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The Mary Rose rises - and well above inflation! DIARY OF A SINGLE MUM.

Byline: Siobhan McNally

Lovely Siobhan," my friend Kitten's voice purred over the phone. "Will you be going to see any of Hampshire's Top Attractions this summer?" "I thought I WAS Hampshire's top attraction, Kitten."

Kate got her nickname when we worked together at the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton. Minty, the editor, banned Kate's fabulous collection of flip-flops from the newsroom, and she was forced to wear more supportive footwear in the shape of kitten heels. "Mate," she sighed, "I know people still talk about the time you flashed your bum at an executive, but as far as I know, they're not erecting a plinth in your honour.

"However, the new Mary Rose museum in Pompey is one of Hampshire's top attractions and you and Ali should really take the kids for a visit. Did I mention it was one of Hampshire's top attractions?" "Yes, Kitten, at least 14 times." So, glad of a distraction for the kids during these endless school holidays, me and Jesse's godmother Ali surgically removed the ankle biters from their iPads and took them for an educational day out in Portsmouth.

At just four and a half, Jesse wasn't much interested in the sinking of some old Tudor warship, but her reaction at hearing that Henry VIII beheaded two of his wives was a marvel of understatement.

"That wasn't very nice, Mummy, was it?" she said as she tottered past the museum's life-sized model of Henry, and was almost knocked out by his enormous codpiece.

Raised from its muddy grave in 1982, the ship's lovingly-preserved decks are at the heart of the new Mary Rose exhibition, which gives visitors a sense of what it must have been like to live on board. Sleeping in your sock drawer for eight months would give you the same idea.

At just eight years old, my goddaughter Molly and her friend Bea were the perfect age to enjoy the more intimate finds among the 19,000 artefacts such as a nit comb, to the more gory, like the giant syphilis syringe.

It will come as no surprise to hear that there wasn't a trace of the disease found in the remains of the 500 sailors who died on board. A girl in every port? I don't think so - I imagine they were all doing their knitting. All the kids were sad at the sight at the remains of the ship's dog Hatch. But if you thought he was stuffed when the ship went down, then happily the museum is now flogging its own version for only PS25.

But it was clearly being left to the cafe to single-handedly recoup the PS35million they are spending on the project, by charging PS20 for two teas (which you had to make yourself), three soft drinks and a cake.

But do go and see the Mary Rose, if only to get Kitten off my back, although you'll need the discounted tickets from www.hampshireattractions.co.uk if you want to be able to afford a cup of tea when you get there

Jesse almost got knocked out by Henry VIII's codpiece

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AHOY! Molly, Bea and Jesse
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 9, 2013
Words:525
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