Review: Lunch at Southsea Beach Cafe


Today Lydia Grace Hazel Taylor-Thompson is four months old. To celebrate Al and I popped into Southsea’s newest eatery: Southsea Beach Café. Considering it’s not ‘officially’ open, it was quickly filling up with the curious and the hungry. I bumped into a few friends who had rushed down after seeing someone else’s lunch on Facebook. Which is exactly why we were there. Thanks Lou for sharing your brunch when we were insanely hungry. That kind of shizzle seems to really pack out a place these days.

There is a outdoor deck and an indoor eatery with retracting walls and roof. I can imagine its quite fun to push that button everyday. I can honestly say it was like eating by the beach in Nice (where mama lives) minus the ageing plastic surgery and yappy dogs.

Now a place like this with a view like this could easily charge £15 for a burger or a salad. Like the Wine Vaults do, and shouldn’t as they have no such view. We would all tut and go there anyway. Not here. The lunch menu was under a tenner. A good size portion of mussels cooked with the unusual addition of rosemary was £7.50. The eponymous SBC burger, a fat, oozing patty topped with chorizo, a couple of quid more. And they threw in a free gherkin. The salads look insanely good. The menu is pared down but there is foody lurking behind the ingredient choices. The wine list looked decent and I heard rumours of elderflower cider, though they had no problem with providing tap water.

Gimmicks are kept to a minimum. You wont be tripping over piles of vintage suitcases. They don’t blare out music and the simplicity of the design makes it chic by default. The blue and white enamel bowls suited the fare and accommodated reasonably generous portions.

The lunch menu had a nice balance of surf and turf, but best of all it tasted home made and fresh. The first impression is family friendly (forgot to check the changing facilities). I noticed a good number of rather expensive looking wooden high chairs, ready for little bottoms, and I’m sure I saw evidence of a kiddies menu. They had no problem with our pram and we didn’t feel uncomfortable for bringing her along. Later on though a small cortège of buggies arrived together and being busy, it was difficult for them to navigate around. C’est la vie! I may be a mum but I don’t believe businesses have to accommodate a million prams at once. Its not fair on them or the other diners. If you need to fill space, get there early.

If they stick to their current prices and keep their food quality consistent they are going to be very busy all summer, so maybe not somewhere for a weekly mothers meet-up (after all we have the uber baby friendly Watkins & Faux for that). This is not to say they have under priced themselves. The quality/quantity/cost ratio is spot on, which means if you come and visit me from London I will smugly take you here so you can validate my life choices.

The waiting staff are friendly and there are plenty of them. They are still finding their feet service-wise, which is completely OK. They could do with a maître d to boss them around a bit. We were not the only people who had to ask for cutlery. Frankly, though, who cares? This is the most exciting thing to happen to the seafront since Ken Russell burnt down the pier.



**Gland Rock 2014** 5 July 2014 – Portsmouth

Gland Rock 2014 Poster 1

Two of the many things I love about my chap Al are his kindness and his generosity. He has combined precious baby-daddy time, immaculate taste in new music, his partner in crime Neil (together: Champagne Justice) and Strong Island Recordings to form a musical extravaganza in Portsmouth to raise funds for Maddie Hanks’ cancer charity, Feel Yourself Campaign – promoting breast and testicular cancer awareness. This event is Gland Rock (geddit? Ya, ya…).

Now in its second year – having previously hosted Esben & The Witch, Traams and Wild Smiles among others – Gland Rock 2014 is led by legendary British outfit The Telescopes and remains as eclectic, electric and impressive, featuring a unique blend of lauded acts and exciting prospects on the ascent. The Telescopes have been championed by Steve Lamacq since their inception and they have been described as “in another universe altogether… incredible” by NME.

The likes of God Damn, AK/DK and Playlounge have fast become favourites of gig and festival goers across the country. Elsewhere, they have the bewilderingly exciting Lifestyles, Claw Marks and Human Hair, three of the UK’s hottest new bands. On the home front, Southsea is gainfully represented by the bombastic Curxes, You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons, Rickyfitts, Deluxe Flamingos, Eloise Keating and Wildest Dreams.

On July 5th for one day only at the Wedgewood Rooms you can come and enjoy sexy live music  in aid of keeping your sexy bits healthy.

There is also a raffle. Prizes include:

My Dog Sighs (!!) painted canvas framed by Southsea Gallery (its worth coming to Portsmouth alone for a chance to win this)

Victorious Fest tickets

Southsea Fest tickets

£25 Art Is Hard records voucher and surprise test pressing

Signed Pompey calendar and David James painting by official PFC artist

Strong Island Recordings swag

Pie & Vinyl swag

Artwork by amazing local artists such as Mynameisleila and m-one.

Tickets are £10 (not bad for 12 bands)

Flyer design by Roberta Fedora.


Which pair to wear today?

A little snap from a corner of my boudoir. I have a huge love for bright 80s/90s shoes and a chocolate box-like selection of 50s sunglasses to choose from. Happy days.

What do you love to collect?


Bouquets and Blooms

We have a new florist in Portsmouth. A new florist in a new shop. A shop called The Shop. Are we all following?

The recently opened Shop is the latest addition to the independent boutiques of Castle road. It sells vintage, jewellery, houses Pie & HiFi in the basement and is now home to Louise Bowditch’s Bouquets and Blooms.

The blooms are all British and are mixed into bouquets with fresh herbs and leaves. My favourite: mini hand tied fresh lavender bouquets in string and brown paper, to be kept long after they dry out. Lets hope it flourishes.

Florist 1

Florist 5

florist 3

florist 4


New Book Review – Amber Jane Butchart’s Fashion Miscellany.


Every now and then a fashion book comes out that piques my interest primarily for the format. I must confess I am prone to a short attention span. I love to learn but I’m not keen on great lengths of meandering theory. Without indulging in a tangent worthy of AA Gill or legendary grot reviewer Chris Nieratko, there is a reason why I studied Law and Languages at University. I am not too fond of fluff or being told that X, Y and Z’s interpretation is more relevant than Z, Y and X’s. While studying A-Level English, I fondly remember arguing more about the relevance of interpretation rather than the book at hand.  I had two teachers: Mr Hill, who gave me straight A’s whilst simultaneously accusing me of truculence (a favourite word ever since) and Miss Thornett, who could barely contain her loathing for me and awarded me consistent E grades. I still remember her scrawl on one particular report: ‘Naomi is blissfully unaware of her surroundings’. I ended up with an overall E grade – I think you can guess who marked that paper. I couldn’t give enough of a shit to appeal it as I had four others that sailed me straight into Sussex. Miss Thornett (I’m assuming its still ‘Miss’?), my next book is due out in September.

For those who like their facts straight up, Amber Jane Butchart has deftly assembled the eponymously titled ‘Amber Jane Butchart’s Fashion Miscellany – An Elegant Collection Of Stories, Quotations, Tips & Trivia From The World Of Style’ (Ilex Miscellany £8.99). It is a slender yet attractive book covered in a tactile binding of peacock blue linen, embossed in gold, classical lettering. General knowledge books are hardly a new genre but taking the subject of fashion, assembling a tome that grabs the subject by both hands and turning it into a veritable font of useful and relevant knowledge is another affair. Amber seizes the opportunity to really flex her considerable fashion historian muscles. It is done with such aplomb that you can’t help but develop a deeper respect for the history of fashion and the anthropological elements that are intrinsically entwined in how we dress and why. I am very much in awe of how much information has been included in what is essentially a fairly slim book. Make no mistake, it is a book for all ages and genders (plenty on tailoring and historical movements from both sides) that doesn’t pander to the superficial nature that can trail behind fashion like an insecure try-hard.

So, without boring you with my own meandering theory and musings – my opener was more of a long-festering jab to a certain eye – my verdict: a book that packs a punch and elevates the academic side to this topic. Economics, politics and of course, the arts all have their ties to fashion, making this an entertaining read that equally lends substantial gravitas to the subject area – there is a reason it made Dawn O’Porter feel clever. It is also great for dipping in and out of…or you can just stroke the linen cover and enjoy the illustrations by Penelope Beech. It may be aimed at the gift market but I would suggest it’s time to treat yourselves first.


© Naomi Thompson
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