It was still dark when I got up this morning and peaked around the curtain, a sign that winter is on the way in. My reason for being up at 6:30 was that we are off up north again today on a courier run, the first of two scheduled for this week.
We left home just after 8pm and took the 214 to St Pancras. We had enough time before the departure of our train at 8:55 to have breakfast at the Camden Food Company cafe upstairs near our departure platform. Tigger spotted that they were offering porridge with fruits of the forest. It was delicious, just the thing on a damp grey day.
On this journey we are following an already well trodden path—to Sheffield, a city we have visited several times already and of which we are fond. Unusually, we were informed of this trip—and the next one, on Wednesday—early last week, so we have had time to prepare and look forward to it.
The train pulls out of St Pancras—one of our most beautiful London stations if not the most beautiful—into a grey morning. The sky is solidly overcast and distant views are veiled with mist while the air is damp, perhaps indicating rain to come.
We have window seats at a table where we can watch the world stream past. We have passed Hendon and are trundling along beside the motorway. I notice that people crossing over the footbridge have their umbrellas open. Perhaps the weather will be more amenable in Yorkshire.
As we hurry north, there are signs that the sky may clear. Let’s hope this is so.
At the station we took a taxi to the delivery point. This was an unusual double job: we had two documents to deliver to the same address but to different addressees. We were able to hand over one to the responsible officer who came down to the reception area to meet us. There was no one to accept the other package which therefore had to be taken right around the outside of the building to the deliveries entrance. Strange, but all in a day’s work.
From the client address, we walked back to the town centre along the Moor, a broad pedestrianized street of shops with some market type stalls in it, and thus we arrived at the Winter Garden, adjacent to which is the Millennium Gallery, part of Museums Sheffield. Our visit, however, was less cultural than culinary!
Downstairs from the Gallery is the pleasant Azure cafe-restaurant where we thought to have lunch. This was my idea because I remembered that on a previous visit we had chosen their vegetarian Fish & Chips. Vegetarian Fish & Chips? Yes, truly. In this case, though, the “fish” is halloumi cheese, battered and deep fried. We started with soup and perhaps shouldn’t have, because the main dish was very filling, including as it did, mushy peas and chips the size of railway sleepers. (OK, I exaggerate but they were big.)
The Kipple Pond, Millennium Gallery
Click here for an explanation
After this we caught the 76 bus to see where it went. We got off at Firth Park where the roundabout at the junction of Firth Park Road and Bellhouse Road recalls the era of the tram by preserving a section of track. The modern tram has not made it this far yet and I doubt whether it ever will, despite the roads being wide enough for trams.
The 75 took us back to town where we did a little more exploring before dropping into Molly’s Tea Room in Norfolk Row for refreshments. Here I must have a little grumble, not particularly about Molly’s which is just following an unfortunate trend. (Skip the boxed paragraph if you don’t want to read my grumble.)
We then made a complete circuit aboard the FreeBee, Sheffield’s free bus that follows a circular route around the inner area of the city. To judge from the numbers boarding and leaving the bus, this is a popular and successful service.
We disembarked at the station, feeling we had done enough sightseeing for now. Unfortunately, for reasons of economy, we are booked onto the 18:27 train and will have to wait until then as our tickets are not valid on any earlier train. We have come to the Ritazza coffee bar to await our train in relative comfort.
The platform for our train was announced about 45 minutes before departure time. We went to the platform and within a short while the train arrived. We had to wait while they “fluffed”* the carriages and then we went aboard. Night was falling by now and it was completely dark by the time we reached Derby.
My last photographic act was to try to capture the famous crooked spire at Chesterfield. I don’t usually attempt to take photographs through vehicle windows and, looking at this picture, you can see why!
After this we hurried on south, stopping only at Leicester. The day out has been a success even though we did not do as much as we have done on previous visits. The weather was kind and Sheffield welcoming, as ever. Here’s to the next time!
*In case you are not familiar with this term, it refers to removing old newspapers, coffee cartons and other rubbish from the train. It is sometimes done by train staff on the final approach to the terminus and sometimes done in the station before passengers are allowed to board.