Saturday, 8 December 2012

Further afield: a weekend in Sheffield

Peace Gardens
Sheffield is one of my favourite cities. Last winter, it seemed like there was hardly a weekend when I wasn't fleeing my beloved Newcastle to lose myself in South Yorkshire. My last visit was in July, for Tramlines festival (mere days before I uprooted myself for good and was sewn into West Country soil) and it almost felt like a different city: I'm accustomed to Sheffield in biting wind, rain and snow and, most of all, the dark.

Last weekend I boarded a train and headed North for my friend Bethan's birthday party. The dress code was strictly childish: we wore onesies, blew bubbles and showered the birthday girl in party popper streamers.

Party time!

On the Sunday, bleary and a little worse for wear, we made our pilgrimage to Bungalows and Bears for the obligatory Sunday roast. I dithered, asked Twitter, then plumped for the veggie roast: sweet potato, cashew and cheddar bake. I assure you, it rivals the meat options.

Bungalows and Bears
After our Sunday dinner came the inevitable and always sad part of an all-too-rare gathering of friends: people began peeling off in dribs and drabs towards the station. This year has seen even more of us scatter across the country so there are less people grouped in one place and it means each goodbye is tainted with the uncertainty of when we'll next see eachother. Still, it makes every time I do see my friends ever more precious. I had decided to make a weekend of it and stay on another night, so those of us who were left browsed the Christmas market, bought chocolate-covered fruit and made a beeline for the arts tower. If you've been to Sheffield but not up this, you've missed a trick. It's the second tallest building in the city (says Wikipedia) and home to a paternoster lift - equal measures exciting and terrifying. I'd been up before but only in the daytime. This time, we waited for an arts student to emerge so we could dash in and up to the top, where we sat and gazed out over the city for far longer than we'd originally intended. There's something so peaceful about watching life go by, spread out beneath you in a glistening tapestry.

View of Sheffield from the University Arts Tower
Our next stop was an old, derelict church. We found our way into a vast old hall with old furniture stacked in place of pews and a rope swing reaching out to the darkness below. This was perhaps something I never would have done in the past, but old buildings take on a wondrous quality when they're unoccupied.

Photo by Jo.

That evening, I headed off to the O2 Academy to see Squeeze. I was the youngest person there by about thirty years and maybe the only one on their own, but it was astoundingly good. Glenn Tilbrook's voice hasn't altered one bit over the years and the one hour forty minutes set of perfection was absolutely worth the steep ticket price. My only regret is that I couldn't make it to any more of the dates on the tour.

Squeeze @ O2 Academy Sheffield
My last day in Sheffield was a lot less rushed. I saw various friends, ate a hearty lunch at Blue Moon, mooched around the Christmas market again and then made a trip to the Peace Gardens to see the borrowed Blackpool illuminations and have my photo taken with Postman Pat and Jess.

Photo by Natalie.
After all that, I felt like I'd filled my weekend to the brim for once. But don't worry, Bristol. I'm back.


  1. Hi Kitty, just wondering, where's the church that you visited? Now I'm curious to have a look inside myself. Hope you enjoyed your weekend in my city, perhaps we walked past each other on the high street without knowing!

  2. It's on/near the corner where Crookesmoor Road joins Crookes Valley Road. It's really big! You cut under the fence by the bus stop and through a window on the side. It's pretty exciting to explore. Don't go alone, though!

    I had a lovely time, thank you! Thanks for reading.