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‘A Love Letter to Southsea on a Rainy Spring...

‘A Love Letter to Southsea on a Rainy Spring Day’ by Robyn O’Mahony

Summer in Southsea evokes the image of half-sipped pints of real ale glistening in the sun outside some of the best pubs in Albert Road and skaters gliding down Elm Grove sporting oaky tans and Ray-Bans, as the faint echo of acoustic music tells you another local band is playing nearby, eagerly waiting to be discovered. Those who have found and kept hold of Southsea and its kooky charm can confidently feel part of a secret club whose members know that this little community of places and people is one of the best cultural hotspots in the region to spend glorious summer days. And if you haven’t found it just yet, you’re welcome to join any time.

Southsea’s reputation for pioneering music festivals, outlandish vintage shops and quirky pubs is growing, and they cater for all. From the indie delights of Southsea fest to the psychedelic sounds of Psych Fest, to the ultimate day festival Victorious, the town has fought hard for its go-to music scene, and boasts plenty of local talent too. A sun-drenched Southsea Common at the end of August is the place to be, as eclectic bands takes to the main stage of Victorious to serenade the flock of music-lovers who have travelled from far and wide to soak in the delights of this tiny town. There’s a sense of overwhelming togetherness that Southsea’s cultural scene embodies, as people of all ages take advantage of musical Sundays at the Bandstand, spend Saturday evenings in a sweaty, but still loveable, One Eyed Dog, and meander about the town before parting ways and going back to their own private corner of the city. Music is the identity, and everyone is welcome.

Albert Road is the bustling hub of Southsea but it’s not the only place to go for an array of independent eateries and bars. Bespoke burgers and bottled ales are the order of the day at 6oz Burgers on Osborne Road, while Belle Isle is (quite literally) the cornerstone of the locale, offering up simple but satisfying food, in stumbling distance to the seafront. Locals are – understandably – proud of Pie & Vinyl, the quintessential shop of dreams that reinvents the rules of the very British dish and sells an eye-widening collection of records. Time stops in this compact space where the joys of great food and even better music can be revelled in, in equal measure.

So whether you’re strolling along the seafront; or pub-hopping on the Albert Road; tanning yourself on the common; or finding a vintage gem along the Marmion – Southsea in summer has your back.

Written by Robyn O’Mahony
Photo by Stuart Barker

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