Portsmouth; The Island City

Portsmouth is another place that I probably wouldn’t have thought to visit but I’m so glad that I did. My brother lived there for 2 years when he was doing his Masters at the University of Portsmouth. I was living in Australia at the time and was unable to visit, so it was great to finally see where he lived, worked and went to school.

Portsmouth is a port city in Hampshire, located on the South coast of England. It has the world’s oldest dry dock and is home to several famous ships, including the Mary Rose and the HMS Victory. Not only is Portsmouth known for its rich naval history, it is also the birthplace of several literary legends like Charles Dickens and H. G. Wells.

Here are my top recommendations for what to see and do when visiting the U.K.’s only island city.

  1. Head down to the Gunwharf Quays – Take a stroll along the boardwalk and marvel at the beautiful ships in the harbour. Make sure to take the boat tour around the harbour and Naval Dockyard to learn more about the ships and surrounding sights. Board at the Quays and get off at the Historic Dockyard for your chance to see these famous ships up close. The tour is a little under an hour and costs £8 for one adult ticket. While you’re there, stop and admire Spinnaker Tower; one of the tallest structures in the UK, outside of London.

2. Visit the Historic Dockyard – Step onboard one of Portsmouth’s famous ships or immerse yourself in the history of the Navy by visiting the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Tickets can be purchased individually or for all attractions including the National Museum, Submarine Museum and entry onto the HMS Warrior. Book your tickets here: http://www.historicdockyard.co.uk/.

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HMS Victory.

3. Take an early morning stroll along the Pier – My dad and I walked along the pier each morning at sunrise. What a great way to start off the day! I highly recommend grabbing a coffee at one of the local cafes and checking out all of the quirky and eclectic buildings and restaurants along the waterfront.

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4. Admire the unique street art – Beautiful, creative and colourful pieces can be found all over the city. I am amazed by how talented these artists are – make sure to stop and admire their hard work.

5. Indulge at Little Johnny Russell’s – Little Johnny Russell’s has one of the best burgers I’ve had in ages. It came with a coleslaw that was to die for and delicious chips. The drinks are reasonably priced and they have a variety of DJ’s most nights that play everything from reggae to jazz. See what’s on here: http://www.littlejohnnyrussells.com/whats-on/.

8. Get lost amongst the colourful buildings – Colourful buildings give any city character, especially when that city is located in a country that gets a lot of rain. It’s impossible to be grumpy when you’re surrounded by all those vibrant colours 🙂

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Best coffee: Southsea Coffee (independent, coffee, tea, cakes, breakfast, sandwiches, friendly staff, cold beverages)

Best restaurant: Spice Merchant (Indian, curry, modern, vegetarian, friendly staff)

Best shopping: Albert Road (funky shops, vintage, antique, bohemian, trendy)

Best pies: Pie & Vinyl (vinyl, pies, sides, cordials, bric-a-brac)

Brighton: a hidden gem

Brighton is the kind of place where you can be yourself – whoever that is. I fell in love with this seaside town as soon as I arrived. Vintage shopping, unique street art, friendly people & the beach – what’s not to love? Brighton’s visitor website https://www.visitbrighton.com/ describes it as “vibrant, colourful and creative” and I couldn’t agree more! 

I had a friend visiting me in Dublin for a couple of weeks from Australia before setting off to meet my family in the UK. I was pretty tired after all of the exploring we did around Ireland so I was happy to have a relaxing week in England with everyone. We met in London and headed straight to Portsmouth to see where my brother went to school, meet his friends and explore the city. We spent a few days there and then we headed off to Brighton. I had never really thought to visit Brighton but my family had been a couple of years ago and told me how much I’d like it and of course, they were right.

If you haven’t ever thought to visit Brighton, like myself, let this list of my favourite things entice you 🙂

  1. The Royal Pavilion Grounds & Brighton Dome – Dating back over 200 years, the Royal Pavilion is a stunning building with a colourful past. It was initially built as a palace for King George IV and was subsequently used as a civic building and a hospital during World War I. You can pay to visit the inside of the Pavilion or enjoy a leisurely walk around the grounds, as I did. The garden is well maintained and has a variety of colourful flowers on display. It’s a great place to get away from the crowds and relax after a long day of exploring. You can also take in a show at the Dome. See what’s on here https://brightondome.org/whats_on/.

2. The street art – Not only is Brighton quirky, colourful and eclectic – it’s also very creative. It seemed that I was stopping every few minutes to take a look at another amazing piece of street art. The best place for street art is in and around the Lanes which is Brighton’s famous shopping district.

3. The Lanes – I’m not a big shopper by any means, especially since I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the better part of the last six years. This means that I can only buy what I really need or can’t live without. It also means that I’m usually on a budget. This is, by far, the best shopping district I’ve ever been to. The Lanes has everything – funky shops with antiques and vintage clothing, great cafes and restaurants. If you’re into antique shopping like myself, Snooper’s Paradise is the place for you! Located in the North Laine, Snoopers Paradise features a variety of unique and affordable stalls that are independently owned. You can spend hours going up and down each aisle, searching for your perfect treasure. 

4. The Pier – The Brighton Palace Pier has a nostalgic feel, taking you back in time to when fairgrounds were commonplace. There are rides, arcades and different food stalls with candy floss, crepes, hot dogs and other carnival treats. This wouldn’t usually be something that I’d enjoy but it was really fun to walk amongst all of the activity and take in the scenic views overlooking the English Channel. 

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