suitable pub, and we wound up at the Cowes Ale House. What a great find. We walked in and it could have gone one of two ways: either the folks that were sitting there could have closed ranks and made us feel like we didn’t belong, or they could welcome us in and we could have a roaring good time chatting with them. Fortunately, it was the latter. We had a lovely time chatting with several locals who were enjoying a pint, along with their very old dogs. We had some fun with one of the old gents taking our picture. He told me to give Brad a kiss, but the place I was sitting didn’t allow me to move much … haha.
After our nice interlude at the Cowes Ale House, we wandered around more of East Cowes. We heard through the grapevine that the Dutchess of Cornwall (i.e., Camilla) was in town for the naming of the new ferry. So we went down to the waterfront to see if we could find her. We managed to get there just as she was leaving, so I think we got a photo of the back of the group she was in … she is in there somewhere, I am sure.
OK. That was not as exciting as it might have seemed from the title of this post, but it is the closest either of us has ever been to British Royalty, so there you go.
A few more things about today.
We ran into a few nice dogs. There were the two in the Cowes Ale House … one named Mutley, which was the name of Brad’s dog when he was a kid. We saw a beautiful English Lab while we were hunting down Camilla. He had just been swimming. We took a photo, because our friends Steve and Rachelle recently got a beautiful chocolate English lab. Then when we came back from our outing, we settled in at The Grape, a bar across the street from our tavern/hotel. While there, we met the bar dog, a black Jack Russell/Pug puppy named Jack was in residence.
The afternoon sitting at The Grape was lovely. Not much happening, and we sat here with several others, pretty much all afternoon, sipping on our drinks. Brad tried a couple of different pints, and I settled on the Tanqueray Seville for a couple of double G&Ts, so please excuse anything that might be a result of overindulging. Although the day is hot, it is lovely sitting here.
Last thought of the day. While we were on the ferries, we saw that another Princess ship is in dock today. The Royal Princess is here and we were able to see where/how our ship will dock tomorrow. We can embark starting at noon … stay tuned for the next episode!