Roller Derby

The crowd cheers as Nina Nunchucks smashes Pip Bull off her skates and on to the floor. Pip hits the ground hard but is quickly back on her feet looking for revenge.

Welcome to roller derby.

Started in America in the 1930’s roller derby is a full contact sport played out on roller skates.

Teams of five skaters face off in a series of two minute match ups called jams.

Points are scored by one player on each team called a jammer who makes a point for every person they manage to lap on their way around the track.

Whilst the jammer scores points, the rest of the team try to assist their jammer and slow down the opposition with punishing tackles.

‘From the outside it looks like people getting bashed but there are a lot of tactics and game play.’ says Lauren Sears, aka Peggy Peril.

Lauren is the vice captain for the Portsmouth Roller Wenches who have enjoyed an unbeaten season in 2012 and have just put an end to a winning streak for rivals Brighton.

‘We want to win every game,’ says Lauren.

‘A lot of people in some teams skate as individuals, but you win as a team not as an individual.

‘We are a small team but we’re more like a sisterhood. We spend a lot of time out of practice together,’ she said.

Roller derby has been undergoing a revival since 2000, it is one of the fastest growing women’s sports in the world with over 70 leagues in the UK alone and is being considered for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic games.

‘Roller derby is my life. Since I’ve started skating I’ve got friends all over the UK and in other countries too,’ said Lauren.

Portsmouth Roller Wenches hold regular training sessions for prospective new skaters.

For more information about training or to book tickets for a bout visit www.portsmouthrollerwenches.comImage


Overlord Military Spectacular

The Hampshire country side roared with the sound of powerful engines and gunfire this weekend as military vehicles and historic re-enactors descended on Denmead.

Military enthusiasts and families flocked to the 36th Overlord Military Spectacular to watch tanks, trucks and armoured personnel carriers in action.

Steve Edwards , 48, from Lovedean said: ‘It’s a great day, lovely weather and the re-enactments are very well done, they really give you a feel for the period.

On each day of the Spectacular more than 75 military re-enacters battled against each other in re-creations of famous WWII campaigns, complete with pyrotechnics, gunfire and tanks.

‘I’ve been 6 times to Overlord. The battles are good fun with the explosives and all the firing,’ said Callum May, 12 from Horndean.

Trade stalls offered military souvenirs, equipment and vintage clothing alongside a hogroast and beer tent for thirsty ticket holders.

At 1pm each day a powerful blast shook the site as crowds gathered with fingers in their ears to watch a firing demonstration of the 155 mm howitzer. 

Next door to the Howitzer, the Living History field gave visitors the chance to see what life was like for soldiers during WWII.

Trenches, bomb craters and ruined buildings covered the field while re-enacters in full military uniform answered questions about living conditions, equipment and tactics.

Rob Soar, Chairman for Solent Overlord Executive Military Collector’s Club said: ‘It has been excellent, the weather has been good and this is the most vehicles we’ve ever had, more than 350 WWII and post war vehicles.

‘What makes Overlord special is the exhibitors we attract and the public really make it for the exhibitors, they have a great time swapping stories.’    

House Dance

House dance has come to Portsmouth.

The vibrant street dance style started in America during the 70s and draws on a wide range of musical influences.

‘House dancing is a feel good dance it’s a very social, happy style of dance. It takes influences from African, tap, salsa and break dancing, it’s a huge mixture,’ said choreographer Caramel Soldier.

Caramel has worked in dance for more than 10 years performing with famous acts like N-Dubz and Whitney Houston and has even choreographed for Peter Andre.

‘House dance is becoming very popular within street dance. In the last four years it has really blown up in the UK and there is a lot of house music used in commercial dance competitions,’ said Caramel.

The lively, fun style of dance mixes rhythmic foot work with flowing body movements and is accessible to everyone.

‘Anybody can do it, any age. In fact I’ve just started a class for mums,’ said Caramel.

House Dance classes have begun at St Peters Church in Playfair Road, Southsea. Ranging from beginners through to advanced dancers the classes welcome anyone over 12 who wants to try dancing to a different beat.

For more information email:

Caramel Soldier

Caramel Soldier

Roller Derby – Portsmouth Roller Wenches vs Kent Roller Girls

Portsmouth Roller Wenches’ winning streak came to an end on Saturday despite a spirited defence from the home team, with a 123 – 179 loss against Kent Roller Girls.

The bout opened well for favourites Kent with a 35 point power jam securing an early lead for the Roller Girls.

Portsmouth trailed for most of the first half with hard fought jams from R.I.P McMurphy, Peggy Peril and Halcyon Daze failing to close the gap.

Kent led 95 – 64 at the half and a long team talk for Portsmouth saw a more focused Wenches return to the track.

It was a very physical bout with big tackles from both sides, notably Kent’s number 999, Diagnosis Mauler, took heavy punishment in the first half and had to leave the rink injured after a serious collision at the top of turn two in the second half.

The Wenches were missing several key players from their A-team line up but had taken the opportunity to field three new players, Rivas Bodily Harm, Dropkick Molly and Mini Malice who all performed brilliantly with Mini Malice taking best Jammer honours for Portsmouth.

Kent’s tactical awareness made Portsmouth work twice as hard in the second half, constantly recycling the home team Jammers and creating a solid yet coordinated defence that was almost impenetrable for the wenches.

Kent head coach Ben Davis said: ‘You never know what to expect with Portsmouth, they’ve got some great players and tactics and they use them very well.’

Roller Derby is a full contact sport played on roller skates where one player from each team called a Jammer tries to lap members of the opposite team to score points. Matches are called bouts and players tackle by knocking each other off their feet.

Although this was the Wenches first loss in four bouts the score line was better than expected and should still see the Wenches move up the European league tables.

The Wenches remain defiant and are gearing up for the Eastbourne Extreme open air tournament where they will get a second chance at beating Kent.

Portsmouth’s Mini Malice said: ‘The bout went well, Kent have got some really hard hitters but we’ll beat them next time!’

For more information go to go to or visit

Dig for Victory – Growing your own food in Portsmouth

Digging for victory

Most people take it for granted that whenever they need food they can simply go to the local supermarket and collect what they want but recent comments from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Areas (DEFRA) suggest that may not always be the case.

Speaking at a press conference last week Agriculture Minister David Heath said: ‘Once we used to dig for victory. There may come a time soon when we need to dig for survival.’

Terrible weather such as the UK experienced in 2012, combined with a heavy reliance on imported food, resulted in crop shortages and increased food prices for customers.

Bad weather is also causing problems internationally.

According to the UN, international grain reserves are at an all-time low thanks to unpredictable weather in 2012 and another bad harvest would mean rising food prices and worldwide food shortages.

In this global context it seems that the future may hold a lot of muddy knees and green fingers for Portsmouth residents as they dig for victory.

With this in mind what options are available for Portsmouth residents who want to grow their own food?


Growing in your own Garden, Richard Stepien, Emsworth


Richard, 58, and his wife Dwyn, 56, have always enjoyed keeping animals and growing their own food so when it came time to move house they wanted a home with space to grow.

‘We have about 200 square meters of space and are probably going to devote about half of that to growing,’ said Richard.

‘The soil has too much clay for carrots but we plan to grow potatoes, onions, French beans and garlic and we’re going to try cabbages, leeks and parsnips this time.

‘We are also going to grow fruit, apples pears and gooseberries, and chickens which will give us more than enough eggs for our needs so we’ll be giving some away.’

Richard has already experienced what it is like not to be able to get food from the supermarket: ‘In the bad snow a couple of years back there was nothing in the shops but we had bags of potatoes and chickens,’ he said.

For Richard, growing food is about more than just having enough to eat:

‘It is a challenge making things grow, understanding the plants and all the physical work required to keep the plants in good shape, but it’s worth it.

‘Of course it’s cost effective and it’s nice to eat your own food but it but it also makes me feel at one with nature, with the birds and the insects and growing food lets me share with family and friends.

’The earth is overstretched and very fragile. It only takes a bad winter and the price of potatoes doubles.

‘Growing my own food gives me control, it means I can be resourceful and self sufficient, I can give something instead of just taking,’ said Richard.

Fast Facts: Grow in your own Garden

– Vegetables grown on your own land means no long trips to an allotment and freedom to choose what you grow.

– Can grow a lot of foods you eat at home but requires a big amount of space.

– Possible to grow a range of food in smaller planters or pots, though not the same variety as you have from a big garden.

For gardening resources go to:


Growing in an allotment, Rosie Penlington and Tim Sheppard, Southsea


Rosie, 27, and Tim, 35, have been renting an allotment in Portchester for 3 years and grow everything from raspberries and strawberries to potatoes and squash.

‘It’s nice to have an outdoor hobby, it puts you in touch with nature. Working in an office I am quite sheltered, but being outside puts you in touch with the seasons and Tim likes the wildlife,’ said Rosie.

‘We grow food to supplement our diet but there is one family at our allotment that get pretty much all of their veg from there,’ she added.

Tim said: ‘I don’t think you could fully sustain yourself from an allotment unless people worked together all growing different types of food.

‘Having an allotment is a good way to keep active, but I’ve got a bad back at the moment and if you miss a couple of weeks it can be hard to maintain,’ added Tim.

Rosie agrees: ‘You have to go at least once or twice a week in the Spring and you don’t always feel like going up there. It’s a big commitment to run an allotment but you get out what you put in.’

Fast Facts: Allotments

Section of land rented from the council.

– 1,673 allotment plots in Portsmouth starting at £21 a year.

– Waiting list for Portsmouth allotments of more than 650 people (up to three and a half years).

–  Can mean long trips to the allotment and there are no plans to expand the scheme at present

For more information visit:


Community Gardening – Nigel Huggins, Southsea


Nigel Huggins is co-founder of the Southsea Greenhouse Project, a community garden set up on reclaimed wasteland rented from the council.

‘At the end of world war two about 10 percent of food grown in this country was grown in gardens,’ said Nigel.

‘Community gardening fills a need for people without gardens, we welcome volunteers of any age, some come for a couple of hours and some come everyday.

‘The beauty of community gardening is meeting such a wide variety of people and exchanging ideas and information with them.’

‘This project has inspired others to start across the city. It’s not hard to find derelict land in the city and a community garden is one of the best ways to make use of that space,’ said Nigel.

Fast Facts: Community Gardening

Shared space where people can grow food together.

– Great community spirit and plenty of people with experience to help new gardeners. Ideal for people without gardens     or experience of growing their own food.

-No set amount of produce that you receive for the time you spend helping.

For more information visit:


Himalaya Cancer Trek

A doctor who beat cancer is planning a unique expedition to help others defeat the disease.

Dr Irfan Sheik, 70, from Waterlooville is planning to trek through the Himalayas with cancer survivors and their partners to help overcome the psychological impact of cancer.

‘It’s horrible, you ask why me. You go into an absolute low and your family go into it with you,’ said Dr Sheikh.

Dr Sheikh was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and had to retire from work at the surgery he ran in Tempest Avenue, Waterlooville.

‘It’s a shock. The first day I was given the news my wife burst into tears and I said I’m going to beat this,’

Dr Sheikh had enjoyed an active lifestyle before his diagnosis and he turned to exercise to help him stay positive during his treatment.

‘I knew exercise would keep me going, I didn’t want to give up that.

‘Each time I had my chemotherapy I went out and climbed up Butser Hill.

‘It wasn’t easy, every step was an effort but I wasn’t going to let it beat me,’ said Dr Sheikh.

‘You get a lot of toxicity from chemo. You need those toxins to come out of the body through sweat or urine otherwise the chemicals sit in your body and make you feel worse,’ he said.

Research by Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK encourages physical activity as a way of managing the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment and may even reduce the chances of relapse with some types of Cancer.

Dr Sheikh hopes that the expedition to Annapurna in the Himalayas next year will inspire cancer survivors and their partners and help them to see the importance of exercise in overcoming the disease.

‘There is something special about being in the Himalayas. The majesty of the mountains, you can’t compare them to anything else,’ said Dr Sheikh.

The Himalaya trek is planned for March to April 2014 and is open to cancer survivors and their partners.

The trek will involve walking up to five hours a day and walkers will reach heights of more than 6,000 feet as they travel between luxury lodges deep in the mountains.

‘You can’t underestimate the importance of exercise.

‘Having retired and recovered from cancer I’m enjoying the best years of my life,’ Said Dr Sheikh.

For more information on the trek email

Our House

From the opening bars of its eponymous title track, audiences know they are in for a treat with the mad-cap musical Our House at the King’s Theatre.

The Olivier Award winning musical, based on the songs of 80s two-tone band Madness, is brought to life by director James Robinson and talented young performers from the Charter Academy, Southsea.

Our House tells the story of Joe, a school boy confronted with a difficult choice after he breaks into an apartment block with his girlfriend, Sarah.

The tough central role is tackled by Kyle Wesley who does an admirable job of conveying Joe’s cockney swagger whilst maintaining a clear distinction between his good and bad personas.

Balancing Kyle’s street-smart performance, Holly Sayer-Gray brings vulnerability and strength the role of Sarah with her clear, warm vocals.

The continual moral quandaries facing Joe are presented through a simplistic black and white colour scheme and a scenic metaphor of doors which are cleverly used throughout.

The monochrome colour scheme also points to Madness’ two-tone musical heritage and the black and white check motif that became synonymous with the genre.

David Tubbs gives a suitably menacing performance as the sinister Reecey, while Chloe Legg and Jordan Dabell, as Billie and Angie, make an excellent comedy duo.

The vibrant ensemble power through the set pieces, and assisted by Sally Fry’s comprehensive range of costumes, manage to create a genuine sense of life for the world of Our House.

Musical director Kathy Farmer brings the best out of her young musicians, and the tight, professional score is complimented by delicate piano work from Marina Street and crisp, brassy flourishes from flutist Hugh Carpenter.

Our House takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride of love, loss and foot stomping tunes – you would be mad to miss it!