Nepal is a country that is full of natural beauty and the most breathtaking scenery. This leg of my trip was to visit the Himalayas and along the way introduce some new friends to Strong Island and to share tales of about our respective homes.
First stop was the bustling capital of Kathmandu with its busy roads and markets filled with trinkets and treasures. It wasn’t hard to bump into newbies curious about the anchor tee and my first meet was with Uttar, who later became my guide up into the mountains. He’s been a guide for over thirty years in the Himalayan region he was eager to wear my beanie on the cold mountain nights in tea houses and to show everyone the t shirt as we talked about where I was from and what it was like. He was fascinated by the fact that we did not suffer with the earthquakes and pollution and were blessed with being so close to the sea.
It was so interesting to meet a man who has spent his entire life in such a wonderful mountainous place, that visitors travel from all over the world to see and yet he was totally in awe of my tales and descriptions of Portsmouth. Explaining that I was going home in August and off to a local music festival (Victorious), blew his mind. He spent the next hour trying to teach me how to dance Nepali style so I could bust some moves when I got home.
Surrounded by Prayer flags we captured this lovely snap after the three day trek to the top, the only time in fact that I got to wear the hat because he loved it so and insisted on wearing both as often as possible to look cool and because his hat had been chewed by a rat in a place called Ghorepani so his ears were always cold.
The Nepal adventure progressed down to Chitwan National Park, a place of sincere beauty with absolutely stunning wildlife. A conservation area looked after by guys like of Yanic, a 17 year old from the area who had grown up breeding and training elephants in the park. He introduced me to his own elephant, 33 year old Nala who had been mistreated and was terrified of humans until he and his family worked with her and nurtured her.
Yanic and Nala.
As we walked through the park Yanic calls a friend over, Suganda, another local teen who also worked in the park and whom he had gone to school with. He grabbed him and chatting in Nepali for a brief few moments excitedly then asked if his friend could have a pic in the t shirt, of course I obliged and Suganda was thrilled at this shot overlooking a rhino mating ground, no mating rhinos though thankfully. Not sure how pleasant that would have been to see before dinner!
Heading onwards to Pokhara I bumped into some English guys who come to Nepal to trek Everest Basecamp together sixteen years ago and were now returning for another adventure. Getting to know each other over several lunches and no mention of Portsmouth, Simon started talking about his son who was working in the Navy in the South of England. Portsmouth I asked? Yes, how did you know that he replies. So stories were exchanged and he asked son who was impressed to find his father hanging out with myself on the other side of the world.
Overheard by Salvatore from neighbouring France joined us in conversation, he was travelling with his fiancé in Nepal. Even in the most remote parts of the world I discover those with links and knowledge of Portsmouth!
Nepal is yet another country that always manages to surprise you, whether it be freak hail storms with golf ball size pellets out of nowhere or little mountain folk who drink milk chia and enquire constantly about your foreign land, it’s a place of magic and religion that is well worth a visit.
Looking over the mountains and onto the next chapter of the journey I thought excitedly about Thailand and the next part of A Strong Islander Abroad.
This week we have a fresh drop of Portsmouth Football Club clothing now in store or online at www.strongislandclothingco.com.
THe premium range features our re-imagining of the common elements from the iconic Portsmouth FC logo from the 1980s and the Strong Island logo, with two swords in place, each dated with the club’s FA Cup wins. No matter if you are passionate about football or not, we hope this tee is a way of showing support for a club that is now a beacon to the rest of the country for a city and a community that strives to work together for the better.
You can follow the Strong Island Clothing Co on Facebook, Twitter @StrongIslandCCo and Instagram @StrongIslandClothingCo.
We’re really pleased to say that our new exhibition up in Strong Island Co is by artist (and doctor) Immy Smith. Immy we featured on a special Created Local article a while back and she focuses on bringing science and art together. This exhibition is the first time her Transitional Objects drawings have been on show to the public.
“There is a constant recycling in all living systems; and in the process, life leaves debris. It gradually becomes unrecognisable, and perhaps disconnected from its origin. What if we try and translate the pieces left behind into new stories? Can we find comfort in building a new story from our own debris, before it is completely recycled? In psychology, a transitional object is an item used to provide emotional comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations, or at stressful times of transition.” – Immy Smith.
Immy Smith merges these ideas of brevity and security, change and consolation, to build new storylines from human litter and biological fragments. The drawings in the Transitional Objects series seek reassurance in the constant impermanence of life, and offer the idea of playing and creating new narratives. These original works are for sale and prints are also available too.
You are more than welcome to view the exhibition any time during the Strong Island Co opening hours (10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday) and we are having a special artist party for Immy on Thursday 14th April, from 7pm to 9:30pm with free drinks and the chance to meet the artist and find out more about her many and varied artistic work. Check the Facebook event for more information HERE and you can find out more about Immy’s work at:
On a trip to New Zealand some years ago, I arrived in the early hours of the morning at my Auckland based hostel, Base, and was met immediately by a guy from Southsea wearing a Strong Island T-Shirt. At first I thought, what the hell are the chances of that but after traveling for several months alone it was not only a really nice reminder of my home town but also of a brand that I really associated with and was proud to say was from where I lived and so after a chat with lovely Lara of Strong Island Clothing Co the idea of ‘A Strong Islander Abroad’ was born.
A somewhat unplanned trip around the globe this year sparked an idea to spot travellers abroad wearing Strong Island Tee’s and to introduce it to people along the way. My first stop was India and it really wasn’t long before I bumped into people who had seen the brand before and said “I know where your from!”. I also decided to tag stickers in cool places as I went along in the hope that other Southsea dwellers might have the same nice experience I had in finding something familiar in an un-suspecting place.
So first stop India…
Setting off from the UK.
7 days in and Tony Beety, who I worked with in Indonesia during the summer months, as if on cue asks me why I didn’t bring him any anchor tee’s from Portsmouth over a bottle of Kingfisher in Tantra Bar in Goa. Ha, I replied, as if totally pre-organised I pull one from my bag and he wore it for the day, also sporting my woolly hat which seemed completely ridiculous in 32 degree heat but what a shot I thought!
Tony Beety from Cleethorpes, in Goa.
My onward journey and strong island mission helped introduce me to many other travellers who mentioned the tee and were more than happy to wear it for a snap. It also got locals interested and prompted them to want a photo of them wearing it, which really was a great conversation instigator and to me encompassed that idea of bringing people together with the same likes and getting people talking.
Becky Merchant from Brighton & Zoe Gale from Australia at the Taj Mahal.
A walk through the flea market a few days later and another interested party said she liked the shirt, this time a young Indian girl called Resme. The shot cost me 550 rupees in the form of two pairs of cool lounge trousers but she was really beautiful and so excited to wear the t-shirt at her clothes stand.
Resme at Goa Flea Market.
All of a sudden people we approaching me for photos wearing the shirt and it as awesome! Mostly it was crazy that locals were so interested of something so unknown but it was great to share the brand with other people and get feedback, and so my strong island abroad journey began.
If you have a cool photo of you or anyone you know wearing one of our tees abroad please send it in and we will share them. Let’s find as many strong islanders abroad as we can! See some more photos below.
Ali & friends.
Bantego Street trader in Old Varanasi.
Jenny at Jungle Hostel in Goa.
Chantelle at Parashakthi Temple.
Street sign in Mumbai.
Hi everyone I’m very pleased to introduce myself as the new Strong Island shop manager and I’ll be featuring some of our products on here over the next few weeks. After the popularity of Portsmouth Fairy Tails For Grown Ups we were eager to stock a new book Ten Years In A Portsmouth Slum from Pompey publisher Life Is Amazing.
“Originally published in 1895, the book tells the true story of Father Robert Dolling, a priest sent to perform missionary work in Portsmouth after his successes doing similar work in Stepney, London. Dolling arrived in Portsmouth in 1885, and was immediately thrown into the rough, violent and impoverished world of the narrow streets and courtyards around Conway Street, which used to stand between Charlotte Street and the Dockyard wall. His stories of local people are funny, shocking and surprising.
The sight of a “Landport Dance” in the town on his very first day would have shocked more modest Victorians. A teenaged boy and girl had swopped skirts and trousers and were dancing topless in the streets in front of a large crowd. One woman in the crush was so drunk she fell down, and when Father Dolling reached down to pick her up, he was greeted by a shower of stones from the crowd, who clearly didn’t like priests meddling in their business. Only when a sailor stepped in and told the crowd to leave the “Holy Joe” alone did they stop. Later, a younger girl who was in his Sunday School explained that the girl dancer was a prostitute who had basically been advertising with a client. The younger girl knew this because because she worked as cleaner in the “bad house” where the older girl plied her trade. The younger girl was eight years old.
It was an introduction to a world filled with vice, violence and also deep laughter. Dolling worked to bring out the more civilising aspects for his parishioners, concentrating less on religion and more on their earthly needs. In his time he set up a gymnasium for the children and young men, a dance class to bring finesse into the rough courtships of the young men and women, and even a knitting circle and tea party to encourage the strictly clannish women to talk to those from other streets. He recalls the old ladies he took on an excursion to the Isle of Wight getting drunk and playing skipping on the pier when they got back, and the men he took on a trip to a wealthy benefactor’s house in Winchester, whose orchard they stripped of apples.
Dolling himself personally raised a subscription to replace the dilapidated church of St Agatha’s Landport, and though the streets were wrecked by the Conway Street Bomb during the Portsmouth Blitz, the church he built survives to this day – a lone testament to the extraordinary work of this man over a decade.
It’s a true account of an area long gone that drips with the authentic essence of Victorian Portsmouth. Tough, funny, vibrant and rich in local detail, Ten Years In A Portsmouth Slum provides you an insight into Portsmouth life you won’t find anywhere else.” – Matt Wingett, Life is Amazing
Not one to miss and I personally can’t wait to find the time to read it all. Available in store 12 Highland Road, Southsea and online www.strongislandclothingco.com
Over the last couple of weeks two young people who have been undertaking their summer work experience with Strong Island. Sam is studying at Horndean Technology College and Imogen is studying at Highbury College and both have spent time working with us. Sam has been on a two week placement with Strong Island Media working with us on film & photography projects and Imogen has been working in Strong Island Co looking at all things related to fashion design through to merchandising and marketing. A huge thank you to both Sam and Imogen for all their help!
Sam & Imogen.
We asked Sam and Imogen to share what they have been up to in their own words.
My name is Sam and I’m a photography and music student from Horndean. I’ve done two weeks of work experience with Paul at Strong Island.
My first day, I was actually dropped in at the deep end, assisting Paul teach a load of students that where my age from Chichester High School for Boys. This meant I had to use my photography skills right from the start. This was a good learning curve for me, being one of the people stood at the front of the class for once. The Wednesday of my first week I had the opportunity to go on the unopened HMS M.33 in the historic dockyard to sort out some filming which will go ahead later this month. This chance wasn’t the sort of thing you get everyday and it was cool to see it before everyone else had the opportunity to. I also learnt how to prep for some filming and directing. Later on that Wednesday I went along to the last Strong Island Recordings gig at the Cellars in Eastney. Here I was able to do some music photography of Gang who are on the label, along with some other acts. I really enjoyed the tunes and got some really good photos!
Sam on Photo Workshop.
GANG – Photo by Sam.
Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week we had a technology company come into the shop and I assisted with some product shoots. This really gave me an idea on how to set up and capture a photograph in the way they wanted, for example with a white background and reflections. This was also unreleased military and police technology which was, again, cool to get an exclusive on. At the end of the second week I got the chance to do some more freelance, independent photography down by Canoe Lake and on Southsea Seafront. I found the opportunity to do relaxed work like this helped inspire me. You can see some of the results below!
Sam Photographing Products.
I did have a few days that were helping around the shop, doing anything from helping in the storeroom to putting up exhibitions from photo workshops. I’ve also been doing various photo shoots in store of 22 new designs we got in store. This meant that some of my photography has been featured on their social media. I also wrote 5 or 6 articles on the Strong Island website which gave me a chance to get closer to the culture scene in Portsmouth.
Last of all I’d like to say thanks to everyone at Strong Island for having me… it’s been a really good experience!
Photo by Sam.
Photo by Sam.
Photo by Sam.
Being at Strong Island has been a really great experience, even in such a short amount of time they have given me the opportunity to do lots! I have had the chance to do stock checks, visual merchandising, work the till/serve customers, update the website, learn how to work bits on Adobe Illustrator and was even able to put together my own research including mood boards and sketches for new products ideas. Strong Island hasn’t only been brilliant in providing me with interesting experience, but they’ve also been fantastic in welcoming me to the store and I’ve felt like part of the team since day 1 with the lovely Lara and Paul. Not only were the people absolutely great but the store is such a nice place to be, and the amazing interior decor just tops it off!
As sunnier weather finally approaches, it’s surely time to start stocking up on new tees for the all your temperate outdoor activities. Our Spring range for this year is a mix of fresh reworkings of classic designs and further expansion of our ‘Down the Hatch’ motif, with a tee to fit any situation.
A short sleeve alternative to our popular ‘Down the Hatch’ zip hoodies, the new ‘Down the Hatch’ tee features the same two-colour screen printed back and chest designs as the hoods but on a super soft Galapagos blue tee.
Our ‘Local’ design makes its shirt-based return after a successful run adorning our tea towels. Hand screened in off-white on neutral heather indigo, it makes for a fantastic base to accessorise from with a nod to the rich marine wildlife found in our local waters.
For all those avid twitchers out there, this white on heather cardinal reprint of our classic ‘Langstone Harbour’ is a must-have, styled out with a pair of binoculars and a Field Notes notebook for jotting down your spots for later reference.
Adding to our range of ‘Branded’ tees is this limited edition version featuring the same super reflective 3M ink used on our black ‘Strong in the Leg’ tee. The ink works in a similar way to the coating employed on road signs – catching any indirect light and throwing it back out in dazzling fashion. Perfect for those that prefer to lay low during daylight hours but stand out when the stars come out to play.
We’ve also re-printed the ever-popular ‘Wander’ motif in white on pastel blue making for a subtle, unobtrusive tee designed to slot in with your standard spring/summer colour palettes.
All the tees are just £22 and available for purchase from our Strong Island Co store on Highland Rd or online at Strong Island Clothing Co as ever. Don’t forget, you can order online and collect in-store to save money on postage and also pick up a loyalty card to earn yourselves a free t-shirt and ceramic mug when you complete it.
This took a little longer than hoped but for the first time we thought we’ld try and make a note of all the things Strong Island got up to last year. We’re not the best at letting people know what we do (too busy sharing what you lot get up to). Some of the headlines, as it were, included:
– Two large exhibitions
– Working with almost 1000 young people and adults with photography, film & animation workshops
– Two stages at two festivals
– Three releases by the record label
– Opening of Strong Island Co
So if you’ve ever wondered what a year in Strong Island is like, here is part one, covering the first six months of January through to June. Part 2 later this week!
Strong Island went straight in to a hectic first month of 2014 with a few ongoing projects running through from 2013. Our main 2013 project was Creating Balance which brought together ten Portsmouth artists/designers and teamed them up with 10 Portsmouth photographers, with all groups given an Anglepoise lamp for inspiration. The project had heavy coverage in national newspapers and had two very successful exhibitions in 2013, one in London at the London Design Festival and one in Winchester. In Late January we opened the Creating Balance exhibition at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth, with an opening night that was the busiest yet for the gallery.
Back in November we had joined the Portsmouth Shipbuilding consortium as one of the founding members and the month saw the new website going up and the continued lobbying of trying to continue shipbuilding in the city.
Our animation project with young people from Portsmouth Autism Support Network finished with a film screening at John Pound Centre. The film was written, designed and animated by the group who also recorded all their own music and sound effects. The project was part of Artswork’s Strong Voices programme of activities and involved working with Portsmouth’s Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.
February was a busy month for Strong Island Media with many children and young people workshops in film, animation and photography in Portsmouth, Basingstoke and Gosport. We also worked with the University of Portsmouth and Sharon Court on the Far From Home project which connected university students with ex-service personnel and their families.
Our 4th Strong Island Homebrew competition saw the most brews entered in the history of the competition. The winner went on to be brewed by Irving & Co and sold in pubs and bars in Portsmouth and beyond.
February also saw the launch of Strong Island Recordings’ first album: the awesome Something by Yoofs. The band and the release were featured on many websites including Vice.
Possibly the businest month ever for Strong Island media with a solid month spent in Winchester on a Lottery Heritage Fund project with Winchester Theatre Royal and ten groups from 9 Winchester schools. Each school had two days on the project, the first day a film or animation workshop and the second spent writing & filming or animating their own film about the history of the theatre. The project involved working with almost 250 young people with 10 films produced.
The month also included filming at night with Portsmouth visual artist Jez Stevens on a film commission from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Jez created a number of projections on both the soon to be opened Babcock Galleries and The Submarine Museum. The films were used to promote the opening of both cultural attractions.
In March the Tricorn exhibition opened at Portsmouth City Museum and included two aspects that Strong Island had worked on. The first was the large community photography panel. We had in previous months asked people to submit their photography of the Tricorn and the best images were put together in to a large wall section. Strong Island also worked with nine local artists, photographers and designers in producing the Tricorn Artist Series of prints depicting the structure. These prints were displayed in the exhibition and on sale in the museum shop.
The Far From Home project exhibition was held in the brand new exhibition space in the new Eldon wing of Portsmouth University. The exhibition included photography, film, illustration and more by final year students, work inspired by the lives of local ex-service personnel and families. The exhibition saw all participants come down and enjoy the event.
With the arrival of the sun and spring a new film project began with two schools as part of the Entrenched Project, working in partnership with Hampshire County Council and two other Hampshire based production companies. Strong Island Media worked with Crofton School in Stubbington and Wildern School in Whiteley on films relating to the First World War.
Workshops also began on the My Life project, run with the award winning SPUD group. The film & photography workshops begun with a youth group in Netley View, focusing on their local community and how young people are represented.
In the run up to the end of May’s Portsmouth Street Games event at Guildhall Square three short teaser films were produced by Strong Island Media featuring My Dog Sighs, Effraim Catlow & Most Wanted, showcasing the street art, BMX and street dance aspects of the event.
The My Life project continued, this time working with a group of young carers in Romsey who created a film that tried to tackle local misconceptions on young people and their contribution to society. Their film was screened to their friends and family and local dignitaries. A third group for the My Life project was a youth group in Burley in the New Forest. The group focused on photographing their local areas looking for what made the area both good and bad to live in as a young person. The group exhibited their photography at a final exhibition to family and local councillors.
The month began with the Portsmouth Street Games weekend. Strong Island Media were the official media partners for the event and produced a film for the organisers and participants.
A series of four adult photography workshops for Chichester Harbour Conservancy began, with them running through the summer months. The workshops looked at photography in Bosham, on the beach of Hayling Island and from the Solar Heritage boat out in the harbour. Photography workshops were also given to GCSE students from the Chichester High School for Boys at Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s education centre at Dell Quay. For the third year running these workshops introduced photography skills on ‘walkshops’ around the harbour shoreline.
Strong Island worked for Anglepoise through to June producing a series of short films on four of their product collections, these films were for their new website. The films can be viewed HERE.
June also saw the release from Strong Island Recordings of the Sandscrape EP by GANG.
In the run up to this years’ festive celebrations, we will be extending our opening hours from our usual 10-6 Thursday to Saturday at the Strong Island Co. shop on Highland Rd. Starting from next week, we’ll be doing two late shopping evenings on Thursday 18th December and Saturday 20th December until 8pm alongside usual hours on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th for all your last minute gift needs.
If that’s still not enough, you can always order through our online store though you’ll have to get your orders in by Thursday 18th to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas and you’ll miss out on fantastic shop exclusive stocking fillers like the beautiful Field Notes notebooks we now distribute.
Hope to see you all in the shop soon!
It’s that time of the year when dozens (if not hundreds) of Strong Islanders head over to the Isle of Wight for Rob Da Banks Bestival extravaganza. Since it’s beginnings the Southsea contingency has gone from strength to strength, and this year will be no exception.
As always we’re super excited to be going over and it looks like the weather is going to be on our side this year. I know I’m leaving my wellies at home, that’s for sure! The sneak peaks of sunshine is getting everyone even more eager than normal to go get involved.
Over the years we’ve seen a nice steady increase of people representing our tees and this year we hope to see even more. If you’re going over and fancy a chance to win a Strong Island Care Package full of goodies then it couldn’t be easier. Get a photo of yourself, your friends, a stranger or just a RAD photo of someone repping Strong Island and having fun.
You can email the photo’s to email@example.com or simply hashtag #strongislandclothingco or #strongrepresent on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for your chance to win. Make sure to tag all your friends.
Whether your going over to the festival or staying at home in Southsea have a great one and enjoy the sunshine.