the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Bank Holiday Outing: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

on April 10, 2012

With two other families, we spent a day in Portsmouth.  Arriving in plenty of time to hit the shops at the factory outlet at Gunwharf Quays (my summer wardrobe is now suitably supplemented) we also managed to have a look around the historic dockyard.  While the men and children managed the tour, my friends and I reminisced about our last visit.  On that occasion, I set foot on HMS Victory and distinctly remember the guide sharing the story about the origins of the phrase ‘square meal’. 

Accordingly, I believed that the square wooden plates (rimmed to avoid spillage) that were used to serve the most substantial meal on board ship were the basis for the saying.  However, I’ve since investigated this on-line and there’s a strong argument to suggest this is spurious and that the origins of the saying lie in nineteenth century America with the advent of the phrase ‘square deal’ and ‘fair and square’. Now I’m not sure what to believe.  Also, during that visit, I learned that the Hardy Monument in Dorset, doesn’t relate to Thomas Hardy the writer, but to his distant relative the Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy.  It was to this man that Nelson made his famous request ‘Kiss me Hardy’ while on his deathbed.  Through public subscription in 1844, the 72 foot high monument was erected in Portesham.

With such misconceptions, I wonder we have confidence to believe anything we read or hear. What do you think?

12 responses to “Bank Holiday Outing: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

  1. Pauline Howard says:

    Long ago I stopped believing virtually anything! (Cynic) But the Hardy monument is a revelation to me, so thanks for that. Looks quite a nice day – obviously not yesterday.
    PS. I much prefer the square plate theory.

  2. Penny Dale says:

    This does sound like a good day. On the subject of misconceptions/misunderstandings it is thought that the dying Nelson said “Kismet, Hardy.” I tend to go with this interpretation – but if he Nelson did indeed want a goodbye kiss from Hardy, then I hope he got it.

  3. John Wiswell says:

    On the bigger conception, we figure there has to be some truth around us, so I’m not surprised we latch on to some explanations here and there, nor am I surprised some folks are skeptical of just about anything. And it does sound like a lovely day out!

  4. You were in Portsmouth the day I left for my holiday!

  5. I went to Portsmouth years ago, my brother-in-lay lived there as he was in the navy. I wonder how much it has changed or not?

    As for the square meal I’d be going for the nautical saying

  6. It seems like you had a lovely day out! There’s no doubt about it, Portsmouth is a great place to visit and has lots of interesting attractions, made even better when you get a lovely day like it shows in your pictures. As for the ‘Square meal’ phrase, I would also be inclined to believe the nautical origin.

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