Strong Island Co.

Sport, Fitness & Wellbeing

Portsmouth Water Polo Club

One of the best things about writing for Strong Island is how it creates opportunities to meet people around Portsmouth and to be introduced to new & different creative, cultural or sport activities that they have a passion for. Earlier this month I popped down to Mountbatten Leisure Centre to visit the guys at Portsmouth Water Polo Club.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (29)

The Portsmouth City Water Polo (PCWP) club was established in August 2009 to cater for an increased demand for a water polo team in Portsmouth. The club was initially setup under Portsmouth City Council’s – Back to Sports Programme to help promote the club locally and now they are a fully registered ASA water polo club competing in the Hampshire league. The club has training sessions on Thursday evenings in the main pool at Mountbatten and has different groups for different ages and abilities, with the first session for free.

I was aware of the sport previously from seeing the odd clip on TV but had never seen the sport played in person. The game is thought to have originated in Scotland in the late 19th century as a sort of “water rugby” and at a first glance that sort of makes sense. For the first part of the training session it was great seeing the trainers work with the players on different training activities, very similar to rugby or football training, for example. With work on core swimming techniques, passing, movement and (I guess) ‘dribbling’ the ball, you could see immediately the appeal of the sport for fitness and for becoming very relaxed and comfortable in the water.

You don’t have to be a great swimmer to get started and the training builds confidence fast, and with Water Polo being played at a depth where you cannot touch the bottom, you quickly improve. The juniors were having fun, competitive and fast with the ball. With the seniors you could see the depth of skill and the power you could play the special ball with.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (17)

With the training finished it was time for a competitive match with the large floating goals at each end of the 25 metre ‘half’ pool. The teams were a mix of experience, gender, age and skills, with one of them donning the recognisable Water Polo caps, designed to allow you to quickly see your fellow team players in the pool and to protect your ears. The match was fast and furious, quickly changing from one end to the next as players took the ball down to the goals, passing through a flurry of defending hands and huge sprays of water. It was clear that there was a lot of subtlety to the sport with balls lobbed, ‘bounced’ off the surface with spins, players passing and moving and the goalkeeper working to break down the shooting angles, as well as using power to leap from the water to block any attempts on goal. The game consists of 4 quarters and the teams play a lot like basketball or ice hockey with players swapping in and out of the pool.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (25)

For a first visit and a first real experience of Water Polo I had a great time (out of the water – not the best swimmer) and regretted I hadn’t brought along my trunks. The club was really welcoming and friendly, the members were all clearly passionate & dedicated about their sport and it was fantastic be invited. If you want to get involved you can pop along to their training sessions and have your first session free (you can book HERE). If you want to have a watch, the club plays matches until the end of the season at the end of the month before the summer break, the upcoming fixtures are HERE. Also there is a big competition in Portsmouth later this year too.

To find out more visit the Portsmouth Water Polo Club website at:

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (15)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (14)

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Portsmouth Water Polo Club (1)

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Portsmouth Water Polo Club (2)

Portsmouth Roller Wenches Double Header

Last Saturday the Portsmouth Roller Wenches A and B sides were both in action. The Wenches A team took on Tiger Bay B team and the Wenches B team will be taking on Big Bucks Rough Diamonds.

I’ve been following the Wenches for years now but now my work commitments have changed I can now go down and support them in person. Sadly though I seem to be a bit of a jinx for the ladies. I arrived half way through the first half when the B side were comfortably in front against Big Bucks although by the end the Bucks came out on top.

The second bout was fiercely contested between the A team and Tiger Bay although it was the visitors who just edged it picking up the win.

You can follow the Roller Wenches and find out about future fixtures on Facebook, Twitter @RollerWenches and Instagram @PortsmouthRollerWenches.

Have you ever thought about playing roller derby? Are you based in Hampshire? Then look no further. It time for you to join the longest establish team in the area. The Portsmouth Roller Wenches have created a 15 week new skater course designed to teach you everything you need to know to become a roller derby player. No, you don’t need to know how to skate already, they will teach you the basics and their amazing coaches will help you to grow in confidence on and off skates in a safe and friendly environment.

What are you waiting for? Register with them by simply email to find out more.





Portsmouth Roller Wenches 5
Photos by Phil Tickner aka Philswitch Engage

Portsmouth Roller Wenches Double Header

On Saturday 2nd April the Portsmouth Roller Wenches A and B sides will both be in action at Havant Leisure Centre. The Wenches A team take on Tiger Bay B team and the Wenches B team will be taking on Big Bucks Rough Diamonds.

You may not be too familiar with Roller Derby but it is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. It is a full contact sport played on roller skates where skill and tactics combine for an exciting event for all ages. It’s the only game where offense and defense are played simultaneously.

Come down to Havant Leisure Centre at 1pm with everything kicking off at 2pm. You can pick up your tickets in advance for £7 from

You can follow the Roller Wenches and find out about future fixtures on Facebook, Twitter @RollerWenches and Instagram @PortsmouthRollerWenches.


PRW Phil 1

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Photos by Phil Tickner aka Philswitch Engage

Review of the First Southsea Sangha Buddhist Meditation Retreat

Southsea Sangha is an alternative, open access, peer led Buddhist meditation group influenced by the Vipassana tradition of Buddhist meditation and the Against the Stream movement founded by Noah Levine (author of Dharma Punx) in the U.S. Based at Portsmouth Yoga Studio on Albert Rd, the ever expanding group meet every Sunday 6 – 7pm and 6 – 8pm on the last Sunday of each month, is run and supported entirely by generosity and donations from the community.

A long term vision became reality on Sunday 6th March as Southsea Sangha hosted their very first daylong meditation retreat at Eastney Community Centre. Having sold out in 4 days from the tickets going on sale it was a much anticipated day for the Sangha. The day was hosted by visiting mediation teacher Martin Aylward and Sangha founder Daniel Sutton-Johansson. Martin began dharma practice in 1990, aged 19. He spent several years in Asian monasteries and with Himalayan hermits before co-founding the Moulin Retreat Centre in South-West France, where he has been resident teacher for the last 20 years.

Southsea Sangha Retreat with Martin Aylward, photo by Strong Island.

The day kicked off at 10am with a welcome talk in the mediation hall to a packed room of 23 people who had come together in sharing their practice of going against the stream. The day consisted of various Dharma talks and guided mediations given by Martin around the subject of Training the Mind, Freeing the Heart; incorporating sitting and walking practices over the course of the day finishing at 5pm. Martin was also on hand during the day offering one to one sessions for any thoughts and topics that became present from meditating or any subjects that retreatants did not want to share within a group environment.

“It was an interesting concept mixing your practice in with the public space when being outside in Bransbury Park for the walking meditation practice…it was a fantastic effort by all volunteers that were involved in order to host this event in the city; I don’t recall there being an event similar to this in the local area. The event went without any hitches which was great!” Russ Leggatt – volunteer facilitator

Martin Aylward with Daniel Sutton-Johanson, photo by Strong Island.

“It was an awesome day, for me personally, to sit alongside my long time friend and teacher Martin, and to also be part of a huge effort to provide such a valuable resource and experience for the residents of this island city. Urban dharma, urban practice, is just as precious and necessary as time spent on retreats at amazing retreat centres tucked away in our countryside. As the new generation of Buddhist practitioners and contemplative activists begins to grow globally, I hope Southsea Sangha can be part of this new wave of meditators, expanding to a more diverse community, interested in the Dharma and willing to flex their contemplative fitness” – Daniel Sutton-Johanson – Southsea Sangha Founder and meditation teacher.

Southsea Sangha Retreat, photo by Strong Island.

Southsea Sangha have already lined up their next day long retreat which is being held on 24th April 2016 at Havelock Community Centre led by Frank Uyttebroeck. Frank runs the Against the Stream movement in Holland. In 2015 Frank received his full empowerment as a dharma teacher by Noah Levine and Vinny Ferraro in the lineage of the Against the Stream Centre of Jack Kornfield, Ajahn Chah and of Masahi Sayadaw. Tickets are priced at £15 + booking and can be purchased via the newly, all singing, all dancing Southsea Sangha website.

The Southsea Sangha website includes links to upcoming events, dharma talks and guided meditations from visiting teachers as well as the opportunity to purchase your very own Southsea Sangha t-shirt. All t-shirts are priced at £15 + delivery and all money received from sales is split between the Sangha and their two nominated charities, Lifehouse and PARCS.

For more information about Southsea Sangha, email them at, find them on Facebook or on their new website:

Southsea Sangha Retreat with Frank Uyttebroeck

Southsea Sangha T-Shirts

Southsea Sangha T-Shirts

SWEAT Southsea

The walls of SWEAT Southsea have undergone a bit of a paint job recently thanks to local graffiti artist Fark, Luke Dharma and Berk.

Managing Director of SWEAT Southsea Luke Newton describes “we gave the guys creative freedom and we couldn’t be happier with the result. The art has proved to be a big hit with our clients and customers. It really adds to the vibe and atmosphere here.”

Meanwhile at SWEAT Southsea you will now find three full time personal trainers working alongside Luke. Joining the team are Abbie Ricketts, Max Eacott and Cat Bednarski. As well as personal training Abbie will be hosting Barre classes beginning this Wednesday. Max is an extremely driven and passionate trainer with a great hunger for helping people achieve their goals. Max can even boast that he’s been working with back to back Volvo Ocean Race winner Phil Harmer. Cat has a fondness for HIIT, core and conditioning workouts, and is a skilled user of pads and the Watt Bike having previously been a Spin instructor. She can also be found hosting an early morning HIIT and core sessions.

If you would like to know more about what SWEAT Southsea offers then visit them directly at where you can also find their list of classes. You don’t need to be a member to enjoy their classes. You can also find SWEAT Southsea on Facebook, Twitter @SweatSouthsea and Instagram @sweat_southsea.






Portsmouth Roller Wenches – UKRDA T2 British Championships

Since 2014 Strong Island has been writing about the awesome Portsmouth Roller Wenches but due to work commitments I’ve struggled to get down to support the ladies. That was until last weekend that is! On Saturday I managed to get down to Havant Leisure Centre to see the Wenches played host to Croydon Roller Derby, South West Angels Of Terror and The London Rockin Rollers for the first round of matches in the UKRDA T2 British Championships.

You may not be too familiar with Roller Derby but it is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. It is a full contact sport played on roller skates where skill and tactics combine for an exciting event for all ages. It’s the only game where offense and defense are played simultaneously. The Wenches have come a long way since their inception in 2010 and have established themselves as one of the top teams in the south of England.

Even though I had a fair idea of what was going on it still took me a while to fully understand what was happening but when I did I was engrossed.

The game was the first contest of The British Championships 2016 which is a season long tournament. Portsmouth competes in the national tier of British Champs. In a competitive game the Wenches lost out to rivals Croydon Roller Derby. It was a very close game up until half time however Croydon managed to pull ahead mid way through the second half with a twenty point lead which the Wenches were unable to claw back. Twenty points may seem a lot to someone to someone who doesn’t know very much about roller derby but I am assured that a margin like that can change very quickly and one of the girls even described the lead as being like a 1-0 lead in football.

The Wenches will be looking to bounce back in their next game on Saturday 5th March which is away in London. The next home game will be another double header on Saturday 2nd April again at Havant Leisure Centre. I for one am now converted so will definitely be there!

You can follow the Roller Wenches and find out about future fixtures on Facebook, Twitter @RollerWenches and Instagram @PortsmouthRollerWenches. If you would like to know more about how you can get involved with the Roller Wenches or the male equivalent the Portsmouth Scurvy Dogs then get in touch by emailing

PRW Matt Williams
Photo by Matt Williams
PRW Phil

PRW Phil 1

PRW Phil 2

PRW Phil 3
Photos by Phil Tickner aka Philswitch Engage

6 Nations Rugby at Southsea Castle

Next month the RBS 6 Nations begins and you will again be able to watch it live on a big screen at Southsea Castle. Entry will be free and there will be plenty of draught beer, cask ale, ciders and food available.

To stay up to date you can join the Facebook Event page HERE.


6 Nations

6 Nations Rugby at Southsea Castle

Next month the RBS 6 Nations begins and you will again be able to watch it live on a big screen at Southsea Castle. Entry will be free and there will be plenty of draught beer, cask ale, ciders and food available.

To stay up to date you can join the Facebook Event page HERE.


6 Nations

Twelve Days Of Christmas Competition – Day Five

Twelve of our local favourites have come together to donate twelve awesome prizes for one lucky Strong Islander to win.

Over the next twelve days I will be asking a question each day which relates to the to the prize on offer. At the end of the twelve days you are invited to submit your answers to One lucky winner will win the whole package for themselves, just in time for Christmas!

Our friends over at SWEAT Southsea have welcomed two new trainers onto their team, Abbie Ricketts and Becky Warke.

Abbie has always been interested in keeping fit and active and has been teaching dance for many years alongside her fitness instructing. Abbie has continually developed since becoming a Personal Trainer and loves sharing her knowledge, skill and enthusiasm to help people build their confidence and reach their individual goals.

As well as personal training Abbie can be found taking Tuesday evening’s HIIT and Core classes at 7pm and 7:30pm respectively. Normally the individual class price is £5 each or both back to back £7.50. Abbie will be giving one ‘lucky’ winner a free pass for one of each sessions.

Sweat abbie trx

Becky is a highly motivated and educated trainer, who is driven by achieving results. She currently teaches and coaches young adults to reach their full potential both as individuals and within team sports. Her MSc in Exercise Sport Physiology coupled with her teaching qualifications enable her to help clients achieve long term exercise adherence and make nutritional changes that make a difference.

Becky has kindly donated a pass for her circuits class on Mondays at 7:15pm. The class runs for 45 minutes and costs £6.50 if you you are interested in getting involved irrespective of winning the competition. Classes ordinarily involves battle ropes, box jumps, tyre flips and a whole range of weighted and bodyweight exercises. Quality technique and self-progression is the focus.

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If you haven’t heard of SWEAT Southsea it is a gym facility with a difference, unlike most gyms it is dedicated to personal training although still offers bespoke pay as you go group classes, sports massage therapy and physiotherapy. Inside you will find a fully equipped gym designed specifically for personal training, giving you the privacy to train one on one with the personal trainer.

To be in with a chance to win you will need to correctly answer all twelve questions but please do not email in your answers until you have the answers for all twelve questions. You can find the previous questions here. Good luck!

Q5) What is HIIT and abbreviation for?

SWEAT Southsea by Johnny Black 1
Photo by Johnny Black

Winter Surfing off of Southsea Beach

It is around this time that surfable waves start to appear off of Southsea Beach down by South Parade Pier and the local surfers ride their home break in the middle of winter. We’ve featured some of Adam ‘Surfer Ads’ Robertson’s photos in our 2016 calendar and profiled these guys in years past (such as HERE in 2010) and it is always awesome to see the locals out in the water off our shore.

This week Ads was back in the water, capturing Aiden Ely on what would have possibly been the remains of the storm…with the pier as a pretty special backdrop.

Aidan Ely by Surfer Ads

Wave by Surfer Ads

Aidan Ely by Surfer Ads

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Local Photographer – David Jacobs

Based in Chichester but a constant visitor to Southsea, Portsmouth, Hayling and all of the Chichester harbour area, David Jacobs’ photos capture the warmth of the local light and and the inspiring natural views of the local landscape and coastline. To see more of David’s photos be sure to click ‘Read More’ below and check David’s Flickr.



Two for a Fiver mate…

I’m really digging this Tea Towel they have for sale down Clarence Pier. Great little illustrations of some of our more recognisable landmarks and modes of travel. A great addition to any kitchen.


Portsmouth on Film – Episode 4

The new episode of Jonathan & Matthew Ring’s vintage family footage ‘Portsmouth on Film’ went up yesterday. This episode is of a bus trip from Old Portsmouth to Southsea to Eastney.

I still lament the loss of the Portsmouth Transport Museum.

Vintage Southsea Skatepark

Bored Manager Tom sent us over this original Skatepark article and poster. It doesn’t get more back in the day than this really. The original proposal plan and the opening day poster. At last Skateboard Paradise. Truly amazing. The article is quite small, but I zoomed it to read back the first paragraph.

‘Skatepark plan caters for all plus band and roller skating. Fast elevated runs and steep twisting slalom – like tracks for the advanced skateboarder, are a design feature of the £60,000 skateboard arena proposed for Southsea Common’



Vintage Photography – Sunny Southsea

Following on again from the photos of the Seafront and the Paddling Pool after The Bandstand and Tennis Courts the previous week, here’s another scan from Khalid.

The Pavilion on Clarence Pier looks amazing. No more donkey rides though. Shame.

Matt Saxey’s Bike Ride Photos

Head on over to Matts Flickr and check out a few more photos from last Sunday’s ride. Great photos that really help capture the event.



Friday, Saturday & Sunday in Southsea

We couldn’t possibly of asked for better weather this weekend. From straight out of the door after work on Friday till finally retiring to our couch on Sunday evening the sun was blazing and Southsea was rich with activity and happy people. We spent pretty much the entire weekend outside on the seafront, changing the vista every now and then and sinking more than our fair share of corner store beers. Let’s hope it keeps up for at least a while longer hey. Check my Flickr for a few more Sunny Southsea photographs.






£800 raised at our 3rd Birthday Charity Raffle

Wow. Another Incredible success. Myself, Paul and the Strong Island Crew owe a MASSIVE thank you to all the people who donated, helped out, attended and of course bought those ever so important raffle tickets.

With your generosity we managed to raise an amazing £800 for The Portsmouth Autism Support Network and The Portsmouth Lifeboat Station.

Everyone had a great time and got fully involved in the atmosphere of the night. Free Strong Island Iced Teas were flowing, and the buffet was awesome. Pet Sounds kept the musical vibe alive and the crowd did the rest. A really good turn out of Strong Islanders made sure The Belle Isle was packed and the charity tin was full.

Well done to all the people who were lucky enough to get one of the prizes. If not more. Winners win prizes…..

Thanks to everyone who came down, all of the very generous prize donators and of course extra special thanks to Paul, Graham, Ben, James, Andy and all The Belle Isle staff for letting us hold our party and making sure no one went thirsty. Cheers guys.

Without the support from our readers, contributors and friends Strong Island would not be in the position to hold such an event, and we greatly appreciate it.

Prizes were very kindly donated from the following people: LJRs / The Belle Isle / Sopranos / Southsea Skatepark / Caravan Gallery / Michelle So Scone / Boed / Southsea Boutique / Dead Mans Glory / Lou Bush / Helen at Kings Theatre / Geoff at The Wedge / Love Southsea / Mikey Ayling / Mark Persuad / Southsea Gallery / james Porter / Parmiters, Ian & Sue / James Weaver / Alanna Smith / Matt Howarth / Bruce Jamieson / Jamie Olivers (Megatron) / Diana Goss / James Batchelor / Fran Bierton / Paul Thurlow / Bonzo Studio / Head Hairdressers / I Love Dust / Holgarama / Stuart Trett at Ye Olde Bike SHoppe. Apologies if I forgot your name.

We’re already looking forward to our 4th Birthday Party next year. Hope you can make it. All the best and thanks again.

Tristan & Paul

Photos: Matt Saxey

Old Portsmouth

I found this photo of Old Portsmouth shot form The Spinnaker last night. I don’t think I’ve seen it shot from this angle before. It almost looks like another town at first glance. Some great details. Cricket in full swing, all the catchers traps on the roof of the fish market, enjoying a beer at The A Bar, Lawn Bowls, all on a cracking sunny day. Click on the image for full size.

Photo – eNil

Southsea Strong Island Celebrates

I just can’t find the right images for this! Strong Island is 1 whole year old this Sunday the 27th. Time surely does fly hey. Meet us for a beer if you’re out and about. I think there’s something going on Albert Road this Sunday too…


and on another note…


Strong Island Clothing Co.