Either way, on Bank Holiday Monday the ship was open to visitors; even before opening time, hundreds of people were queueing up for the short boat ride over. The steep ladders up into the hangar area give you some idea of her size, but even so, it was a surprise to find the first thing on display was an ordinary white Transit van. Up a further very steep climb to the flight deck were yet more trucks and transporters and lifting gear, not to mention the helicopters. These were all roped off for the occasion, but the children among us were allowed to clamber happily all over the trucks and pose (under expert supervision, of course) for family photos with various types of alarming-looking guns. Down again into the hangar, some dozen or so of the ship's areas of activity each had a display set up, from Marines to radar operators to cooks to doctors, complete with a charity cycling team drumming up support. Even so, this massive space is only the top part of the ship: all the crew and what supports them are squeezed in below.
And, as required by modern PR techniques, we exited via the souvenir shop.