Friday, February 21, 2014

We Have Our Own Hogwarts!

We visited the ancient Egypt exhibition today at the Portsmouth City Museum and although we've been there dozens of times before over the years, we've never actually properly noticed how awesome the building is! Today we stood and saw it anew, shimmering in the late afternoon sunlight with quite a magical (one might say, wizardly) type of magnificence.

Here it is later at night, when they put the floodlights on...

OK, maybe that's a fib, but we still think our Portsmouth 'Hogwarts' is pretty impressive!

Apart from the exhibitions, the next one of which is a celebration of a very different style of (late) Portsmouth architecture, the Tricorn, they usually have a great summer line-up of entertainment in the gardens too. To keep track of what's on there, check out this page:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Cellars at Eastney

The Cellars at Eastney is a really precious gem in the city! An intimate and cosy haven providing a full listings of live independent music plus comedy and poetry. It's definitely one, if not the favourite venue on my list of best places to go out for the night in Portsmouth.

I'm particularly moved to enthuse about them right now because I just got back from a brilliant night watching the awesomely talented Eleanor McEvoy. Supporting were a newly formed band called Chasing Ghosts who were really worth hearing too. It was a truly beautiful night of sounds, superb performance and heart-warming personal rapport with the audience.

So yeah, The Cellars at Eastney - check them out! Go along, support, and keep them going strong, because Portsmouth would certainly be less lovely without them.

Eleanor McEvoy playing at The cellars tonight

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Rainbows And Hearts - Not A Bad Start To The New Year! :)

After so many days of grimness and rain, today was bright and sunny (mostly)! Lots of people were enjoying a walk along Clarence Esplanade, dodging the waves which crashed up over the path, and taking cover from occasional sudden showers. It was during one of these that we saw a rainbow which began somewhere near Old Portsmouth and ended I reckon, somewhere near Fratton.

Looking down from the sky to the puddles I was jumping over on the ground, I saw a bright little heart beaming up some glistening love to me! It was a small loose pebble and tempted as I am to collect such treasures I decided to leave it there to delight other walkers who happen to glance down. So if you're observant and walking somewhere along the Esplanade between the Blue Reef Aquarium and Clarence Pier you might spot it and receive your own special little glow of Southsea love!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Victorian Festival of Christmas & Portsmouth Harbour

Today my family went to the Victorian Festival of Christmas in the dockyard. My favourite part is riding the carousel, though it always leaves me a little disappointed as my horse never breaks away like in Mary Poppins. I'll put it on the feedback form...

My son managed to get himself a job...

We met a mysterious and beautiful woman with a cheeky sparkle in her eye and hair to die for...

Here's a few photo's of boats etc that I took afterwards (enjoying playing with the new phone!).  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Sudden 'Smile' at Portsmouth Harbour

To be honest, a family shopping expedition for a new pair of shoes for my son at Gunwharf Quays (or anywhere) is not one of my lovely things to do, especially on a baking hot sunny afternoon!

I'm restricted by family privacy protocols from fully divulging the details and depths of the stress which such an activity brings into the Universe, but I'm sure that the tremors from earlier this afternoon have spun off down the Gunwharf wormhole and are still being measured somewhere out on Alpha Centauri...

However, as we were trudging back to The Hard train station, physically tired and mentally aching, I glanced up and saw a sign on a tall post. There against the backdrop of a cloudless, deep blue sky was a sign which I'd never noticed, despite the fact I must have walked past it hundreds of times before. My partner said it's been there for years. It doesn't seem attached to any particular business and most importantly, it's NOT  TRYING TO SELL ME ANYTHING! It appears to just be standing there, an eccentric and benevolent survivor of some past time, a still and silent appeal to anyone who chances to look skywards, that it's now safe for the positivity and joyfulness mercilessly crushed by shopping trips, to come back out to play.

Unfortunately, because I stopped to look, we missed our train by about 10 seconds which didn't help to get the rest of the family smiling!

I'm sure someone will tell me that actually this sign is a remnant of an old fish and chip shop that was once below it, or an old night club, or it's a subliminal type advert by the Isle of Wight car ferry to get you to wander trancelike into their office asking for tickets to the 'land of smiles' which I've occasionally heard the Isle of Wight described as. But until there's evidence exposing it as a cynical capitalist mind game, I will continue to view it as a lovely symbol of hope that there's life after shopping at Gunwharf :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Southsea Greenhouse

I recently visited Southsea Greenhouse for the first time and became a member straight away! Although the Southsea Greenhouse Co-Operative have been creating art and selling fruit and veg for a long time, it's only this year that they actually acquired their own permanent site. This is certainly a special gem of a place, which really contributes to Portsmouth's loveliness, hidden next to Cumberland House, the Natural History Museum. From the moment I saw the brightly painted welcoming banner at the front announcing this community garden, I knew it was going to be a project that I'd be hugely interested in.

We were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer who offered to give us a guided tour and a potted history of the garden. Less than a year ago this was a derelict piece of land, overgrown and neglected. Volunteers worked incredibly hard through the cold months and Spring to create an incredible haven of fertile horticultural cultivation and arty creativity. Volunteers were busy potting more plants while we were looking round.

People are invited to come and help out on 'Dig Tuesdays' between 10-12, but the garden is open most days between 10-4 including weekends and anyone is welcome to come and have a look round, ask questions and get stuck in to tending the beds, and they suggest you bring gardening gloves and boots.

 However it's certainly not all about digging!

Not only is the place a lovely thriving garden now, but it is offering a lot more than that. As the group's mission statement says:
We want to change the way people shop, and help the local community benefit from fresh, locally-grown produce.

We want to reconnect the people of Southsea with where their food and flowers come from; and encourage them to try growing their own produce, or be inspired to create their own craft-works.

We were introduced to the two 'Guardians' of the garden who overlook the activities and offer their vibrant, knitted protection to this little sanctuary:

My favourite sign was an old worn piece of wood informing us that we were "now entering a seedy part of town"!

There was a good illustration of how an old pallet could be upcycled into an effective vertical planting frame, with narrow little beds for herbs.

 The pond was full of life, still some big fat tadpoles and little frogs. Dragonflies and nymphs were pointed out to us and it was fascinating to take a close up look at the cast-off 'skins' from the newly emerged dragonflies.

Amongst the plants and living creatures are also plenty of other characters to keep an eye out for...

Although I haven't participated yet with the weeding, watering or other useful activities to justify taking a break, I was very enticed by the lovely sight of seat, book and mug of tea calling to me...

 There's also a shop where you can buy a wide variety of local and organic fruit and vegetables. Also inside the hut are locally handmade crafts and cards for sale.

 At weekends there are sometimes local craft people who come to exhibit their wares or provide some entertainment. This weekend, my son, the creator of the comic 'The Red Crow' enjoyed having a stall outside!

The Southsea Greenhouse is a huge asset to the city and as a community co-operative is really eager to encourage the active involvement of local people.

To find out more, please visit their great website:
Or like their page on Facebook:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hilsea Lines (Foxes Forest)

I've spent most of the last month being away from Portsmouth or being unwell, so I haven't been out discovering the loveliness of Portsmouth much at all. However, a couple of days ago, I went with my son and my dog for a walk along the woodland path at Hilsea Lines, which was lovely enough to help my healing process and generate a bit more energy. I recently found out that this place is also called 'Foxes Forest' which I'd never heard of before and I like this name a lot!

We haven't been here for a while and I actually forgot how country-like it can feel, although I do find myself trying to imagine that the roar of the M/A27 is actually the crashing of waves on an amazing beach just the other side of the trees! We park up at the end of Peronne Rd and turn along the path Eastwards. My son likes climbing up the bank which formed the old ramparts and following the top path while I walk along the bottom.

This week I went up the top for the first time and this narrow path feels even more like we could be somewhere out in the country and caught the views through the trees across to the top of Portsdown Hill. For being right on the edge of the city it's not bad for a touch of the wild.

The path at the top of the ramparts

We discovered loads of new little paths which we hadn't seen before so we can come back another day to explore. Some we know will wind down to a road, or a bit of the old fort or to a secret rope swing (I found this but had lost my son down another path at that moment, so he didn't get to play on it this time!). Living in the middle of the city, it's so necessary for me to find places surrounded by tall trees and bursting hedgerows and a view of the sky through a canopy of green leaves. Breathe!

I even took a couple of wild garlic leaves home for my salad. It's growing thickly in places here like a thick garlic carpet and the white garlic flowers growing alongside the clumps of bluebells just encourages good healthy things like breathing and smiling and feeling there is goodness right under our noses if we choose to see and sniff and taste it!

 This wildlife corridor of Hilsea Lines covers over 80 hectares in all, with a diverse variety of habitat from woodland and hedgerows to meadows, marshland and the moat/coastal path. It's encouraging to think that there's lots of it we have yet to explore. I haven't located the whereabouts yet of the National Grid Ref SU 66464 04208. This is apparently the place where radioactive waste was buried in 1978. That is something I want to do before I get too eager with my wild food foraging.

Hilsea Lines even has it's own sacred wood circle! How sacred it's origins are I have no idea and I don't remember it being there a couple of years ago. Does anyone know anything about it or who created it? Time for the imagination to create some fabulous urban mythology...

We'll be next there for a walk with the Portsmouth Little Dogs Meet-Up. If you've got a small dog, do come and join us!