My Guide To Sheffield...

By Lucy Harbron - 16:32

On my final day in Sheffield I took myself on a date. I walked to the top of one of the (many) hills and had a coffee, I listened to the city’s songs, wrote and sipped a cocktail. I wrote a list of all my favourite parts of the city, all my favourite nights and places to spend them, and realised I could fill pages and pages. After three years Sheffield and I are friends tied together by history, and in the last 12 months, we’ve reconciled all our differences after heartbreaks and homesickness tried to corner off its best bits. I felt sad to leave ad I already miss the city so dearly, feeling lucky to have had three years full of friends and locals showing me all the best spots. I miss my regular haunts, so I’ll pass them onto you, should you ever find yourself there. Here’s the list...

For Pretty Things…

Moonko – The place to go for the sweetest gifts for yourself or others. If my time had to be summarised, It would be by my ‘girls are strong’ pin, an accessory that adorns so many women around the city. Go in for cards that always seem to say what you need them to, or for a bunch of dried lavender that will sit next to your bed and be the scent of your sleep-filled nights. And say hi to the owner, follow her on Instagram to see passion and hard-work and care as she fights to save trees and teaches you exactly how to look after that plant.

Mooch – For all the things you never knew you needed; a fur coat, a leather tassel vest, silk gloves, a white micro-purse with a beaded handle and classic sportswear. This shop, as with all others on Division Street, is a treasure trove, the home of hours of procrastination shopping.

Vulgar – Where I went when I needed anything from a panic night out outfit or a hug from the women that work there as professional spending enablers and affirmation-providers. The biggest thing I got from Sheffield, apart from a degree, was an intense earring addiction fuelled almost entirely by Vulgar and their giant hoops and plastic fruit. Go here to learn to be a maximalist; a move you certainly won't regret (or go just to admire the statue of a naked man.)

Syd & Mallory The gatekeeper of Division Street and the patron saint of Sheffield custom kookiness. I spent my first year admiring their star-adored sheer tops, my second lusting after tongue-in-cheek slogan tees, and my third craving diamonte hair clips proclaiming ‘boss’. Everything is improved by the sound of a sewing machine, making more and new things for you to want next week.

Antiques Quarter The exact place to spend a Sunday dreaming about other Sundays in fancy houses. Wander out to Abbeydale and dip in and out of antique shops admiring painted dressing tables and talk yourself out of buying falling apart old magazines. Best enjoyed with a coffee in hand from Forge and very little money in the bank to avoid temptation.

St. Lukes – Uphill in Broomhill there’s the perfect charity shop, accepting only vintage. Ask me where my burlesque costumes are from and 90% of the time I’ll point you here, because where else can you guarantee will have a white silk slip skirt and classic bullet bra? Only St. Lukes. And you’ll probably also leave with a purse and a hair scarf you don’t need but couldn’t not get.

For Caffeine...

Steamyard- Sit outside in the courtyard. If its hot; get a Mexican coke and a salted caramel brownie. If its hot; get an oat milk mocha and a brioche roll with brie, and a salted caramel brownie. Always the brownie.

Five Rivers- The home of many essays and hours of revisions. Exam season of first year passed in a flash in the corner of this Vietnamese café, shaking from one too many coffees dripped down onto condensed milk and mixing into sugary caffeinated heaven. Go at breakfast and get a fry up, go at lunch and get pho, go mid-afternoon for a banoffee cheesecake that will change your life, then in the evening, get a cocktail. Go at any time of day and expect a great playlist and a smile from the owner as he wanders round his passion project born from travel with his love.

Birdhouse- Each mum visit came with the struggle of where to go, going over the options in the week before and normally always settling here. Tucked away behind The Moor, Birdhouse is extremely wholesome and serves the most incredible tea lattes from their home-mixed teas. It's glorious and comforting and that’s all there really is to it. No doubt you’ll leave with a bag full of tea leaves; my fave is either vanilla chai, dressed well or their peak district mix.

Tamper – For serious caffeine and naughty brownies go to one of the two tampers. Spend hours here with a book. Have an oat mocha, and a cappuccino, and a chai latte when the caffeine gets too much. A firm fave for the city's creatives; I love sitting and eavesdropping on the meetings surrounding me as I eat my black forest brownie and inevitably bump into a friend.

Ambulo- A very new addition to the city but an immediate favourite. Branded an all-day café, Ambulo offer the ultimate indulgence of giving into cravings. Have sticky toffee pubbing at 10am, have a cocktail at 11am, have porridge at 5pm. Anything goes. Their filter coffee is amazing, but their negroni is even better so maybe just give into yourself and have a cocktail.

Alyssum – Up the hill in Crookesmoor, Alyssum serves life-saving brunches and cake to us students. You’d find me here each morning before a burlesque show chowing down on my pre-show ritual of halloumi, you’d find me dragged here by friends and fed cheer up cake after a bad night.

Nice Neighbourhood – The ability to move seamlessly from daytime coffee to late afternoon beer? Win from me. Add in a roof terrace and a less than 5 min walk from all uni buildings? Big win from me. Home to co-working spaces and offices housing some of the most exciting creatives in the city, this is the perfect place to work and then clock off.

For Feasts...

Nottingham House – You either want Notty House with your entire being or not at all. The craving hits and it must be respected. Take a morning to prepare for the severe bloat that will inevitably follow, get a group of friends, a big pile of gossip and a Guinness to see you through. Enjoy the comfort food coma that only a pie and mash can give you.

Cutlery Works- A new fancy edition allowing Sheffield to boast one of the biggest food courts in Europe. Upon first entry, there's too much choice for your own good. Poutine, pho, pies, arancini, bao buns, sushi; everything. If you can find a table, plant yourself there and sit for hours trying as much as you can until someone needs to roll you out. My fave combo is a glass of red from Fin and Bone and some arancini, orrrr a martini royale from the bar and the cheese and chili bites from Ma-Ba. Recover from the meal by wandering across the road to Church to play some classic video games.

Lucky Fox- Lucky fox is my saviour and my downfall. Too many times I’ve been sat by the window slowly sipping a ginger beer and praying that these fries will heal my hangover. And guess what, they always do. Despite being famous for their fried chicken, as a veggie, I still love this place, deeply. Always fresh, always on point, always a friend when you need it.

To Go And Do...

Museums- Sheffield museums are ever-changing and always interesting. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent looping around Graves Gallery or being conscious of my heels on the floor in Weston Park. Sheffield cares about its museums, there's always events and talks, local artists do so much for the space, and the recent addition of Ambulo in the cafes have boosted it ten-fold.

Creative Mornings- On the last Friday of each month Creative Mornings Sheffield hosts a talk. They always provide local coffee, a room full of local creatives, and a huge wave of inspo from a local entrepreneur or artist or expert. I've learnt so much attending these events and hearing talks on all sorts from sustainable farming to sleep to the height you should hang pictures in a gallery. They quickly became a highlight of my month as I bounced out of bed ready to go at 8am, knowing I'd leave ready for a day of productivity and fresh ideas. Creative Mornings run worldwide, but although biased, I think the Sheffield one may be the best, hosted in one of the friendliest cities in the world.

Tramlines- Do not buy a ticket. Don't go all the way over to Hillsborough, stay in town. Run from bar to bar seeing band after band. The city is filled with musicians and during tramlines, each one gets its turn. Everywhere somehow creates a stage, even chip shops and barbers. To support the local scene, stay central. You'll see far more acts, have way more fun, and get far drunker downing pints before running off to the next set on your list.

Park Hill- A living museum (at the moment). My favourite piece of Sheffield history is this old council estate, currently standing half renovated into fancy colourful flats and half desolate and crumbling. In the middle, a bridge, reading ‘I love you will u marry me’ written for a woman named Clare. It's tragic and beautiful, an inspiration for so much Sheffield art from prints to songs to entire musicals. Wander up there, read up on it as you sit in South Street Kitchen with a cappuccino and a view.

Meersbrook Park- I spent so much time here in love and I can’t imagine a better place for it. Walk 20 mins out of the centre and you find the most idyllic neighbourhood and a park that gives you a panoramic view of the city framed by two rows of trees. Go early in the morning, get a coffee from Create, then wander further uphill and pet a goat at Heeley City Farm. I dare you to not want to move there by the end of the day.

Botanical gardens- The botanical gardens held my heart. I met new friends there, I wander holding hands there, I was broken up with there, photographed my book there, said I love you there. It's beautiful and lively in every season, full of dogs being walked and people doing yoga, old people having tea and students sat reading. I could spend hours on the bench there, by the big window inside the pavilion right by the cacti. Out of all the haunted places covered in cobwebs of heartbreak, this was the one I worked hardest to reclaim, nothing with that much life should ever feel dead. And now it exists as my favourite place, very few places give me the sense of calm and peace as those yellow bricks and those giant leaves.

You should probably also go to the peaks. I’ll be honest, in my entire time in Sheffield I’ve been less than 5 times and I’ve only done a walk twice. But go to Hathersage, walk if you want, but definitely get waffles as the social club. I’m much more of a city walker, I could walk for hours around town to Abbeydale back round to Ecclesall and up to the big houses of Endcliffe. The peaks are beautiful but go to Meersbrook, go to Crookes Valley, go to Graves. Don’t neglect the city for its borders.

For Drinks...

Gatsby- The taste of a Ginny Hendrix (gin, triple sec, apple juice, cucumber, lemon & mint) is the flavour of so many events; my book launch, catch up lunches, dates, third-year freshers week. I think Gatsby is my favourite place for drinks. It’s so central, got anything you could want plus great music and a theme referencing one of my favourite books. Go in the evening and sit on the cool metal table by candlelight, slowly sip a cocktail before going out out.

Shakespeares- For a classic pub with great beer, go here. The range will stress you out but the friendliness of the crowd will ease you again. Best enjoyed on a sunny afternoon so you can lounge in the beer garden, or when there's a gig on so you can cram yourself into that tiny upstairs room.

Picture House Social- My favourite cocktail menu of the city simply because of its pride. With each cocktail representing a local business, Picture House Social is a hub for the city’s scene. Drink your way through the city (my fave is the swallows and damsons floral gin cocktail), while you boogie, play ping pong and grab a pizza. Bonus points if you do all that while waiting for a gig to start.

Kelham Wine Bar- When you want to feel fancy, go here. Looking over the river in Kelham, enjoy the biggest glass of wine possible huddled under the heat lamps surrounded by fairy lights. I love it here in the winter, it's so beautiful on a dark night and feels like such a little luxury sipping wine and having good conversation. This is a firm fave for date nights and small celebrations, take a loved one and take a blanket.

Dev Cat- Call in halfway through the day, unplanned, just to get an espresso martini.

Recipes For Nights...

Get 2-4-1 cocktails at Ambulo, down them because you cut it too fine or actually plan ahead and have a meal. Go to the Crucible theatre and feel cultured while being slightly tipsy. Wander up to Division Street talking about the show, notice noise coming from Bungalows and Bears and go in for their monthly jazz night. Boogie there for a moment as you talk your friend into a big night. Go to The Washington because it never lets you down, sip a gin and cranberry juice or shot some fireball if you’re talked into it. Say fuck it and go to Leadmill on a Thursday because Club Tropicana is maybe the greatest club night in the world and you end up shouting ‘this is my fave song ever!’ during every intro. Stay out still your feet allow, leave Leadmill and wander back to West Street and go into West Street Live if you’re mental. If not, get chips, go home.

Go to Forum 4pm for casual catch up drinks, get talked into buying last minute tickets for an event. Rush home at 6pm, get ready while watching drag race, pre-drink and be out again at 8 wandering down Division Street in your night-out trainers.

Go to Foodhall for a gig. It’s bring-your-own-booze so pack your tote with tinnies or a water bottle full of your best gin that you panic poured in as you rushed out. Watch your new fave band, then inevitably end up at The Washington again, dancing to blondie like your life depends on it.

Or literally just go to The Washington. Go on the first Monday of the month for their acoustic night, arrive at 8 and stumble out in the early hours. Meet all the regulars and learn to love them deeply until you get a discount on all your drinks. Always dance, even during the questionable song choices. End up there way too often to see Sadly Dan and Life Aquatic and I Set The Sea On Fire and Femur and Black Mamba Fever and Dead Slow Hoot and Lio and Children of the State and more and more and more.

On the first weekend of the month, queue up for Peddler. Save your money and your stomach, do a lap before deciding what you want to eat. Get a beer, wear a baker boy hat and stand outside in the cold by the fire, watch bands or DJs or just people. See the whole city there.

Indulge fully in everything. Go to an Endless Love life drawing class. Go see a burlesque show by either Steel City Sirens or Spectre. Go see a play by SUTCO. Go see a film at Showroom, go to Doc Fest if you’re around then. Go to all the gigs you can, all the local DJ sets, all the talks. Do everything and do it all local and independent.

Sheffield is small and full. It has a beautiful tight-knit community of artists and creators and business owners that adopt everyone that wants in. You can see it on social media as words of encouragement and love bounce from one to another. Everyone knows everyone, and for better or worse, it makes the city fun. It lets you feel a part of it simply by being there and showing up and getting to know people too. The city lets you in, you just have to go out and open the door.

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  1. Thanks for this..Interesting..although most of those are for youngsters like you, I still enjoyed reading..having recently been to Sheffield twice, we like what we saw and even thinking about moving there...I am mid-30s and have kids so my activities would not involve seeing bands or eating cake at night..LOL...good blog though...


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