Picturesque Portland

We got up this morning around 7.30am and went out on the balcony, watching for a short while at the Borealis approached her berth in Portland, Dorset.  We could see she had lots of company today; from our vantage point we spotted P&O ships Arcadia, Britannia and Aurora, as well as the Royal Navy auxiliary ship Tidesurge (A138).  Once we docked, we found ourselves next to the Sky Princess, a massive ship that made the 61,849 ton Borealis look like a little pup.  😊

L to R: Arcadia, Britannia and Aurora

We could see patches of blue in the sky and hoped it would be another fine day.

Off we went for breakfast, in the Lido restaurant, where we were once again directed to the hand-washing machine. It was good to see that the staff around the Borealis are taking hygiene measures seriously; really, the cruise nay-sayers who use the well-worn “floating petri dish” term to describe cruise ships have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

The handwashing machine in the buffet restaurant. The revolving jets of water reminded us of a car wash!

We were due to go on our excursion at 9.00am, so after breakfast we returned to 6176 and gathered together whatever we’d need before making our way down to Deck 1 to disembark the ship and meet our tour guide on the quayside.  The coach seats were arranged so that every other seat had a “do not use” sign on it, and we were required to wear our masks at all times whilst on the coach.

Our coach was delayed slightly as we were still waiting for one more passenger (there’s always one!) then eventually we set off for the two-hour tour around Portland.

Whenever I think of Portland, Dorset I think of the big Royal Navy base that used to be a major part of the town, HMS Osprey.  My sister Tricia was based there in the early 1980s during her time in the WRNS.  HMS Osprey closed in 1999, but as the coach wended its way through the Monday morning traffic, we could see lots of evidence of the Royal Navy’s presence here; the old dockyard buildings with their cannons and anchor and the accommodation blocks.  We also passed the Osprey Leisure Centre, obviously named after the naval base.

Portland is often described as an island, but in fact it is joined to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, a barrier beach called Chesil Beach.  In addition, the A354 road passes down the Portland end of the beach and then over the Fleet Lagoon by bridge to the mainland.  Portland is about five miles south of the resort of Weymouth.

Everywhere in Portland seemed to have a view of the sea, with many ships coming and going.  A quick look at the MarineTraffic app told us that the Britannia was on her way out, while the P&O Ventura was on her way in.  It was just so great to see all these ships on the move again, all carrying their happy and excited passengers around the lovely island that we live on (and probably don’t appreciate enough!).

By now, the sun was out and it was a pleasant clear day.  Our coach took us up to a fantastic vantage point where we could see right across the sweep of the bay, and the long shingle Chesil Beach.  We were allowed about 20 minutes for a photo stop, and we breathed in the fresh salt air and gazed with interest at our surroundings.

The weather app on my phone gave the name Fortuneswell as the location, and we had a great view of the reddish coloured terraced houses below us, which our guide said were made from Portland stone.  Portland stone is a limestone famous for its use in British and world architecture, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the United Nations Headquarters, and it continues to be quarried here.

We walked along and came to an interesting sculpture featuring the five famous Olympic Rings.  The rings were carved to celebrate Weymouth and Portland hosting the 2012 Olympic sailing events, and a plaque beneath informed us of this fact.  Because of the sculpture’s high position and exposure to strong winds, there is concern that it might topple over and, as such, has been fenced off to stop people from getting too close.

Once we were all back on the bus, our next visit was to Portland Bill, which is a narrow promontory (also known as a ‘bill’) at the southernmost point of Dorset.  One of its most popular attractions is the lighthouse, which is where we were headed now.  We were also pleased to see that some loos were available nearby.  😊

The lighthouse and its attached building is Grade II listed, and it stands at 135 feet tall (41 metres).  It was built in 1906 and is still in use today, as the waters off Portland Bill were treacherous for ships, and there are many shipwrecks there.

Because of social distancing restrictions (and lack of time) we weren’t able to climb up the lighthouse, but we did get several good photos of it.  We were also able to spent a few minutes walking along the rugged, spectacular coastline, and just stand and look out to sea, something that never gets old.  😊

Portland Bill Lighthouse

After the bus took a lovely scenic route to get us back to the Borealis, we arrived back on board around 11.45am, just in nice time for a pre-luncheon drink up at the pool deck, where the whether was very pleasant now, and lots of people were in the water or just reclining on sunloungers with their Kindles or paperback books.

We just stayed at the poolside buffet for lunch, then we made our way to the topmost deck to go ship-spotting.  We saw that the Ventura was now alongside her sisters Arcadia and Aurora; we didn’t know if any more ships were going to be in today.

We spent the afternoon doing all the things we normally do; relaxing in our cabin (where I did some of this blog while I had a decent 4G signal), going to the Morning Light to do the afternoon trivia (no win once again!) and enjoying the cocktail of the day.

At 3.30pm Trevor decided to go along to listen to a talk about the creation of the Ordnance Survey called “Mapping the Nation”, while I just spent time pottering around in the cabin, sitting out on the balcony and reading.

The afternoon passed in its pleasant way, and soon it was time to start getting ready for dinner.  I’d already decided I was going to skip my meal and only go along to the Borealis Restaurant for the coffee-and-liqueurs stage.  While Trevor went down for dinner, I therefore took my laptop along to the Morning Light pub and enjoyed a glass of fizz while loading all my photos from my phone onto my device, ready to optimise before uploading them to my blog.

When we went into the Neptune Lounge later on, it was nice not to go in feeling like a stuffed pig.  😊

The performer tonight was the comedy wordsmith Lloyd Hollett, who we’d seen on the first evening.  We thought he was hilarious this time; we enjoyed it better than his first show.

Then it was along to the pub once again for the evening quiz, where we joined Sid and Carol and once again lost the quiz by only one point.  We have to win it soon!  😊

We completed our evening by going up to the Crow’s Nest, where one of the entertainment team, a really amusing guy called Brendo Simeon, was doing his tribute show to Matt Munro.  He was an excellent singer and we enjoyed the show a lot, before having one more drink (we’re always having “one more drink”, ha ha) and returning to our cabin around midnight. As it was such a lovely warm, calm evening, we left the balcony door open wide so we could be lulled to sleep by the gorgeous “ssssshhhhh, ssssshhhhh” sounds of the sea washing gently against the hull of the Borealis, as she placidly made her way to Portsmouth, our next port of call.

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