A Very British Seaside Holiday

If I’m honest, we’d never have chosen Southsea as a holiday destination. Although it’s on the coast, it’s the heavily populated south coast of England and there isn’t even any surf; which is just plain frustrating. There’s no climbing nearby either. But last week wasn’t supposed to be a holiday, it was all about spending time with Granma. So Southsea bound we were.

Southsea Pier

Southsea Pier – in this quintessentially British seaside town

Paradoxically, having this clear, single purpose for the week was to help convert it into a truly great family holiday. Instead of doing our usual-style UK trip, haring around all over the country trying to visit as many friends and family as possible whilst also fitting in some work and probably some climbing too, this time we stayed put and enjoyed where we were. Of course the glorious weather didn’t hurt either!

It was weather to be outdoors in and outdoors we were – all day every day, apart from the couple of hours in the middle when Jack would have his much-needed siesta.  And I discovered that your classic English seaside town has a lot to offer in the way of family entertainment and outdoors play. (So I guess I’m only a few centuries behind the curve on that!)

Routemaster buses

More iconic British imagery. Routemaster buses wait outside the park to take passengers along the seafront

Most days we walked through the town greens, past the castle and along the front until we reached Canoe Park. We could have spent the entire week in this one place without getting bored. Firstly, it had the Splashpad for water play (see photo for an indication of just how much Jack enjoyed it here.)

The Splashpad in Canoe Park, ringed by parents watching the fun

Behind the splashpad is the zipline. Another photo to tell you more than my mere words ever could.

Enjoying the zip line

From there you walk past (or let’s be realistic you dawdle a goodly while in) the playpark to reach the eponymous lake. We took a large, green, duck-shaped pedalo out for a paddle. While we pedaled, Jack steered; with just a little parental assistance from time to time to avoid imminent danger of crashing.

In the pedalo

Jack concentrates on steering

The model boat enthusiasts showed up while we were on the water and launched their radio-controlled masterpieces to zip around us. From naval tank carriers, to speedboats to old-fashioned pirate ships, they had authentic, seaworthy recreations of them all. Fascinating (the boats and their eccentric owners both!)

Model boats

Model boats on Canoe Lake

To my surprise, the sides of the lake were also lined with lots of families fishing very successfully for crabs. It turns out the lake is linked via an underwater channel to the sea and is positively teeming with crabs. We duly bought ourselves a bucket, net, line and bait in the park cafe and set to catching (and later releasing) some crabs. Great fun!

Catching crabs

Catching crabs at Canoe Lake

And when that got a little tired, Jack decided to convert the net to use on the pigeons! (Unsuccessfully, I might add.)

Catch the pigeon!

Catch the pigeon!

Just 50 metres from Canoe Park is the Portsmouth Natural History Museum, with some interesting wildlife exhibits and, most excitingly, a butterfly room. We were a little early in the season and only nine of them had actually hatched so it wasn’t the experience that Richie remembered from previous visits but we did get to see all the chrysallises lined up and waiting. I guess we’ll just have  to make sure we return another time when the air will be filled with flapping butterfly wings.

Chrysalises in the butterfly room

In the late afternoons, post-siesta, we mostly visited Hot Walls – a rocky beach 5 minutes from Granma’s – perfect for throwing rocks into the water and watching ships sailing into the nearby port. Add to that an excellent Italian ice cream van stationed there and you have another slice of perfection.

Hot Walls

Spending time with Granma at Hot Walls – what it was all about, after all

And to top it all off, mum and dad even got a Saturday night out on their own, at Jamie’s Italian on Gunwharf. What more could you ask for?

Cocktails for Two

Cocktails for Two – Chin chin!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


  1. Looks like you had a wonderful time. You didn’t even miss the surf, over on our renouned beaches it was really quite flat while the sun shone! Sometimes it is good to just chill in one place and not fit too many visits in. I loved reading all about your week and what wonderful photos you took too. Thank you for joining in with Country Kids.

  2. Thanks for sharing your trip! I love that there was a splash pad (one of the best warm weather inventions for parents of young children, ever). We are somewhat inspired and are considering a “crossing” this summer with the boys from Ireland to the UK. Of course our car is so tiny that bringing it doesn’t exactly mean we’ll be able to stuff it with much…: )

    • And thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I’m sure your boys would have a great time – ferry trips seem to be a surefire hit with all children and you’ll find lots of family friendly attractions in the UK. I hope the good weather accompanies you too if you do go! (Mind you, as you’re coming across from Ireland it’ll probably be an improvement whatever happens ;) )

  3. So glad to see you had a good time back in Blighty! Because I enjoy reading about your life in Spain and your various family adventures and because your blog is so positive and upbeat, I am nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award – though I would be surprised if you haven’t received it already – check out http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/ for info if not.

  4. bavariansojourn says:

    Happy Birthday :) Glad you had a lovely week. Photos are great. Love the one with Granma on the beach, and that last one made me a little thirsty! We used to visit Southsea a lot when I was small, it’s a great place isn’t it? :)

    • Oh thank you! We really did have a wonderful time, and then followed by a very busy birthday weekend, from which I am only just recovering now!!! One late night and I’ve had it. Too old :( Btw, your comment got spammed for some reason – sorry about that!

  5. I have been so tied up recently that I haven’t had time to visit. And my haven’t you all been having a lovely time. Photos just gorgeous! And the cocktails looked rather marvelous.

  6. How lucky were you with the weather! Looks fabulous and makes me quite nostalgic for holidays when I was little on the North East coast. The only thing I would avoid would be the butterfly park: I remember going in one once and having a complete wobble as they all fluttered around me!

  7. I love Southsea lots of childhood memories, I didn’t know about all these things though! maybe if we ever get anymore sun I’ll plan a day trip

    • I would definitely recommend it. It was just great. Of course we got really, really lucky with the weather. But it’s got to clear up again sometime soon surely?! It’s getting a bit ridiculous now. :(

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