One place on my list was the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth. The museum was one of this year's finalists for the Art Fund's Museum of the Year prize and was offering free entry to Art Pass holders until the end of August. Hurrah!
The weeks rolled by and I ticked lots of other things off my "to visit" list... then suddenly it was the final weekend in August and my last chance to visit the museum before the offer ended! I'd forgotten all about it and had planned a lazy weekend but decided it would be silly not to go so I dragged myself out of bed and caught an early train to head to Portsmouth.
The journey from my home town to Portsmouth Harbour station takes about two and a half hours which on paper sounds like a very long time but actually with a cuppa and a book and some staring out of the window at pretty countryside it passed very quickly and was a lovely relaxing start to my day.
Portsmouth Harbour station is just a few minutes walk from the Historic Dockyard, where the Mary Rose Museum is situated. You can buy an "All Attraction" to visit everything at the Dockyard or buy tickets for the individual attraction you're interested in.
After I'd collected my ticket I strolled through the site, admiring the various ships and other nautical bits and pieces along the way...
... until I arrived at the Mary Rose Museum.
The Mary Rose is a Tudor ship that was built in 1510 and which sank in 1545. Half the ship was buried in mud, preserving it and its contents as the centuries passed. The wreckage was discovered in 1971 and raised from the seabed in 1982. The conservation of the ship is now in its final stages and the museum opened to the public last year.
I expected I'd find this museum interesting because I love all things related to the Tudors, but I was unprepared for just how amazing it was going to be.
The museum is built around the ship, with viewing windows into the central space where the final stages of conservation are taking place. Every object on display in the museum is an original artifact recovered from the ship. There are so many interesting things to see and they're all displayed thoughtfully with lots of interesting information about the disaster, the conservation process, Tudor society and life on board ship. Everything is so well preserved it is quite magical!
If you're even remotely interested in History I would highly recommend a visit.
After my (long) look round the Museum, I went and had some lunch then headed out of the Dockyard. As you can see the tide had come in by then...
... and the sky had clouded over! Boo.
I'd not been to Portsmouth before so was keen to do a bit of exploring. Despite the weather it was lovely to wander along looking at the water, the passing ferries and the assorted boats in the harbour.
I stumbled upon the "Millennium Trail" - a walking route marked by a chain motif set into the pavement and dotted with boards giving information about the historic sights and places along the trail.
The trail starts just outside the Historic Dockyard and takes you through Gunwharf Quays, past the Spinnaker Tower, and along the waterside to the Round Tower...
... and the Square Tower.
Don't you just love those wavy benches?
The trail carried on a bit further but I decided to turn back so I'd have time for a cuppa and some cake before my long journey home.
It was great to be able to visit the Mary Rose Museum for free but even better that the free-entry offer prompted me to visit a city I'd never been to before and to spend the day seeing new and interesting things and stretching my legs in the fresh sea air ... instead of lazily sitting on the sofa all day like I'd planned.
I will definitely be making a return visit to Portsmouth, to explore some more of the city and visit more of its many museums. If you know the city and have any tips for good places to visit please do leave a comment!