I don't think I've been down to Portsmouth since 2005, so it felt like a visit was overdue - not least because my friends Paul & Helen live in neighbouring Southampton and I'd not yet seen their (not so new) house either!
We originally settled on a Saturday in the middle of August, but those plans were thwarted by gale force winds which don't really mix with riding
rollercoasters next to the sea, so we bumped the trip to the Sunday instead. Although still blowy, we at least weren't taking off!
Clarence Pier is a short walk along the sea wall from Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard
This view has changed a bit - last time I was down at Clarence Pier there was a Drop Tower and no Big Wheel!
The park has two new rollercoasters this year - we chose to ride Mad Mouse first
Despite the gale force winds having eased, it was still windy enough to stop the cars engaging with the lift chain, meaning the ride ops were having to manually push the cars
What's brown and smelly and comes out of cow(e)s? The Isle of Wight ferry.
As we came back into the station, the ride op asked whether we were enthusiasts ... I guess normal people stay indoors and don't try and ride rollercoasters the day after a storm!
We made the right decision to ride Mad Mouse first: this appeared just as we got off.
Luckily Clarence Pier's other new coaster, Tidal Wave, was still operating.
The coaster is really fun - we sat at the back and got pulled over the top of the main drop very forcefully!
Before leaving the Pier we decided to take a ride on the Solent Wheel
The windows were very dirty, but we still got some nice views looking down onto the Pier
Oh look, it's another ferry!
I'd heard about another coaster close by, and I managed to talk Paul into walking up to South Parade Pier to see what was going on.
I remember being taken to this for school holiday treats as a kid when it was a Sealife Centre.
Everything looked promising as we approached the Pier ... we could see a Helter Skelter and what looked like some other rides!
The entrance to South Parade Pier
The rides have been added to the Pier in partnership with Richard Cadell, who used to run Brean Leisure Park and is current "Dad" to Sooty and Sweep.
There's a small selection of attractions including Dodgems and some kiddie rides
We took a ride on the kiddie coaster, Happy Caterpiller - yes, that's the spelling painted on the station!
There are also a nice selection of food stalls and games on the Pier.
It was time to walk back, ready to meet up with Helen for lunch.
We passed by a kite festival - some of the kites were very impressive!
Back at Clarence Pier, we were possibly running a few minutes late.
Last time Paul and I went off riding rollercoasters and were late meeting up with Helen, the story got told in a wedding speech!
Something you don't see every day: a multi-storey car park for boats.
We were rather late by the time we arrived back at Gunwharf Quays and found Helen, but I think Paul and I just about got away with it!
A tasty lunch at Eden.
Thanks to Helen for allowing me to borrow Paul for a few hours, and thanks to you both for a lovely day out beside the seaside.
More about the Parks