Yey! I get to talk about two of my favourite subjects, Southsea and my son.
Rupert’s two and his entry into the world was the reason I moved to Southsea so it’s all a bit of a life-changing tale of awesomeness. I was living in Chichester when I fell pregnant in a beautiful but very tiny studio flat overlooking Florence Park. I needed to move to make way for the baby and all the associated paraphernalia but I didn’t know where to go. I settled on Southsea because my sister lived here and I thought she’d be rather handy for babysitting duties. Anyway, I turned up in a rented house off Goodwood Road in November 2015, Rupert was born in December and the crazy journey began.
I’m not going to talk too much about everything I did with him in the tiny baby stages (mostly cried with him at 3 am and watched series 1 & 2 of The Affair whilst constantly breastfeeding). I’m going to tell you about what I do with him now, in the winter, and at the crazy running around toddler stage.
Rupert goes to nursery for three ½ days and one full day so I can get on with spending time with my other baby, my work! He goes to the AMAZING Canoe Lake Nursery. Every day I count my lucky stars I got him in there, it’s the best. Well, it’s the only nursery I ever looked at but I’m pretty sure it’s the best. They have a huge garden complete with rabbits and a mud kitchen. Roll on summer I say although they’re out there in all weathers.
1) Amusements/Pirate Pete’s
We live on Castle Road so Clarence Pier is just a short scoot across the common. We get our pot of 2ps, ride in the Paw Patrol car and spend way too many pounds trying to win Daddy Pig from the grab machine. I find, if you’re lucky and look desperately in need of a soft toy one of the teenagers who have already struck lucky will take pity and hand over their Super Mario shaped win. When we’ve had enough of scooping sweets and placing bets on horses we head upstairs for a Wimpy and possibly a bit of Pirate Pete’s (indoor soft play with bouncy castles and the like).
2) Library/Coffee No 1
If I’ve got some errands to run Palmerston Road is great, all pedestrianized so Rupert can be free without the constant fear of him running into the road. We always seem to meet friendly dogs, we pop into the library to read some books and usually go for a coffee and baby choc at Coffee No 1. I like it in there because it’s loud enough and big enough that we don’t draw too much attention to ourselves and they have books and colouring in.
3) Pyjama Drama
We did a term of Pyjama Drama with Beth at Eastney Community Centre. It’s imaginative play; the kids get totally lost in Beth’s made up adventures for an hour. They love it! Beth’s brilliant and I’m sure she has a career in kids TV ahead of her.
4) Forest School
This is something I’ve only just discovered. We were previously driving over to Chichester for forest school only to discover that Portsmouth High School do one every Tuesday morning. We’ve only been to one and the weather was bad so it was inside the art room. They did painting, sticking feathers on birds and Rupert loved the homemade play dough. It’s only £3 and includes a cup of coffee, snacks for the kids and amazing homemade biscuits. We’ll definitely be regulars from now on
and are looking forward to exploring the school grounds in better weather, cooking marshmallows on the fire pit and hunting for minibeasts.
5) Natural History Museum.
Cumberland House Natural History Museum is brilliant. Every time we drive past Rupert yells “BIG dinosaur!” because it is indeed home to a huge dinosaur. There’s also insects, animals, fossils, a butterfly house and observational beehive. Entry is free and there’s a gift shop that’s good if you need a unique toddler birthday gift.
6) Watkins & Faux
Thank goodness for Watkins & Faux! It’s super child-friendly so you can happily have a cuppa (or they do great smoothies) and catch up with a friend while the kids merrily get on with playing in the playhouse. We often go for lunch on a Tuesday, you get a free kids meal with every adult meal.
We go swimming at Roko because I’m a member there (and I barely use it so I’m trying to get my money’s worth!). It’s ridiculous how excited Rupert gets about swimming… he is literally punching the air. I need to investigate lessons but for now we’re experimenting with no armbands and floating on our backs in star shapes. The Pyramids is also really good for swimming with kids; big spacious changing rooms, wave machine, slides etc. Roll on summer when we can hit the splash pools in a big way and I think this year is time for Rupert to have his first sea swim.
I love any excuse to go to Umami (on Elm Grove) for a falafel wrap (I always intend to have something different but they’re just so damn good) and the fact they do free kids meals is just an added bonus. It’s basically Southsea’s answer to Nandos (but MUCH tastier). Rupert loves that you can help yourself to unlimited drinks, there’s kids colouring and the staff are really friendly.
9) Canoe Lake
Obviously better in summer when you can actually jump on a giant pedalo but we still like going for a walk in winter, playing on the swings and going for hot chocolate at Greens.
10) Eastney Harbour
A great place to go for some fresh air and to check out the boats and houseboats. We love it there, there’s so much open space and you can see out to sea all around you. It feels like escaping without going too far.
That’s it! If we fancy venturing out of town we may go for a walk at Porchester Castle or to the play café in Havant or Staunton Country Park.
We’d love to hear your suggestions for places to go with kids of all ages.
Written by Helen Ruff.