Quite simply, because it rocks. Oh, and these reasons too…
1. It’s by the sea. In fact, the whole of Portsmouth is surrounded by sea as it’s situated on an island. There’s a certain magic to hearing the waves crash against the pebbles (even in the wintry months), being able to take in the fresh air on a seafront stroll or take a trip back to childhood by eating a 99 on the beach. And there are seals.
2. There’s an amazing independent food & drink scene. Not an exhaustive list, but my favourite regulars are Pie & Vinyl, The Wave Maiden, The Belle Isle, Southsea Coffee Co, Canvas speciality coffee, Bread Addiction bakers, All About Tea and Irving & Co Brewers. I haven’t got enough room to big them all up – just go there and see for yourself why.
3. It’s full of culture. There are LOADS of museums (count ’em), three theatres and two cathedrals, plus art galleries, independent cinema, music venues and a whole host of cool, independent artists and muralists. Not to mention the maritime history woven into the city’s fabric.
4. There’s no need for a car. In an ideal world I’d ditch the car on the commute too, but that’s not going to happen, so on weekends I use my feet to get me around. In either direction I can walk to the beach, the common, Southsea town centre, Albert Road, Portsmouth city centre or Gunwharf Quays in 10 minutes. But it’s not all about me. Visitors can jump off the train or leave their car at the Park & Ride and comfortably tour the city on foot or bike.
5. There are some fab free events. One of my favourite things about the summer here is that there are so many free events. Check out Live at the Bandstand, Southsea Food Festival, Rural & Seaside Show, Portsmouth International Kite Festival, Portsmouth Festivities and the Thai Festival.
6. The Common. It’s Southsea’s backyard. There’s nothing like a wander through Ladies’ Mile on a sunny afternoon to put the spirit of summer in you. BBQs, ball games, family picnics, kite flying, roller skating and kids dunking themselves in the splashparks. Bliss.
7. The real ale. The beer festivals just keep getting bigger and better. Then you have the amazing cask, keg and bottled delights at The Wave Maiden (drink it with cheese), Hole in the Wall (marvel at the pump clips on the ceiling), Brewhouse & Kitchen (try a beer masterclass), Meat & Barrel (drink it with meat) and Huis (drink it Belgian style).
8. The emerging health food movement. As a closet hippy at heart, this is a welcome development. Southsea Coffee Co has vegan, raw, gluten & dairy free wonders in breakfast, brunch, lunch and cake form. Wild Thyme Wholefoods has a huge selection of wholefoods on sale along with fresh lunches to take away – and you can grab yourself a fresh coconut with a straw stuck in the top!
9. The live music scene. Venues such as The Wedgewood Rooms, The Pyramids and Portsmouth Guildhall host an eclectic mix of breakthrough acts, touring bands, classical music and the next big thing. Add to this the festivals such as Mutiny, Victorious, Dials Festival and the Portsmouth Summer Show and you could spend your entire year going to gigs here. And loving it.
10. Everyone working together. It’s such a pleasure to see so many independent businesses working to support one another. For example, you can gorge on pie at Pie & Vinyl and have a steaming mug of tea from All About Tea there too. Have a beery beef stew from Huis and it’ll come in a sourdough cob from Bread Addiction. Have a coffee for your train journey at Canvas and you can munch on a croissant, also from Bread Addiction. Add to this the wonderful Castle Road Festival, Love Southsea Markets and the crew at Strong Island scouting out the best things in town, and you can enjoy supporting local businesses all in one place.