Landing in London, I quickly had to re-learn driving on the left, especially since I declined insurance and the car is mint. Meh. Insurance is for cowards. 2 hours of practice later and the motorway gets a great sea view on the way into Portsmouth; stop #1. We did a quick stroll of the pier and toured the Southsea coastal defense castle/battery. Plenty of cannons laying around here. Good stuff! I also love that they turned the castle into a microbrewery and restaurant. Because… why wouldn’t they?
Jet lag set heavy on the first evening so the only other excitement was trying to figure out the shower temperature. Shower water in this flat is heated by a magical box on the wall that has 2 temp control knobs on the outside of it and I bet seeing me trying to adjust them simultaneously over the next 15 minutes WOULD have looked like I was breaking into a safe. However the added fun was that 1/1000 of a turn on one knob was the difference between 1 and 99 degrees. I’m sure of it. 1 degree on either end would have got me ice or steam. So rather than a lock-picking parody, I probably instead looked like torture victim, dancing in and out of an unpredictable flow of water. Honestly, isn’t that a legit form of torture? George RR Martin once stayed here and this shower, and the periodic screams from within, gave him the title idea for “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
Early the next day, we headed to the Goodwood Revival. This annual event was a big part of why we planned on coming south straight after landing. It’s a celebration of vintage (40s, 50s and 60s) cars, motorcycles and airplanes. On what was once a WWII airfield, the landowner now hosts this event which draws racers, drivers, riders, pilots and enthusiasts from around the world. There must be thousands of period cars to look at in between races, and the field of restored WWII fighter planes stole my heart. To add to the fun of the weekend, everyone from competitors to catering staff to guests are all invited to dress in period wear. It’s comicon for post-war car nerds!
There’s nothing quite like seeing rows upon rows of collectible and mint-condition Bentleys, Jaguars, Aston Martins and Shelbys surrounded by folks dressed like the cast of Back to the Future, while Spitfires and Hurricanes do mock strafing runs down the airfield over top of fans. The highlight here was a P-38 Lightning (apparently the only functioning one in Europe).
We managed to catch three of the races. One of bikes and the other two were I’m sure only a small sample of the many many race classes of cars. Oddly enough, one of the most entertaining car events was the “Fiat 500”, when all the Italians piled into a hundred of the smallest cars I’ve ever seen and made there way out of the Little Italy portion of the grounds through the crowd and onto the track. Think less racing and more slightly organized chaos of Italian men driving clown cars and non stop beeping of horns with dolled up women waving out the tops and windows. Hilarious!