In the summer of 2019, I made the move across the English South coast from Plymouth to Portsmouth.
The thought of moving initially filled me with apprehension; I loved living in Plymouth. I had my job, my family, my friends, Dartmoor – they all meant so much to me, and couldn’t be moved to Portsmouth with me. Would I regret moving?
I didn’t know it then, but the reality is that I would almost immediately fall in love with the place.
Moving has shaken up my routines, removed me from my comfort zone and shown me so many different ways of living. Much like when I moved to Spain for 3 months in 2017, I became keen to explore a new place and try new things.
For the longest time, I’ve wanted to be confident enough to cycle on the roads. When I saw everyone cycling around, I quickly realised that Portsmouth is flat as a pancake. It seemed a lot more cycle-friendly than Plymouth, which ultimately motivated me to overcome my fear.
After some research, I found the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, which connected me with other cyclists including my friend Nicola. As a cycling instructor, she really kindly showed me how to take on the roads. Amazingly, she didn’t charge me anything for it. She said she was happy to help, as she wanted to get back into instructing and encourage more women to cycle.
We now regularly meet up for coffee and remote working. So, not only did I achieve a big ambition I never would’ve attempted in Plymouth, I made my first Pompey friend in the process!
I also decided to brave sea-swimming. My dad-in-law-but-not-yet always encouraged my boyfriend and me to go sea swimming, and I thought he was a complete banana for even suggesting it. The UK is not known for its warm, inviting shores, and I struggled enough to go swimming when I went to Turkey…
But something happened when I moved down here; I guess the sense of adventure really sunk its claws into me. I went for a paddle and decided that actually, it wasn’t that bad. I ended up going for a sea swim every single day, and it was amazing for my mental health. My body felt great from the exercise, I had surges of endorphins, and I loved feeling so connected with nature. My in-laws were sufficiently impressed, too!
I really enjoy the number of local, independently run places. One of my favourites is a vegetarian café called Hunter Gatherer, who serve incredible coffee and my new favourite dish, the amazing ‘brekkie bagel’ with vegan bacon. Drooooool. There’s also Southsea Coffee Company, who are on par with Hunter Gatherer for the quality of their coffee and locally notorious for serving homemade doughnuts every Friday at 2pm. They are otherworldly.
Like I did in Plymtown, I live close to the sea and can walk there any time I like. This is again really great for my mental health as I can cycle along the seafront, walk across the beach, swim in the ocean, or enjoy some food and a drink at another favourite haunt, the Southsea Beach Cafe.
In conclusion, I’m really glad I moved here. The change has encouraged me to come out of my shell more, and there are so many great places I’ve explored. The best thing is that there are still so many things to try and experience! I was really worried that I’d always see Plymouth as my home, but I shouldn’t have panicked. While some of my family and friends live there, everything I need (and more) is right here with me. They are a great incentive to visit often, but I feel more than happy to lay foundations here in Hampshire.
I’ll be reviewing my favourite places in Portsmouth soon, so stay tuned!