Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Tenerife connections

Pedestrianised High Street in Hythe, Hampshire

Tuesday may have been a dismal day, but when I got to Hythe, they'd put the bunting out for me. Wasn't that nice? :) Hythe is a strange place for a seaside village, because it appears to think itself too posh for anything commercial on the seafront. Waterside there are just quaint cottages a-plenty and the infamous pier carrying the equally famous, World's Oldest Pier Train.

Even the Lord Nelson pub is in the now pedestrianized High Street, which runs inland from the pier head and where shops consist, mainly, of a Waitrose, a plethora of charity shops and a few places selling knick-knacks today.

The Lord Nelso Pub Sign

The Lord Nelson pub (first listed as such in 1801) sign is unique, apparently, because it shows Lord Nelson after he'd lost his right arm in the attack on Tenerife (the date was actually, July 25th, 1797) and before he was wounded at the Battle of the Nile on the 1st August, 1798, losing his right eye.

In truth, the sign shows only head and shoulders and neither arm, though, possibly that's to avoid showing one missing.

World's oldest pier train in Hythe, Hampshire

Pretty as Hythe is, I'd seen the lot in less than 10 minutes, so after a coffee and a chat with a couple from Hordle who I'd met when I caught the bus in Lymington, I decided to catch the pier railway and the Hythe Ferry. Both are decidedly cute and the half-hourly service (combined train / boat ticket) to Southampton is a real bargain at just £3.50 (single), considering the added attractions.

Inside the World's Oldest Pier Train

Look, no doors! Surely, we'll all fall out?

It was also refreshing to ride on something so obviously built long before the health and safety nannies took over the state too. At the end of the pier, I boarded the ferry, the Great Expectations. From Hythe, I could see a large ship off in the distance, but it wasn't until the ferry took us up close and personal that I realised that it was, in fact, the soon to be retired Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2).

The Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton docks on September 30th, 2008, the day she was to set sail on the Canary Islands Splendour tour: her last ever call into Tenerife before retiring.

What were the chances of catching a glimpse of her on the very day she was to set sail on the 12-Day "Canary Islands Splendour" tour, that would take the ship to Tenerife for her final visit to the island? I'd remembered, vaguely, the report around 18 months previously that she would make her last call this year, but I certainly hadn't remembered the date. Eerie, init?

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