I Love the Smell of Nostalgia in the Morning

Hello esteemed reader,

Today I took a trip to Greenwich Maritime Museum to see the ‘Turner at Sea exhibition’.

On the face of things this would seem like a very cultured thing for a 24 year old male living in London to partake in (suits you sir). However you miss read my intentions. I went for one reason and one reason only and that was for a healthy dose of nostalgia. My mission was ingenious in its simplicity, I wished to gaze upon The Fighting Temeraire!


During my childhood in our little terrace house in Bolton there hung a copy of The Fighting Temeraire over our mantelpiece.  The copy was painted by my Granddad Michael Hodges, who sadly I never got to meet as he passed away before I was born. 

Bear in mind that growing up I saw this painting pretty much everyday until I was about 18 (when I finally flew the coop to go to the terrifying world of university). It is firmly stuck in my brain and whenever I see it I get that lovely warm feeling of nostalgia. I love the sensation when memories come flooding back, some which you thought you had completely forgotten and I’m sure I’m not alone. So imagine how I felt when I saw a massive advert for this exhibition on the underground in London with The Fighting Temiere front and centre in the advert. As Sherlock would say ‘The game was afoot’! I was going to the Greenwich Maritime Museum baby, the mission was formulated!

Once I was inside the exhibition it was clear straight away that it was going to be an amazing experience. The audio guide (which being such a miser I usually never purchase) added to the experience significantly. When I finally came upon The Fighting Temiere I  really wanted to know what the curators had to say so I grabbed my audio guide and fumbled at the touch screen (so fancy!). Well the curators claimed one of the main themes of this paintings was nostalgia, the very reason I had come to see it. This painting was trying to get across the message that this was in fact the end of an era, the last surviving boat from the battle of Trafalgar and alas here it is being towed to be broken up and decommissioned. Turner wanted to evoke a sense of yearning for the past, the glory days of the British navy and he really does.

It would be wrong of me if I didn’t mention that as kid growing up I didn’t really read anything into the painting, the fascination lay in the fact that it was a link to my Granddad. I should also mention that my Granddad was an amateur painter and his copy had a few blemishes when compared to the that of the original by  Turner. One specific difference that I always fixate on is on the left hand wheel of the steamboat. In my granddads version there are a few white brush strokes there. Well when I was a kid these looked like huge scary teeth, I used to think the steam boat was a monster attacking the golden HMS Temiere! (Sometimes I still do!)


(You can sort of make the teeth out in this grainy snap sent from my dad)

In the pursuit of nostalgia here is a song from my childhood that I used to love (and still do)!

Philly out

Photo credit: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/joseph-mallord-william-turner-the-fighting-temeraire



  1. Good God, I didn’t really think that there would be someone who chased the feeling of nostalgia. Personally, I avoid it as much as I can as I don’t really like missing things and moments that I know won’t come back, it makes me very uncomfortable. But again, I think I understand the pleasure that you gain from wandering into the memories of your past childhood too. Well, I guess that you were lucky for finding this exhibition about the same Turner’s work that you had at home! 😀

      1. Oh, I like rewatching old movies too, and if it is a good movie that we’re talking about, i like doing it again and again and that doesn’t make me feel nostalgic at all. Revisiting old photographs, instead, is probably the most nostalgic thing I can think of..

      2. Some movies remind me of a certain time.

        The aristocats does this massively. I always think of my sister. As we both absolutely loved watching the movie when we were little.

      3. I think I get what you mean. That kind of nostalgia. I don’t really know why I associate this world to sad memories when it can be this neutral. Well, it was nice reading you, Philly. See you soon (:

  2. When I read nostalgia and smell in the same breath,i was curious to know how one can smell nostalgia . I read your post it became clear you were writing about your Granddad’s painting. How wonderful is that,wow is all I can say.

  3. Nostalgia cements our ties to the past, ours and our ancestors. It’s wonderful to be able to travel down those streets and landscapes and meet people we used to know and relive happy times and also mourn for those who are no longer with us. You wrote a lovely piece of nostalgia. Thank you.

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