This weekend saw the return of the Southsea Show, revamped and with a vigorous marketing campaign behind it. Heading down to Southsea Common on Sunday, I had only some idea of the wonders that were in store…
After overcoming the first hurdle of trying to get my wrist band on (which really wasn’t that hard), I managed to walk past the beer tent (a ‘wine tent’ would have been a different story), and make my way to the food stalls. Dan Dan the sausage man was very reasonably priced but the others stretched the purse strings just that bit too far.
We wandered into the various tents, admiring home-made jewellery, discussing the fate of Southsea Pier, and giggling at a dog who ran up to every plant at the Southsea Greenhouse stand, sniffed its flowers then proceeded to cock its leg up to urinate, at which point the horrified owner would yank its lead and pull it away for a second before it found the next unsuspecting plant.
In the corner of one tent I discovered the lovely Steve from Joy to Create, who run textile art workshops in Horndean. Only recently returning to needle craft, I’m on the lookout for some good workshops to help me learn new techniques and different ways of working with fabric. We discussed how to recycle old clothes into a funky new bag and he introduced me to free motion sewing, the skill of, in effect, using a sewing machine to draw. This struck me as particularly impressive, so I can’t wait to sign up for a workshop. I don’t actually have a sewing machine yet, but that’s not a problem as they provide all the materials you need at the workshop, along with a homemade lunch.
Two o’clock marked the start of the carnival parade, so we shuffled our way to a spot with a good view and watched as drumming bands, belly dancers and an assortment of intricate and colourful costumes made their way past. One lady in a beautiful elaborate costume with what looked like huge butterfly wings stood her ground against the wind, by now whipping across the common.
Once the parade had passed we headed over to the outdoor theatre area to see my friend the beautiful and talented Leigh Cunningham and co-star perform a rehearsed reading of a scene from One Off Productions’ Present Laughter, by Noel Coward. Both actors fared admirably against the booming music coming from various other tents around them. With mic in one hand and script in the other, they still managed to transport us into the world of the play, and I watched on in delight.
After another wander round the tents, this time admiring the handiwork of Tinder Theatre’s cardboard dragon for their new show Boxmouth, we returned to the theatre area via the donkey enclosure, me deliberating whether it was possible to sneak a donkey out past the security guards and keep it for a pet. Common sense prevailed, along with the thought of what the RSPCA would have to say about my plan, and we left the adorable creatures munching grass while the next group of children were hoisted into the saddles.
The next show was The ‘Ouses in Between, a Cop The Needle Music Hall-style performance about the ‘Father of Southsea’, architect Thomas Ellis Owen. Jamie Aspden, Nathalie Gunn and Patric Howe harmonised perfectly and played the comedic touches with perfection. It was a lovely fun piece, and the three performers looked completely at home entertaining an audience.
Sadly I left before the circus show that closed the weekend’s festivities, but the afternoon I’d spent at The Southsea Show had already proven well worth the £8 ticket price. Ways to improve it next year? A discount if you buy a ticket for both the Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and a free glass of wine on entry. Okay, maybe not the last one. It is a family show, after all!