Saturday, 31 July 2010

Navy Days, Portsmouth.

Unfortunately, I was here for work, but made a little time to take some pictures from the Royal Navy extravaganza that is the Navy Days, at the Royal Dockyards, Portsmouth, Hampshire. I have been visiting this show since I was a child and it never ceases to amaze me. They put on a great show every time, with warships from the Royal Navy and foreign Navies, the latest gadgetry and weapons systems and the men and women from the services on show.

This year saw the newest and most advanced military and naval hardware on show, including the Type 45 destroyers HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, newly commissioned into the Royal Navy, and proudly on show this weekend.

More military hardware than you can shake a stick at is also on show such as the Merlin helicopter, with the flight crew ready and willing to take you on board and show you the instruments. Everywhere you look, there are things to see, service personnel to meet and a great deal of military toys to play with, with close supervision from Naval personnel of course!

There are also plenty of things to see that the general public rarely get to see, such as the Naval clearance diver teams, who take great delight in splashing the kids with their flippers from the diving tank, so be warned.

Navy Days are of course a great introduction to the operations of the Royal Navy, many of whom are serving in hostile environments and other war torn regions of the world, so it is good to remember the service and sacrifice made by many of the servicemen and women of the Royal Navy and of course the Royal Marines, who face combat in Afghanistan on a daily basis.

So if you are thinking of joining up, there is no better place to visit than the Navy Days, at least you have the option of signing the dotted line, unlike years gone by when men were forced into the Royal Navy, if they were unlucky enough to be taken by the men who roamed the drinking parlours of old Portsmouth on the lookout for victims.

Part of the weekend I always like to see are the re-enactments of the old days, where you can see and experience how it was like to live and work from days gone by, and witness the history of the Royal Navy as it was formed. A great deal of effort goes into this, and there are a great many types of demonstrations to be seen from old muskets, to cooking on an old warship, and many many others.

The Navy Days are a great day or even a whole weekend out. It may take you all weekend to see and experience what the whole show has to offer. So if you like climbing over Naval Warships, experiencing the history, or just fancy a day out that is very different from the norm, then a trip to the Royal Dockyards is a must.

Paul Martin.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Harbourside In Lymington.

I had the great pleasure of visiting the New Forest town of Lymington today, whilst working. Travelling Hampshire and getting paid at the same time is always a bonus.

Specifically, I was at the quayside at Lymington harbour. Chock full of private yachts, small pleasure boats and array of various other waterborne craft, it was a pleasure to sit and just watch the watery world go by, and check my jealousy ratings looking at the larger boats.

At this time of year the yachting world is gearing up for Cowes week on the Isle Of Wight, so every berth is taken. However, I spent a very pleasant half an hour or so just sitting on the quayside with a cup of frothy latte from a nearby coffee house watching the boats go by, and soaking up a little sun into the bargain. So if you have a spare half hour, do drop by and just sit a while.

Paul Martin

Monday, 19 July 2010

Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire.

Today has been one of those days when you find something to visit, and when you get there you don't want to leave. Tucked into a lush green valley just off the A3 near Waterlooville, close to Butser Hill, is the Butser Ancient Farm. This place has to be seen in the flesh as it were, to understand and appreciate what it is that is being achieved here.

The farm is a replica of what a farm and village would have looked like at the time of the ancient Britons, around 500 BC. The village and farm roundhouses have been painstakingly built by the owners and volunteers as not only a museum, but as a working farm and experimental archaeological site, that can be visited by the public and school or university parties.

This is David Freeman, a working archaeologist and builder of many of the ancient buildings and roundhouses that can be seen here.

Having sat down with him for about half an hour i came away with my head crammed full of historical facts and figures, how the roundhouses were built, who lived in them and their way of life. I couldn't cram all of the recordings together so i have split them into three separate stories which are best left to the expert .....


Having told me one thing about the ancient Britons, David told me more .....


Finally, we got onto the people that actually lived in these buildings, and exactly what the Romans thought of them .....


David was a guy who certainly knew his history. Having given me a short tour of the farm, i came away with a great deal of knowledge that i previously didn't know, about the construction, the way of life, and what it is to be an archaeologist today and the techniques they use to uncover and understand the ancient way of life.

Look closely at the buildings and you can see the painstaking work and knowledge that has gone into the building of this ancient farm and it's buildings. This can only have been achieved by rigorous research and a lifetime of work in studying the ancient Britons and their life. The farm itself is a pleasure to walk around and is quite easy to navigate around. I was expecting something larger in format and size, like a modern farm, but that is the point. Ancient Britons lived in sometimes small family groups and farmed the land close to them with crops and animals, and the Butser Ancient Farm is a good and accurate portrayal of what life would have been like hundreds or thousands of years ago.

So, if you do ever find yourself out this Summer and fancy something a little different for the kids to see, you can take them along to see the people working here, with events and demonstrations all year round to fire up the imagination. And you never know, like me, you might just learn something along the way.

You can visit the Butser Ancient Farm website HERE.

Paul Martin

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hampshire Car Boot Sales.

There is of course a great many car boot sales around the county of Hampshire. My local boot sale is at the Country Market, at Sleaford near Bordon and is typical of it's type, with a great many bargains to be had on all types of things from clothing, electronics, games and kitchenware, to a sports car, spotted for sale here today.

As with any car boot sale though, there are a great many pitfalls to buying things, especially electronics, so try before you buy. However, there are plenty of antique style furniture, pottery and memorabelia on sale in what is rapidly becoming quite a large car boot sale here at the country market. So if you have an eye for spotting a rare piece of china, or are looking to make up a collection of star wars figurines then a car boot sale may be where you will find it.

This particular car boot sale takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays, from early in the mornings to around mid afternoon, when most of the bargains have been snapped up. So set your alarms early to bag one! Oh, and bring a few quid for one of the burgers here, i can recommend it.

Paul Martin

Friday, 16 July 2010

Frensham Fire.

It was a great shame that over the past week we learned of the full extent of the heath fire at Frensham, just over the Hampshire border into Surrey. A short walk around the area left me in no doubt that a great deal of damage had been done to the heathland, the flora and fauna, and of course, the wildlife which will have suffered a catastrophic blow. The Surrey and Hampshire fire and rescue services, along with teams from the countryside rangers, did their best to contain the flames....

I did get the chance to speak to one of the head rangers, during his lunch break on a very busy day for him and his team, and was told that over 150 acres of heathland had been destroyed or very badly damaged by the flames, however the seeds from the heathland plants stood a good chance of survival, and could be growing again sooner than we may think. However, the wildlife will have suffered greatly, with many rare and endangered species having taken a big hit, and may decrease in numbers quite heavily at this time in the spring and summer breeding season, with their young still too young or unable to flee the fire.

I think it will take quite a while for the heathland to recover. Not being a heathland expert i don't know what or how quickly the heath will take to regrow, or for the wildlife to re-establish itself over the coming years, some species may never return, such is the rarity of some species. I hope i am wrong.

I will endeavor to get some more information on this from the countryside rangers, however i think that they have more to do at the moment to make sure that fire doesn't flare up again in the coming days, so i will leave interviews and audio until they have some spare time to talk to me.

Paul Martin

Audio: The Hampshire Medievals.

Sorry that it took a while to get this up onto the blog, but work commitments got in the way. As you can see from previous posts, i visited the Hampshire Wood Fair at the Queen Elizabeth country park a few days ago, and was pleased to meet a medieval re-enactment group called Weorod. Whilst watching them do their thing, i had the pleasure to talk to the man in charge ....

Part One.


Part Two.


Monday, 12 July 2010

Hampshire Wood Fair.

Yesterday saw me travelling about 10 miles or so down the A3 towards Petersfield and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, where they were staging this years Hampshire Wood Fair. I like and enjoy all things countryside, so i decided to take a look and was glad i did. First of all the country park is just a great place to go to clear the cobwebs and to get a bit of fresh air but, coupled with a great deal of wood crafts and exhibits, made for a specially interesting day.

A great deal of craftsmanship and artistic effort had gone into many of the wood exhibits, from walking sticks to large garden style ornaments that take a great deal of time to finish. I spent quite a while just sitting and watching the crafts people at work doing whatever was their art with various sizes of lumps of wood, using differing tools, many with stunning results.

The fact that the weather was kind made the day out a pleasurable experience for all the family. And a walk around the park is always good. I was on the understanding that this event before now was a moveable event that travelled around Hampshire, however steps are being taken to bring back the event to the Queen Elizabeth country park again for next year, so i will keep an eye out for it again.

Anyone with an artistic view or is interested in wood carving and wood crafts would enjoy the day out here, as a wide variety of stalls and skills were on show to the public. As the day wore on and the sun got hotter, more and more people made the decision to visit with children and families, which gave the event a very pleasant feel and relaxed atmosphere. I would recommend that you visit next year.

Most of the event is taken by demonstrations of various kinds. Not just of the wood crafts, but of the working environment too, such as this Shire horse, being used to drag large logs around the woodland. This type of woodland work with horses is rapidly becoming more popular, as horses do not damage the environment as much as large tractors and similar vehicles.

All in all, a very enjoyable day out.

Paul Martin

Meeting The Hampshire Medievals.

Whilst taking a look around the Hampshire Wood Fair in the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, i had the pleasure to meet Wayne Letting, who, when not doing his normal day to day job, is known as whitgar, a 6th or 7th century clan leader of the Weorod.

This is Wayne in his full historically correct clothing of the period .... And the gold clothing catches were, i'm told, made from real gold.

Also at the Hampshire Wood Fair were the rest of the Medieval family, who when not trying to knock each others heads off in a re-enactment show of a battle scene, were telling the visitors about medieval life in the 6th and 7th centuries, with displays of cookery, woodcraft and cloth making, as well as the fighting weapons which look scarily real, even close up.

Here is the cooking area ... and yes, they did eat the food, made to medieval recipes.

Whilst the men traded goods, hunted, and took care of their weapons, the women of medieval times were getting on with the work of making clothes, weaving and more ...


Then of course, there were the really scary blokes who took great delight in showing the crowds just how tough it was to be a medieval warrior. Times were tough and sometimes brutal, and the weapons used in the re-enactment were real enough and just as dangerous. But these guys have obviously put in a great deal of practice and gave a good show in fighting skills to those who watched, and no one came to any harm ... i promise.


The guys here took a great deal of time and effort to get the image just right, and looking at them takes you right back to medieval times if you let your imagination take over. The level of detail was outstanding and the fighting scenes were quite rough and realistic.


If you ever get the chance to see these guys do what they do, i would heartily recommend it to you. A lot can be learned from watching them go about their early medieval lives, and they do their very best to do it as accurately as possible. You can visit their website HERE.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Hampshire Lavender Fields Open Day.

I did intend to go a little further today but was stopped in my tracks just a mile and a half North from the Pottery in Selborne, Hampshire, where i last posted from. The big sign saying open day was enough for me so i turned in to see what was happening.

It turned out to be an open day for the Lavender fields, where the farmer, Tim Butler, grows many varieties of lavender and manufactures the lavender oil, from which he and others make a bewildering number of products from lavender and honey ice cream, to soap, oils, and much more.

Having given me a quick tour of the fields and farm, Tim was kind enough to give me a quick interview about what it is he does, and how he does it. This is what he had to say ....


So, if you are ever passing the road between Selborne and Alton, do drop in and visit the lavender shop, and tell them that i sent you. Alternatively, you can visit them online HERE.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Visit To Selborne Pottery.

Still staying close to my home patch as it were, i made the trip to the village of Selborne in Hampshire as i knew there was a pottery gallery and studio there that you can go and visit. The studios sit in a delightful little courtyard just off the main road in Selborne and is a great place to visit and even sit and watch the potters at work if you ask nicely enough. So i asked the potter a few questions .....


Watching Robert work was to watch a genuine artist at work with the ease of a man who has practically grown up with using clay, and nurturing his natural ability to make anything that comes to mind that can be made on a potters wheel. I really didn't know just how quickly a potter can throw a simple small pot. Even a larger one took Robert only three and a half minutes to make, as you can see from the video post, which is coming shortly.

So, if you have the time, i can recommend that you go and visit the Selborne Pottery if you get the chance, and have a chat with Robert. Oh, and don't forget to visit the gallery where you can browse and buy any of the locally crafted pots. Tell him i sent you.

Or, you could visit him online HERE.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Talking Bullocks In The Country.

One of the main reasons why farmers and breeders attend any agricultural show like the Alton Show, is to show off their best animals to be judged. A great deal of effort goes into preparing the beasts for show, especially the larger animals such as the highland cattle. So i spoke to one of the farmers at the show to see just what goes into showing cattle at the Alton Show.



Cider Tasting At The Alton Show.

It was inevitable that at some point whilst at the Alton Show that we would touch upon the subject of alcohol. Good old west country cider to be exact. So i spoke to a guy called Joe Jnr, who makes cider in Somerset, one of his creations being Sewer Cider ...... This is what he said.


Monday, 5 July 2010

Pictures From The Alton Show. 2010.

I thought that i had better get around to posting just a few of the photo's i took whilst wandering around the Alton Show at Froyle Park on Sunday 4 July 2010. The weather was perfect for an agricultural show, the sun was shining with a breeze that kept most people cool, making it a pleasurable day out for all of the people that visited.

Most of the country folk of course were there to show off their best animals to be judged in various categories of competition between the many breeds of farm animals that were present at the Alton Show. It is of course, the main reason why these shows exist as many were started by local farmers as a yearly get together to find the best breeding animals for next years season, and is still a reason why most farmers attend such shows today.

There are many more things to see and do at the Alton Show, with exhibitions from a range of countryside business from local food and drink, to old steam engines and vintage vehicles. Local crafts and countryside pursuits can also be seen at the show with an opportunity to test your ability.

So, all in all, it was a pleasure to visit the show and have a look around the local artisans and producers that keep our countryside the way we all know and love. I for one will certainly be back next year for more of the same, and suggest that you do too.

Wildlife Artist At The Alton Show.

Having spent the day at Froyle Park near Alton at the Alton agricultural show, i got around to speaking to a wildlife and landscape artist called Gordon, and i took great delight in looking at the fine pictures he paints whilst working full time as a landscape gardener. So i decided to have a few words with him to see what inspires him to paint ...


I think you will agree that he is a thoroughly nice chap, with a talent that most of us can only aspire to, and it was a pleasure to get to talk to him.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Hampshire Beekeepers At The Alton Show.

The first post of my shiny new blog sees me venturing not too far away from home, less than 10 miles to be exact. I thought that the best way to start this new travel blog was to start local, and work my way out from there, so i attended the Alton Show at Froyle Park, for the annual agricultural get together. The first people who said yes to an interview were the Meon Valley Bee Keepers Association who kindly said a few words .......