A short run to Sheffield

Today, Tigger is off on a courier run to Sheffield and, as usual, she left early to catch the 7:25, leaving me to follow along later. It is a warm and sunny day in London but as it’s often cooler in the north, I am dressing well and not taking any chances. I can always remove unwanted layers and put them in my shoulder bag.

The water feature, Sheaf Square
The water feature, Sheaf Square
I always try to photograph the water feature when I come to Sheffield but its size makes this difficult

When I reached the bus stop, a 214 arrived almost immediately. This takes me directly to St Pancras and I was expecting to be early. Instead, we found ourselves in heavy traffic in the Kings Cross area. Shut up a the bus stuck in a log jam, I began the feel anxious. Fortunately, I had left plenty of time and reached the upper levels of St Pancras with 15 minutes to spare. The train was already boarding so I got in and found a good seat, ignoring my reservation. It is one of a pair of "priority seats" at the very end of a carriage, handy for the exit. They are intended for disabled people and have extra room for my long legs.

Arches in front of Sheffield Station
Arches in front of Sheffield Station
I find these stone-built arches very elegant and the glass ceiling makes the concourse light and airy

We always keep in touch while apart (using email and IM on our smartphones) and Tigger lets me know that she has completed the drop and confirmed this with HQ. Despite the sunshine here London, she tells me it is raining in Sheffield. It’s just as well I brought my rain jacket, then! I sometimes think I carry too much clutter around with me but just occasionally this saves the day!

Howard Street in the rain
Howard Street in the rain
We usually walk up Howard Street to the Millennium Gallery

As the train made its way towards Sheffield, we passed through several different weather bands: bright sunshine would give way to cloudy overcast which in turn ceded to rain which then melted away into sunshine. Tigger tells me that is how it is in Sheffield, a continually changing weather scene.

The Millennium Gallery always has interesting exhibitions
The Millennium Gallery always has interesting exhibitions
though we didn’t visit this one and I’m not even sure how you pronounce it!

At Sheffield I met up with Tigger and we walked up sloping Howard Street, enjoying the scene and taking photos as we went, despite the fact that it was spitting with rain. Our destination was the Millennium Gallery, and more precisely, its cafe, where we nearly always go for lunch when in Sheffield.

The Millennium Gallery Cafe
The Millennium Gallery Cafe
Not quite the Palm Court but pretty good nonetheless

On arrival at the cafe, we found there was a queue and we had to wait for a few minutes. We seem to have arrived just at the end of the busy period because while we were having lunch, the number of customers thinned out and things became more relaxed. We once more enjoyed our by now traditional lunch of vegetarian fish & chips (the “fish” is deep-fried battered haloumi cheese).

The Millennium Gallery's living wall
The Millennium Gallery’s living wall
The living wall or vertical garden brightens up the area and is an interesting feature in itself

After lunch, Tigger suggested we visit the Heeley City Farm. We had been there once before (see Sheffield and Heeley) and I had been a little critical of it but that was back in the winter, not the best time to see a farm, and we thought to take another look. However, we realized to our surprise that we didn’t have time because our train left in just over an hour, insufficient time to get to Heeley and back, let alone visit the farm.

Fountain top Fountain bottom
We love this unusual and colourful fountain
The water is channelled to follow the edge of the undulating lawn to the basin at the bottom where it swirls becomingly

The reason for this situation was that we had had lunch much later than usual and had now run out of time. This was because, wishing to save money, I had asked the ticket clerk for the cheapest ticket available, and she offered me two. I took the second, cheaper, one not realizing this was for a much later train. As a result, I have paid only a flying visit to Sheffield this time. We cannot prolong our stay to compensate because our return tickets are valid only for a specific train.

Sheffield's picturesque Town Hall
Sheffield’s picturesque Town Hall
This imposing edifice, a fitting symbol of Sheffield’s civic pride, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1897

To fill in the remaining time we went for a ride on the FreeBee free bus which follows a circular route around the city centre. We got off at Sheffield’s massive town hall to take a few photos but then had to board the bus again to return to the station where we arrived with 12 minutes to spare before the departure of our train.

Pinstone Chambers has Salvationist connections
Pinstone Chambers has Salvationist connections
Development of Pinstone Street started in earnest after a Salvation Army Citadel was built on the corner

This, therefore, has been only a short visit especially for me, but it is always good to see Sheffield, the city where I went to university, and which I have come to know again more recently in its shiny new post-industrial existence. And we at least enjoyed our lunch of vegetarian fish & chips with tartar sauce and mushy peas! (“Mushy” should always be pronounced to rhyme with “bushy”.)

The foundation stone of Pinstone Chambers
The foundation stone of Pinstone Chambers
was laid by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, who came close to making Sheffield his headquarters

The London train was crowded – unsurprisingly, at the end of a Friday afternoon. We did have reserved seats but preferred to find a couple together that suited us. There wasn’t much leg room but I mitigated the discomfort by falling asleep for most of the journey! That’s one way to do it.

Don't feed the pigeons - for their own good!
Don’t feed the pigeons – for their own good!
I was happily surprised by this Council notice that actually showed concern for the welfare of the pigeons; unusual but welcome

When we disembarked at St Pancras, everyone crowded onto the first escalator so we preferred to walk to the other end of the upper level, intending to take the steps down to Midland Road and go over to Kings Cross station to catch our bus. This brought us to the front of the building and the grand courtyard of St Pancras station. For years this has been boarded up and inaccessible to the public while building works have been in progress. Finally, the fences have been removed and we can go into the courtyard and admire both it and the magnificent façade of the station.

A detail of the water feature
A detail of the water feature
a final look at this ever-fascinating structure before boarding the train for London

Other people were also enjoying the novelty of walking or sitting in this open space and quite a few were taking photos as were we. I note, however, that on the ground there are rectangles marked out in darker brick, suggesting that this courtyard is intended to become the car park for residents. A few cars were already parked there. This will make the courtyard a much less attractive place in future.

The newly liberated courtyard of St Pancras Station
The newly liberated courtyard of St Pancras Station
How Sir John Betjeman, its champion, would have liked to see the refurbished St Pancras

On the way home, we received one piece of bad news: tomorrow’s courier run is off, so it will, sadly, be a normal Friday after all.

Some of Sheffield's pigeons
Some of Sheffield’s pigeons
look after their health and do not make them dependent on people!

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to A short run to Sheffield

  1. WOL says:

    In re: the Sheffield water feature, does water run down the wall behind the fountain that is so polished? or is that just a smooth reflective surface? The “living wall” is quite attractive, and a nice idea. That is a colorful fountain. The trickling of water is quite a pleasant sound — when you are able to hear it! Since you like the Sheffield water feature, you would no doubt like this one — which has been in the movies! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Worth_Water_Gardens

    • SilverTiger says:

      The shiny surface is a long metal wall, about 10 feet high at the bottom end and 3 feet or so at the top end. As you deduce it is constructed of polished metal. Along its length, water comes out at the top and runs down the surface, covering it entirely with a thin, rippling layer.

      Such “water surfaces” seem quite popular at the moment, usually built of metal but also sometimes of stone or concrete. In many places (including Sheffield) you will find large polished metal spheres, singly or in groups, with water running down over the surface.

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