Portsmouth for Beginners: Part II

In the second part of her Beginners’ Guide to Portsmouth – originally published on her blogNica Tomasiello introduces newcomers to Portsmouth’s unique climate and cultural scene.

#5: How do you find the general atmosphere of the city? How would you rate it personally? Is it more gloomy-rainy or is the weather fairly dry?

I can’t stand excessive heat, humidity, and bugs, and I’ve spent my life in the Realm of Dampness and Mosquitos in Italy, where summers are hot and humid, and winters are cold and rainy. Therefore, the weather was one of my main concerns, too, when I was applying to uni last year.

Fortunately, Portsmouth is windy and dry, even if it rains quite often. Still, in my opinion, it’s definitely the warmest city I’ve been to in this country.

When I went back to Italy for Christmas – I’m from a small town near Venice – I had to wear two more layers of clothes in comparison. And I was still freezing.

Before uni started, in early September, the weather was a real treat. We had a few weeks without a cloud; I harboured the suspicion I wasn’t in England at all. I strongly recommend going for a walk or running on the seafront at times like that. Watching the blue-greyish waves washing over the shore with your favourite music as your soundtrack is worth buying comfortable running shoes.

On a less pleasant note, some days the wind is a pain. After breaking two umbrellas, I just stopped buying them. Get yourself a nice hooded coat instead: sun alternates with rain multiple times during the day, and you don’t want to carry an umbrella 24/7 if you’re going to use it just for ten minutes or so.

I also have to point out that I like the rain, so it’s entirely possible my opinions are biased in that respect, but, all things considered, I would say you’ll enjoy the climate here.

#6: Also, what would you say the city is like from a creative point of view, is there any events or places that are a bit more original/artistic and interesting or is it just the regular line of plain pubs and clubs?

It has to be said: Portsmouth has its “regular line of plain pubs and clubs”, which is the area between Commercial Road and Guildhall Walk. However, it isn’t “just” that.

The Guildhall hosts several concerts and other events throughout the year; the Wedgewood Rooms, on Albert Road, is a live music venue and a hive for indie bands and solo artists. Look up all the cool stuff at the Pyramids Centre in Southsea, too: for instance, Daughter performed there on January 18th.

As for art, if you join the Portsmouth Creative Movement group Joker2015on Facebook, you can keep up-to-date with workshops and exhibitions organised by local artists.

If you’re interested in writing, there’s also the Portsmouth Writers’ Hub, which sets up monthly meetings and advertises competitions, workshops, and talks related to literature and books. The Hub is quite active and can be a great opportunity: last October, three literary agents came to the monthly meeting and explained what they did and what kind of manuscripts they were looking for. They were also more than happy to discuss projects with us writers at the end of the talk. Besides, it’s free for students!

In addition, there are many unusual places to discover if you win your laziness and put your legs to good use. One of the most popular is Pie&Vinyl in Southsea, a small vintage café where you can have some coffee, some LPs, or both. I would also suggest exploring Albert Road for second-hand bookshops – I bought Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman for two quid, folk – and a comic book store, a handful of ethnic restaurants, and some more pubs, which, by the looks of them, seem much more sophisticated than the “mainstream” ones on Guildhall Walk.

If you visit the Southsea City Centre, there’s also a few charity shops selling vintage clothes that are to be blamed for my Joker cosplay.

If you have other questions for Nica or you’d like to contribute ideas or topic suggestions to the blog, contact her on the Student Room, or on her blog.

Photography by Sarah Cheverton.