Showing posts with label HMS Belfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HMS Belfast. Show all posts

Friday, 23 January 2015

Five on Friday: Please take the stairs

Taking five minutes to enjoy five things...

1. Stairs invite us in.

Like into Dr Johnson's House,

up the stairwell,

 into his attic where facsimiles of his dictionary await your perusal.

2. Stairs can lead us down.

Into the First World War tunnels at Vimy Ridge,
in France but a National Historic Site of Canada.

Fourteen miles of tunnels leading to the front line,

built by Welsh miners for Canadian troops.

3. Sometimes it is necessary to make temporary arrangements.

Awaiting new stairs at the Brunel Museum.

The only way in and out of Brunel's underground chamber.

You can see where the stairs used to be,

helpfully illustrated on souvenir cups.

4. Stairs provide convenient places to hang portraits

Going left up the stairs to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons,
you are introduced to past presidents.

Not gowned up (surgically speaking), but wearing RCS ties.

As the fashions for portraiture, ties and gowns have changed,
fortunately so have surgical instruments.
Doubt Professor Peter Morris here, ever had to work with the chicken bone or razor shell
that we had just seen in the Hunterian Museum.

5. Some stairs are best approached with caution

 Down the hatch on HMS Belfast.

Always face the ladder and best wear trousers.

Perhaps head to the Shell Room below the water-line.

Ladders and hatches on HMS Belfast accessing all nine decks.

I am joining in with Amy with Five on Friday,
taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.
Please visit the other bloggers who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Five on Friday: Christmas drink anyone?

Taking five minutes to enjoy five things...

Christmas drink anyone?
I offer you...

at The fan Museum, Greenwich.

on HMS Belfast,
issued daily, 'Up Spirits'.

on the roof of the Brunel Museum.
You'll have to wait until the summer, served by Midnight Apothecary.

Gather round the table for a cuppa in the Second World War
at the Imperial War Museum, London.
Served in the Allpress family's model home
in the Family in Wartime gallery.

Or share your favourite tipple with a friend,
a Viking horn cup each from
The British Museum,
Sutton Hoo Gallery.

I am joining in with Amy with Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.
Please visit the five others who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Want to know more about The Fan Museum, HMS Belfast,
the Brunel Museum and Vikings at the British Museum?
Click on the links below to read my previous posts about them.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tower Poppies

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

On the first of November we went to the Tower of London to see the Tower Poppies.

I had been by myself a couple of months before, in early September, one month after they had begun installing 888,246 poppies in the moat of the Tower of London, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Our journey walking from London Bridge station, took us past HMS Belfast with its remembrance poppy.
'HMS Belfast wasn't in the First World War, it was launched in 1939
at the beginning of the Second World War.'

Stepping off Tower Bridge these were the first Tower Poppies we saw.

Then walking up the West side, I saw how the field of poppies had grown in the last two months,
from this,

to this.

Each poppy represents a life,  a British military fatality in the First World War.

Volunteers will have planted all the poppies, in just over three months.

I wondered what kind of people had volunteered and what their reasons may have been for doing so.

Whether volunteers were perhaps planting poppies in remembrance of relatives who served and died in the First World War.

I have no family history to tell my children of lives lost in the First World War.
But I tell them about my granny, who in her seventies, once showed me a letter that her father had sent her from the trenches, with a drawing of a flower and mud on it. When she died, my mum hunted high and low, and much to all our disappointment the letter was never found.

We have spent the last few weeks building up a picture of the First World War, listening to 'Horrible Histories' in the car and during the half-term break last week we went to Vimy Ridge, a First World War battlefield in Northern France, with cousins. (I'll post about that trip soon) We were all captivated by the tunnels, trenches, bomb craters and stories of fighting, communications, living conditions and truces.

So when we met back up with the same cousins, just a week later, to see the Tower Poppies, I felt that our kids had in their minds, a little of the 'bloody' context for these flowers.

And it was difficult not to be overwhelmed at their number.
A sea of red below us!

The number of visitors coming to see Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red has made the news, with surrounding road and tube closures essential to manage the crowds, 

It was busy, very very busy.
But we all agreed, between aged ten to seventy-three, that it was worth it.

On the way home my youngest two asked whether they would do that again to mark the 200 year anniversary. "You would have to live to 111 years old to be around for the 200 year anniversary".
 We talked about how things can get forgotten and whether there would maybe be other wars in the next 100 years that we would need to remember.

This installation was designed by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, in the words of the Tower website, 'creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower
but also a location for personal reflection'.
I think they achieved that.

The last poppy will be planted on the 11th November 2014.
Details on the website here.

Monday, 7 July 2014

HMS Belfast a War Ship

 I have looked at Life on Board HMS Belfast in a previous post, here.
Food, laundry, spare-time, sleep and shopping.

But HMS Belfast is a war ship,
commissioned in 1939,
at the beginning of the second World War.

My kids have studied the second world war,
in both primary and secondary school.
Would this ship connect to the history they had learnt at school?
What would our kids make of war?
What did war at sea look like?

There are guns.
These guns, if fired, would hit Scratchwood motorway services,
the southernmost services on the M1, 14 miles away.

Deep below deck,
shells are stored, ready to be sent to the gun turrets.

 Each 6" shell weighs as much as two small children.
We could demonstrate that weight, sometimes it's useful having twins.

Steering the ship was done from a safe position, below deck,
but you still had to wear your anti-flash gloves and hoods
to protect you in the event of fire.

War is strategic, it involves planning,
team work where every man had a specific job.

We worked together to locate aircraft parts,
studying the map, plotting journeys and moving ships and helicopters into position.


We did it!

 It was important to take orders rather than 'selfies'.

If you didn't follow orders, and you misbehaved,
you could end up in the punishment cells
being shouted at and having to unwind rope.
Having been caught drunk on duty,
this guy is too busy throwing up into a bucket to unwind any more rope.
The top misdemeanours were being drunk, absent without leave and fighting. 

For some reason the punishment cells appealed,
we fought to try out the wooden pillow.

 Now moored on the Thames by the City of London
HMS Belfast doesn't look so big.
It is though.
It's two football pitches long and nine decks high,
they can all be explored, many are below the waterline.
All those different greys.
That's called dazzle paint, designed to confuse the enemy when it is spotted at sea.
It does a pretty good camouflage job in the City too.

As for war,
secondary school history has given them some context for the life of HMS Belfast,
the Second World War and later conflicts.
I learnt a lot from the older two.

For our primary school children, HMS Belfast was appreciated more for being a ship,
what it did and how it worked.

It is perhaps difficult to comprehend the realities of war for the crew on HMS Belfast,
at sea, in action.
I'll leave you with words from archive footage, heard in the Gun Turret Experience,
spoken by former crew who had fired those guns.
Food for thought.
"...we wanted to get the ships, not the crew..."
At that point, I gulped.

HMS Belfast is open everyday.
Occasionally there are still veterans on board to meet and hear their stories.
Details on their website, here.
I recommend the children's audio tour. It was the one we used for our family,
aged eleven to adult.
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