Strong Island Co.

Latest Articles

Photos from Saturday’s Photography Walkshop in Eastney

On Saturday we ran our 4th summer Strong Island Photography Walkshop, this time down in Eastney, exploring with our cameras from the Hayling Ferry point, past the house boats, along the Langstone Harbour beach line and down to the concrete pier in to the Solent. We looked at taking control of aperture and shutter speed, different compositional techniques and much more. Below are some photos of the photographers who came along for the morning, check our Facebook page & Flick for more photos.

Our next Photography Walkshop is this Saturday at 10am to 12pm at Southsea Castle. We’ll be exploring the castle grounds and working on some basic lightpainting and long exposure photography in the tunnels under the castle walls. If you want to join us you can book online (only £10) or find out more about this walkshop and the next one in September in Southsea visit HERE.

Thanks again to all the photographers who have joined us throughout the summer!

Ten Years In A Portsmouth Slum – New Book Release

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.

ten years in a portsmouth slum

“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


Strong Island Photo of The Year Competition Week 15-18 Winner and Runners Up

This summer is flying by. Apologies for the missed weeks for the Photo of the Year weekly winners & submissions, throw Americas Cup, a funeral, a christening, a trip to Japan and more in to a busy summer and you before you know it you’re three weeks behind. SO, we have a huge selection of photos for this week (weeks 15 to 18 to be precise). We had a fair few different locations and subjects but the Spinnaker Tower was hugely popular. To submit photos yourself via Instagram & Twitter for the Strong Island Photo of the Year Competition use the hashtag #SIPhotoComp2015 and you can always email photos in too to

This week’s winning image is something a bit different, a quiet, empty documentary style photo of Eastney Swimming Baths. This old pool is a bit of a forgotten gem in Southsea and this photo really captures it perfectly. This photo is by David Ellis and one of a series of images from a photo essay about the baths and the swimmers.

David Ellis - Eastney Swimming Pool

This weekly winner will now be entered into the finals of the competition which will happen in December where everyone can vote for their favourite weekly winning photos. This image will now become our Strong Island Facebook header image for the next 7(ish) days until next week’s winner.

Below are some of the runners up for this week. A huge thanks to everyone who submitted a photograph. Don’t worry if your photo didn’t win or make the shortlist… you can enter photos every week until the finals in December! You can now submit photos for this week’s weekly winner selection which will be chosen and shown next week. To enter simply email, Tweet or Instagram your photo that was taken in, on or around Portsmouth.

Photo by Tony Benham
Photo by Tony Benham.

Photo by Sheila Mackie
Photo by Sheila Mackie.

Photo by Joss Payne
Photo by Joss Payne.

Photo by Sarah holiday
Photo by Sarah holiday.

Photo by Kate Smith
Photo by Kate Smith.

Photo by pjoe79
Photo by pjoe79.

Photo by Joss Payne
Photo by Joss Payne.

Photo by Mark Chivers
Photo by Mark Chivers.

Photo by Grzegorz Kopacz
Photo by Grzegorz Kopacz.

Ferry light trails entering Portsmouth Harbour by Jon Neil
Ferry light trails entering Portsmouth Harbour by Jon Neil.

Photo by johnnyvalentine69
Photo by johnnyvalentine69.

Gulls by Billie Cawte
Gulls by Billie Cawte.

Photo by JL Crespo
Photo by JL Crespo.

Photo by Johnny Black
Photo by Johnny Black.

Photo by Howard Hurd
Photo by Howard Hurd.

Photo by Howard Hurd
Photo by Howard Hurd.

Photo by jupward77
Photo by jupward77.

Photo by glodomorrra
Photo by glodomorrra.

Photo by Johnny Black
Photo by Johnny Black.

Wave by christoffg
Wave by christoffg.

Spinnaker Tower by Ellis Hampton
Spinnaker Tower by Ellis Hampton.

Photo by Grzegorz Kopacz
Photo by Grzegorz Kopacz.

Solent by Danielle Gridley
Solent by Danielle Gridley.

Photo by Ellie Brand
Photo by Ellie Brand.

America's Cup Wheel by catspaws_22
America's Cup Wheel by catspaws_22.

No Name's Land by Billie Cawte
No Name's Land by Billie Cawte.

Kassassin Street Release New Single ‘Radio Silence’

Kassassin Street have been making some serious waves this year with strong coverage online with their last single and video plus lots of shows in and out of Portsmouth. Yesterday the band dropped their new single Radio Silence with it already getting some glowing reviews on music blogs and cropping up on Hype Machine. Give yourself a moment and have a listen below and get ready for the incoming EP due to drop this Friday and get yourself along to one of their new tour dates to experience it in the flesh.

Kassassin Street Release New Single 'Radio Silence'

Next show:
26th Aug 2015 London – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen

Then on tour with Clay:
1st Oct 2015 Birmingham – Oobleck
2nd Oct 2015 Southampton – Lennons
6th Oct 2015 Bristol – Louisiana
7th Oct 2015 Stoke – Sugarmill
8th Oct 2015 Leeds – Brudenell
9th Oct 2015 Manchester – Sound Control
10th Oct 2015 Glasgow – Broadcast
14th Oct 2015 Brighton – Green Door Store
15th Oct 2015 London – Birthdays
16th Oct 2015 Nottingham – Bodega
17th Oct 2015 Portsmouth – Wedgewood Rooms

Victorious Festival Preview #4 Ella Eyre by Liv Woodward

The Victorious Festival countdown continues and I feel that it is only right to discuss the wonderful, Ella Eyre.

Ella first came into the music scene in 2012, when she featured on Bastille’s cover and mash up of TLC’s, ‘No Scrubs’. However, it wasn’t until 2013, when she featured on the Rudimental song ‘ Waiting All Night’, that Ella Eyre really hit the music scene and she was able to find her feet as an artist. She has said her aim is to “hit people in the face with my music rather than tickle them” and she has certainly delivered with this statement because her music is so strong and individual, due to her unique voice. I personally love Ella’s husky and strong vocals and you won’t find anyone like her around. Her new album ‘Feline’, is due to come out on August the 28th and the few songs I’ve heard are absolutely amazing and I found myself clicking pre-order without even thinking!

She is someone to envy, as she is only 21 and can say with pride that she won a Brit Award for the Best British Single in 2014, for the hit ‘Waiting All Night’. She is most definitely one to watch at the moment and certainly in years to come. Ella does not shy away from her passion with collaborating with other artists, which can only be seen as a plus, as it keeps her well connected in the music industry. My fingers are crossed as I hope that Tinie Tempah and Ella Eyre will perform together at Victorious Festival, as she was lucky enough to feature on his album ‘Demonstration’.

Ella is young and energetic and she is a definite crowd pleaser! Not only does she do her own songs and collaborations, she also does covers, which will get you singing along in no time. Her tweets will have you laughing and we’re lucky enough to have an insight into her life with the pictures she shares! This is one girl who knows how to use social media to her advantage. Give her a follow now on Facebook and Twitter @EllaEyre. She also updates you on her upcoming tours and also if she’s working on any new songs! Aren’t we lucky?!

If you’re not familiar with Ella, I suggest you get yourself on her YouTube channel and listen to some of her amazing work! Also, if you’re lucky enough to be going to V Festival on the 22nd of August, or The Big Feastival on the 28th August, you can catch her there. You’d be nuts to miss her on the Castle Stage at Victorious so make sure you get a spot in the front row!

The festival is being held on Southsea Common on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August. Tickets are still available and you can pick one up via the website HERE, or in person from the Meat and Barrel on Palmerston Road.

You can stay up to date on all things Victorious via Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.

Ella Eyrw 1

Au Revoir Kitsch N D’or

After the news that we are welcoming back local favourite 101 Reykjavík came the sad news that we are saying goodbye another favourite the Kitsch N D’or.

Yesterday the team behind the restaurant wrote the following on their Facebook page.

“It is with great sadness that Paul and Jenny have to announce the closure of Kitsch N D’or after 15 years of business. Due to continued impasse with the landlords, they have had to make this decision for the future happiness of their family. From everyone here at the Kitsch we would like to say thank you to all our customers and friends for your continued support over the last 15 years. We would not have been able to do it without you all. Thank you and goodbye.”

Kitsch N D’or has been a favourite of my family for birthdays and special occasions but it isn’t just the Barker clan who are sad to say goodbye, their reputation spread far and wide with many travelling from outside of Portsmouth to sample their fantastic French inspired cuisine.

Strong Island would like to wish all of the staff involved the best of luck in the future. Vous allez nous manquer.


Strong Island Calendar 2016 #SIC2016

If you’ve taken a photo that you’d like to submit for our 2016 calendar then you can email your submission via If you’ve taken a photo on Instagram that you’d like to submit for consideration you just need add the hashtag #SIC2016.

There are no limits to how many you submit, the only rule is that the image must be relevant to Portsmouth. We would love to see more submissions from all over Portsmouth not just our favourite Southsea landmarks so please share this with friends who you think might be interested in getting involved.

Strong Island Calendar Poster 2016

Welcome Back 101 Reykjavík

On this dreary depressing day we have some great news to put a smile on your face. Strong Island are glad to welcome the return of 101 Reykjavík. They return in form of an online shop offering some of the countries finest exports which can be found at

Back in 2014 Chris and Lisa Whitear opened Southsea’s very own Icelandic kaffibar. They were able to provide honest food and drinks in a friendly setting that perfectly encapsulated the unique spirit of Iceland’s capital. Sadly earlier this year the premises was no longer available and they were forced to close the doors.

Chris and Lisa are now offering a range of Icelandic delights delivered to your door. Beverages available include Brennivín (known locally as The Black Death), Crowberry Liqueur and Björk Liqueur. There are also some fantastic craft beers available such as their own 101 Reykjavík dark beer with Cocoa and Icelandic seaweed, the liquorice-esque Northern Lights as well as a few lines from Borg Brewery and the award winning Gull lager.

Products available are not limited to food and beverages, you can pick yourself up a copy of Iceland’s finest musical exports such as LP’s from the likes of Sigur Rós, Björk and Ólafur Arnalds.

We hope that we will be able to see them returning to a local venue in the near future.

Stay up to date on all things Icelandic on Facebook, Twitter @101_Reykjavik and Instagram.

101 Reykjavík

101 Reykjavík a New Icelandic Bar in Castle Road

‘Dice’ Kickstarter Campaign

Local boys Lee Purslow and Rikki Parsons have launched their Kickstarter campaign to open ‘Dice’, Portsmouth’s first ever board game café.

Inspired by the rise in board game cafes in Canada and America, but more recently in the England with ‘Thirsty Meeples’ in Oxford, and ‘Draughts’ in Hackney. They want to open a place to relax with your friends or family, eat good food, drink fresh coffee and challenge each other across the table.

Lee and Rikki have invested a large amount of private capital but admit “we need some extra funding to make sure we can create our full vision. We will not be personally drawing any money out of the café, so all of your funding will go directly into making Dice the best it can be. We will use this funding to renovate the venue to the required standard, grow the board game library and purchase the necessary equipment to offer a full food and drinks menu.”

If you are not aware of what Kickstarter is, it is a global crowdfunding platform which launched in 2009. The aim of a Kickstarter campaign is to raise money for a project which could be anything from a film, games, music, art, design and technology. The project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected.

This weekend Dice will be hosting a pop-up event in Aspex Gallery, Gunwharf Quays between 11:00am til 9:30pm. The event is free and their will be a range of food and drink (including alcohol) available Aspex Cafe all day/evening. There will be several game demonstrators on hand to help teach any of the 50+ games to new players. More information is available on the Facebook Event page HERE.

Check out the link below to find out more about the the project and the full range of rewards available for anyone who wants to get involved. With donation rewards starting at just £5 please get involved and help make this original project happen!

Dice Guildhall

dice logo

Dice Bandstand
photos courtesy of

Photos from the Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33

Thursday saw the official opening on HMS M.33 with the Theatre of Gallipoli event at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where visitors were taken through the opening events of the bloody campaign of Gallipoli with immersive theatre and dance. At different points in the Dockyard visitors explored the role that HMS M.33 played in the conflict through a street theatre, a drama piece on board HMS M.33 and a physical theatre and dance piece which incorporates Motionhouse‘s amazing show ‘Cascade’ re-imagined for The Theatre of Gallipoli.

An array of local arts organisations took part in the day’s activities such as Cop the Needle, Groundlings Theatre Company, Abstract Dance as well as workshop activity participants commissioned by The National Museum of The Royal Navy.

Below are photos from the day.

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (1)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (2)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (3)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (4)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (5)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (6)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (7)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (8)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (9)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (10)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (11)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (12)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (13)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (14)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (15)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (16)

Theatre of Gallipoli, the Opening of HMS M.33 (17)

Fareham Arts Festival Begins Tomorrow

Just over the way, our neightbour Fareham has a great new arts festival that launched Thursday night and officially begins tomorrow, with loads of arts, theatre, film, music and more running through until later in August. Created by Live Art Local CIC and various partners, Fareham Arts Festival is a not-for-profit showcase of up and coming and established talent will break down barriers and engage the local community (and visitors) in the wonderful world of the arts like no other has done in Fareham before.

Visit the website for all the details on the dozens of event happening over dozens of venues in the town and to book tickets. Of particular interest might be the short film competition Fareham Shorts at the Ashcroft Arts Centre plus the Democracy Street workshop at Ferneham Hall (details also below). These are just the tip of the cultural iceberg, check here to find out more:

Fareham Arts Festival

Fareham Arts Ferstival

Fareham Shorts

Democracy Street Workshop

Strong Island Sounds Podcast with Longlive Radio Episode 31

After a little break Charlie is back with the 31st episode of Longlive Radio for the Strong Island Sounds podcast, but I will leave it to the man himself to introduce it.

My ever more infrequent series of amateur radio rambles continues with a show that loosely bases itself around roads/driving/streets/cars etc. Not that I’m getting complacent or anything… I even forgot to ask Sam for a suggestion this week! I promise to do better in the future. Anyway, there’s tons of good tunes, so stop complaining.
In a bit. Charlie x

00) Life Is A Problem – Spiritualized
01) Driving South – The Stone Roses
02) Long Hot Summer – The Style Council
03) Funky Fanfare – Keith Mansfield
04) Ring Ring Ring – De La Soul
05) The Dark End Of The Street – James Carr
06) El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – Simon & Garfunkel
07) You Can’t Go Home Again – DJ Shadow
08) Linus & Lucy – Vince Guaraldi Trio
09) Highways – Jim Sullivan
10) Golden Skans – Klaxons
11) Angela (Theme From Taxi) – Bob James
12) Atlas – Beth Jeans Houghton
13) Bright Side Of The Road – Van Morrison
14) Roads – Portishead
15) Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles


The Contemporary Makers Showcase at Aspex Galley This Weekend

This weekend Aspex Gallery is home to a two-day event aiming to bring together a selected showcase of fine craft artists and makers alongside skilled demonstrations and informative talks related to contemporary craft and design.

Admission is free to all and workshops, talks and live demos will be running over the weekend including:

– Drop-in necklace-making workshops with I am Acrylic
– Letterpress printing with Badger Press
– Sewn portraits whilst you wait with Emma Nicol
– Helen Murgatroyd exhibition live demo using experimental and inventive printmaking techniques
– Children’s experimental printmaking workshops
– Etsy branding 101 and drop-in surgeries with the Portsmouth & Southsea Consortium
– An intro to Making Space with Director Lynne Dick

Aspex is open from 10am to 4pm, please check below & their website for more details:

Aspex Gallery

The Contemporary Makers Showcase at Aspex Galley

The Jack House Gallery Summer Show Opens Tomorrow

Jack House Gallery’s first Summer Show opens this weekend and amongst the many and varied treasures on show are lithographs by established and renowned RA Chris Orr and rising star Caroline Walker. From an interesting new local perspective check out the ceramics with specially commissioned ‘Portsmouth Pots’ by Alice Mara and Marion’s Brandis’s mischievous feline beauties too. Some very German Expressionism by Stephan Geisler, drypoint poetry by Kate Boxer and Anita Klein’s distinctively stylised and quirky linocuts as well as John Dilnot’s exquisitely devised ‘boxes’. And there’s more….Barry Goodman’s collographs of vintage vehicles, Fabio Coruzzi’s city scenes and Susie Perrings badly behaved dogs. The gallery now has the best collection of fine art printmaking in the South and amongst the best are Portsmouth artist Chris Wood’s Portsmouth pubs, Mychael Barratt’s ‘art imitating life’ and the Greenwich printmakers have decided to stay with a great selection of their work still to be found in the gallery’s bulging print browsers. Be sure to drop by this new Portsmouth gallery and have a good look around.

You can find Jack House Gallery in Old Portsmouth open 11am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Chris Orr Moonnlight.

‘Portsmouth Pots’ by Alice Mara

‘Portsmouth Pots’ by Alice Mara

Strong Island Recordings Release Brisbane Based Outfit The Good Sports’ Debut Album ‘Peak Performance’

At Strong Island Recordings we’re beyond stoked that our latest release is out today from Brisbane psych-pop outfit The Good Sports with their debut album ‘Peak Performance’. This is the third album we’ve released on our little Southsea based label and if you dig sun-soaked, blissed out, psychedelic-pop that is the perfect soundtrack for a summery day sat at the beach with a few tinnies then this is for you.

The Good Sports have been making waves in their native Australia picking up support from the likes of the massive Triple J (they were one of the top 50 most played Triple J Unearthed artists of 2014) and the likes of Tone Deaf and after we stumbled across them we approached them about releasing with us straight away. With Violet Swells from Tasmania, the Brisbane based outfit are the latest Aussie psych-pop act to join our ever growing label roster and if you have been following our label releases, then we have no doubt you’ll love them as much as we do.

You can purchase ‘Peak Performance’ via the likes of iTunes and Amazon as well as streaming services such as Spotify. We also have a limited run of blue cassettes that you can purchase on our site from this link here for just £5.00 or if you’re based in Australia, you can purchase from The Good Sports’ Bandcamp page to save postage costs. If you want to keep up to date in with our Strong Island Recordings label then check us out on Facebook, our Twitter on @strongislandrec and our Instagram account over on @Strongislandrecordings.

good sports art

Victorious Festival Previews #3 Laura Mvula

The next in our Victorious Festival previews is Laura Mvula who is arguably the finest vocalist performing at the festival this summer.

Described as “The voice of 2013” by The Evening Standard, Mvula has also received recognition with nominations in two BRIT Awards categories (British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act), as well as being shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and Ivor Novello Awards.

Mvula first came to my attention with the release of her debut album Sing to the Moon in 2013, it featured tracks “Green Garden”, “She”, “That’s Alright” and the beautiful title track. I’ve been a big fan of Jazz and R&B artists including Erika Badu, Lauren Hill and Nina Simone, almost immediately you can hear their influences in Mvula’s music.

Nearly twelve months after the release of her debut album she re recorded the album at the Abbey Road Studios with the help of Dutch Metropole Orchestra and its conductor Jules Buckley. The result was an incredible reinterpretation of her acclaimed debut album and one I encourage you to check out.

This isn’t the first festival for Mvula this summer, she’s already played WOMAD and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. At Victorious you will be able to catch Laura Mvula on Saturday performing on the Common Stage.

The festival is being held on Southsea Common on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August. Tickets are available and you can pick one up via the website HERE, or in person from the Meat and Barrel on Palmerston Road.

You can stay up to date on all things Victorious via Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.


Strong Island’s 7th Birthday and Charity Raffle

Many of you may have noticed that last year there was no Strong Island 6th Birthday celebration. We were gutted that the event didn’t take place however it was all for a good reason, the design, build and opening of our first shop and studio space.

Thanks to your continued support the shop has has been going well and we would like to say thank you to you all by inviting you all to join us for our 7th birthday at the Meat & Barrel on Thursday 24th September.

We’re excited to announce that we have already received donations offered from local based artists including My Dog Sighs and imakepictures, local power house design studio ilovedust, the awesome local engraving company Etchwork, local bespoke design company SKJ Design Limited, a whopping £250 outdoor portrait photoshoot from all round top chap Paul Thurlow, a restored vintage bicycle from Ye Olde Bike Shoppe and two tickets to Bestival 2016.

Many of you may remember our previous Birthday and Charity Raffles have been hugely successful and we have all helped raised over £4000 for the Portsmouth RNLI and Portsmouth Autism in the last few years.

There will be more information to follow in the near future but in the mean time feel free to share and invite all of your friends. If you think that you would be able to make a donation to the prizes on offer then please drop us an email at every donation is welcomed. Every donation will be hugely welcomed and will be promoted in the build up to the event as well as on the night itself.

Stay up to date on the donationgs that we have been given on our Facebook Event which can be found HERE.


Dials Festival Preview #1 Hooton Tennis Club

So as you may have seen at the end of last week, the line-up to Dials Festival , a collaborative, new music festival ran between Strong Island, Strong Island Recordings, Pie & Vinyl, Breaking More Waves, Wedgewood Rooms and Hong Kong Gardners Club has been announced and will take place on the 3rd October. The idea for the festival to make sure a multi-venue, new music festival can still take place in Portsmouth with the saddened absence of Southsea Fest this year. Leading up to our festival in October we’re going to be running weekly previews of various acts playing the festival.

If you read NME or listen to BBC 6 Music often you most probably have come across Dials’ headliners, Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club who are signed to one of the finest UK  labels being Heavenly Recordings (Toy, The Wytches, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard). Hooton Tennis Club (or HTC for short) create wonderful, scuzzy, infectious indie meets sun-soaked, garage pop. It’s like Teenage Fanclub and Pavement meets the likes of King Tuff and Parquet Courts. HTC’s debut album ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’ drops at the end of August and has already gained very favourable reviews and hotly tipped by the likes of Mojo and NME.  You’re no doubt going to be hearing a lot more of these guys over the next year or two so be sure to catch them early at Dials.

Tickets for the festival are just £15 at a very limited early-bird rate so get them before the prices go up. You can get the tickets at Kings Theatre over on their site or you can get them in store at Strong Island where we have a very limited offer where if you purchase an early-bird ticket in store we’re giving away a free white 7″ vinyl. Other outlets included Pie & Vinyl, Dress Code and also The Wedgewood Rooms. Either way it’s just £15 for 40 plus bands across five venues. You can find the line-up confirmed so far below with more announcements coming very soon and you can keep up to date with Dials Festival on Twitter on @DialsFestival.

Dials_outline_export-01 (1) (1)

Strong Island x Stonecarved

Stonemason and Lettercarver Thomas Appleton brings his Stonecarved Project to the main gallery space at Aspex in Gunwharf Quays this summer. The Stonecarved Project is about truth, status, memory and identity. Thomas has spent the past 18 months, visiting quarries around the UK, creating new work in stone showing in the gallery and on-line this August and September. We use the phrase ‘set in stone’ to define something permanent and true. But in our age of digital media, is there still a place of carving words in stone? Strong Island recently conducted the following interview with Thomas.


How did you find your way in to stone carving?

I was kicking around thinking about going to art school so started doing evening classes. I took a sculpture class, which included working with stone so soon I was booked on stonecarving classes and loving it. I’m naturally energetic and rather stubborn. Carving stone makes me slow down, think, and learn to work with a material on it’s own terms. There is something incredible about working with a material that is older than dinosaurs and leaving your own permanent mark. When you carve stone, every chisel cut is a discovery into a material that’s millions of years old, it’s a huge privilege.

In regards to the process, how does the time it takes to produce a carving influence your creative ideas?

I enjoy the journey of the process as much as producing the final work, so I try not to limit the idea by limiting the process and like to share the process as much as possible. I’m not into a big reveal, I like people to be able to see how work takes shape. The show at Aspex includes a time-lapse film in which I break all the rules of lettercutting. It made for an extraordinarily long process, from start to finish over seven months. If i’d stayed true to a more traditional process I could have carved it all in a day. For me, experimenting with process, while time consuming, can lead to interesting outcomes. While the show is on at Aspex, I’ll be doing some carving at the gallery from time to time so people can watch the process and how it comes together.


In your opinion, what does one of the oldest crafts have to offer in a world where digitally artwork can be quickly created and easily modified?

This is a really important question in my work. Does carving letters in stone still have a contemporary relevance? Yes, we use the phrase ‘set in stone’ to mean something permanent and true, but do we even notice stone carved inscriptions which have been created for social memory?

My belief is that carving words in stone is still relevant and potent, but then the question is whose words get carved… Most often, people only have the opportunity to think about carving words in stone for a grave marker. Over the last 100 years we seem to have evolved a generic language for memorialising our dead for example, ‘ forever in our hearts ‘ or ‘rest in peace’. I’m concerned that at pretty much the only time that people commission words in stone, the words people feel compelled to use are not their own but these socially expected or accepted statements. The Stonecarved project is rooted in a desire to know what words people really want to see set in stone.

What materials do you use? Where do you source them and how do they impact the work you create?

I often work with re-claimed or recycled stone. The exhibition features slates that have come from hearthstones and snooker-tables. The UK has an amazing geology which has shaped our country and how we live. I want people to reconnect with stone as an important native material. All the stone in the exhibition has come from British quarries, (many of which struggle to compete with cheap imported stone from overseas).


Is it important that your work is tactile? The engraved type three dimensional?

I learn and understand through working with my hands. Carving letters is really about playing with light more than touch, the shadow cast by the cuts in the stone is what makes the forms come to life.

Is there something special to the typefaces/fonts you use when it comes to stone carving, over say type used digitally?

Yes, letters caved in stone are closer to calligraphy than fonts or typefaces. The thick strokes and thin strokes in traditionally carved letters relate to brush strokes. So when designing letterforms I often start with a square-cut brush angled at 45% to understand where the weight and balance flows. The traditional method is to draw letters by hand and space them by eye. It’s a tricky business, but it allows the forms to relate to each other and the material in a what that digital type can’t

What do you see the future of stone carving to be in the art world?

I’d like to see more stone in the art world! There are incredible people working with stone, we have a wonderful resource in this country. It’s time for a new stone age.

Competition – win your own word(s) carved in stone.

Strong Island is partnering with Thomas to find the words you would like to see set in stone. A favourite song lyric, invented words you use with your family and friends. Nicknames, slang, colloquialisms – all welcome. Share your words during August using the #stonecarved and they’ll show in the gallery and on-line as part of the artwork. Next month, we’ll pick a winner who will have their words carved in stone to keep after the exhibition. To get involved tweet us here at @strongislanduk with the words you want to see carved, using #stonecarved to enter the competition

You can see the artwork as part of Thomas Appleton’s exhibition at Aspex Gallery, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth between 1st August and 27th September. Thomas will be in residency a few days week and also teaching a couple of letter carving workshops which you can sign up for via the gallery. We’re also planning other activities with Thomas in September.


Victorious Festival Previews #2 Veludo Planes by Liv Woodward

With only 20 days to go until Victorious Festival begins, it only seems right to give you a few highlights that you would be silly to miss. With many local bands taking part in Victorious, I wanted to discuss one of my personal favourites from Portsmouth.

Veludo Planes are an indie/alternative local band from Portsmouth and are ready to take the Nick Courtney presents… Seaside Stage on Sunday by storm. Since 2012, these four, 21 year old lads have been making their way around Portsmouth’s well known venues, such as the Wedgewood Rooms and the Eastney Cellars. Mike Smith, Chris Smith, Sam Wardle and Ollie Shaw have written a strong back catalogue of songs throughout the years, after forming the band at Southdowns College for their music course. However, they became successful and felt that they should continue with the band. They were formerly known as ‘The Planes’ but have had a total re-brand and have stayed quiet for a few months to concentrate on University work.

However they are officially back and have just released their new debut single, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and I can tell you now, they certainly do not disappoint. If you wanted to see Veludo Planes before Victorious festival, get yourself down to the Forgotten Fields festival on Saturday the 8th of August. Or if you cannot get down there, be sure to give them a listen on SoundCloud, and listen to their new single “Wickerman”, which is out on August the 10th.

They have also recently covered The Beatles, “Come together” and most certainly put their own twist on it, in an authentic and ‘indie’ way. Be sure to check out the link for their music video of “Come Together” at the end. Alongside the music video for the ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ which is also available to view on YouTube and shows a youthful and fun side to the band, but keeps well with the amazing song that they have produced.

The festival is being held on Southsea Common on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th August. Tickets are still available and you can pick one up via the website HERE, or in person from the Meat and Barrel on Palmerston Road.

You can stay up to date on all things Victorious via Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.

Veludo Planes

You can follow Veludo Plane on Facebook, Twitter @veludoplanes and Soundcloud.

Sam Brooks – Modernist Portsmouth Exhibition at Strong Island

This Thursday the 6th August Strong Island will be holding our much anticipated exhibition ‘Modernist Portsmouth’ by local artist and designer Sam Brooks.

Portsmouth Modernism is an original art series consisting of twelve prints that explore modernist architecture in the city of Portsmouth, Hampshire. The series’ origin can be traced back more than ten years to a piece based on the notorious Tricorn centre, and an experiment in how far its iconic design elements could be simplified whilst still retaining their distinctive forms.

The piece was eventually realised in its finished state as part of a 2014 exhibition that coincided with the tenth anni 2014 exhibition that coincided with the tenth anniversary of the complex’s demolition.Since then it has been expanded into a collection that celebrates what are arguably some of the most recogniseable and important examples of twentieth century architecture in Portsmouth. Some have become local landmarks, whilst others remain overlooked and anonymous. Some have integrated with their surroundings, relatively safe from destruction, whilst others, like the Tricorn, have already been lost; others still will continue to remain at risk from redevelopment and neglect.

By representing these buildings using stark, binary images, historical and geographical context can be erased leaving the pure architectural forms and detailing as envisioned by the original designers. Without the additional ravages of time and human indifference, it is hoped that they can be looked upon with fresh eyes by a community which may have come to at best take them for granted, and at worst begrudge them for what they have come to represent.


Sam was kind enough to give us a little background to the process of his work.

“I had most of the subjects in mind already, it was just a question of how many would be in the final series. I went and took pictures of each one, (preferably on a sunny day,) distorted them in Photoshop to create more dramatic or unusual perspectives, and eventually chose one or two as a guide for drafting the design in AutoCAD. This allowed me to further adjust the geometry and level of detail on the fly whilst keeping the precision I wanted to come across in the final pieces. Following this I exported the line art to Photoshop and added the text, colour and half-tone backgrounds. The final step was to create the desired look of a vintage print, which involved adjusting virtual representations of ink presses along with their various inconsistencies.

I saw it as a kind of challenge to try and positively present buildings that many would consider to be lacking in architectural merit.
With the Tricorn, the most frequent complaints you would hear from detractors focused on its decayed, uninviting condition, and how it encouraged anti-social behaviour – more reflections of how it was maintained by the city than a direct fault of the building itself. So in that sense it was almost easy to let the design speak for itself.

However, Barnard Tower or 176 London Road, for example, are a lot harder to sell. To look at them in person, neither successfully integrated with their surroundings, and aren’t particularly inspiring – they certainly aren’t making anyone’s list of great architecture. But when you strip back the materials and the context and the history, fundamental elements of good design can still be revealed. So this was kind of the aim of the series.”

This exhibition can be viewed for free starting with the opening night on the 6th August, 7pm at Strong Island, 12 Highland Road, Southsea. We highly recommend coming to view Sam’s work. The detail and work that has gone in to these pieces of art is outstanding. Below is just a sample of the 12 works that will be on display.







Victorious Festival Preview #1 Basement Jaxx

The festival season is in full swing and it’s less than a month to Victorious Festival. In the build up to the event we are going to be previewing some of highlights you can expect to find at the festival.

What better place to start than Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe aka Basement Jaxx. Since 1999 and the release of the debut album Remedy the pair are have been the one of the most loved acts on the dance scene. The pair have racked up a number of well known hits including “Where’s Your Head At”, “Romeo”, “Red Alert” and “Rendez Vous”.

I anticipate their set will feature many of their classics along with singles from their most recent album Junto. You will be able to find Basement Jaxx headlining the Castle Stage on the Sunday night. Looking at their most recent live shows this should be a colourful end to the festival with plenty of incredible guest vocalists joining them on stage, making this one of the performances not to miss over the weekend.

The festival is being held on Southsea Common on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August. Tickets are still available and you can pick one up via the website HERE, or in person from the Meat and Barrel on Palmerston Road.

You can stay up to date on all things Victorious via Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.

Basement Jaxx

You can follow Basement Jaxx on Facebook, Twitter @thebasementjaxx and Soundcloud.

Rugby 10s Tournament

Saturday 8th August will see local rugby team Southsea Nomads present their second Rugby 10s Tournament.

The tournament started last year to raise money for the charities that helped former Nomad player who had a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an away match at Bognor. Both teams performed CPR on ‘Roly’ helping to keep him alive until the emergency services arrived.

Last year’s event raised a staggering £3000 for their chosen charities; Headway, NHS Portsmouth Cardiac Unit and British Heart Foundation.

This year Southsea Nomads are in partnership with Portsmouth RFC and the tournament has grown by 50%. In 2014 there were 8 teams and this year it has grown to 12 teams. The Nomads are hoping to beat last year’s fundraising total for their charities: Wave 105 Cash for Kids, The Rosemary Foundation Hospice at Home and Second Chance.

Rugby 10s Tournament

What you need to know:
* The tournament is on Saturday 8th August at Portsmouth RFC, starting at 11am.
* There will be a bouncy castle, face painting and more kid’s activities.
* BBQ and refreshments
* In the evening Portsmouth RFC are hosting evening entertainment and disco at their club house, which includes a raffle and charity auction with prizes mainly donated from local business.

For more information about the event, teams and prizes, click here.

Rugby 10s Tournament

Rugby 10s Tournament

Photo credits by Charlotte Griffiths Photography

Dials Festival Line-Up Announced

Strong Island and Strong Island Recordings are very proud and excited to announce our involvement in the up coming, brand-new festival Dials Festival taking place across various venues along Albert Road on the 3rd October as well as being able to announce the line-up so far. After the sad news of Southsea Fest taking a year off, we banded together with some familiar faces including The Wedgewood Rooms, Pie & Vinyl, Hong Kong Gardner’s Club and seminal blog Breaking More Waves to still be able to bring a community based, multi-venue, music festival to the city.

Dials Festival will take place across five venues along Albert Road being The Wedgewood Rooms, Edge of the Wedge, Little Johnny Russells, Al Burrito and The Loft. The aim of the festival isn’t to replicate Southsea Fest but retain its ethos of a strong, community festival bringing some of the finest new national acts along with some of the finest acts from around the area to Albert Road for one day. There will be no specifically branded stages at Dials Festival but five venues with a diverse, eclectic mix of acts from day to the evening.

The festival will feature over 40 acts across the day with Hooton Tennis Club signed to Heavenly Records (Toy, King Gizzard, The Wytches) headlining the festival plus the likes of Kagoule, Black HoneyLyza Jane, Chloe Black, Alice Jemima, Broken Hands, Storms, Morning Smoke, Many Things, Bones, Peluche, Walleater and many more coming down to Southsea along with some of the finest local acts including New Desert Blues, Jerry Williams, Popobawa, The boy i used to be, Bellyeyesmile, Rickyfitts, Battery Hens, Dead Rabbits, Curxes, Wyldest and loads more splendid acts from the area. The full line-up of acts confirmed so far can be found below the article.

Tickets are on sale now at a very limited early-bird price of just £15. That’s £15 for 40 plus acts across five venues from day to evening with some of the finest new acts in the UK.  Tickets can be purchased at the Kings Theatre here, in store at Strong Island, Pie & Vinyl, Dress Code as well as The Wedgewood Rooms. There will also be details of an after-party also which your Dials ticket will gain you access to. This is the biggest musical event we have ran yet so we can’t wait for October 3rd. We hope to see many of you there as us and our Dials team bring a new musical venture to the city.

Dials_outline_export-01 (1) (1)

Silent Disco – Victorious Festival Warm Up

You all know the drill by now. Two DJs, one set of headphones, two channels to choose from, and one dance floor full of people singing and dancing in a room with no music. Get involved! Battling it out for your attention on the night will be the Little Johnny Russell‘s resident DJs and It’s A Sin.

Silent Disco Victorious Warm Up

« Previous Next »

Strong Island Clothing Co.


Creative Census

Do you work in the Creative Industries in Portsmouth? We are running the Creative Census project throughout the summer of 2015 with the aim to measure the creative temperature of the city. Please take a minute to complete the census questions and please share with the hashtag #CreativeCensusPortsmouth. You can enter the census and find out all the details at:

Recent Comments

Click on the post title to add your own comment.

Strong Island Sounds

Listen to the latest from Strong Island Sounds.
Strong Island Sounds


A Hard Choice – Best in Show With Barry Abrook, Ex Pro Skateboarder & Designer

Throughout the running of the current exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum people get to choose their favourite items from the Portsmouth City Collection that are on show in A Hard Choice (you can see and read our preview of the exhibition HERE). Every month different items chosen by many visitors are given rosettes showing the current favourites. Strong Island, working with the Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services (with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund), are asking lots of different people from around Portsmouth what their personal favourite items are in the exhibition and why.

You can read the previous Best in Show interviews, featuring Mark Waldron, Editor of The News, Megan Barnes a photography student and Matt Wingett a local author.

Next up in this series of articles we met up with Barry Abrook, ex-professional skateboarder and designer, at Portsmouth City Museum. Barry checked out the A Hard Choice exhibition, then let us know what were his own Best in Show.

Hey Barry, can you start by telling us what your first best in show object is and what you liked about it please?

My first choice (from the A Hard Choice Exhibition) is the mole. I love animals and nature and I like this because it is hard to see a mole, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a real mole and this is really the only opportunity a lot of people get to see these animals, basically in a zoo or taxidermy. I’m interested in taxidermy…I used to be really against it, but if you are a graphic artist, illustrator or painter it is a good way to actually observe animals to draw and paint them. I think everything about the mole is really cool. It is designed to live underground. They are nice animals, I like it, it is intriguing. All the taxidermy in the exhibition is good, the bat, magpies, it was tough to choose.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Barry Abrook, Ex Pro Skateboarder & Designer (7)

And could you tell us what the second exhibit you’ve chosen is and what you liked about it?

My second choice is the fabric by Lucienne Day. I love fabric and printing and I used to screen print quite a lot and I still do on fabric. I also like this item in the exhibition because of the era it is from, the late 60s. You’ve got bold poppy designs, block colours…I like patterns and I like symmetry…and this has got quite a lot going for it! It reminds me of childhood…this is the sort of fabric that would be made in to curtains or bed spread that could have been in my house. It has that 60s/70s feel so nostalgic for me too. The Days were pretty amazing at what they did.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Barry Abrook, Ex Pro Skateboarder & Designer (6)

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Barry Abrook, Ex Pro Skateboarder & Designer (5)

And what is the third and final exhibit and why do you like it?

Third choice are the saucy postcards! These are from around the 1950s, that sort of end-of-the-pier era, good seaside ephemera. I like these for quite a few reasons, I live in Southsea, by the sea, I wasn’t born here but I love living by the sea. As a child I was taken to the seaside for holidays and these were the sort of things you might see. They are cheeky, they leave you to your own thoughts…how you interpret the captions…which was the humour at the time. They have a nice feel. They are well designed too, as a designer it is difficult to design something that small and detailed and these were drawn and hand painted, they’re an art form in itself, a style all of their own too. I also love postcards, I collect them and I use them in my own work and I love the messages you get on the back of old postcards, they can be emotional things. People used to send them but not as much anymore with emails, Facebook, etc. But postcards were sent during a holiday, from a good time so postcards generally remind you of good times, they’re a positive thing.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Barry Abrook, Ex Pro Skateboarder & Designer (4)

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Barry Abrook, Ex Pro Skateboarder & Designer (3)

if you could think of something, of your own or something in Portsmouth, that you could donate to the museum and the city collection, what would it be?

I was thinking that maybe if I won the lottery, Euro-big style, I would love to be able to fully restore the South Parade Pier into something that the people of Portsmouth, and especially Southsea, could use and be proud of again. Whether it be Victorian or later period restoration, the important thing would be to ensure it continued to offer the ‘complete seaside escape’ for anyone who needed it. Part of the city collection. A funfair ride, candy floss, good food, music, comedy and a Shant!

Don’t forget you can visit A Hard Choice exhibition and the rest of Portsmouth City Museum and other museums in the city for free this summer and beyond. You can find out more about the museums and what activities are taking place at:

Victorious Festival Competiton

The lovely guys and girls behind next weekends Victorious Festival have donated two pairs of tickets for the festival for us to give away, so that is one pair for the Saturday and another pair for the Sunday.

Sadly we can only give one pair per winner but you are welcome to answer both questions and indicate on your emails which day you prefer to attend if successful. Please send your entries to before midnight on Sunday 23rd August. The winner be contact directly and announced on social media soon after.

Saturday Question
Q) Which orchestra did Laura Mvula team up with for her Abbey Road Studios live album?

Sunday Question
Q) Elle Eyre featured with Bastille on the cover of which TLC song?

If you don’t want to leave it to chance then tickets are available and you can pick one up via the website HERE, or in person from the Meat and Barrel on Palmerston Road.

You can stay up to date on all things Victorious via Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.

Victorious Poster

SWEAT Southsea

For just over a month now I have been training with Luke Newton at SWEAT Southsea. If you don’t know about SWEAT Southsea they are based in Haslemere Road, which is just off Highlands Road. It’s 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.

Managing Director of SWEAT Southsea and Co-Founder of Southsea Fitness Festival Luke Newton opened the business with his partner Tina four months ago. Since then they have been going from strength to strength building up a client base who possess varying all levels of fitness.

SWEAT Southsea team include Luke Newton, Geraldine Ruffle, Lauren Allen, Sam Davey and Team GB Boxing Performance and Team England Talent Development coach ‘Q’ Shillingford MBE. Not for forget there is now a Sports Injury Clinic providing a range of services from highly qualified Physiotherapists and Sports Massage Therapists.

The team pride themselves on their ability to deliver results and get the best out of their clients. This sounds like the perfect recipe for anyone with a short term goal or event coming up. A Great South Run personal best anyone?! If one on one personal training isn’t quite your thing then they offer a whole range of group classes too. You can find out more information on them by checking out their website

A few months ago I took part in a taster session with Luke and really enjoyed it. I have since booked myself a block of personal training sessions which have obviously been hard work but a lot of fun and I’m noticing the difference even after a few short weeks. I’ve been a member at a couple of different gyms over the last twenty odd years but I’ve never been particularly good at going on a consistent basis. I would get myself into a good routine for a few months notice the benefit and then allow myself to get out of that routine for whatever reason thus setting me back to where I started. Personal training isn’t as cheap as a gym membership but for me I’ve found one hour at SWEAT Southsea more beneficial than about three hours training on my own in a gym. I certainly can see this being something for me in the long term.

I would thoroughly recommend the services on offer and I would encourage anyone with even a small interest to pay them a visit, have a chat and see for yourself. The team are very welcoming and will quickly put you at ease, getting rid of any anxiety you might have because for some people this environment can be quite daunting.

You can find SWEAT Southsea on Facebook, Twitter @SweatSouthsea and Instagram @sweat_southsea.

SWEAT Southsea by Johnny Black 1

SWEAT Southsea by Johnny Black 2

SWEAT Southsea by Johnny Black 3

SWEAT Southsea by Johnny Black
Photos come courtesy of Johnny Black Photography –

Strong Island’s 7th Birthday and Charity Raffle

Many of you may have noticed that last year there was no Strong Island 6th Birthday celebration. We were gutted that the event didn’t take place however it was all for a good reason, the design, build and opening of our first shop and studio space.

Thanks to your continued support the shop has has been going well and we would like to say thank you to you all by inviting you all to join us for our 7th birthday at the Meat & Barrel on Thursday 24th September.

Many of you may remember our previous Birthday and Charity Raffles have been hugely successful and we have all helped raised over £4000 for the Portsmouth RNLI and Portsmouth Autism in the last few years.

There will be more information to follow in the near future but in the mean time feel free to share and invite all of your friends. If you think that you would be able to make a donation to the prizes on offer then please drop us an email at every donation is welcomed. Every donation will be hugely welcomed and will be promoted in the build up to the event as well as on the night itself.

The Facebook event can be found HERE.


Photos From The Strong Island 5th Birthday Charity Raffle (2)

Photos From The Strong Island 5th Birthday Charity Raffle (7)

Photos From The Strong Island 5th Birthday Charity Raffle (21)

Photos From The Strong Island 5th Birthday Charity Raffle (20)

My Dog Sigh’s Short Story Competition Winners

Earlier this year we invited everyone to take part in a short story competition. The theme of the story had to centre around one of My Dog Sighs tin can characters. I have been overwhelmed with the interest and the high number amount of entries that I received. It has taken much longer than I anticipated but with the help of Naomi Hewlett (Park Community School) and Angelo Tirotto (No Place Like Home author) we have managed to decide on the winners for each category.

Choosing the winner wasn’t an easy task but it was a lot of fun reading everyone’s interpretation on the tin can man theme. We will also be publishing some of the other entries over the summer so please keep an eye out on the website for those. We will run another short story competition next Autumn. Next time round we hope to recruit a panel of 4-5 judges so we can get through the entries a lot quicker. If you think you would like to be involved then don’t be shy, send us an email or get in touch on social media.

The three lucky winners will receive a copy of their story created by graphic designer Sam Barclay and personalised by My Dog Sighs.

I hope you agree with us and enjoy the stories as much as we did.

13 years and under (150 words)
Hannah Richardson – Year 7 at Milton Cross School

I am just a can…
dumped outside a garage,
left to rust in pain,
never to be used again.
I roam the streets in search of cover,
but no one wants me, not even my mother.
My tears fall down my old tin face,
as I stare away into space.
I hide in the shrubs,
to avoid humans coming from the clubs,
but they see me,
and kick me along the street till I plea.
They leave me, shrivelled up,
it’s just my luck
That tonight I was struck.
So I crawl across to my corner
the corner where I was left.
It’s not my fault,
it’s not I swear.
I didn’t ask for this torture;
this everlasting pain.
I cover myself in plants and leaves,
and cry myself to sleep,
hoping to see tomorrow…

14–18 years (300 words)
Peyton Owen – Year 10 at King Richards School.

There once was a homeless man called Harold. Despite his dire situation he always had a smile on his face.
Harold was different to a lot of other homeless people. He didn’t beg. He never asked for anything. Instead he made beautiful artwork to sell with an old paint set he’d found and any rubbish he could get his hands on. He’d then display them in the subway and sell them cheaply to anybody who wanted them. His most popular pieces were the tiny faces he’d paint onto old discarded tin cans.

He lived this way for years. On some days he’d make enough money for a hot meal and he’d be happy for the rest of the week. As time moved on he aged and became ill, his artwork became less regular, until one day it stopped altogether. When the community heard of his death they all came together to hold a service for him.

Everybody had known him, he’d been an unfortunate soul who had always made the best of his bad situation. For weeks after his death his graveside was littered with cans which people had painted in memory of him.

To this day, the town still remembered Harold; the homeless entrepreneur.

18 years and above (500 words)
Garry Davies

‘BANG BANG BANG! In my drawers baby’ As the B52’s famously didn’t sing. The buckshot peppered my tin hide like torrential rain on a corrugated roof, knocking me stone-cold sparko.

I came to my senses just in time to see the All Day Breakfast Gang ride out of town in a cloud of dust. My partner, the treacherous varmint Butch Gassidy had pumped me for information on our latest heist, then betrayed me and threw his lot in with the Breakfast Bandits. I felt rich tomato sauce raging through my veins and swore revenge on the two-timing son of a can.

I roused myself and stumbled to my feet, spotting my loyal steed, I flung myself upon the mechanical bull and with a cry of “Hi-Ho Silver Alloy!” I was off in grim pursuit of the bean-based outlaws.
A few miles out of town, I came to a fork in the road with a mini frankfurter impaled in its prongs. A crude ketchup arrow, pointed towards Green Valley Gulch.

Silver, responding to my command obediently bucked down the track towards the Valley.
The sun was setting as I spotted the bandits camp, and in a scene reminiscent of Blazing Saddles they were sitting around a campfire, laughing and joking how they had made a fool of the Baked Bean Kid. At the head of the campfire sat the low down Butch Gassidy and judging from their relaxed manner and noisy bowel movements, the overpowering stench told me it was very High Noon.

Crouching behind my hidden vantage point, I gripped my trusty Tinchester Repeater and took aim.

Unleashing my 57 varieties of hell, the outlaws scattered and ran for cover into a shabby outbuilding marked: “Green Valley Recycling Centre.”
I followed at a distance and found them cowering in a battered metal truck.
With my eyes growing accustomed to the gloom, I saw the truck was sitting on an old dusty conveyor belt. A lightbulb popped above my head and I knew, cans gotta do what a cans gotta do.

In a flash, I ripped off my ring pull and hurled it at the far wall where it hit its intended target. The big lever marked “Activate”.
With an awful clanking and grinding of gears, the belt burst into life and began rolling, taking Butch and the Breakfast possee ever closer to their deserved fate.
I rushed outside towards the exit, just in time to see the bandit’s less than triumphant transformation.

The once-feared outlaws stood sheepishly before me, resplendent in their shiny new glory…Butch Evaporated Milk and Grapefruit Segment Boys.

I handed them over to the Sheriff of Aldi and had myself a satisfied chuckle, content that the All Day Breakfast Gang’s notorious shelf life had now come to a sweet and sticky end.

I saddled up Silver and with a triumphant wave, noisily clanked off into the sunset.
So long, pardners…

My Dog Sighs TCM 3

Fareham Shorts – Short Film Competition

Fareham Shorts, Fareham’s first International Short Film competition, brings together amazing judges from the world of art and film.

Filmmakers from Hampshire and beyond are getting the chance to have their work viewed by Internationally acclaimed judges this summer for the inaugural Fareham Shorts (Fareham International Short Film Competition) as part of Fareham Arts Festival curated by Live Art Local CIC.

Judges from the world of film, art and academia will be choosing their favourite films in four categories from a shortlist and the their overall film of the festival.

The full line-up of judges is Daisy Jacobs (BAFTA winner, Oscar nominee), Anna Cady (Award winning artist and filmmaker, Official Selection Sundance Film Festival for 30%), Ben Thompson (Principal Lecturer & Section Lead for Video, Film & Broadcasting and a cameraman, director and producer with many years experience), Aysegul Epengin (Chair of Portsmouth Film Society) and John Hayes (Director of Winchester Film and Art CIC and co-ordintor of Winchester short film festival).

Short listed films will be shown and awards handed out at a Gala Screening at Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham on Thursday 13th August, where members of the public can not only view the winning material but also question some of the filmmakers. You can purchase tickets for this very special evening via Ashcroft Arts Centre for £3.

The winning film will also be shown at REEL cinema Fareham before feature films for a period after.

This is a great opportunity for local filmmakers to get their work seen by esteemed industry experts and the general public. Submissions close at midnight on 20th July and you can enter via Film Freeway or HERE.

Ed Davis-Hofbauer, co-curator of Film at Fareham Arts Festival, said:

“It’s a great opportunity for filmmakers to get their work seen by professionals in the industry and a great chance for local people to see new and groundbreaking work by up and coming talent, bringing a little bit of movie magic to Fareham this summer.”

If you would like to find out more about Fareham Arts Festival and submit your film, or find how to buy tickets click HERE.


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.

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.


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.

£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

Bike Ride Panoramics

We will have loads of photos and stories from Sunday’s hugely successful Strong Island Bike Ride and to get started we have some huge panoramics taken by George Crick. Sadly we can only show some of the small versions here that do not do them justice so be sure to visit George’s website to see the all of the photos in full size, and spot yourselves in there!

George’s panoramics will be available to buy in Wallspace Gallery in Albert Road from Saturday for a bargain price of just £35.

Southsea & Portsmouth Guide

Local photographer Steve Bomford recently sent over a series of scans from the 1926 Official Publication of the Southsea Beach & Publicity Committee Portsmouth Corporation book ‘Southsea & Portsmouth’.

‘It is of little use to invite intending holiday makers to a town, unless there are attractions to offer, under all conditions of our notorious fickle ‘English’ climate. We do not make the statement that the sun shines every day at Southsea, but records show that we do get the maximum amount of sunny hours. Last year again, 1,923 hours were recorded, the highest number (with one exception) in the United Kingdom. Admitting that the question of sunshine is an important one, it is contended that a holiday resort must have other attractions, such as charming amenities, efficient public services, splendid variety of amusements, good facilities for all outdoor sports, and a good selection of cheap excursions and places of historical interest, to make a general appeal to those who are seeking a health-giving and enjoyable holiday.”

I love all the old hand drawn adverts and especially like the ‘medically recommended’ page. Where the sun lingers longer. Couldn’t be closer to the truth still to this day. It’s a shame the ‘most artistic cafe in Southsea’ is no longer in operation and the amount of people gathered on South Parade beach is incredible. Be sure to check out the full set with over 80 pages of photos, adverts and chapters all about Portsmouth & Southsea over at Steve’s Flickr HERE. A really interesting read if you like your history. And we know you do.

Inside the Memorial

Due to possible damage due to the storm and the high winds it was possible to access the inside of the war memorial down on Southsea seafront the other day. I always though it was a solid structure but it turns out it is hollow with sunken foundations and access to the top. From the plaque inside, it looks like the ladder is for maintenance if there is a lightning strike (the top of the memorial has a huge copper globe).

No disrespect was meant by taking a very brief look inside, just architectural curiosity and finding out something not commonly known about a Southsea landmark.

Ladder Up




By The Castle

Apologies for a little self-linkage, but I’ve added some photos from a July day down by the castle on Forever Circling (a photography, etc blog I update daily).

It’s sunny today too, roll on spring and summer.

Around the Castle

Southsea Common Barbecue Zones

I’m sure a lot of you enjoyed the fantastic weather this weekend and many of you no doubt had a barbecue on The Common. I was out of town on Saturday but heard it was seriously busy down the seafront. A few of us had a BBQ on Sunday and we’re approached by some council officials regarding our position. They were very polite and let us carry on as we were already cooking and handed us some details of all the new zones.

Unfortunately the new zones now means hundreds of people are going to be packed in to single areas. The main common by the War Memorial will be extremely busy over the summer. More so than usual for sure. I fully back having these zones in place, but feel I’ll no longer be going to the common for BBQs if I can help it as they have made a lot of areas no go zones. It was always more appealing when you could spread out from other groups.

Portsmouth at Night

Claire Sambrook from the sent me a link to a Flickr group called Portsmouth at Night, and let me say this, their photos are amazing. Lots of playing with lights, angles and exposures make for some fantastic photography.

Check out all the PAN photography on their Flickr.