Strong Island Co.

Walks & Rambles

Photos from Photography Walkshop on Southsea Seafront

Saturday’s Strong Island Photography Walkshop on Southsea Seafront went really well and was a complete sell out, with seventeen photographers coming along to improve their photo skills and explore some popular Southsea locations with their cameras. We began looking at nature and macro photography at the Rose Gardens, then looked at light/shadow/geometry at the colourful beach huts before going down to the beach to look at different composition techniques. After catching the sun on the shoreline we looked at different perspectives down by Canoe Lake before returning to the beach and photographing South Parade Pier.

This was our last summer photography walkshop but due to their popularity we’ll be announcing monthly photography walkshops through the autumn and winter, with details on dates and locations (and themes!) on our new photography walkshops website coming soon.

Below are some photos from Saturday, there are more on our Flickr (where you’ll find photos from all of our summer walkshops) and our Facebook page.

Photos from Southsea Seafront Photography Walkshop

The second of our summer series of photography walkshops saw a big group of local photographers set off along Southsea seafront, walking from Clarence Pier and heading east with lots of stops along the way. The aim was to go from pier to pier but the two hours flew by and we ended the walk at the bandstand and Southsea Castle.

A big thank you to all the photographers who came along on the day and if you want to join us on our next walkshop at Hilsea Lines/Foxes Forest on the 18th or any of the other three walkshops planned for around the city through until September check HERE for details and where you can book online.

Below are some photos from the walk.

Bluebells in Foxes Forest

A quick, early morning walk through Portsmouth’s Foxes Forest with the camera is hard to beat this time of year. This city has harbours, beaches, towers, castles, cathedrals, docks, a loud and vibrant inner city but it also has on the north shore: a quiet home to birds and other wildlife. Hilsea Lines is perfect to get away from things for 30 minutes and see the colours and hear the sounds of spring.

Frankie Owens – Walking For Forgiveness

Award winning author Frankie Owens has achieved the kind of infamy AND fame normally reserved for reality TV stars and wayward ‘C’ list celebrities. Frankie however is no tango tanned 20 something, he’s an ex con with an eye on a positive future and over the coming months will be walking the length of the UK in support of The Forgiveness Project.

Frankie’s challenge is to walk from John O’ Groats to Land’s End, visiting towns and cities along the way. Each destination will include visits to prisons, probation trusts, youth offender groups, universities, and charities that work to help promote understanding, rehabilitation and re-integration of ex-offenders. Frankie began his 60 day walk on 1st September and finishes 1160 miles later on November 1st at Land’s End and every penny raised will The Forgiveness Project to:

• Collect and share real stories of forgiveness and reconciliation to help individuals transform the pain and conflict in their own lives.
• Run a restorative justice program in prisons helping build community resilience by working with victims to rehabilitate offenders.
• Create resources for schools to educate young people about peaceful solutions to conflict.
• Provide tools for resolving hurt and conflict by holding events and running training programmes.
After being a prisoner and losing everything Frankie is now an award-winning writer with 30 articles published to date, and counting. Frankie has been welcomed by The Huffington Post, Sabotage Times, The Guardian, Works for Freedom, The Justice Gap and The Royal Society of Arts. Numerous universities have also invited him to speak to them, with local newspapers and radio stations running articles and interviews too.

Frankie is the author of the ‘Little Book of Prison, A Beginners Guide’ and is inviting donations at

Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge with Mandy Cobb

On Saturday October 6th 2012 Mandy will begin her trek up three of the highest peaks in Yorkshire. The challenge is to complete the circuit in 12 hours. Phew. Mandy is looking to raise money for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a chairty which is dear to her family’s hearts and inspired by her Auntie Carol.

“At the grand age of 48, Carol was certainly a fighter, which I’d say is how she is remembered. She loved being around all her family, especially her sisters (my lovely aunties) and everyone loved being around her in return. She was always happy and always smiling, no matter what. I can’t put into words how much she is thought of and missed everyday by everyone in my family.”

Strong Island wishes you all the best on your journey, your support to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and to the memory of Carol. You can help Mandy help raise money over at

Take action to save the Hayling Ferry!

Thanks to Jon Spencer for bringing this to our attention. Take action now, “The proposed city council budget for 2011/12 onwards proposes that the subsidy currently offered to the Hayling Ferry be cancelled. This will more than likely spell the end for the ferry service which provides a great route into and out of the city for cyclists and pedestrians. The budget will go to the vote at council on tuesday 8th February. If you would like the service to be saved then please phone, email or write to your ward councillors to ask them to oppose the motion to scrap the subsidy. Find your ward councillors HERE. Some reasons why the ferry needs to remain:

The Hayling ferry provides vital access to a rural area to the residents of Portsmouth. This is one of the very few rural areas that is accessible to the people of Portsmouth without requiring access to a car. Our MP, Mike Hancock, spoke very eloquently on the breakfast news on this week about how vital public access to rural areas is to the wellbeing of a community and how he was therefore, in opposition to his government’s plans to sell off woodland. He was absolutely right to make this stand but it will be prove pointless if means of accessing such rural areas are removed.

Despite the assertions made in appendix C of the budget report, the Hayling ferry is widely used by citizens of Portsmouth. It is used daily by workers at Hayling, Havant and Langstone (and further afield) who commute by bike. It is heavily used by people who wish to visit the beaches or to use the popular Billy Trail by foot or by bike. The Hayling Ferry link is part of the UK national cycle network route 2 and as such is used by cyclists from across the UK to get into Portsmouth.

The major transport challenge Portsmouth faces is surely the fact that most of the city is on an island and there are very few access routes. Removing one of these routes is surely, at best, extremely unwise? This will increase pressure on the already extremely congested Eastern Road and will remove, at a stroke, the most pleasant way onto and off of Portsea Island.

The Hayling Ferry is good value. It’s annual subsidy of £15,000 is only about 1.3% of what the pyramids is costing the city this year. In terms of the value of the leisure and travel opportunities it presents it is punching well above its weight.”


You heard me. The army of the undead have risen and will be terrorising the streets of Southsea this Halloween. Apply white powder, fake blood and guts galore and join the zombie masses on a rigor mortis paced walk around the streets of Portsmouth, through shopping malls and busy streets, stopping at the odd pub along the way.

Grab all the killer info you need regarding time, place, tutorials and generally how to be the undead on a good day over at Facebook. Braaaaaaainnnnnnnzzzzzzzzzzzzz


You heard me. The army of the undead have risen and will be terrorising the streets of Southsea this Halloween. Apply white powder, fake blood and guts galore and join the zombie masses on a rigor mortis paced walk around the streets of Portsmouth, through shopping malls and busy streets, stopping at the odd pub along the way.

Grab all the killer info you need regarding time, place, tutorials and generally how to be the undead on a good day over at Facebook. Braaaaaaainnnnnnnzzzzzzzzzzzzz


You heard me. The army of the undead have risen and will be terrorising the streets of Southsea this Halloween. Apply white powder, fake blood and guts galore and join the zombie masses on a rigor mortis paced walk around the streets of Portsmouth, through shopping malls and busy streets, stopping at the odd pub along the way.

Grab all the killer info you need regarding time, place, tutorials and generally how to be the undead on a good day over at Facebook. Braaaaaaainnnnnnnzzzzzzzzzzzzz

New Section of Hayling Billy Trail

Hayling Billy trail is a really popular cycling, running and even horse riding trail that runs along the Langstone Harbour edge of Hayling Island. On the 26th February a new section of the trail will be opened to the public by David Willets MP, portfolio holder Jenny Wride along with Simon Pratt from Sustrans. The opening starts at Havant Road Langstone at the junction with Mill Lane at 10.30 am and then there will be tea and coffee at the Sailing Club after the opening with a small display showing future joint cycle improvement and safe routes to school projects that Sustrans, HCC and HBC are intending to carry out within the Borough over the next 18 months.

Hayling Billy also runs past the old Oyster Beds at the northerly point of the island, are a great place to visit to spot birds this time of year.

Next »


Portsmouth on Film – Episode 2

A new episode of Jonathan & Matthew Ring’s vintage family footage ‘Portsmouth on Film’ went up this week.

This episode has focuses on Canoe Lake and the Model Village.

Vintage Southsea Postcards

I dug these off the internet a while back and forgot I had them. Some real old school winners here. Click the read more link at the bottom of this article to see the full set.



There’s Snow Day like a Snow Day

Tom Time Waster © just put a few more photos from last months snow day in Portsmouth. Cool photos as always, but I focused on the spills and slams. We saw some kids take proper slams that day. Lots of broken tailbones for sure. Good times.

Southsea Circa ’51

After purchasing a few bits of old furniture the other day, under closer inspection we found the shelving to be lined with old newspaper.

Coming from one of the sheets is this, an advert for Southsea from the Sunday People dated 21st January 1951.  The best bit and also a point raised by more than one person, is the fact that in 1951 it takes 90 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Southsea the same as it does today!  Fascinating that in 61 years we haven’t managed to make it any quicker.

Above Western Parade

The other day I got to go up on to the roof of a house on Western parade with a great view over the common, Southsea and The Solent. Always interesting seeing Southsea in new ways. Below are some photos (click on ‘Read More’ to see more plus there are more over on Forever Circling).

Local Photographer: Paul Thurlow

I’ve been following local photographer Paul Thurlow’s blog for a little while, always some wonderful photos from our little piece of coastline plus some incredible portrait and wedding photography too. Put what you’re doing to one side for a little while and have a look through Paul’s website and Flickr too, so many beautiful photos including HDR images too.

Kings Theatre

The Kings Theatre in Southsea is continuing is restorations, this afternoon they were taking the roof top away, we’re assuming for some repairs and maintenance work.


I’m not a BMXer and only cruised on my Raleigh Burner to get to skate spots when I was young, but i’ve always had huge admiration the those guys. They’re freakin’ nuts. I remember Freestylin’ mag when I was younger and would always have a flick through if I could. I loved the whole style thing surrounding BMXing in the 80’s. Mag wheels, crazy colour co-ordinated bikes and big attitude.

Well, you can relive all the that, at least to a visual extent, in the form of the Freestylin’ book. Some of you may have already seen this but may not know you can download the 158 page PDF here.

Go straight to page 106 for an article on Craig Campbell at Southsea Skatepark. Sick.

After skating…

…the boys enjoy a sit down at the seafront on a Sunday. Photo courtesy of the ever busy Quiet Corners lensman Paul Gonella. Perfect days, albeit still cold.

Our Langstone Harbour Trip with the RSPB

On a grey yet thankfully dry Sunday morning if I had a Portsmouth bucket list, I had one of the items near the top ticked off with a boat trip with the RSPB. Personally, I’ve always loved Langstone Harbour. When I first moved to Portsmouth I lived at the Furze Lane Langstone campus of the University of Portsmouth and the harbour was on my door step and one of the first places I explored with my bike and camera. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky enough to explore every yard of its edge plus the sandbank and the Phoenix Breakwater with my camera, from high tide to low, but I haven’t had a chance to explore the islands.

The thing, for me, that makes Langstone Harbour extra special is that it is a wild habitat right on the doorstep of the most densely populated city in the UK. Considering the close proximity to well over two hundred thousand people, the harbour is surprisingly biodiverse and a key nesting location for birds on the south coast. More surprising is that for birds, Langstone Harbour has way, way more calling it home through the seasons than its neighbour Chichester Harbour. So…all of this wildlife shares Portsmouth with us, and us with them. Particularly at this time of year: nesting season. So for the very, very novice twitcher side of me, a boat trip out to see the birds with the RSPB was a fantastic opportunity.

We set off from the slipway at Broadmarsh Costal Park south of Havant with Wez at the boat controls and Dawn to help both myself and Tristan find out more about the wildlife and what the RSPB do in regards to the harbour and the bird populations. It was a good start with lots of Mute Swans seeing us off from the quayside and even a low flying Heron passing overhead. We travelled south, in parallel with the shore of Long Island, one of many different islands in the harbour that have (since the late 1970s) become protected bird preserves of the RSPB. We passed the southern tip of the island, which is one of the few areas where the public can land (we saw kayakers taking a break on the small shingle beach) before moving south west to Round Nap Island.

Long Island.

I’ve always been intrigued by the harbour’s islands and as they are off limits to the public this was my first chance to see them up close. Round Nap Island is quite small and at high tide seemed like a very flat and precarious home to the nesting birds and visiting birds too. On the shingle we saw Black Headed Gulls with their brown, fuzzy and big chicks who will be very soon flying themselves. Also on the island we saw quiet Cormorants taking a rest from fishing and curious Oyster Catchers exploring the shingle and waterline for food.

Round Nap Island.

Cormorants on Round Nap Island.

The RSPB routinely (at times, daily) check the nesting islands to ensure the birds aren’t effected by the many different dangers to them, their nests and their young. At low tide some of these islands are accessible by the mudflats so some islands have electric fences to protect against foxes and other predators. Another serious danger to these birds are storms and surging tides. Recently a storm washed away nests and seriously effecting the breeding of some of the harbours most important visitors.

Black Headed Gull.

From Round Nap Island we set off to the much larger South Binness Island, the most southerly of the islands in the harbour. As we travelled along the southern shore of the island we saw hundreds and hundreds of Black headed Gulls and their young plus the sharp edged Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and our first sighting of the beautiful Little Terns that visit the harbour each year. The Little Terns have struggled in recent years to raise young due to weather and tides and in 2013 this island was raised up with 500 tonnes of aggregate with the hope that their ‘scrapes’ would be better protected.

South Binness Island.

Oyster Catcher and Black Header Gulls on South Binness Island.

South Binness Island.

Black Headed Gull chicks on South Binness Island.

South Binness Island.

Sandwich Tern.

Little Terns are very special visitors to Portsmouth. Unknown to me until fairly recently, Portsmouth and Langstone Harbour is home to one of the largest colonies of these special birds, along with Blakeney Point and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Minsmere in Suffolk. You might find the birds in much smaller groups around the coast of the UK, including Scotland…but right here in Portsmouth is a key nesting site in the UK. Sadly these birds have difficulty in producing young as our weather has been bad in consecutive years but they will continue to try through the rest of the season. There are only 1,900 (approx.) breeding pairs in the UK so the work done locally by the RSPB to support and help these birds is vital. To put it in context, on South Binness Island alone in 2008 the island had 4,886 nesting pairs of Black Headed Gulls.

Little Tern.

Little Tern.


We travelled west past the island and out to a place I have wanted to visit for years, Oyster Island. Many years ago this small island was home to an oyster watchman’s house built in 1819. I had heard that you could still see the foundations and remains of the house (which was possibly washed away in a storm) still on this tiny island south of Farlington Marshes. As we approached you could clearly see on this tiny island the timber beams of the house plus bricks and more. Hard to believe that someone could live out here, right on the harbour.

Oyster Island.

Oyster Island.

From here we travelled to Baker’s Island with it’s northerly wild side. The RSPB obviously tries to not disturb the birds but there are occasions when it is necessary to land on one of the islands. Routinely the RSPB need to count the nests and check for any issues. Sometimes they have to fix fencing and maintain signs, etc, on this occasion Wez had to replace the electric fence battery so we grounded the boat on the beach for a few minutes. Obviously it is vital these islands are not visited by the public so this was an unexpected privilege to see this habitat up close for a minute or two.

Baker’s Island.

Oyster Catcher on Baker’s Island.

Surrounding the boat at Baker’s Island.

We set off from here and travelled east across the harbour and midway saw a large commercial vessel leave the quay at the Lafarge Tarmac site and travel towards the harbour entrance. It was a good reminder that despite being a quiet harbour there is still commercial activity on a day to day basis. There are also fishing vessels that work within the harbour too.

Commercial vessel passing Round Nap Island.


The old oyster beds on Hayling Island’s north westerly edge (next to the ‘Billy’) have a long history, from farming huger amounts of oysters for consumption in London (ending due to pollution) to them being neglected until recent years when they were restored and made a protected RSPB area. These interlinking beds are now home to many different birds and access is prevented from Hayling Island as well as from boats. From here we saw a harbour favourite the Little Egret and also a solo Great Crested Grebe before it dived under the water and disappeared. On the way back to Broadmarsh we were lucky to see about a dozen Common Terns feeding, with them circling, hovering and then diving in to the harbour waters. We also saw some Little Terns too, who only feed around one kilometre from their nesting sites.

Little Egret at Hayling Island Oyster Beds.

Diving Common Tern.

In only a matter of two hours we had an incredible trip around the harbour and were introduced to not just the birds that call Portsmouth home but also the dedicated work by the RSPB, who with a very small team have to protect the habitats and birds. If you want to keep up to date with the work done by your local RSPB team be sure to follow their blog HERE. A huge thank you to Wez and Dawn for the trip!

Interested in seeing some of these birds yourself? It is actually pretty easy from the shoreline of the city of Portsmouth. We’re working with the RSPB on a series of articles starting tomorrow and we’ll be running a competition too. More details tomorrow.

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