In praise of… Sheffield
We’ve had a week off – marvellous to get out of the big smoke and get away from the hubbub and demands. But unlike lots of mates who have been doing the sound thing this week, we’ve not gone to New Word Alive, even though that would have been a very sound thing to have done. And so when friends asked where we were going for our holiday, we correctly answered, “Sheffield”. Their responses tended to be fairly unanimous – “Oh… er… that’s nice.” And i want to say, “Yes, it is”.
You see, we lived here for 4 happy years – both children proudly bear the place of birth on their passports as Sheffield – and and we loved it – even though we had been totally ignorant southerners who had no idea about existence north of the Watford Gap (until you get to Edinburgh – they have culture, up there, you know, because they actually have a festival). Well, we’ve been having a lovely time. And i thought i would correct the mockers and doubters by giving lots of reasons why it is such a groovy place.
- It is beautiful.
- No, it is very beautiful. In case you don’t believe me, you need to check this out.
OK – this is not exactly how people imagine Sheffield. That’s because it isn’t. It is the Hope Valley in Derbyshire – but that is just 20-25 mins out of the west side of the city. (They’re trying to beautify the city centre because it is a bit of a concrete nightmare – but that’s life I suppose). Quite pleased with this picture actually – a nice panorama from about 8 different ones, taken from the exit of the Treak Cliff cavern (where they mine Blue John). Apart from the blasted cement works (in the right of the picture) this would be the closest you can get to a classic northern English rural idyll. Now you can’t get anything like as good as this within 25 minutes of London, can you?
- They’re much more friendly here. (I’ve not been able to figure out how to get this to carry on from the previous number bullet!) Even though we left 7 years ago, we went into the Co-Op yesterday and the lady behind the till recognized us but couldn’t quite place us, and so just blithely entered a conversation that had probably been left off 7 years ago. She didn’t have to do this. We didn’t oblige her to. But she did. Q.E.D. – they’re more friendly here.
- We’ve got lots of friends here – and they’re very friendly too.
- There’s actually lots to do with children around here – and what’s even better is that while London schools are on holiday this week, everyone’s gone back to school up here. So we are undisturbed – apart from the school trips that dog us at every turn.
- I overheard a schoolgirl on one such school trip yesterday – and she actually shouted to a friend, “Ey, up”, presumably to get the friend to slow down. It felt great to be home.
- Sheffield University has the highest stay-on rate of any British university – i.e. that means that more people who graduate from Sheffield stay on in the same city than for any other university in Britain. Or something. You know what I mean. That says something, surely?
So there you go – this is a GREAT place for a holiday.