I moved to Portslade around eight years ago, and have grown to love it. But at first, if I’m honest, we came here because the houses were cheap and there was a big garden. The transport links to Brighton, Hove, London and Worthing are excellent. It wasn’t quite Hove, and we felt it. In those days of course, we still went out in the evenings and could sit in cafes reading newspapers at the weekend.
We loved our garden though, and planted a beautiful Cherry tree in it after our first year, which is now enormous. We had enough outside space to extend, so we hacked ourselves this crazy, higgildy house, adding modern extensions to what was a lovely, but pokey Viccy terrace.
Then the kids arrived and I discovered the wonderful people around here. Kids are really cohesive. And being a first-time mum, obsessed with her baby and lucky enough to get just over a year off work, I found myself surrounded by local women at various community groups. Lots of church stuff (although I am not religious), and back then, lots of Sure Start groups.
As the children grew, some of these women became good and valuable friends, and now that the kids are that bit older, we are beginning to focus on ourselves and our own professional futures as well as thinking about our place, our area, the Portslade that I have grown to love passionately.
Boundary Road has pretty much everything you need, although I’ll admit we could do with more coffee shops, a bookshop, some independant clothes shops, a toyshop, cook shop (hang on, I’m describing Lewes). The high street is not pretty, and there is a lot of charity (love) and chicken (hate) shops.
At the school bus stop, we constantly review and assess each new shop opening (or closing down), and what it will bring. We NEED a good quality coffee shop, with great cakes, quiche, salads and cheap, quality kids meals for after-school-can’t-face-cooking nights. We have plenty of crappy greasy spoons, but it’s all instant coffee and cheesy chips (oh, I agree there’s a place for that too, but we are well served there).
There are so many families here now, driven from Brighton and Hove by the prices, but finding friends and a fabulous supportive community. These families need a great coffee house. We also need a great park.
Over the last year, two community groups have sprung-up nearby. Driven by amazing and inspirational locals. One demanding a safer crossing for the kids attending a local Primary School on a hairy road. Another that is going to sort out our local park, making it safer, funner and giving us all more of a connection with nature (which is of course one of my babies, since I run Wildplay ). There may even be room for a cafe and community space in our new park! Its going to be amazing and totally driven by local familes, keen improve on what Portslade can offer us all.
There is a fabulous atmosphere locally, of positivity and making things happen. Its such an exciting time and place to be.
Already on our high street, we have the wonderful Tiba, selling all sorts of delicious fresh fruit, herbs and spices, halal meats and exotic breads. We have the wonderful Mish-Mash that I’ve written about before – second-hand furniture – lots of junk and the occasional piece of ridiculously cheap G-plan. We have ‘Old Furniture, New Thinking’ for upcycled beautiful dressers and tables. And ‘Oo My’, a new Japanese snack bar. The charity shops are full of treasure and there are all sorts of community events making use of the South Portslade Community Centre and the scout hut (now that would make a great cafe venue)! Our train to London, whips up at Hove, missing out the Brighton huddle, so no packed compartments. You can most-often get a seat all the way. It takes us ten minutes to whizz into Brighton by train, and we have FREE parking. Everywhere!
So, you see, I love it. And I’m going to love it more as the community grows and the families connect. I can’t honestly see us ever leaving now (and I am a house slut, with an ongoing late-night-fantasy relationship with ‘Rightmove’, so that is really saying something)!
Friends of Vale Park is an open Facebook group for local community members keen to help/get involved with a project to improve our park for all its users. We’re bulb planting on 10th November at 2pm if you want to come along and get involved.