If you visit H.M.S Belfast keep your complimentary map handy; I managed to get lost more than once! You start off in the salmon pink Life On Board section, before making your way down into the yellow How It Works section and somehow you end up on top of the superstructure in the green Where It All Happens section; simple! Perhaps if I’d followed my audio guide…
Navigational issues aside; H.M.S Belfast is a very interesting ship and worth remembering. Before my visit I always thought of “London’s Floating Naval Museum” as being synonymous with the World War Two, but almost as soon as you board you realise the ship was extensively refitted in 1956 to equip the ship for the “atomic age”. The ship’s laundry, galley, bakery and quite a few other parts of the ship date from this period and offer an interesting insight into life in the Royal Navy of the late 1950s – early 1960s.
I also remember the statistics relating to the ship’s service in the Korean War coming as a complete surprise to me, for example, H.M.S Belfast travelled “97,035 miles ” during the conflict, it’s gunners fired “7,816 rounds of 6-inch ammunition” and got through “625 tons of potatoes”.
If I had to mention only one more thing these souvenirs bring to mind, it would have to be H.M.S Belfast’s service with the “Arctic Convoys“, taking supplies to the Soviet Union during World War Two, because the white beret of The Russian Convoy Club isn’t an uncommon sight in my home town on Remembrance Sunday. It was good to see that the Convoys are remembered right in the heart of London, on board a ship that once ploughed the same Arctic waters between 1942 and 1943.
“Upstairs you can see one of the last surviving ‘tent rooms’ in Europe, painted to resemble the military campaign tents that Napoleon lived in as he waged his wars across Europe” …and there are other rooms to, but this is my favourite! If you can’t see resemblance to a tent you might want to have a look at the National Trust’s website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy/things-to-see-and-do/house/. I don’t won’t say too much, because I’ll spoil it for you if you are now inspired to go and see it for yourself. It would have been a lovely day out anyway, but The Tent Room was like the cherry on top of the cake.
I have got a big birthday coming up this week, so I thought a portrait of myself wouldn’t go a miss. I think my walking companion Om took the photograph, but because Phil’s map was of questionable quality I can’t tell you exactly where this is (it was taken on the way, at any rate). I took a lot of photographs that day, but here are ten of the best:
The “Fresco portrait of the baker Terentius Neo and his wife” has been one of favourite works of since I first laid eyes on it in a book called, simply, “History of Art“, published by Parragon back in 2002, where it is described as “THE BAKER AND HIS WIFE” (the book suggests the chaps name is Paquius Proculous, but I’ll leave that one for the academics to sort out). Why do I like it? Perhaps it is because the fresco depicts a marriage of equals, a partnership in which Terentius isn’t afraid to seen standing beside wife bearing the trappings of education together (Mrs. Neo holding the writing tablet and Terentius holding a scroll). Of course back in 2002, as a 22 year old art college drop-out looking for romance, and now, as a hard working bachelor fast approaching 30, it is very easy to idealise married life. Bachelorhood does have one or two advantages though; you can clutter the house up with mugs you never use for starters!