By Vanessa Brumm
I’d like you and I to explore Southsea, with new eyes, a pen in one hand, a blank slate in the other. I am Vanessa, new to Southsea, new to the UK. Days before the second lockdown I moved from Germany to a beautiful apartment on the seafront. I remember, quite clearly the first time I began exploring the city.
It was Monday, mid-September. I step out of my new apartment and start walking, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…I have a strange habit of counting every step. After 153 steps I arrive at South Parade Pier. What an impressive structure, men fishing, children running, woman walking dogs, chatting sipping coffee. The sun has only just risen, but the air is bright, crispy, salty. Like a tourist I pull out my phone and take a picture. What a place to wake up to.
Piers in Germany are not very common, at least not in the region I am from. I come from a city called Mannheim, we are surrounded more by hills than water. And yet there is a river, large enough for container ships, overlooked by tall buildings, lots of cars, lots of people. Mannheim is also proudly multicultural, have you come across spaghetti ice cream, a product that was invented by a resident of the city, but originally from Italy, Dario Fontanella?
Southsea is different, but in many ways the same as my home city, both are beautiful in their own way, both have wide vistas and are popular holiday destinations. Do residents still see the place they live in with all it’s delights, or does it become ordinary, too familiar after a few months or years?
I walk back to the beach. On my way, I inspect the facade of the pier, you don’t see what it has gone through during the past decades. The pier was destroyed three times by fire and restored, it has seen legendary party nights, concerts, skating, plays, and even welcomed General Eisenhower and his troops back from World War II. I can’t wait to be a part of the pier’s history, perhaps dancing on the deck – once life is back to normal.
I decide to get a plant-based coffee at Rio-Vitalise, while I’m waiting, I notice the back-to-back houses on St Helens Parade, how beautiful the different styles, shapes and colours. One house is tall and white, the other wider, in red brick with large bay windows. My coffee is ready, greedily
I take a sip and burn my tongue. I inspect the houses more closely and realise some have names above their doors, Beach House, Lake House and St Helen’s Court. Naming houses is not something we do in Germany, but as it’s probably the most important and expensive thing someone
might own, why not – it makes sense.
Vanessa Brumm – German editor, news presenter and new to Southsea, trying to challenge herself, finding her own way in this adventure called life.