What I learnt this week: a weekend on the south coast.

 

Last weekend we stayed near Portsmouth harbour and decided to make a crack at the Christmas shopping by going to Gunwharf Quays – a lovely factory outlet next to the Spinnaker and overlooking the harbour.

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First though we cycled over to Southsea to play pitch and putt. So what did the weekend teach me?

I will never be any good at golf. While the males in my family elegantly loft the ball into the air – though not necessarily near the hole – all I can manage is an ugly swipe. I’ve been told my arms are too stiff, my bottom sticks out too much, I don’t bend my knees, my head goes up too soon and my whole body is too rigid. Apart from that, I guess I’m nearly there.

Christmas shopping can be painless if you combine it with a weekend away. There are a number of caveats to this statement. You won’t get all the presents you need (there are too many more interesting distractions), you have to be really lucky with the weather (we had cloudless blue skies – unbelievable) and, if you decide to go to a factory outlet like we did, you have to be flexible with your gift ideas. My friends and family will be getting not what they asked for, or what they needed, but what was on offer! (below a photo of the canal at Gunwharf).

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The Portsmouth area on a sunny day is beautiful. There is a particular place that we love – Stokes bay – which is on the Gosport side. Even in the height of summer it is never packed, yet it is the same distance from London as Brighton. The beach is shingle and sweeps round for over half a mile with fabulous views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. In the summer there is crazy golf and a children’s waterpark. In the winter it is a life affirming, cobweb removing walk along the bay and up to the café for a cooked breakfast. The perfect way to start a Sunday. Especially when you’ve crossed off a few items from your Christmas to-do list. 

Here is the bay when we left it.

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  • Angela Britnell

    Portsmouth looks a lot more glamorous than I remember from my Navy days!

    • Kathryn Freeman

      Ha – thanks for dropping by, Angela. There are still some unglamorous parts (!) but yes, the historic dockyard and surrounding areas have had a fabulous facelift!

  • We kept a boat at Fareham for a while (until it quickly became prohibitively expensive) and I loved sailing out of Portsmouth, I just loved the historic waterfront and so many sights. I haven’t been shopping there yet… I’m not sure I could persuade Tom. As for crazy golf – I’m incapable of hitting a ball with any kind of stick so best I avoid that one! Well done you, though, for giving it a go.

    • Kathryn Freeman

      Lovely to see you here Chris and I know what you mean about Portsmouth harbour – I’ve only sailed out in a ferry (!) but the sight is magical. Maybe you could persuade Tom to visit the historic dockyard – all that sailing history – and accidentally lead him to Gunwharf shopping centre on the way back (they are almost next door!)