Us Brits seem resigned to braving the weather whatever’s thrown at us. Which this month has certainly meant plenty of the wet stuff. And that’s just as well, because the more I explore some of the local towns, villages and countryside in pursuit of a story, the more I love what I see.

A visit to Southsea never fails to impress and certainly, in my eyes, this Portsmouth suburb gives its big brother a run for its money. How many places are there, where street after street can boast independent shops that seem to be thriving? Whether it’s bookshops, antique emporia or vintage bazaars, they’re here. Add-in a huge range of eateries serving-up dishes from across the globe, a slice of history at some fascinating military museums and, of course the good old seaside. It’s a winning combo and hopefully a few more people will be inspired to head down to the south coast after reading my Spotlight feature in the March issue of Hampshire Life.

A bit closer to home, well virtually on my doorstep in fact, are the Hindhead Commons. In years gone by this tract of ancient heathland was renown for being besieged by highwaymen, and, more recently, had been blighted by the A3 trunk road. Thankfully now, one of the National Trust’s earliest acquisitions has been returned to its gorgeousness. My article on the Commons for BBC Countryfile magazine’s February issue looks at how walkers, 4×4 drivers and nature CAN live in harmony.

However, if the recent tempests have left you feeling decidedly bedraggled, Surrey now has a brand new indoor attraction. I’m keen to give a shout-out for the WWF’s new Living Planet Centre in Woking which opened its doors to the public for the first time last weekend. The four interactive zones that make up the WWF Experience, give a unique insight into the natural world and there’s no need to wear wellies!