The Royal Navy has a bunch of coastal patrol vessels that are named after rivers around the UK. From what I have read, HMS Severn is one of the first batch of vessels and it is less capable than the later batch. Although originally planned for retirement, it has been kept in service patrolling the UK coastal region. It was heading out of Portsmouth when I saw it. I think it was originally painted grey when it was commissioned but it currently has more of a camo scheme applied. It made me think of the disruptive camouflage used during the First World War. I actually shot a pano of it as it headed out taking advantage of the lack of an immediate background to avoid any issues with the movement between shots.
Tag Archives: hampshire
Updated AAC Apaches
The British Army bought a bunch of Apaches which were locally assembled by Westland and were fitted with Rolls Royce Turbomeca engines to bolster the local content. Since that acquisition, the Apache has gone through a bunch of upgrades and the current AH-64E Apache Guardian is the latest and greatest. The British Army decided to acquire these and, this time, there is none of the local content to worry about. Their airframes have been rotated back to Boeing and AH-64E airframes get delivered. Some might have originally been British but others are not.
Middle Wallop is not the busy airfield it once was but there is still some Army flying underway and that includes operation of these new Apaches. While I was visiting, there were some airframes flying around the local countryside and also doing some pattern work. They pattern is a bit distant from the museum area but I was still able to catch some shots of them. Hopefully I will see them in more detail at some point but this was my first encounter with the updated fleet.
Almshouses In Winchester
Old English towns often have almshouses somewhere near the center and Winchester is no exception. We wandered under an archway and came upon some old places that definitely had the look of almshouses and turned out to be exactly that. Some maintenance was underway (which required some careful angling of the camera) but they seemed in good shape. It was a peaceful little space given how close it was to the center of the city.
Ducks Fighting The Current
The River Itchen runs through the center of Winchester and, just downstream of the old mill building, the water is very shallow. The river bed provides a good location for a lot of weed to grow and the ducks seemed to enjoy feeding on this weed. However, it did require a fair amount of effort on their parts as the current was flowing fast in the shallow areas. It was fun watching them either paddling furiously or bracing against the river bed while dipping their heads under water to feed. The water would sometimes roll up across their backs while they fought to stay in place. After watching this for a while, guess what I chose to have for dinner!
My visit to the Army Flying Museum made reference to some of the exhibits having their own posts and this is one such post. As part of the recent refurbishment, they added a Britten Norman Defender to the collection. This was recently retired from service and was refurbished for display. Having grown up on the Isle of Wight, the Britten Norman Islander is a plane that I have a soft spot for. The Defender is the militarized version of the Islander and it has served in numerous roles around the world from the basic transport role to surveillance of those that don’t want to be seen.
This one is mounted in a dynamic pose which rather dominates the first display hangar. Things are rather tight in the space and definitely dark so trying to get some shots of it that I wanted was a little challenging. I did shot some panos to try and get more of it in than my lens would normally allow. There is a balcony around the upper level of the hangar and that provides a good vantage point on the Defender too. I was happy to get as much as I could of the airframe since I have had very few encounters with them while they were in service.
We got some good use out of our National Trust membership while we were over in the UK. One of our destinations was Mottisfont. I hadn’t been there before. There was the main house but, as is the norm for us, we actually didn’t go in that to look around. Instead, we wandered the grounds. I did take some photos of the house, of course, since we were there. It was a rather overcast day so a stone house with grey skies meant it wasn’t looking its best. The grounds were lovely, though. I shall post some shots from our wanderings in due course.
Missed One Chinook But Got Another
During our day out in Portsmouth, we had lunch at a very nice pub by the harbor. We sat outside enjoying the various boats coming and going. I popped inside before leaving and, when I came back outside, Nancy had to inform me that, as soon as I went inside, three helicopters had flown by. There had been on Chinook with two smaller, unidentified, types flying formation with it. Needless to say, I was rather disappointed but such is life.
A while later, as we were walking along the sea wall at Southsea, the sound of rotors returned. The nice thing about Chinooks is that they don’t really sneak up on you. I had ample time to switch to a longer lens and set up the camera for something more appropriate for a helicopter (although the Chinook rotor rpm is so low, it still is not ideal). Sure enough, it came right towards us and flew through the harbor entrance and right by. A nice surprise. It then flew out to sea and I wondered whether it was going to return. Instead, it appeared to be hovering over one of the forts out in the Solent. That would have looked great from closer up.
The UK has a large selection of preserved railways. The cuts in the second half of the twentieth century that closed many branch lines provided opportunities for the preservation movement to get going and the result is a lot of lines that you can visit and ride on. They are usually very well run operations. The Watercress Line runs from Alresford to Alton in Hampshire. We wandered past the station in Alresford when we were visiting with some friends there but it wasn’t operating that day.
However, since we were nearby and staying for a long time, I did take the opportunity to nip back out at some point to see the trains in action. I got to see one of the services departing from the terminus at Alresford but, I was a little thwarted on that occasion because the locomotive was billowing steam forwards and almost totally obscuring the view of it from the bridge I was on.
I also stopped off at an intermediate station which had a passing location which allowed trains operating in opposite directions to pass each other and continue on their way. A steam locomotive is quite an impressive thing to watch as it works and a little video does a better job of conveying the impression than stills. Neither will give you the full sensation, though. The smell and the feel if it passing beneath you is hard to replicate.
Our schedule was pretty full and didn’t leave time for playing with train rides but it might be fun to have a ride on this line or another like it when we are next in the area. I’m sure it would be quite fun. However, watching one of these old things at work seems better from the outside than the inside. (The line does run along a ridge that parallels the main road and I would like to go back at some point to try and get some shots of this location too.)
Back To The Island So Back To The Hovercraft
We left plenty of time to drive to Portsmouth to catch our ferry to the Isle of Wight so, naturally, traffic flowed smoothly and we got there with an excess of time. Nancy wasn’t in the least surprised that I decided to park up on the seafront at Southsea to kill some time. Oh, was this next to the Hovertravel terminal? Well, that’s lucky.
We had just enough time for one arrival and one departure before it was time to head to our ferry terminal. That wouldn’t be all though. The hovercraft passes the car ferry during its crossing so I was able to get some shots of it in operation from the deck of the ferry as we left Portsmouth. We also took a walk along the front at Ryde after lunch with Mum. Just enough time to see the hovercraft arriving and departing there too.
One interesting addition was Solent Express. This was used on Hovertravel’s services a few years ago but was withdrawn when the new hovercraft were commissioned. I had understood it was stored somewhere. Apparently, they needed space wherever that was because it is back at Ryde but still looks stored. There is plenty of seaweed around it making it look like it hadn’t gone anywhere for a while. I wonder what its future holds?
Chilbolton Radio Telescope
A couple of years ago, I was taking a road trip across the Cascades and I came upon a large dish alongside the road. It was a surprise and ended up being a blog post. I guess it is a little less spontaneous to search out a dish but, while I was over at Middle Wallop, meeting up with my friend Paul, I knew I was near the old airfield at Chilbolton. This had been an RAF base and then was used for test flying by Supermarine and Folland. What I didn’t know until I looked it up was that the airfield was taken over for use as a radio telescope after it closed to flight operations. I decided to swing by and see the dish. As I came over the hill, I could see it in the valley but the road was narrow and there was nowhere to stop. I got to the gate and a big sign advertised that random visitors were not welcome so I had to make do with a shot from the gate.