12.12.18 — Journal

Manchester & Sheffield

It’s been a while since I updated my blog, I know, but I’m back and as confused as ever. Said confusion is due to the fact that I’ve now to try and recount two trips to Manchester from two weeks ago and not mix the details of the two up. I probably will either way, so I’ll keep everything short and sweet as damage control, and also because I’ve to get this post out quickly in order to start on the backlog of updates I’ve not posted yet…

In between toiling away on my new website (it’s nearly finished I promise) and my portfolio, I’ve also had the pleasure of heading out to spend time with my parents in a few places in and around Burnley. About a fortnight ago we found ourselves in Manchester once again (after I covered our market trip in my last post), this time for a spot of shopping and to check out the city’s creative district, the Northern Quarter.

Clark Brothers
A music shop

As I’d enjoyed visiting the crafts shop Fred Aldous so much during my time as a design student in Leeds, I dragged my mum into their original shop in Manchester. There we decided to have a go in their traditional photo booth in a moment of madness, and had a good laugh when the machine spat out the results, still covered in the photographic chemicals.

A bit of spontaneous madness
Stopping for coffee

After stopping for coffee and a bite to eat in a lovely coffee shop along the way, we headed back home, but before three days had gone by I found myself Manchester-bound once more! This time I hitched a lift over with Abi and Danni, as the three of us were due a long-awaited catch up over some bratwurst and glühwein on the markets. That we did with great gusto, all before stumbling upon a little photo booth van amongst the market stalls. With it being free, we decided that we had to give it a twirl, and the props provided led to a hilarious quartet of photos!

The three of us on the market
A cheeky sausage
My favourite of the photos

That evening the three of us headed back to Danni’s for a few cheeky drinks, which soon got suitably out of hand – but one has to have a proper drunken catch-up every now and then, no?

Anyway, after taking the Sunday off to recover from this, on the Monday morning I found myself once again on the move, only this time back over the border into Yorkshire. I’d arranged to spend a couple of nights at my sister’s student house over in Sheffield, and she’d kindly offered to show me around her city as she’d a couple of days to spare in between her busy uni schedule.

Changing trains in Leeds

To say that me and Ellie crammed a lot in during my visit would be an understatement, as it felt like we were constantly on the move, eating and drinking our way around the place non-stop!

Explorations began the moment I arrived, as she gave me a quick tour of the city by night, including the gorgeous Winter Gardens and the festive street markets. It was here that we stopped for a Christmas tipple, before I decided I’d brave trying out poutine, a Canadian dish which is basically chips and gravy with the addition of cheese curds.

Being a northerner, I am naturally a huge fan of the humble chips and gravy, but it was the cheese curds that had me on high alert. Anyone who knows me will know that I am picky about cheese at the best of times, and the word ‘curd’ cannot be said to be all that appetising. I was, then, quite delighted as I discovered that the Quebec folk have come up with a winner here, as I did indeed enjoy the glorified chips and gravy.

After this we wandered back to Ellie’s house to drop off our stuff, and then headed pretty much straight back out in order to let our hair down with a few cheeky pints and some spontaneous bingo and karaoke in some bars along the way. After a chance encounter with a takeaway guy who used to serve Ellie her preferred end-of-night dish (cheesy garlic bread) in one of the clubs, we decided it might be time to head homebound, and so I slept my Guinness off in preparation for an early morning.

Street art on campus

Ellie had plenty planned for my first foray into Sheffield by daylight, staring with a biology museum that she’d been wittering on about since my arrival. Ellie’s a biology student you see, and, as you may have gauged, I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy said museum as much as I thought that she thought that I would. I won’t judge if you have to re-read that sentence to make sense of it.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at the kooky little converted laboratory that Ellie whisked me off to in the University of Sheffield Biology Building! The relatively small museum was packed to the rafters with curious specimens and artefacts, and I followed intrigued as she led me through the different complexities of life form. We spent quite a while in there before heading to our next stop: the lift in the Arts Tower.

Inside the museum

I know what you’re probably thinking: what’s so interesting about a lift (an elevator, for international readers) anyway? Well, this lift is unlike most others, as it’s a non-stop step-on/step-off system! They’re called paternosters, and I found the whole affair rather interesting, so you should go and read more about the thing or check out a video of how it works below – the shoddy photos I took just can’t do the thing any justice!

After surviving a trip in the thing, we hopped (literally had to) off back on ground level and took a stroll upwards through the campus. Ellie had decided we’d have a pizza lunch at Proove, a wood-fired pizza place near her house, as she’d had the place recommended to her time and time again but had never caught a chance to visit. We grabbed the £7.20 lunch menu, and it did not disappoint! It was once of the nicest pizzas I think I’ve ever had, and we followed it up with a delicious dessert consisting of the stretch pizza dough filled with banana, pistachio and Nutella – bliss!

Wandering through the University of Sheffield
A view over Sheffield

After lunch, Ellie had to nip in for a short lecture, so I plonked myself down in the University Union’s little café and worked on my new website for a while. When she returned, we nipped back to her house once again to drop off our bags, and then started up a rather steep incline to visit one of her favourite spots, Bole Hill.

Looking out from Bole Hill
A nice piece of ironwork signage

After a while putting the world to rights up atop the breezy hill, the cold soon got the better of us and we descended back into the centre of Sheffield. For tea that night I was whisked along to a place called Church in the Kelham Island area of the city, as Ellie had been told that they offered a mean vegetarian donner kebab.

At first the menu had the two of us rather confused, as there wasn’t a vegetarian symbol in sight, and most of the menu seemed to be taken up by chicken wings and pulled pork and the like. When we asked the bar staff, however, we were surprised to learn that everything on the menu was in fact vegan, and so we chose four of their dishes to share at, wondering how on earth they were going to serve us vegan BBQ ribs – I was rather dubious!

Any doubts were cast astray when the food arrived and we got stuck in, however, as everything was absolutely delicious! Helping ourselves to pulled pork and cheese fries, a plate piled high with ribs, a quinoa salad and a donner kebab, I proclaimed that it was nothing short of witchcraft that the whole affair had been totally vegan. After a cheeky margarita at a Mexican bar nearby, we grabbed a taxi home, making a mental note to pay Kelham Island a visit again in the future.

The next day began rather slowly, as we headed into the city once more in order to grab some breakfast. Ellie had once again found a lovely little independent coffee shop famed for its delicious banana bread, which was served toasted with a little bit of butter, and was absolutely delicious and undoubtedly one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in quite some time. I don’t recall its name, but I’ll ask Ellie to let me know and edit it into this post once I find out. It was at Tamper Coffee!

All too soon it was time for me to head back to the station to catch my train back to Lancashire, but Ellie will be back home for Christmas soon, so it wasn’t such a huge goodbye as I’d become accustomed to whilst living abroad! Since this visit to Sheffield, I’ve been up to even more, but I’m afraid that I’ll have to leave that until another blog post. I’ll leave you, then, with the mental image of me waving Ellie out of Sheffield train station with a mouth full of Tesco’s festive turkey and stuffing sandwich – nothing says a British Christmas more than that!