Who's Calling? ... It's Sheffield, England!
Before the lockdown in the UK I had managed a cheeky overnight trip to Nottingham after finding myself back from China, I wanted to discover Sheffield the week after before my tentative Spain trip. Sheffield had to be shelved, Spain was out of the question once the lockdown finally lifted but that South Yorkshire city would definitely be doable. I was so ready!
Yes, I had been to Sheffield before but I only spent one hour in the city due to changing my National Express coaches from Birmingham to Huddersfield. I have nothing against coaches but the social distancing rules had the timetables all over the place, thankfully my parents are friends with a train driver who works for CrossCountry. Helping me massively with a discounted ticket allowed me to zoom up the train-line from Birmingham New Street to Sheffield Station super quick, I didn't want to waste one single moment! Sorry not sorry, National Express! Allowing me to rewind briefly, the new normal Birmingham New Street saw me masked up to follow the guidelines and on the train I played by the rules but finally I saw riot police in the station! I believe that the people of this country have been given far too many opportunities to play by the rules, I felt a sense of relief to see finally those Police would ready to deter people from being senseless during such a sensitive time. Back to the subject of Sheffield, sure!
Upon my previous coach change in Sheffield during 2013 I caught a glimpse of the Park Hill estate, something I am sure not many visitors to the city pay much attention to? During my 2020 pre-trip research I saw that the Victorian stone station had one heck of a backdrop, what a contrast across centuries I would be served! Upon stepping from my train, I exited the station to find the correct vista so I could fully appreciate the dysfunctional yet appropriate view from in front of Sheffield Station. After delving into the specifics, I found that Park Hill was built from 1957 to 1961 and was given Grade II listed status in 1998. Upon pulling into Sheffield during 2013, I had a wild guess that Park Hill was being used as part student accommodation part city revitalisation project? Yes, that's correct! Anyhow, I was impressed by that interesting view, having the chance to arrive by train gave me a sense of adultness, I had made it back by quicker means! Sheffield's only getting started! Yes, I much preferred the train! Covid, who?
Observing social distancing with a fine art, the route from Sheffield Station to the Town Hall and Peace Gardens posed no threat to me. If truth me told the short route didn't pose any moments of uncertainty, I need to be testing negative before going back to China, there would be no coughing and sneezing or breathing going on near me otherwise heads would roll! Relief, I found the Town Hall that overlooked the Peace Gardens without any hassle. Was I feeling at peace within that aptly named area? Yes, I happy to be in a new place for the second time in two weeks without any second wave or local lockdown stopping me from doing so! Taking my time I didn't need to rush anything. To be in Sheffield felt good, I had seen it before many times on those badly painted 'Benefits Britain' documentaries. If truth be told the views that I took in after I had arrived looked nothing like the hole that those observational programmes made Sheffield look like! My day in Sheffield started well. I was going to have my sen a good one! For sure!
The last few months have had me locked down at home, I had wanted to visit Sheffield before Boris enforced the UK's half-arsed measures that forced my South Yorkshire trip to cease and desist. Sat in the Peace Gardens I felt relieved that I would only have to walk a few minutes to reach Kelham Island with it's industrial museum. Was I in a reflective mood as I stared at the Town Hall as people passed by without any apparent anxiety caused by the pandemic or lockdown? Yes, I was very reflective because I had been given the chance to leave my West Midlands locality, even for just one night! The gothic style Town Hall had me feeling like I was in Leicester with its similar style, to be anywhere else than home felt amazing. I had a lot planned for the day that was ahead of me, I wasn't going to spend the whole day sat in the Peace Gardens. Taking time out was just what I needed, to see people go about their business more than I did in Gloucester stood as a sign, normalcy can be regained with cautious steps. Beer time? Yes!
Kelham Island found me at long last! Like many powerhouses in England and the wider UK, Sheffield held its own with that industrial revolution flex! After reopening after lockdown, Kelham Island introduced its 'new normal' pre-booking system, getting my reservations made I arrived within the Kelham Island area with time to spare. Aside from a cheeky pint in a Birmingham, Broad Street Wetherspoons in July or August, I hadn't sat inside a pub with a freshly pulled pint on an independent hype! The Fat Cat served me a cracking pint of IPA, I'm usually a cider drinker but I had to stop to appreciate that deliciously tasting pint one sup at a time! Catching the time I made it over to Sheffield's Kelham Island Museum for my time slot, ain't nobody got time for tardiness! Schooled by the exhibits and installations, it was amazing to learn that Sheffield had their steelworks game on-point since the 1400s! Joseph, who? Yes, that name also belonged to a very clever gentleman who changed our toilet options! He did!
Bramah, inventor and locksmith created his own lock and reinvented the hydraulic workings of the new improved 'water closets' during the 1700s! His exhibition at Kelham Island Museum impressed me much! Known for its iron smelting, Sheffield's works showed me that it could have been responsible for the modern day incarnation of the 'tool box?' Known for its metal works, the many tool like objects that were on display gave me the sense that Sheffield made a lot of functional items to help people get those D.I.Y jobs done way back when! After vacating the museum I headed back to the Fat Cat for something to eat and of course, another liquid refreshment! I'm not stupid! Choosing the Kelham sausage with Yorkshire pudding and peas was the right choice, going for a cider accompanied my lunch perfectly! Considering certain Covid safe measures had been implemented both in the museum and at the pub, both experiences were near normal. Respecting the measures, I moved onto the next phase.
Since I'm not fortunate to have my China teaching salary anymore, I remained frugal with my coins whilst I made tracks away from Kelham Island towards Hillsborough. Part of my pre-lockdown research I had found the rolling hills near Stacey Bank Farm, with my golden window of opportunity I got my walking feet on, taking two and a half hours uphill I found those scenic views! Remembering that those narrow country paths might be an issue with passersby, I was pleasantly surprised to see and hear the politeness of the local folk who understood the importance of social distancing whilst we passed in the street out of the city. I was getting close to my 30,000th step of the day, Stacey Bank Farm was still quite a distance from my location but I was saved by a park area that overlooked the views that have been captured above. Close to Rodney Hill, I turned around after getting my snaps of the Peak District pastures. Not bitter about that step count, I was transfixed by the views because those fields never ended!
More than content with the views that scenic Sheffield bestowed to me, I turned around to walk downhill back into the city. I hadn't walked so far for a while before that Sheffield day, soon enough I was feeling muscles that had been lying dormant, feeling like I had been sucker-punched I was relieved to reach my hotel. Hold up, wait just one moment, please? Was a curfew under place in Sheffield after a certain time? I was hungry but couldn't see anyplace in the city centre to eat, I was longing for a rest too much to immediately care. Interesting, no? My Jury's Inn hotel had adapted well to the new guidelines, I had checked-in online the night before my reservation to ensure less contact was made at the reception desk. The room had a tag on the door handle detailing 'sanitised' to suggest the room had been bleached with maximum precision? Yes, it was spotlessly clean and turned out. Feeling accomplished and thankful, it was time for me to sleep because I had another day planned in Sheffield. Over and out, Sheff!感谢你谢菲尔德市!