Waterstones Portsmouth  - The last day of our Southern Waterstones Tour

Waterstones store in Portsmouth!

Leaving hotel No. 3 of the tour in Southampton at 8.30am.

We had been woken in the night with someone trying to get in our room! Luckily Bob had put the ‘deadlock’ on so the key hadn’t worked. Once you would have thought enough, but when the person trying to get in, in the first place hadn’t succeeded they brought a member of staff up to try to open the door for them! I nudged Bob who was sleeping soundly.’

  ‘What the …,’ he yelled, sitting bolt upright.

  ‘Excuse, me sir, sorry,’ came the reply. Then all we heard was a scurry of feed and the sound of a suitcase being wheeled down the hall way. The fire door shut noisly behind them.

That said, our room in the Antico was really lovely, clean and the bed was six foot wide! The staff, food and service was excellent. We would definately return. http://www.antico.co.uk/contact-antico-restaurant-cafe-bar-southampton.htm

 A lovely model of the ‘Cutty Sark’ outside our room.

The rain stopped for our onward trip to Portsmouth Waterstones. Negotiating unknown roads and reading signs in heavy rain is no fun we’ve found. Bob refuses to have a SatNav – prefering his good old maps, which I must say he is excellent at reading from, and we haven’t gone too far astray on our tours yet. The only exception is when a roundabout (shown on the map) has changed to a junction – totally throws him! ;-)

Again, we were able to park in the loading bay, this time at the back of the shop. For authors this is a real treat – not only does it save on the cost of town centre parking (which can be as much as £12.00 a day this tour), but also means all our promotion materials don’t have to be carried across the town. Sometimes we must look like pack horses as we head for a book signing… I’m sure Katy Price won’t have this problem!

Bob with Matthew Parker aged 9! Matthew has just auditoned for Charlie in ‘Charlie And The Chocolate Factory’ in London’s West End. Good luck Matthew!

Karen called in to see us – and we sneaked off for a cuppa and a good old chin wag. Thanks for holding the fort Bob! :-)


Oh, go on, I’ll have another sweet if I must!

And a real treat for us. Cathy Holc-Thompson (who you heard about on our blog yesterday), called in to see us with her husband Nic. Cathy carried the Olympic Torch in Fareham on Sunday 15th July – a truly inspirational lady. Read all about her @ http://www.london2012.com/sports/ What a lovely couple they are… 

Hope you enjoy the books Nic (Cathy bought and dedicated them to her husband for his birthday and their wedding anniversary). I’m sure we’ll keep in touch. Hope to see you next time when we’re in Portsmouth! 

And that was our day, our tour, excitement, the unexpected and the rain. We had a lovely time meeting our readers and have made many new friends along the way. Authors who don’t do book signings, don’t know what they’re missing.

We’ll be back again soon with book 3 in the Dylan series ‘White Lilies.’

Home James!

We boarded the Wightlink ferry at 6.30pm and stopped at the ‘Fighting Cock’  on the way home for tea – or dinner as they say ‘down south’. http://www.thefightingcocks-iw.com/

Refreshed and with a full stomach we were all ready to… start the washing and ironing! :(

Tarra for now!

C & B xx

About Portsmouth! 

Portsmouth is a city located in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is the United Kingdom’s only island city and is located on Portsea Island. The City of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Football Club are both nicknamed Pompey. The administrative unit itself has a population of 197,700, which forms part of the wider Portsmouth conurbation, with an estimated 442,252 residents within wider the urban area, making it the 11th largest urban area in England. At the 2001 census it was the only city in England with a greaterpopulation density (4,639 /km2 (12,015/sq mi)) than London as a whole (4,562 /km2 (11,816/sq mi)), although many of London’s individual boroughs had a much greater density.

A significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world’s oldest dry dock still in use and home to many famous ships, including Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory. Portsmouth has declined as a naval base in recent years but remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commandos whose Headquarters resides there. There is also a commercial port serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic.

The Spinnaker Tower is a recent addition to the city’s skyline. It can be found in the recently redeveloped area known as Gunwharf Quays.

The Portsmouth Urban Area covers an area with a population well over twice that of the city of Portsmouth itself, and includes Fareham, Portchester,Gosport, Havant (which includes the large suburbs of Leigh Park), Lee-on-the-Solent, Stubbington and Waterlooville.

The suburbs of Portsmouth arguably form a conurbation stretching from Southampton to Havant on the M27/A27 road along the coast, and north to Clanfield on the A3 road.



There have been settlements in the area since before Roman times, mostly being offshoots of Portchester, which was a Roman base (Portus Adurni) and possible home of the Classis Britannica. Portsmouth is commonly regarded as having been founded in 1180 by John of Gisors (Jean de Gisors). Most early records of Portsmouth are thought to have been destroyed by Norman invaders following the Norman Conquest. The earliest detailed references to Portsmouth can be found in the Southwick Cartularies. However, there are records of “Portesm?ða” from the late 9th century, meaning “mouth of the

Porchester Castle at NightPortus harbour”/

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 501 claims that “Portesmuða” was founded by a Saxon warrior called Port, though historians do not accept that origin of the name. The Chronicle states that:

Her cwom Port on Bretene ? his .ii. suna Bieda ? Mægla mid .ii. scipum on þære stowe þe is gecueden Portesmuþa ? ofslogon anne giongne brettiscmonnan, swiþe æþelne monnan. (Here Port and his 2 sons Bieda and Mægla came to Britain with 2 ships to the place which is called Portsmouth and slew a young British man, a very noble man.)

The battle is attested in early Welsh sources as the Battle of Llongborth. The poem names the Chronicle’s “young British man of nobility” as Geraint map Erbin.

Portsmouth Anglican CathedralIn the Domesday Book there is no mention of Portsmouth. However, settlements that later went on to form part of Portsmouth are listed. At this time it is estimated the Portsmouth area had a population not greater than two or three hundred. While in Portsea there was a small church prior to 1166, Portsmouth’s first real church came into being in 1181 when a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket was built by Augustinian monks and run by the monks of Southwick Priory until the Reformation. The modern Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral is built on the original location of the chapel.

In 1194 King Richard The Lionheart returned from being held captive in Austria, and set about summoning a fleet and an army to Portsmouth, which Richard had taken over from John of Gisors. On May 2, 1194 the King gave Portsmouth its first Royal Charter granting permission for the borough to hold a fifteen day annual “Free Market Fair”, weekly markets, to set up a local court to deal with minor matters, and exemption from paying the annual tax, with the money instead used for local matters. King Richard later went on to build a number of houses and a hall in Portsmouth. The hall is thought to have been at the current location of the Clarence Barracks (the area was previously known as Kingshall Green). It is believed that the crescent and eight-point star found on the thirteenth century common seal of the borough was derived from the arms of William de Longchamp, Lord Chancellor to Richard I at the time of the granting of the charter. The crescent and star, in gold on a blue shield, were subsequently recorded by the College of Arms as the coat of arms of the borough.

In 1200 King John reaffirmed the rights and privileges awarded by King Richard. King John’s desire to invade Normandy resulted in the establishment of Portsmouth as a permanent naval base, and soon after construction began on the first docks, and the Hospital of St Nicholas, which performed its duties as an almshouse and hospice. During the thirteenth century Portsmouth was commonly used by King Henry III and Edward I as a base for attacks against France.

By the fourteenth century commercial interests had grown considerably. Common imports included wool, grain, wheat, woad, wax and iron, however the port’s largest trade was in wine from Bayonne and Bordeaux.

In 1338 a French fleet led by Nicholas Béhuchet raided Portsmouth, destroying much of the town, with only the local church and hospital surviving. Edward III gave the town exemption from national taxes to aid reconstruction. Only ten years after this devastation the town for the first time was struck by the Black Death. In order 

Round Towerto prevent the regrowth of Portsmouth as a threat, the French again sacked the city in 1369, 1377 and 1380. Henry V built the first permanent fortifications of Portsmouth. In 1418 he ordered a wooden Round Tower be built at the mouth of the harbour, which was completed in 1426. King Henry VIII rebuilt the fortifications with stone, raised a square tower, and assisted Robert Brygandine and Sir Reginald Bray in the construction of the world’s first dry dock. In 1527, with some of the money from the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII built Southsea Castle. In 1545, he saw his vice-flagship Mary Rosefounder off Southsea Castle, with a loss of about 500 lives, while going into action against the French fleet. Over the years Portsmouth’s fortification was increased by numerous monarchs, although most of these have now been converted into tourist attractions.In 1628 the unpopular favorite of Charles I George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham was stabbed to death in the Old Portsmouth pub the Greyhound by a veteran of Villiers most recent military folly, John Felton. The murder took place in the “Greyhound” Public House (popularly known as “The Spotted Dog”), High Street, Old Portsmouth; this is now a private building called Buckingham House and it bears a commemorative plaque to mark the event.

During the English civil war the arsenal at the Square Tower was surrendered by its royalist commander in return for safe passage out of the city for himself and the garrison. The City would become a major base for the Parliamentary Navy during the war. The father of the Royal Navy Robert Blake during the Commonwealth would use Portsmouth as his main base, during both the Anglo Dutch war and the Anglo Spanish war, he died within sight of the city after his final cruise off Cadiz.

On 13 May 1787 11 ships sailed from Portsmouth, to establish the first European colony in Australia, it also marked the beginning of prisoner transports to that continent. It is known today as the First Fleet in Australia.

HMS WarriorPortsmouth has a long history of supporting the Royal Navy logistically, leading to it being important in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Marc Isambard Brunel, the father of famed Portsmouth engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, established in 1802 the world’s first mass production line at the Portsmouth Block Mills, to mass produce pulley blocks for rigging on the Royal Navy’s ships. At its height the Dockyard was the largest industrial site in the world.

Admiral Nelson left Portsmouth for the final time in 1805 to command the fleet that would defeat the larger Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar.[11] The Royal Navy’s reliance on Portsmouth led to the city becoming the most fortified in Europe, with a network of forts (a subset of “Palmerston’s Follies”) circling the city. From 1808 the Royal Navy’s West Africa Squadron, who were tasked to stop the slave trade, operated out of Portsmouth. On December 21, 1872 a major scientific expedition, the Challenger Expedition, was launched from Portsmouth.

In 1916 the town experienced its first aerial bombardment when a Zeppelin airship bombed it during World War I.

In 1926 Portsmouth was granted city status, following a long campaign by the borough council. The application was made on the grounds that Portsmouth was the “first naval port of the kingdom”. Two years later the city received the further honour of a lord mayoralty. In 1929 the city council added the motto “Heaven’s Light Our Guide” to the medieval coat of arms. Apart from referring to the celestial objects in the arms, the motto was that of

Gosport theStar of India. This recalled that troopships bound for the colony left from the port. Further changes were made to the arms in 1970, when the Portsmouth Museums Trust sponsored the grant of crest, supporters and heraldic badge. The crest and supporters are based on those of the royal arms, but altered to show the city’s maritime connections: the lions and unicorn have been given fish tails, and a naval crown placed around the latter animal. Around the unicorn is wrapped a representation of “The Mighty Chain of Iron”, a Tudor defensive boom across Portsmouth Harbour.

The city was bombed extensively during World War II, destroying many houses and the Guildhall. While most of the city has since been rebuilt, developers still occasionally find unexploded bombs. Southsea beach and Portsmouth Harbour were military embarkation points for the D-Day landings on June 6 1944. Southwick House, just to the north of Portsmouth, had been chosen as the headquarters for the Supreme Allied Commander, US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, during D-Day.Old Portsmouth

After the war, much of the city’s housing stock was damaged and more was cleared in an attempt to improve the quality of housing. Those people affected by this were moved out from the centre of the city to new developments such as Paulsgrove and Leigh Park. Post-war redevelopment throughout the country was characterised by utilitarian and brutalist architecture, with Portsmouth’s Tricorn Centre one of the most famous examples. More recently, a new wave of redevelopment has seen Tricorn’s demolition, the renewal of derelict industrial sites, and construction of the Spinnaker Tower.


In the British crime survey of 2001, Portsmouth did not have a distinctly different profile to the other cities in its basic command unit profile. However, for that period it did have a large number of sexual assaults and rapes. A BBC News report in May 2006 reported that it was Britain’s worst city for sexual assaults and rapes, based on the 2001 British crime survey by the think tank Reform. Police officers responded by saying “Police in Portsmouth have worked closely with partner agencies and the city council to develop a climate where victims feel confident to report rape, which is generally an under-reported crime” and that this could be the reason for the increased number of reported sexual assaults. However, in a subsequent government survey, the number of reported sexual assaults and rapes had decreased by 22.8% bringing the rate below most large UK cities.

HMP Kingston, a Category B & C prison is located near central Portsmouth.

 Tourist Attractions

HMS VictoryMost of Portsmouth’s tourist attractions are related to its naval history. In the last decade Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard has been given a much needed face-lift. Among the attractions are the D-Day museum (which holds the Overlord embroidery) and, in the dockyard, HMS Victory, the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose (raised from the seabed in 1982), HMS Warrior(Britain’s first iron-clad steamship) and the Royal Naval Museum.

Many of the city’s former defences now host museums or events. Several of the Victorian era forts on Portsdown Hill are now tourist attractions. Fort Nelson is now home to the Royal Armouries museum, Forts Purbrook and Widley are activities centres. the Tudor era Southsea Castle has a small museum, and much of the seafront defences up to the Round Tower are open to the public. The southern part of the once large Royal Marines Eastney Barracks is now the Royal Marine Museum. There are also many buildings in the city that occasionally host open days particularly those on the D-Day walk which are seen on signs around the city which note sites of particularly importance in the city to Operation Overlord.

The city also hosts the D-Day museum a short distance from Southsea Castle; this museum is home to the famous Overlord Tapestry.

Portsmouth’s long association with the armed forces means it has a large number of war memorials around the city, including several at the Royal Marines Museum, at the dockyards and in Victoria Park. In the city centre, the Guildhall Square Cenotaph displays the names of the fallen, and is guarded by stone sculptures of machine gunners carved by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger. The memorial is inscribed:

—West face

The millennium project to build the Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays was completed in 2005. The tower is 552 ft tall and features viewing decks at sea level, 325 ft, 341 ft and 357 ft.

Other tourist attractions include the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the Blue Reef Aquarium (formerly the Sea Life Centre), Cumberland House (a natural history museum), The Royal Marines Museum and Southsea Castle. Southsea’s seafront is also home to Clarence Pier Amusement Park.

Portsmouth is also home to the Genesis Expo, the UK’s first (and to date only) creationist museum.

English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence are in the process of turning the Portsmouth Block Mills into a museum.


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