Thursday, 23 April 2015

Old Things, New Eyes

When I was growing up we just accepted that we had a castle in our village and it was a place to go and explore, play, ride bikes and generally cause havoc! Of course we learned at school of its origins and the people that built it and lived there but it seems now that none of us really saw it as anything particularly special. It was just that big stone place that had good bike ramps!

Well this weekend we had some friends come to see us from Yorkshire. We sat down for weeks deciding where we would take them and what we would do and not once can I remember mentioning we should take them to the castle! It wasn't until I gave them all a lift to a local marina for dinner that I realised how unusual our local landmark was. As I drove into the marina the view opened up to a lovely sunny castle sitting just over the water. Their two boys were agog at this magnificent sight. "Wow!!!" I got coming from the back of the car, "Look at the castle!" It was then I realised how lucky we are to have this so close to us and yet we take it for granted. We decided that we had to show everyone round it before they went home, just so they could see it in its full glory. So on Sunday we got up early and drove down there. Portchester castle sits overlooking Portsmouth across the water and dates back to Saxon times. According to the articles in the castle museum it has evolved over the years to form what we see now, having being added to by the Romans. It's in really good condition considering its age and also houses the local church St Mary's, where most Portchester residents decide to get married. All local children have attended some kind of occasion at the castle, even if it was only the Christmas carol service that we were forced to go to at school. Memories of sitting freezing cold in the church go through my mind each and every time I see it! We decided as it had been years since we had climbed to the top of the keep, that we would all go in and have a look. I can remember only going up there once as a child with my dad and uncle and cousins. All I could remember was a very steep and narrow spiral staircase. I'm not great with spiral staircases, they make me dizzy and feel like I'm going to fall over! Luckily they have added wooden stairs going from floor to floor in the actual keep itself, but just as I remembered it was spiral for the last twenty or so steps, scary! The view from the top sees Gosport to the south, Portsdown Hill to the north, Portsmouth to the east and Portchester to the west. It's an astounding view. Once we had descended and walked back the car, I had realised the importance of this building and how fascinating it is for non locals to see. I guess it pays to see things through other peoples eyes once in a while to get a fresh perspective on life.

For more information on Portchester Castle visit the English Heritage website HERE

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