Monday 31 January 2011

Under the influence .....of Bloggers

My friend Nic is a blog lurker. I don't think she had read many blogs until I confessed to mine. Now, she is an avid reader of every blog that I read too! I don't think she has sewed since school, but for Christmas, she bought her daughter a sewing machine ( a present for herself me thinks!), and using all of our top tips (Charity shop fabrics, market haberdashery etc) and this fab tutorial by Denise, she has started to produce gifts for the Mothers Day fair at her childrens school.
I was delighted to receive the prototype in the post on Saturday! I love it! I think they will go down a treat Nic!
It just shows you how you can inspire and help others create, and not even known you've done so. xxxx

Sunday 30 January 2011

The Welbeck Estate

On Saturday, I felt like I needed to be outdoors, but a long walk didn't appeal as I still didn't feel 100% well. I decided that we would investigate the Welbeck Estate in North Notts - somewhere I have read snippets about, but not been to. Not strictly true actually, as I remember being dragged to a Game Fair by a boyfriend when I was about 19 years old, and not really into Hunting, Shooting and Fishing!

The Estate is still very much in private hands and a lot of it is out of bounds and unfortunately you don't get a look at the magnificent Abbey.
You can however visit the cafe, farm shop, craft centre, visitor centre and garden centre.

I don't know if you are supposed to, but we also wandered down to have a look at the gorgeous little village and huge stable block. I felt as if I were in a time warp - a perfect haven in today's modern world.

A lot of the buildings are empty - apparently the Army had a school here up until 2005. The Estate is now trying to let some of the buildings as offices.

There is also a fabulous School of Artisan Food that looks as of it has great day courses (sadly all the ones I like the look of are booked up, but I will keep my eyes peeled!).

Another place practically on my doorstep that I have only just discovered.

Friday 28 January 2011

Ive been suffering with yet another bad cold this week. I haven't had a cold for years, then I go and get 2 stonkers in 1 month!! I have struggled into work, but I have collapsed on the sofa and slept once home - so that's why you have got to see so many of my photos from last week. Here's one last look at some of my walk around the city.
Its true that parts of the city are a bit run down, and the rejuvenation programme that was all set to launch just as the current economic crisis hit has had to be shelved for a while, but if you go looking for the good things, there is so much to see.
I think in the 60's and 70's, we looked too much towards America and flattened a lot of our heritage in favour of building big and new. Certainly the huge American style shopping mall on the outskirts took a lot of trade out of the heart of the then bustling city. But I think that most of us realise now that the European way, preserving and adapting our heritage buildings is far more aesthetically pleasing.

The old "Wedding Cake" registry office and council building was pulled down a few years ago - I didnt ever think it was very pretty, but I suppose if you were married there you might be sad to see it go. I think that the old Town Hall is an amazing building - as many northern town halls are.

Once again, clever town planners managed to mix old and new when they built the spectacular Winter Garden and stuck the Millennium Galleries on the side too.

Many of the old buildings have old symbols on them. My daughter thinks its like the Davinci code!

And I love the young Egyptian on top of the Library/Art Gallery (in fact I love all of this building - inside and out!)

Rowan, I'm waiting for you to tell me what all these symbols mean!

The City Hall is a wonderful building too. It is spectacular from the front, and the back, but I loved these pretty balconies on the plainer sides too.

The recently revamped Leopold Square (that no one knew existed until it was revealed!) was once the main school in the city. The doorways all have really ornate stone carvings over them. The square has restaurants and "nicer" bars around the edge of it. Its a bit disappointing that most of them are "chains" (once again, the American touch I suppose, although locals kicked off big style when "Hooters" applied for a place and they were sent packing!)

And around the Cathedral, you get a real mix of old and new buildings. I think this is where you can stand and see the evidence that the Blitz had on the city. It would be lovely to step back and see what the City looked like before, but at least they rescued many like this.

I hope you enjoyed my saunter around Sheffield at the weekend. I can't understand why folk flock to Meadowhall (Shopping Mall) on Sundays. The city shops are open and very quiet - a joy to wander around! (and that's from a non shopper!). No queues for changing rooms, a huge TK MAXX and a great wodge of culture and history to feed your soul at the same time!

Fitzalan Square revisited

Forgive me for revisiting my previous post this week, but I found out more interesting things to show you.
Firstly, the Police Box in the bottom right of the photo is for sale. As it has a toilet and a sink as well as electicity, in my plan for Fitzalan Square, this would become a little flower box, selling pretty bouquets for husbands and lovers to collect on their way home - the sort they seem to have on every street corner in Paris. I would also have of course a pretty and very brightly lit Carousel in the centre of the square which would light up the gloomiest of South Yorkshire days.
I also found these amazing photos of the Marples pub before, during and after the bombing. Rowan, you will be able to see exactly where it was from these photos.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Sheffield Midland Station

The railway station in Sheffield was given a huge makeover a few years back. Its now a pretty station where the "old" has been preserved and mixed very well with the "new".

The Edwardian refreshments room - The Sheffield Tap - has also been restored to its former glory and sells Thornbridge Ales from a local micro brewery. It had previously been derelict so someone did an amazing job here. Hubby recently did a train pub crawl, calling at stations along the line that had station pubs serving local Ales. Oz Clark and James May did it on their "drinking" programme once.

When the station was getting a facelift, the construction of the spectacular water features outside caused much traffic chaos, but I think they were worth it. The HUGE stainless steel water feature lights up in the evening too making it look even more spectacular. This area is known as Sheaf Square .
The rivers Sheaf and Porter Brook now run under here before they join the Don further down past Ponds Forge. I was amazed to read that in the 1700's there had been dams here that were filled in to make the railway station.

The stone fountains too have lovely detail. If you ever arrive at Sheffield Station, dont hurry past, take a moment to appreciate them.

Once you have appreciated the water features, cast your eyes up towards Sheffield Hallam University. We like to Welcome you to the city with poetry. We are far more cultured than we appear!

You can wander up the hill to the cultural quarter which features the galleries, museums, theatres etc. On the way up another lovely water feature trickles down to meet you.

To the left of the hill is where a lot of the cutlery manufacturers were and as well as having some lovely old brick buildings around here which have been converted and used in all manner of interesting ways - homes, university buildings, workplaces, restaurants, art spaces - there are also lots of original traditional style old pubs. We are losing so many pubs in the UK at the moment, its good to see these thriving (thanks mainly to the student population I think!)

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Haunts from the 80's

Continuing my wanderings around Sheffield on Sunday, I decided to check out a few of my favourite haunts from "When I were a lass".

I wandered through this lovely little garden and remembered the many nights out I had spent in here with my pal who was puking! (It was handy as it had a wall - she had discovered that if you puke over a wall, you save your shoes! - top tip there for the tipminded as Victoria Wood would say!). We thought she was a very light weight drinker - turned out she had Colon Ulcers!

We were "Josephines" girls - the nightclub is now called the Banus??!! We loved the music - lots of Wham and dancing around our handbags in our white stilettos with our big hair, white "Ice cream man coats" with the sleeves rolled up (like Don Johnson in Miami Vice!) hand knitted "cotton tops" (we used to knit these in our lunch hour using "Wendy Capri" wool - my fave knitting yarn of all time), bright blue eyeshadow and a bit of shoulder pad build up!! Gorgeous.

But we would always start the night in here - the Stonehouse and the most fantastic pub ever!! The interior was done out like the old streets in York Museum. We loved it.

I don't know what they use it for these days. I never realised that it was an old lodging house and back in the 1980's I never stopped to consider what a great exterior it had - I was too busy trip trapping inside to look at the twinkly ceiling lights that made you feel like you were drinking your lager and lime in a Victorian street!

Time on my hands

Too often I find myself at weekends without a hubby as he has to work. Now that I have a modicum of freedom (the young man would rather organise his own weekends, but there is invariably a lift required at some stage!) Ive decided to stop moaning about it and organise some "me" time. On Sunday I took myself off to Sheffield to buy a ticket for an event that is on one of these weekend days. I generally park at Meadowhall and ride in on the tram. Its easier and far cheaper than parking in the city. The Tram system is really easy with only 2 lines to choose from. I indulged in one of my favourite pastimes - people watching. Two lovely ladies across from me where recalling memories of all the times they have been to Gracelands to visit the home of Elvis. One of them then produced a catalogue and they were choosing posh dresses for imaginary nights out to venues that no longer exist! It was hilarious.

I got off outside the Cathedral. It was such a dull overcast day. The letterbox really stood out.

I may use this photograph in some of my cards. If I glitter it up, it will make a great Christmas Card.

I'll show you more of my roamings later.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Fitzalan Square

I like Fitzalan Square in Sheffield but it is not very loved. If I had a limitless pot of money, I would clean it and tart it up big style.

It has very wide pavements all around the square. If this was in any town or city in France, it would be lined with places to eat and have seating outside and on a Sunday morning it would be bustling with people. I'd love to have that kind of culture here - its one of the many things I love about France. Around Fitzalan Square, many of the shops and cafes have closed down.

The most famous building in the square is the "Marples" pub - sadly not only not a pub anymore, but empty too. The old Marples pub was the site of the worst single loss of life in the Sheffield Blitz. Above 70 people died in the cellars. The German bombers missed their steel producing targets and the city centre was badly damaged. I was surprised to read that the Marples was actually called the "London Mart" but locals named it the Marples after its original landlord.

A statue of Edward VII stands proud in the square - a friend of the Duke of Norfolk who owned most of Sheffield at that time.

I love this building - simply called The White Building. It looks as if it houses flats. If these were in Paris, they would be very swanky.

Before I was a blogger, I never noticed finer details on buildings, but now I examine buildings very carefully.

I'd never noticed the carvings of steel workers and cutlery makers before. There are many of these are they are lovely.

Another gorgeous building - again sadly empty - is the Old Post Office building. With my limitless pot of cash, I would turn this into an indoor food market. This would also feature little stalls selling proper hot food to go - like the lovely one in St Helier in Jersey where we ate fantastic hot pasta from the Italian Deli.

Whilst researching facts for Fitzalan Square, I came across this amazing website that seems to feature buildings that people have broken into to take photographs of the interiors!.

I don't know if anyone has any plans for the building - I hope they do something nice with it.

It has some pretty rusty railings around it - these surprised me as most old railings were sawn off and sent away for the war effort in WW2.

The back of the building, which I believe was the sorting office is built in brick, and the back has totally been demolished.

Even though its in a bit of a state, and there really is nothing much to see, I did enjoy my wander around Fitzalan Square.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Once Round the Lump

After I had written my post about the Adelphi Theatre in Attercliffe, new kid on the blogger Deb left me a comment saying that her family had lived in Attercliffe and her Aunt had written a book about the people that had lived and worked there before it was flattened in the regeneration program. It sounded interesting, and so I trawled Amazon, found it, sent for it and it arrived on Saturday morning. I couldn't put it down. Its a fascinating book featuring many mainly family photographs that tell of how life was living, working, playing and shopping in Sheffield's very industrialised heartland.

Some of the things that Ann writes made my spine tingle. Her intro into the book starts " I always thought that my childhood was a figment of my imagination because there is nothing left of the homes and streets I grew up in."

She goes on to say "There was a culture of full employment and youngsters had lots to do after school. The facilities we had were second to none: Play centres, youth clubs, churches, chapels and all the clubs attached to them. We had cinemas, pubs, sports clubs, a library, a swimming pool, dance halls, snooker halls, and the money to go to them."

The photographs show that houses that we would consider to be slums these day were actually spotlessly clean homes in spotless streets that had no grafitti or litter. Extended supportive families and a strong community that worked together and played together are so evident in the photographs and the writing.

"A bang with the rake on the fire-back would bring the next-door neighbour in for a cup of tea."

Ann asks the question "What went wrong?" Why was poor housing seen as enough reason to destroy a community that was on the whole law abiding and not afraid of hard work" and it got me wondering too. Why, when things should have got better for society, when people were given better housing with indoor bathrooms, central heating etc, did things go downhill so badly?

Looking back, its easy to wear rose tinted glasses and see only the good things, but the good things then were so very good. Life must have been difficult in Attercliffe. The steelworks worked both day and night and the very loud noises must have been difficult to sleep through for a start!

Thank you Deb for mentioning the book to me (tell your Aunt you want commission!!). Its one of the best reads ever.

There is a really good display in Weston park Museum, Sheffield about Attercliffe and it inhabitants too which always fascinates me. Human stories about everyday life, struggles and joys are the best stories ever.


I popped into my local Hospice Shop and came away with some marvellous finds.

6 beautiful butter knifes(£1.50) and a cake knife (£1.45)...

all with the very important "Made in Sheffield" on the blades.

A pretty glass candlestick, (£1.00)

Some wool to make a scarf for the WI craft stall - 50p the lot(Its a much nicer colour than it looks here).

And more than enough books to keep me going until my next visit. They sell paperbacks for 60p and hardbacks are either 75p or £1.00!!!

The entire haul came to less than £10. I call that a bargain.