I just finished a quick 2 week trip to southern England. There was a thread a while back about planning trips around a special event/sight and this was one of those.
I have wanted to see The Proclaimers in concert for a couple of years (Sunshine on Leith, Walk 500 Miles) and decided I would have to fly to make it happen. So I bought tickets for the Brighton Dome and later bought flights with miles, adding a couple days before and a few days after.
I ended up with: 4 nights Brighton; 1 night Portsmouth; 3 nights Winchester; 4 nights Oxford. Two weeks including travel days.
London-Brighton Veteran Car Run - Nigel messaged me about this and it was so fun - a total serendipity. It rained buckets on them as they drove from London, but by mid afternoon arrival in Brighton, the weather was really nice to wander through the cars built between 1893-1905 that still run! One driver even offered me the opportunity to sit behind the steering wheel for a picture!
Royal Pavilion - I am not sure what I expected, but this Chinese-themed Palace was not it. It is beautifully opulent in such a mix of decorative styles and colors (but definitely relying on the Chinese theme) that it was an unexpected feast for the eyes.
Concert - This was everything I had been looking forward to - a great show, if you like their music. Plus I wandered around to the backstage door after the concert and was able to meet them and chat for a few minutes (along with getting a few pictures 🤣). They were wonderfully down to earth and gracious. And it’s unlikely they will be in the U.S. anytime in the foreseeable future - we talked about the difficulties.
Summary: I allowed plenty of time to relax, get over jet lag, and just wander. Which was nice because there was an unusual amount of rain from time to time. However, even for my slow pace, it was probably one night too many. I did have day trip options researched but the amount of pouring rain made spending time outside less interesting.
Chichester - Obviously not in Portsmouth, but instead of stopping in on the way from Brighton to Portsmouth and trying to find something to do with my suitcase, I opted to go all the way to my lodging in Portsmouth, drop off, then double back via the 20 minute train ride. I just wandered through the town, ate late lunch in the Buttery in the Crypt, and then attended evensong (another trip theme) at Chichester Cathedral. This was probably musically the most beautiful of the 4 evensong services I attended.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - As others have said, this was fascinating. I spent 4-5 hours and there was more I could have done and seen, but just ran out of energy. The HMS Victory, Nelson’s ship was very interesting. And then there was the Mary Rose Museum. The digital effects really enhanced the experience. And there was a display area where I was able to hold 500 year old artifacts from the ship. That small piece of 500 year old rope was heavy! I took the included Harbour cruise - the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was in port and we watched a helicopter landing (there were 4 by the time my short cruise was over). But then it was the train on to Winchester.
Summary: I should have realized how easy reaching the Isle of Wight was from here and planned time for that. Oversight on my part.