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St Malo to Portsmouth and intrigue on HMS Victory

I had hoped to go to England via Dover passing through Paris and via Lille visiting La galerie peinture à Lille Galerie Vasse rue d’Esquermoise. (  www.vasse.com )Ferry_Bretagne_at_St_Malo_IMG_8909_d.JPG
That did not work to plan so I tried to book Roscoff / Plymouth only to find winter sailing is only twice a week and the date I needed was full, a Dr Barnado’s sortie so a good cause to give way to.

This was my first voyage on  the ferry, “Bretagne“, a pleasant ship and a stormy crossing to a very wet Portsmouth.

Bretagne is a comfortable modern ship, pleasant decore even if all the paintings are by French artists, good en suite cabins and she is complete with lounges adequate restaurants and rolls and pitches minimally in a rough sea meaning you know you are on a ship (which some of us like) but it’s not enough to spoil a meal except for the tenderest landsmen.

Portsmouth in the rain and more British cars than I have seen for some months, all apparently expecting me to join them driving on the wrong side of the road was bit of a challenge.

My new girlfriend “GPS” rose the the occasion and took me almost directly, we had one slight misunderstanding, to the Southsea address I sought and a very warm welcome from Katie and Peter Goodwin.

Katie besides being an excellent hostess keeps Portsmouth Museum in order.

Peter, readers of this blog will know has been a friend for some 18 years and we met while I was working on a series commissioned to raise funds for HMS Victory, the historic ship of which Peter Goodwin has been keeper and curator for 20 years with a brief to return the ship to her October 1805 condition.

The brief in other words asks Peter Goodwin to maintain and restore HMS Victory to the condition she was in when Horatio Nelson left the shores of England for his fate and destiny at the battle of Trafalgar.

Peter is currently suspended from his job because of overtime claims which the CO apparently forgot to monitor over some 2 years. Therefore it is all Peter’s fault, according to the CO who instead of sorting it out in his office called in the police, what?

Now we wait on a decision from the Second Sea Lord, what?

Keeping Peter on suspension on full pay is costing more than the disputed amount plus the ship has lost the services of the person  who knows more about her than any man alive or dead!

All this over a trifling sum, doesn’t the navy and the Second Sea Lord have better things to do and more important things to worry over?

One has to wonder what goes on in the minds of these people, guardians of our fair isle…

I was there partly to give Peter moral support having already put in writing for him my thoughts on his professional and personal qualities.

Of the latter I discovered while I was one of the first to send a letter of support I was in very distinguished company including Lords, ladies, the Warden of the Cinq Ports and Knights of the realm all standing up to be counted with Peter.

Katie served an excellent English stew followed by naughty heavy chocolate pud and all lubricated by a flowing quantity of Gaillac wines.

I had the great pleasure of talking til 03.00 with Peter on matters naval, nautical and historic.

Some of the topics were a bit specialised for example a discussion about the exact bright yellow used by Nelson; I recently painted a test panel for Peter and Victory, using various controlled mixes and colours, about which an article will soon be published in the learned journal of the Society of Nautical Research, Mariner’s Mirror.Paint_Samples__Nelson__s_bright_yellow__IMG_8961_d.JPG

More about this test panel soon.

As you may know, once a painting leaves the artist while the artist retains copyrights in a wider sense it is no longer his but belongs in part to all who see it so what it is is what they make of it.

Much to my delight this  has been called a realling interesting  abstract painting and i have had 2 requests to paint others similar.

I also found myself agreeing to make a marine painting of one of his pet subjects, the action between Alert and Lexington ~ Peter, also an author of some 12 books wrote one on the Cutter Alert in the Anatomy of the Ship series.