Welcome to my world!

The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Japanese Food in Southsea

A few years ago, a little Japanese restaurant opened on Albert Road called Sakura. It has really taken off and a lot of people really enjoy eating there. It's no surprise that soon after, a sister restaurant, Nara, opened further up the road. 

It was really with excitement today for me to find out that there is another Japanese place on Osborne Road called Asia Japan Cuisine. 

The Gunwharf Quays establishment meanwhile brought in Wagamama, a Japanese fusion restaurant, as well as Yo Sushi! with its conveyor belt selection of coloured dishes.

So if you are visiting Portsmouth and fancy some Japanese food, there are a few to choose from. Let me know what you think.

O shokuji o o tanoshimi kudasai

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Is summer here?

With the sun and the heat last weekend, summer is beginning to feel like it's about to stay.

The bandstand was heaving with people enjoying the music and having a family picnic. Children were climbing the tanks outside the D-Day Museum, cafes were open with people spilling over on to the pavement, cool drinks in hand.

Every weekend there is always something to do at the seafront. Castle Field will have a fair of one kind or another and Southsea Castle will be busy with families coming in and out and the flower display will be a riot of colours.

In fact, Southsea Show is coming soon too!

Yes, Southsea comes alive in the summer. Come on down and have a good time at the seaside!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A trek on the seafront

I took the opportunity to go for a walk this morning. Lovely to see the seafront so full of people walking with their families. My friend, Clare Acklam, was organising a Tiddlers Trek event for Wessex Cancer Trust. What a lovely day for it!

Clare runs her own events company, LinkedUp Fundraising, which helps charities raise funds through events. She brings together people, events and corporate sponsorship to help local charities. A great business model.

So we hope her future events will be a string of successes. In the mean time, check out her website for more events coming up this summer and help Wessex Cancer Trust gain some profile in Portsmouth.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Pizza and Pizetta

I like to be spontaneous about cooking sometimes and tonight was just one such time. 

The plan for dinner was to make a pizza. We love our home-made pizza. We make the dough in the bread maker, so we can make a pizza for after-work dinner.

Here's the Pizza ...

While the dough is forming, which takes about 45 minutes, I make the tomato sauce. 

Tomato Sauce

4-5 medium tomatoes
1 medium onion chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika

Put the tomatoes in boiling water. Fry the chopped onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.

Bash a couple of cloves of garlic, chop them up and add this to the onion. Add the herbs to the mixture. Then add 1 tablespoon Paprika powder, or as much as you dare add. 

Now peel the skin off the tomatoes, chop them up and add to the pan. Simmer on low heat until it gets to a thick sauce consistency. Usually this would just about happen when the bread maker beep to tell you that the dough is ready.

I pick up the dough and form it into a ball, then spin and flatten the dough while singing O sole mio!  or 'One More Cornetto' whichever you know better!

Put the dough on your pizza pan, cover with a plastic bag and stick it in the oven at its lowest setting (barely warm) for 10 minutes. 

After 10 minutes, take the dough out and try to flatten and push it out to the edges of the pan. It should be moist and pliable.

Now spread the tomato sauce on the flattened dough and arrange these ingredients on top:

50g grated Cheddar 
Slices of 1 red pepper
Slices of 2-3 mushrooms
A small tin of pineapple, sliced into chunks
3-4 thinly sliced German pepper salami
1 nice piece of ham
6 cherry tomatoes, halved

plus whatever else you might fancy

Grate more Cheddar on top and bake in the oven at 180 Celcius for 25 minutes.

... and what happened to the Pizetta?

The spontaneous bit; I had some ripe Camembert that needs eating. 

First I tore off 1/4 of the dough and flatten it in a small roasting pan. Then I fried 1 sliced red onion in plenty of olive oil so it's all caramelised. I put that on top on the dough and then top the whole thing with slices of Camembert. It looks so yummy and probably the best Pizetta ever!

Check out Luciano Pavarotti's version on YouTube. Here are the words.

O sole mio

Che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole
n'aria serena doppo na tempesta
pe ll'aria fresca pare giĆ  na festa
che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole.
Ma n'atu sole cchiu' bello, oi ne'
'o sole mio sta nfronte a te
'o sole, o sole mio
sta nfronte a te
sta nfronte a te.
Quanno fa notte e'sole se ne scenne
me vene quase 'na malincunia
sotto a fenesta toia restarria
quanno fa notte e 'o sole se ne scenne.
Ma n'atu sole cchiu' bello, oi ne'
'o sole mio sta nfronte a te
'o sole, o sole mio
sta nfronte a te
sta nfronte a te.

(it helps to have a tambourine on hand)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

May is European Month of the Brain

I've been helping a colleague organise some events to mark the European Month of the Brain.

Amy Drahota manages the University of Portsmouth Ageing Network (UPAN) and this is a support system, bringing together a broad scope of knowledge and expertise to address the ‘Active Ageing’ agenda.

Check out the programme:

brain month banner

Ageing Network

We are hosting a series of free events throughout the month of May, as part of the European Month of the Brain. We will be exploring brain research from many different perspectives. Find out what is going on at the University of Portsmouth and beyond, through our short talks, lab tour, panel debate, art exhibition, and information displays. We will be keeping your minds fuelled throughout with plenty of refreshments (including cream teas!), and we welcome you to get involved in the discussion! Find out about projects in progress and see the brain in ways you have never seen it before!
Spaces are limited, so book now to avoid disappointment!
Timetable of events:

8th May, 2pm – 4pm The world in which brains function (special focus: dementia)

This is a series of short talks with a special focus on dementia, taking place over afternoon tea. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain. Symptoms can include memory loss, difficulties with thinking, reasoning or language, and sometimes changes in mood or behaviour. Dementia affects everyone differently and is not a natural part of ageing. In this series of short talks we will cover ongoing projects exploring how the environments in which we live can make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia. We will look at communities, hospitals, and homes, and highlight ways you might want to get involved to make a difference. Talks will cover:
  • Living with dementia in the community (Mr Cliff Cropley, Alzheimer's Society);
  • Hospital wards for people living with dementia (Dr. Julie Udell, School of Health Sciences & Social Work);
  • Ageing in place: the home environment for carers of people with dementia (Ms. Dia Soilemezi, School of Health Sciences & Social Work).

14th May, 3pm – 5pm  Bridging the gap: brain meets world

This is a series of short talks, taking place over afternoon tea. In this session we will explore how the brain interprets the world (exploring the phenomenon of optical illusions), how the world has interpreted the brain (bridging art and science), and how the brain has evolved over time to adapt to the world around us. Talks will cover:
  • Exhibiting the brain (Dr. Marius Kwint, School of Art, Design, & Media); 
  • The evolution of the human brain (Dr. Bridget Waller, Department of Psychology);
  • How the brain interprets the world (Dr. James Ost, Department of Psychology).

16th May, 10am – 12 noon Tour of the Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences Laboratory

This is a guided walking tour of the state-of-the-art facilities, which the University scientists use to research the brain. See the microscopes that scientists use to study live cells to single molecules, including a fluorescent microscope used for maximum image quality. We will be touring two floors of research laboratories (there are lifts), which are usually restricted access. The tour will last between 1 - 1.5 hours, and we will round it all off with a sit down and some refreshments. Spaces are limited.

24th May, 2pm – 4pm Inside the world of the brain

This is a series of short talks, taking place over afternoon tea. In this session we will look deep into the inner workings of the human brain, to explore what happens when things go wrong, and what happens as a natural part of getting older. Talks will cover:
  • The importance of the blood-brain barrier (Prof. Darek Gorecki);
  • What’s rugby got to do with brain cancer? (Prof. Geoff Pilkington);
  • The story of the ageing brain (Prof. Arthur Butt).

29th May, 3pm – 5pm Panel Debate: “What’s the point of brain research?”

This is a panel debate held over afternoon tea. We will have a panel consisting of scientists from different fields of study, debating the point of brain research. The debate will be chaired by Dr. Marius Kwint from the School of Art, Design, Media, and curator of the hugely popular Wellcome Collection exhibition on “Brains: The mind as matter”.
Panel members include: Dr. Bridget Waller, Department of Psychology; Prof. Darek Gorecki, Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences; Prof. Helen Fillmore, Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences; Dr. Paul Morris, Department of Psychology.
Following the debate there will be a special feature from Artist in Residence, Jon Adams. Jon will be showcasing his work demonstrating how the sounds from an MRI machine can be turned into something extraordinary.
The programme is supported by


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Cupboard Curry

I love my cupboard curry, which often comes out after seeing a lot of leftover potatoes or wilting spinach that needs eating.

1 medium onions chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
Potatoes, cubed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can of chickpeas

Fry the onion with the cumin and coriander for 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and chickpeas, garlic and curry powder, mix. Add the spinach and let it all wilt. If the mixture is too dry, add half a glass of water, or 150ml. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Season to taste and serve with fluffly white rice.

Monday, 29 April 2013

A Pinch of Spice

A new curry house, A Pinch of Spice, proves to be an exciting new restaurant to try. My friends, Karen and Dom, introduced me to the place.

Last Friday night I had the most delicious Mumbai Mango King Prawn. The mango sauce was so divine!

Another dish I like there is the Handi Gosht made with the most tender lamb.

It's not a cheap curry place, my dish and lemon rice, plus a couple of beers cost me about £20. But it's a nice change from the usual.

Next Friday night, try it.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Putting Portsmouth on the UK Culture Map

So on 30th April, next week, Portsmouth will submit a bid to be the UK City of Culture 2017. This is a joint bid with Southampton. The writers of the bid, poet Sam Cox and writer Sarah Cheverton, have been busy asking various people about what they think culture is and how we can make 2017 a fantastic 'year of the culture' in Portsmouth.

I think in the last couple of years Portsmouth has been gaining momentum in asserting itself to be a big player in the UK when it comes to tourism. Portsmouth, and with this I do mean Southsea and its wider surrounding area, has been slowly putting itself on the map of culture.

For a number of years Portsmouth has hosted the hugely successful Portsmouth Festivities and Music in the Round, an international chamber music series. Portsmouth people have also been busy celebrating our literary heritage. From Dickens to Conan-Doyle, Kippling and countless others.

We have a lively literary community in Portsmouth and last World Book Night saw a group of writers sharing their work and it was featured on BBC South. I was impressed! Look at Matt Wingett in his Sherlock's frock reading at the Square Tower.

January this year saw the launch of a new literary series, Portsmouth Thought, which celebrates non-fiction writing. With the University of Portsmouth in the heart of the city, such a series complements their public lecture series beautifully. In fact, the series is a partnership of the Portsmouth City Council, University of Portsmouth and Blackwell.

Here we are listening to Leo Hollis who has written a book 'Cities are Good For You: The Genius of the Metropolis' at the Spinnaker Tower. The perfect setting for the topic and our own marvel of an architecture and piece of engineering.

At the end of May we will see the opening of the new Mary Rose Museum. The museum we have been waiting for and a celebration of heritage as well as the endeavour to use science and technology to bring history to future generations.

So Portsmouth has many things to celebrate and will certainly be putting itself on the map. Fingers crossed for winning the bid!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Spinach and Parmesan Soup


After a long sojourn, I'm back with some new recipes which I have tried and tested on a few people. The Easter holidays offered a respite after a very busy few months after Christmas. So lunch was relaxed and one afternoon I made this soup because we have been eating a lot of spinach lately and there is a pack languishing in the fridge.

I happened to read an article in the Telegraph Magazine about the production of Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese and this recipe was on it. I made some modification to make it for 2 people instead of 6 on the recipe and here's my version:

Spinach and Parmesan Soup for 2 people:

5g butter
half an onion thinly sliced
300 grams spinach
50 grams grated Parmiggiano Reggiano
a pinch of salt
1 medium potato thinly sliced
200 ml water
Parmesan shavings to garnish
balsamic vinegar

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the onion until translucent (about 3 minutes) then add the spinach and stir until it's wilted. Then add the Parmesan and a pinch of salt. Stir, add the potatoes and the water. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and cool down. Blend it to a smooth consistency and then pour it all back into the pan and heat. Serve in a bowl with some Parmesan shavings and a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar.

It is delicious on its own or eaten with some garlic bread. The recipe also asks for some double cream to add to the soup at the heating up stage, but in the interest of healthiness I omit the cream and the soup is fine without it.

My vegetarian friends have also have given it a thumbs-up, so try it and enjoy!