Postcard from... Portsmouth

Ever wished you could leave the city behind and head for the sea? Today's postcard is from someone who did just that! Nikki Poulton's postcard comes from Portsmouth on the south coast of England. 

Photos all taken by Richard Pizey 
The sea, the sea…

Earlier this year, I moved from London to Portsmouth, to be with my partner who had relocated late last year for work. 

I had always dreamed, even when I was tiny, of moving away from London to be near the sea and the countryside. But actually doing it, leaving the city you were born in, raised in, and lived in for nearly 30 years, is actually a lot harder than the dream would have you believe.

I eased the move - as I ease all bad times - with yarn.

I cast on a thick woolly Weasley Jumper in London and was halfway through the back of it when I finally climbed into the car, with my suitcase and my new work wardrobe packed in the back. We took the scenic route and I sat with my hand tucked into the bag of knitting on my lap, fingers curled on the smooth expanse of stockinette. I couldn’t knit; this one-way trip felt like a journey where I ought to keep my eyes on the road. But it was comforting to have it there as Rich pointed out the woods we could walk in and the sea as it swept along beside us.

I finally finished that winter jumper one muggy Portsmouth evening, when we still had all the windows open before the rain came lashing down. I cast it on at home in London and, by the time I cast it off in Southsea, I felt like I was at home again. My next cast on felt so appropriate - a Lilli Pilli inspired by the seaside - blue lace lapping against sandy garter stripes.

I had spent a lot of time in Portsmouth before moving here - we have friends here and I was visiting my partner regularly before I moved - but it wasn’t until I moved here that I found the yarn shops. 

Walking home from work I came across the Ann Louise and Thistle Yarn Shop. It’s never open by time I get there, but it’s right by my bus stop, so I can wait with my nose pressed to the window. 

Around the corner from my house is Mells & Whimsey, a small knitting, fabric and haberdashery shop that makes my heart light up when I go in to squish things and sigh over fabric on a Saturday morning.

Just along the road, there’s a glorious yarn stash in John Lewis, which I discovered, rounding the corner with a gasp in the hunt for a butter dish. 

And finally, for this budding sewist, a rainbow rippling extravaganza of fabric in Fabric Land, another short walk from my flat.

These little pockets of familiarity soothed me in those first days and weeks in a new place. 

And then there is the sea.

We are about five minutes walk away from the sea, twenty minutes from a quiet stretch where we can take our weekend lunches or our weekday dinners. We have watched a huge thunderstorm gather over the Isle of Wight and dashed back to the car as it fell across the beach like a giant hand drawing a curtain. 

We’re also only a short drive from the woods on Portsdown Hill, a long walk in the cool quiet shadows when the beach is full on a blazing day. There is such a wonderful view of the city from up there.

There is something soothing about being able to get off the pavement and into the woods or down to the sea - especially the sea. No matter the stresses of the day, you can sit on the pebbled beach or stand in the waves and know… That what you love is the most important thing. Not something to be bumped for ‘more important’ things or squeezed in wherever you can. The things you love need room to breathe, to grow, you need space to explore, to be curious. 

So many things have changed for me since living here - the understanding that I can find ‘home’ through the things I love to make and do; the realisation - finally! - of what I want to do in my life and career; the knowledge that I don’t want a lot, just enough.

They say that sometimes a change is as good as a rest and I have found that to be so true. Here I have found out that the things I do - knit, crochet, write my blog - are so much more than just hobbies. They are the things that ground me, no matter where I am. They are what makes me different, talking points when I meet new people. I’ve also discovered how restorative the real world can be - away from screens and noise and hot hard concrete. The sea around my ankles, up to my hips in long grass - all these things ease my soul, in much the same way as natural fibres running through my fingers.

While we don’t intend to settle down forever here in Portsmouth, I think wherever we go next I want to be by the sea. To be curled in my seaside Lilli Pilli with the sea at my feet.

Read more from Nikki on her blog, and Twitter. You can see more of her photos on Instagram and her projects on Ravelry. Catch up with the other posts in this series, and join in on Instagram with your own story, using the tag #makerspostcards.

1 comment

  1. This is fantastic! I can't imagine living anywhere too far from the sea either - we did it for four years while we were at uni and I felt so claustrophobic!! Will definitely stay tuned for more of this series! xxx


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