BIG READ: Fun city activities that won't bite into your wallet

The chiming of the new year is widely regarded as a watershed moment for personal reinvention.Â

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 8:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:37 pm
A member of the Portsmouth Triathletes enjoys a dip at Eastney. You can join for next to nothing - another brilliant, low-cost activity in Portsmouth Credit: Elliot Webber

Every 12 months without fail, scores of get-fitters embark on a mission to tighten and tone their tums and take greater care of number one. 

But equally, many resolutioners turn their attention to the zeros instead '“ vowing to bid farewell to frivolity and say hello to frugality and first-rate financial health. 

The inclination for the latter is hardly surprising given recent statistics, which just two months ago painted a damning picture of the cost of living today. 

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In November, 2017, nationwide inflation hit 3.1 per cent'“ a six-year high. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed clothing prices were up three per cent on 2016, transport costs had risen by 4.5 per cent and food bills soared to the tune of 4.1 per cent. 

In a similar light, another poll, carried out by, revealed Portsmouth tenants are working an average of 11 days each month before they can afford to pay their rent in full '“ the third-longest period for a UK city. 

Cash is tight, and while the government has promised the everyman more for their money in 2018, politics can be unpredictable. 

Instead of waiting for a change with bated breath, why not explore how you can start early, and make the most of your city on a slender budget? 

Many would argue the heart of Portsmouth's cost-free offerings are scattered among its much-loved museums.

You would be hard-pressed to find a greater advocate for this notion than Linda Symes, Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport. 

She says: 'It's very important people across Portsmouth have things to do that suit any budget. 

'The council runs four museums that offer free entry to everyone and these host a range of special events throughout the year, many of which are also free.

'They offer a rich variety of displays for people to enjoy, with exhibits that appeal to young and old alike.' 

Situated opposite Ravelin Park, Portsmouth Museum is a prime example of this variety, with diverse collections to tick boxes across the board '“ all covered by its free entry policy. 

Throughout early 2018, the site will team up with city-based gaming cafe, Game Over, to display the UK's largest private collection of TV games, home computers and consoles. 

Dubbed 'The Future of the Past', the exhibit spans 40 years of home video-gaming and will be coupled with hands-on, pixel-inspired art events led by creative Kendal James. 

Across the rest of the year, the museum boasts an array of permanent exhibits, namely exploring the city's relationship with its beloved football club, a focus on Sherlock Holmes' creator Arthur Conan Doyle, and its rich armed forces heritage. 

Additionally, its Decorative Arts Gallery prides itself in exhibiting 200 years of design history through works from renowned creators, including contemporary artist and University of Portsmouth graduate, Grayson Perry. 

Other free museums across the city include Southsea Castle, Eastney Beam Engine House and the much-loved Cumberland House Natural History Museum. 

These are open between 10am-5pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

After an enriching visit to Portsmouth Museum, take a stroll along Kings Terrace and the area's largest and freest offering of all awaits '“ the Solent. 

For 30 years, Portsmouth Triathletes have enjoyed this vast natural resource as a means of physical and social exercise '“ and they say you should too. 

Don't be intimidated by the name though, its club dips are for swimmers of all abilities, says communications manager Elliot Webber.

The 31-year-old explains: 'We're all about getting people together and enjoying the sea we are fortunate enough to have down here in Portsmouth. 

'Of our members '“ and we've got between 400 and 450 '“ we've got people who have competed in multiple Iron Man events and others who just come along for swim every now and again.

'Lots of people don't join us to compete in the heavier-going fixtures we run and participate in each year, and that's absolutely fine.

'But at the same time, we do have a select demographic that trains for the more physical feats '“ these can take us all over the place as a club.' 

For their twice-weekly sea swims, the Portsmouth Triathletes enter the Solent at Eastney Beach, close to Coffee Cup, and spread out inside a safe, buoyed area. 

Members of the group '“ which has its own beach hut '“ have the option of buying a yellow swimming cap for £3,  to identify with their peers when out in the water.  

Annual membership to the club is just £22 for an individual or £27 for a family of four living at the same address.

And while these are not extortionate sums by any means, Mr Webber says signing up is worth every last penny. 

He said: 'Not only does swimming in the sea with us offer great health benefits, but you can make some amazing friendships too. 

'I joined in 2016  '“ I had never so much as ridden a bike before that point  '“ and now I'm getting ready to compete in a half Iron Man with a 90km bike ride alongside some fantastic friends from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.'       

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