musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: August 2013

Netley Military Cemetery.

Following my previous post about Private Hollis and Netley Military Hospital, I decided to take a walk up to the cemetery once again, and to have a look at the chapel at what is now Royal Victoria Country Park. I also had to photograph as many of the 671 CWGC graves at the military cemetery for the British War Graves Project  
It is not too far from where I live, although the furthermost I had walked had been up to Netley Abbey. The Chapel is about a kilometre further.  The route I took was over the Itchen Bridge
down to Weston, then along Southampton Water until I ran out of road, 
then up to Netley Abbey
through Netley Village
  and finally the park and chapel itself.  
This large open area would have been where the military hospital stood, with a similar wing on the other side of the chapel. It was a large building as can be seen from the model below.  
The chapel is the blue object on the centre of the model, and today is all that is left of the building, and it stands surrounded by the green fields that used to be where the hospital building stood.  
It is a glorious wedding cake of a building, beautifully proportioned and dominated by its tower. Unfortunately though it was closed, but I did manage a few pics of the interior.  
But, I did not get to see it all, as they do not have funds to allow it to remain open. So, I did not see all that I wanted to. The park is a very large space that even boasts a miniature railway, and quite a few public facilities, although my interest did not really extend to places like a BBQ area.

With that completed I headed off to the military cemetery, which is not too far away, close to Hamble Station. I had been there twice before, but this time I had over 600 graves waiting for me. The cemetery can be broken up into two major halves, The older part is set on a hill, with the newer section laid out in a linear CWGC pattern, with a Cross of Sacrifice.  The sections are also divided into RC, Non Conformist and Anglican/COE 
Older part of the cemetery (WW1)

Older part of the cemetery (WW1)

The newer part of the cemetery (WW2)

The newer part of the cemetery (WW2)

Interspersed with these sections are a lot of much older graves of members of the military who died at the hospital, as well as staff members and their families that may have died here too. Many are illegible, and there are large areas that have graves but no headstones.
There are also a number of graves for the children of staff who died at the hospital,  sadly, a large portion do not have headstones, but they are poignant reminders of those young lives that never came to fruition.
Darling Bobbie, Fell Asleep February 19th 1929, Aged 15 Months

Darling Bobbie, Fell Asleep February 19th 1929, Aged 15 Months

There are also graves of men that died as a result of disease that they had picked up in South Africa during the Boer War.  It took nearly 3 hours to photograph the graves, and by the time I was finished I had drained 2 sets of batteries and taken over 1000 photographs. But, in the end it is worthwhile doing. There are 6 South Africans buried at this cemetery, all of them needless casualties of the slaughter on World War 1.
There is a lot written about the hospital and those who were treated there, but we will probably never know all the stories behind the pain and suffering, and the courage of the nurses who had the unenviable job of taking care of the patients.
FGO Stuart Postcards of the hospital

FGO Stuart Postcards of the hospital


The cemetery is covered extremely well in the wonderful website dedicated to the Royal Victoria Hospital and Military Cemetery, Netley

Then it was time to head home, taking the same route except for a pause at the waterfront area of the park which is roughly midway between the Solent and Southampton.  Three rivers (The Test, Itchen and Hamble) flow in to this area that we know as “Southampton Water”, and it is a pretty area with a lot of potential for development. However if that development means heaps of yuppie flats then that will definitely ruin the the shoreside that I was walking upon.  

I did discover a pathway between Netley Castle and Netley Abbey so was able to get a better look at the castle, although you cannot really see the whole thing. It was largely built with material taken from Netley Abbey, and today it is used as private apartments. My view of the castle from Southampton Water is a much better indicator of the extent building.

Calshot, Isle of Wight and the Solent from Royal Victoria Country Park

Calshot, Isle of Wight and the Solent from Royal Victoria Country Park

Netley Castle

Netley Castle 

Netley Castle from Southampton Water

Netley Castle from Southampton Water

With the castle behind me I was over halfway home, just a few more random pics and that would conclude my outing, although I would still have to sort, label and queue the military grave images.
The harbour had three cruise ships in on that day. Queen Elizabeth at QEII, Azura at Ocean Terminal,
and Celebrity Eclipse at City Terminal.
I had originally considered catching the train through to Hamble, but had taken this walk instead, and I am glad I did because this is probably the last time I will be able to walk along Southampton Water. My days in Southampton are coming to an end, and while I have not been able to see everything that I wanted to, at least I have seen this much.

It had been an interesting morning, and I hope that it will remain in this unchanged state for a very long time. It is a unique place, with a lot of maritime history that sailed past this area. It’s just a pity that I did not get to see it all.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 10/04/2016
Updated: 17/01/2018 — 06:25

Bank Holidays.

This morning I needed to go to the bank. But when I got there I discovered it was a “bank holiday”.  Now why do banks have holidays in the first place? I know in South Africa a bank never goes on holiday, in fact it uses your money to pay for a holiday it never takes. 
This little excursion by my local bank is a serious problem, because I need to go to Salisbury tomorrow and don’t have the train fare. In fact I barely had enough to buy a loaf of bread, after all you do need bread to buy bread. Neither could I print out the application form because my handy Mailboxes Only was closed too. Now this interview is relatively important, because according to the website it is only available in July, which is great because this is August and I am applying for a job that starts 11 months from now,  “get in there early, avoid the Christmas rush” should be the case with this job. That is assuming I survive the next few months. 
Meanwhile, back to the bank and their holidays, all the atms are behind locked doors. I could draw money from my local atm belonging to the bank of Upper-Thebes-by-the-Sea, but they would charge my as much as a South African bank does in service charges, and given the precarious state of my finances I could end up having to pay using a spare kidney. I could also go loan money from “Honest Albert” of the unseasonably big raincoat, but that could cost my other kidney plus an arm and leg. I do not want to stoop that low.  
Hopefully tomorrow the bank will be back from its hols by the seaside, and will be able to provide me with the required sterling so that I can head off to Salisbury. Of course once I get to Salisbury and am finished with the interview I can head back home and see about working my arm off loading luggage again to make up for the train trip (which really works out at 2 hours of hard labour). Sigh. I would go graving but have a ship arrival planned and I don’t want to miss that. Do ships have bank holidays? no, but they do keep un-Godly hours and arrive or leave when the early bird has just gotten back from a hard days beak bashing after worms and crumbs.  Of course the one bank they do steer clear of are sandbanks, and often are not very successful at that either. I just hope this one is on time, I have been chasing her for quite some time.
Seeing as the bank is on holiday I may as well do the park off and do even less thing, after all I did not bank on having to do much today except prepare for tomorrow.

A postscript.
It seems as if my well earned dosh wasn’t altogether wasted as I was made an offer and will be heading off to Salisbury in the very near future, 


Updated: 13/12/2016 — 19:41

Southampton Shipwatch 35: Seabourn Sojourn

I woke up on the 24th of August to a grey and gloomy Southampton. Seabourn Sojourn was supposed to be arriving at 7am and it was 6am already. I dashed down to the harbour, hoping that she wasn’t in yet. Unlike me, she was early, and as I came down the street she was finishing her swinging and was now backing into Ocean Terminal.

The weather was gross, and so were my pics. I was disappointed, but, she had to sail later in the afternoon, and I was hoping that once I got off work I would be able to catch her when she slipped at 18H00

From what I can see, she is one of 3 sister ships (Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest, Seabourn Sojourn), and I know that Quest has been a caller in South Africa before.  The ships are not your typical mass market blocks of flats, and are really aimed at a more discerning traveler with much more money. A small size also means you can go into many obscure ports that are out of bounds to the larger ships.

In fact, she looked slightly dwarfed by the Ocean Terminal when photographed from the parking lots.
seabo 001



All the other ships had sailed already, and she was the only one left, and by 17H55 she was ready to go, slipping silently out of the Ocean Dock, without even a toot from her whistle.


And after belting out of her berth at a rate of knots she slowed into the port turn, not an unattractive vessel, but not quite a classic either.



And just like that she was out of range, and probably one of the faster sailings I have seen in ages too.

I must admit I would like to see on board her, because there is one area I saw on my pics that is very intriguing.  It has a definite hint if sci-fi about it and looks really great.


She is back again on the 3rd of September and I am hoping to get some decently lit shots of her, assuming she doesn’t sneak in and out while I am not looking. 

© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:40

Random Shipwatch: Huelin Dispatch

One ship that I have seen  on a number of occasions is Huelin Dispatch. Operated by Huelin Renouf Shipping,she serves the Channel Islands. Or should I say, used to serve the Channel Islands, because today the company stopped trading.


The vessel usually berths at the end of the Ocean Dock (Berth 45), and is a regular in the harbour, often sailing just after the cruise ships have left. She always does this without assistance, and many times I have been quite surprised to see her going astern out of the Ocean Dock before executing a turn and sailing away without any fuss at all. She is really a fixture, kind of like the Red Funnel Ferries and the bunkering tankers or tugs. 

She entered service in September 2012, and ran into trouble almost immediately when she hit rocks off the coast of Alderney on her maiden voyage.
Sadly, the demise of the company will mean the loss of 90 jobs from a company that has been serving the Channel Islands since 1935. It is hoped that some sort of rescue plan will be formulated so that this unique service, and vessel does not end completely.
I will post an update here as son as I hear more, but I am really looking for some of the pics I took of her. I know she was amongst the first ships I saw when I arrived in Southampton, little did I know that nearly 5 months later I would be watching her possible demise.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images replaced 10/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:40

The Watercress Line (04) Alton

Our final stop on the journey was at Alton where the Watercress Line originates and terminates. The station is shared between Network Rail and Heritage Rail and it is an interesting contrast.

We arrived as the DEMU left the station, so I did not get any decent pics of her, however. it was the same one that we saw at Medstead and Four Marks


While we waited for the next inbound train we took more pics of random things. The station buildings on platform three are in the 1950’s style and are very interesting in their own right.

Walking down the platform I discovered a magnificent Ransome and Rapier 45 Ton steam crane, and it was real beaut. It sat on a side line and  superficially was in a good condition. Whether it still worked or not was another story though, given how it is steam powered and the boiler would need regular inspections.

The crane admired, we headed down to await the arrival of the train. It was headed by a diesel, with a steam loco at the back. These were the same class 50 diesel and Schools Class loco that we had seen the day before at Ropley.  The moment the train had stopped the steam engine was mobbed by eager photographers, rubberneckers and gawkers. But she shrugged them off and disconnected from the train and moved forward to take on water, before reversing back onto the end of the train.

Then everybody started to board and soon the train started to move, steam engine doing what it does best.

Then they were past us, heading towards the next station. The rear of the train connected to the diesel. My video of this train is on my YouTube Channel.

It had been another fascinating morning of heritage rail, and I am glad I was able to see this, although travelling on it may be out of my reach at this moment in time. However, it is a glimpse into a period that is past, and one which the many children who travelled on this train did not experience. I experienced rail travel in a different country, so it is all new to me too.


It is very evident that the Watercress Line is a very professional operation that is manned by volunteers. I marvel at how they have managed to create this world from the past, and can imagine how much dedication it took to get to this point. I hope that one day I will be able to ride this train too, although sticking my head out of the window isn’t possible. There are 4 sections to this blog post, this being the last. Use the arrow to return to the first

 © DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:41

The Watercress Line (03) Medstead and Four marks

Continuing with our visit to the Watercress Line, we now stopped at Medstead and Four Marks Station. This is the station we had visited a few months back and seeing it now it was like a totally different place.
The station has been restored as a typical 1930’s Southern Region station and its period buildings and fittings, advertising signage, and slow afternoon feel really made me want to sit down and relax and watch the trains go by. There were two trains due, but until they arrived we passed the time exploring and photographing random objects.

As usual I found many fascinating artefacts from an era and a country that I did not know, and the wartime poster really made me think about what it must have been like facing the bombers overhead and being unable to do anything about it.

But before I could don my gas mask, the train decided to arrive and much to my surprise it was a really short train, consisting of 2 coaches powered by a diesel engine. 


I was taken aback because this was not the sort of vehicle I expected at Heritage Rail. However, the origins of this Class 205-1125 DEMU would be revealed a bit further down the line at Alron, but I am going to skip forward a bit to include the item with this DEMU.


A bit of reading revealed that these units DEMU’s were known as “Thumpers” because of the distinctive noise that they made. The coaches seemed very smart inside with their slam doors and smart green exterior livery.


This station has a passing loop in it and the DMU waited for the train from up (or down?) the line to pass. The steam/diesel combination did not tarry long enough for me to get any images of the loco and I have to rely on a screencap from my video. 


And, as fast as it had filled both trains departed in different directions, leaving a once again empty country station. My video of the happenings at the station are on my YouTube channel. We then left to go to Alton, which is where the line terminates/originates. 



© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:41

The Watercress Line (02) Ropley

Continuing with our visit to the Watercress Line. We had relocated to Ropley to await the arrival of Cheltenham and Mirrless Pioneer which we had left behind at Alresford.

 This station also houses the locomotive shed, although the inner workings were not visible from where we were at the platform. 


The signal box is also a relic from a bygone age, and a brass plaque explains that was originally at Netley, and it was closed on 9 March 1980. It was re-erected at this site and reopened on 14 October 2007.

With much growling and steam our train arrived and I was able to have a close look at the coupling method used. In South Africa we use a knuckle type coupling and our trains do not have buffers. The two locos were connected with a chain! I will be honest it did not look very safe to me, and coupling a train like that on a regular basis must have been a very dangerous job

Cheltenham now backed off to the loco shed, followed by Mirrless Pioneer.


One more train was scheduled to arrive, but it we would have to wait awhile, so I drifted off to find that locomotive shed. There wasn’t much to see from the gate, but there was one class of loco that I wanted to see standing there.

“Winston Churchill” is a Battle of Britain Class 4-6-2 loco bearing the number 34051. Now if only she was running….
Heading back to the platform I spent some time photographing odds and ends and being chased by an amorous bee. Once again this station is stuck in another age, and everything is from a different era altogether. 
Then it was train time again, and a rake of coaches came down the line, which I suspect may have been the rake attached to Tornado in Arlesford we had seen earlier. Motive power was provided by yet another diesel, this time Class 50-027 “Lion”. Video of this train may be found on my YouTube Channel

 She then uncoupled and ran forward before reversing onto the line that went into the depot, obviously also to be bedded down for the night. Her coaches she left at the station.

It was almost time to go, a quick last look around a a few pics and we were off back to Southampton. It had been a really interesting journey, and the next day we would continue by looking at Medstead and Four Marks Station, as well as the end/beginning of the line at Alton.

The Beeching Axe falls at Alton and Winchester

The Beeching Axe falls at Alton and Winchester



© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:42

The Watercress Line (01) Alresford

I had heard about this heritage rail system a few months back, in fact we even paused at the one station late one afternoon, but that was as far as it got. But yesterday after work, we made a quick trip out to the line for some quick photography. 
I am not in a position to explain the history of the line, I will leave that to the website, suffice to say, it was not a waste of a journey at all.  They were having Thomas The Tank Engine trips, and we arrived at the tail end of the day as people and locomotives were leaving. 
My first wow moment came when we arrived. The train was in Alresford station, and in front was the famous “Tornado”. I had been in the UK in 2008 when she was unveiled and I was really happy to see her up close and personal. She can be described as LNER Peppercorn class A1 
In my mind I could not help but compare her to our main line steam engines in South Africa, and she seems smaller, lacking the immense bulk of a 15F or 25NC
Departure was almost immediate, tender first to Ropley and beyond. But, the train was actually being pulled and pushed at the same time as there was a diesel on the other end.   
I am not really a fan of diesel locomotives, but this style of diesel was unknown in South Africa, ours all looked like scaled down American locos.  She is class 37-901 “Mirrless Pioneer”, and is quite a handsome beastie. 
The train departed, leaving us still at Alresford which was rapidly depopulating. 
We visited the signal cabin to have a look at the frame there, and talk to the really friendly staff on duty. There was one more train due to arrive from Ropley, and we would wait her out. 
The station and its platforms and buildings are really a time capsule of a day long gone by. There is no chrome and glass here, it is the way railways used to be in the UK many years ago. The green shunting diesel is a Class 08, of which there are quite a number still in operation. 
Even the posters are authentic.
And then the train was coming around the bend. I was expecting Tornado to be at the end of the train, but it was a totally different steam engine. 
What a great surprise that was! I do not know much about British steam, but this is an original. She is the Schools Class 925 “Cheltenham”. They were built in the 1930’s and there seem to be at least 3 survivors of the class. 
She is not really a big steam engine at all, and definitely from a different era altogether. She would now be coupled onto the end of the Mirrlees Pioneer and the pair would then head off to Ropley where they would be bedded down for the night. Our intention was to head to Ropley too, and take a look at the infrastructure there.  
Last few pics and we were on our way. You can view some video of this portion of the visit at my YouTube Channel. We then continue our exploration onwards, heading towards Ropley
 © DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:43

Southampton Shipwatch 34: Silver Cloud.

I have been patiently waiting for Silver Cloud to return to Southampton for quite some time. She did call here on the 9th of June, but I was working on that particular day and by the time I got finished all I saw was a feint white shape already past Town Quay.

Unfortunately she was an early morning arrival this morning, so by the time I got there she was almost alongside. Not even the sun was awake yet, although the seagulls were noisily doing seagull things. 

She berthed up at City Terminal, and is due to sail at 18H00 this afternoon which is when I will get other pics of her. But this morning, the pinkish/orange light made her look really good.

She is the second Silverseas vessel in Southampton this season, Silver Whisper was here in May, but this one is new to me. Her next port of call is St Malo, as part of a 12 day voyage to Monaco from Southampton.

By 10H30 the sky was looking grim, and it did offset her white hull quite well, but it did not auger well for her sailing at 18H00.
I was down at the harbour by 17H00 to watch the sailing of Suomigracht behind her, and I moved to Mayflower Park after she was gone. By then the white hull was starting to become less visible by the minute as the weather closed in. 


She did have a tug at her stern and without even a whistle she moved at the appointed time.


Unfortunately the mini harbour they are erecting at Mayflower Park really messes with the photography, but the birds seem to enjoy it a lot.

And then she was past, rapidly disappearing into the mist and drizzle. I did shoot a bit of video and it is available on my YouTube channel. She is a small intimate ship in the high end of the market, and her sister: Silver Wind, is a regular caller in South Africa. But I think her prices are way out of reach for South Africans anyway..


At this point I think she really looks like her name. A Cloud heading into the clouds.
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:43

RBS101 (2)

As we were saying in RBS101 (1), Passenger/Cruise ships are even more complicated when it comes to size. There are many possible options that could make one ship bigger than another in one aspect, but smaller than that same ship in another aspect. 
This page is really only true for the day it was created. I relooked RBS 101 (2) in 2014 because of the new ships that had entered service. And, if I had to relook it in 2016 it too would have bene out of date. 
The important criteria in my opinion are as follows:  Length overall (LOA), GRT, and capacity. That makes things a little bit easier. Of course capacity can be measured by “double occupancy”, or “full board”, but generally double occupancy should suffice. 


My reference for this information is the a list of the worlds largest cruise ships, as well as the company websites. Bear in mind that I am only dealing with ships that I have physically seen and I have also deliberately stayed with ships over 1000 ft long.

The contenders are:

Queen Mary 2
Carnival Corp. GRT  148528   LOA:  1132ft (345m)   Passenger capacity:  2592  double occupancy.

Royal Caribbean Lines.  GRT: 154407, LOA: 1112 ft (339m) Passenger capacity  3634 double occupancy

Adventure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Lines. GRT: 137276  LOA: 1020 ft, (310m)  Passenger capacity: 3114 double occupancy 3807

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Lines. GRT 144017    LOA:  1062 ft (324m)  Passenger capacity: 4000  double occupancy

Royal Princess

Princess Cruises. GRT  142714   LOA:  1083 ft  (330m) Passenger capacity:  3600  double occupancy  

Celebrity Eclipse

Celebrity Cruises. GRT 122000  LOA:  1041 ft (315m) Passenger Capacity 2850 Double Occupancy 
In terms of LOA Queen Mary 2 is right in front, although capacitywise Norwegian Breakaway wins. Independence of the Seas is the winner in the GRT stakes. 
At the time of writing, the largest cruise ship afloat belongs to Royal Caribbean Lines, and is called “Allure of the Seas”. Everything about her is big, with a GRT of 225282, a capacity of 5412 passengers, and a length of 1187 ft (362m).
Oasis of the Seas. Oct 2014

Oasis of the Seas. Oct 2014

Interestingly enough our biggest box boat in service is 1305 ft (398m) long. Allure is probably one of the biggest ships out there, although she is to be outstaged by an even bigger ship one of these days. 
The most important thing about big ships is that while they may be huge, it does not mean that they are good looking. Size and bulk can ruin the ships lines, and given the propensity for strange sterns and a lack of sheer many modern cruise ships are not good lookers. 
So, there you have it in a nutshell, however, you can only really appreciate the size of some of these vessels when seen against something else, or when they come past you. Personally I prefer small ships, there is something about being on a ship with 3999 other people that puts me right off. 
© DRW 2013-2018 Images recreated 10/04/2016. 
Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:44
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