I love Portsmouth and back in my pre-column blogging days, I wrote about it. I have lived in other areas, but have always returned. My parents were born here, and I gave birth to my own daughters in the same hospital where my mother had given birth to me three decades prior.
My father’s family were well-known fishmongers and fruiterers, going back to the early twentieth century, and my mother’s father was an electric welder in the docks. The Arnett side of my family are still going strong with their bingo halls and leisure industry, but there are very few of us Lushs left.
I am Pompey born and bred. I don’t sound as though I am, or so I am told, but that’s because of a private school education that was funded by the sales of second-hand cars, video rentals, and the profits of a pub and pool club; again, all local to the area.
There are a variety of reasons why I love the city. It often gets a bad rep, but as with many things, that’s usually by people who have never even lived here. A friend of mine once tried to convince her husband to relocate to Portsmouth. He had grown up in Oxford and they had met whilst living in London. Somewhat unfortunately the night that she believed would be her trump card (a New Year’s Eve 14 years ago) proved to be the demise of her plan, when we ended up locked in the Spice Island pub by the police after someone was glassed in the face with a bottle. Oops.
My children attend lovely schools in Portsmouth, I teach in Portsmouth, and, despite a fair amount of my friends now living countrywide due to the dispersing afforded by our choices of university years ago, my husband and I still have a majority of our mates living in Pompey and the surrounding areas.
Our children attend the fabulous youth theatre at The King’s, the sea is on our doorstep, and coffee shops such as Home Coffee in Albert Road are too good to move away from. The staff in the latter are absolutely lovely, providing a friendly haven where dogs and kids are welcome, and where you are greeted by your first name and treated as though you matter.
Albert Road, Palmerston Road, the skyline with the dockyard beauty of the sun setting behind industry as you drive in across the flyover. Canoe Lake, the city museum, the libraries still dotted citywide. The friendliness of our neighbours, the huge variety of cafes, restaurants and bars. The common, the festivities, the bandstand in summer. The South Downs only a drive away, the ever-changing landscape of the countryside behind the city, Portsdown Hill at dawn on an Autumn morning. All these things, I love. The fields at Great Salterns, the mini-highstreet of Copnor Road, and the effort of the residents at making Portsmouth the best it can be.
Portsmouth holds ties that bind and no sooner have we ever considered moving, than we dismiss the idea and settle back down to marvel at the sun pouring itself into the horizon of another Pompey sunset.
Home. There’s no place quite like it.