Happy memories of school holidays on the seafront

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STEVE CANAVAN: The case of the 'kitchen' door is open and shut

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Do you find that there are places that whisper to us, that feel very familiar and at some point in our lives we’re compelled to return to them?

We don’t always understand why we’re drawn there. It’s difficult to explain and is just a sense of knowing.

Despite spending the majority of my young and adult life in Fareham, I’ve always felt at my most happiest and content when I’ve spent time in Portsmouth – and Southsea especially.

In my heart, I knew that one day I would eventually live somewhere in the city.

Had tragic circumstances not intervened, I would have been brought up here and gone to school in Milton like my other three older siblings.

But fate had other ideas and that didn’t happen as my mother passed away from acute kidney failure shortly after I entered the world.

In those days there were no miracle cures, no transplants. Sadly, doctors didn’t have the knowledge or the advanced medical equipment they have these days, so I was adopted by my aunt (my mum’s sister) and life began in Fareham.

But when I was seven my grandmother opened a café on the seafront in Southsea, opposite Canoe Lake.

She couldn’t run it on her own and so my adopted mum and my other auntie assisted in the day-to-day running of the business.

My school holidays were a dream. The seafront was a fun, vibrant, colourful playground.

I played for hours on the trampolines in the sand and helped with the Punch and Judy on the beach. There was the delicious marina café and the place buzzed with shops and nightclubs.

South Parade Pier shone like a beacon across the Solent and was well-maintained, which is why it’s sad now to see it so run-down.

It’s badly in need of some tlc. If folk came together for the pier in the same way they did to save Portsmouth Football Club, it would be brilliant.

There is nothing as strong as the power of the Pompey people to achieve great things. So I say let’s secure the future of our beloved pier for generations to come.