Not to be outdone by all my friends who have nipped off for a spot of winter sun in far off sunny locations, we packed our overnight bags and headed down to the south coast for the weekend, Southsea to be exact (Portsmouth to the unrefined). We were visiting Nick's sister and her husband who live there. Through them I've got to know another side to the city which, to my surprise, is really rather lovely.
My knowledge of Portsmouth had previously been limited to childhood dawn dashes to catch the ferry to France. I have an abiding memory of being in the back of our family car in the grey, early morning light, snuggled under a duvet with my sisters sleeping either side of me, queueing up to get on the ferry and start our summer holiday. These are very good memories but I seem to remember some rather unflattering comments made by my parents en route through the actual city, something about sailors, ports and bad behaviour. Anyways, my point is that this reputation is old hat, Southsea is really nice!
Yes, it got bombed to smithereens but there is a surprisingly large number of old buildings still standing and lots of these are quirkily decorated and really interesting to look at. It's also completely unpretentious and in that way is a breath of fresh air from London. One place we went to was an amazing record shop which also serves delicious pies, appropriately named Pie and Vinyl, amazing!
On Sunday we walked down the sea front to Old Portsmouth which has an old city wall and towers dating back to Tudor times. I haven't seen the sea since the summer and it was so nice to be hear the waves again.
The Mary Rose sank just out there
We were heading to our favourite pub on the harbour front for some fish and chips before heading home.
I love the pub, it sits right on the edge of the channel where all the big ferries and ships come in. One minute you're scoffing some chips and the next there is the great hulk of a ship looming down on you - quite dramatic!
It's all made me want to go exploring again. We bought a new car too so now we have some trusty wheels there's nothing stopping us. Our plan is to scope out all the countryside an hour or so from south London with a view to eventually moving out of London (but still being close to my mum and dad)- as a born and bred Londoner I still need a bit of persuading!