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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.