LEL - the prologue part II
Tuesday morning I boarded the train for Portsmouth (via Crediton, Exeter St. Davids and Southampton) and Tuesday afternoon I was in Portsmouth. The train took me right down to the Harbor and I walked down to the Gunwharf Quays. The Gunwharf Quays are the old gunwharfs(!), where the once so majestic British Navy would be outfitted with guns, gunpowder, biscuits, rum, bullets, shanghaied sailors, opium, prostitutes and whatever else was needed to run an empire. Nowadays it is full of fancy shops and small ugly hotdog stands.
There were plenty of memorabilia left from the golden old days when the Brits ruled the 7 seas and everything inbetween: HMS Warrior , HMS Victory, which Nelson, the scoundrel, used to defeat the Glorious Danish Navy in the Battle of Copenhagen 2 April 1801 . Maybe I could smuggle some gunpowder onboard and, if placed in the right locations, finally get some revenge for the defeat...?
But first I had to meet Kathryn for a beer or several (well, it was a given that it would be several; only question was the time between them). After some serious txting Bar 38 was chosen as a starting point and I sat down in an enormous chair shaped like a crown, waiting for her to get off work. While waiting I had a Fosters , and then another when she showed up. After chatting for a bit about what had happened since last time we saw each other (15 months), we dropped off my stuff at her place on the outskirts of town and I had a Carlsberg from her fridge. She had a nice view of the tidal channels and the mudflats in front of her apartment, something I could appreciate with my sedimentology background.
Then we were off to an Indian restaurant for some typical classic British food - the curry - and a seriously sized Cobra beer. After dinner we walked along the now most empty Gunwharf but ended up in The Old Customs House , where 2 Seafarers Ale ended their life in my lager-lined stomach. At midnight the establishment decided it was time to close down, so despite our reluctance to leave we had to, although we were the absolute last to haul ourselves out of there. Then it was back in a taxi to Kathryn’s place and off to bed before next mornings most delicious treat - a fried brekkie from a greasy spoon on the waterfront. It wasn’t Mike’s Bites - it was almost better (!) and I left Portsmouth for Bangor with a happy stomach and liver.
Tally for the 20 hours or so I spent in Portsmouth: 2 Foster’s, 1 Carlsberg, 1 Cobra and 2 Seafarers Ale, roughly on par when compared with my time spent in Crediton. What was not on par was the train fare for my trip Portsmouth-London-Bangor-London-(Portsmouth), which were cheaper than any other return trip option to get me to London after visiting Bangor. However, it still came to bloody 97 quid for second class tickets! Normally one should be able to get a flight from the UK to Mallorca and back for that kind of money, but unfortunately I wasn’t going to Mallorca. I was going to Bangor. To visit friends. So I had to pay. And with a lighter wallet I was on my way to the green pastures of NW-Wales and the slate-grey streets of Bangor.