It was a murky day when I donned my satchel and headed into my home city to be a tourist for the day. I didn’t mind this, because it gave me the perfect excuse to wear my new green raincoat; plus we all know, don’t we, that it isn’t good old traditional British tourism without at least the heavy threat of rain.
My trip was motivated by a self-imposed staycation the first week of a fortnight’s annual leave. While some precious time to do something I almost never do – loaf around the house, crocheting, watching all those films I never saw at the cinema – was definitely on the cards, I knew that I also needed to plan days out to make sure that I didn’t find myself stuck in the downside of the staycation: housework. Increase the amount of time I spend at home from the average weekend to an entire week, and a stressful spiral of ‘spotted that, now I must clean it‘ was bound to ensue. Not at all in the holiday spirit. So I decided to spend a day in my home city of Sheffield, doing all those things and visiting all those places that I have never before found time to tick off my list.
The first stop on my itinerary was Abbeydale Road. It’s becoming pretty well known as part of Sheffield Antiques Quarter, and while I’m a semi regular visitor to the glorious Jameson’s Tea Rooms, the chance to drive out to the other side of Sheffield, park and spend unhurried time browsing the vintage treasure troves there is a rare thing.
I began with a visit to The Vault, so named because it is an old bank, its underground vaults now filled with all manner of books and vintage whatnots. There are always bargains to be found in there, as well as upcycling projects galore for those seeking them. In the half hour I was inside no less than five people came in, haggled, and left with pieces of wooden furniture, no doubt to Annie Sloan to the max. What amused me is that two of them had no idea how they were going to transport their purchases home. Impulse buying at its best. I myself left with a funny-looking fork to add to my antique cutlery collection for food photography, and moseyed along to Vintedge, another vintage shop for those seeking value-added vintage rather than ‘fixer upper bargains’, Jameson’s Fine Things – the tea room’s offshoot vintage shop, where I spotted a very fierce looking stuffed crocodile – bought two local beers from Turner’s Craft Beer Bottle Shop where I was advised my its very knowledgeable owner, and smiled at the ever stunning Swallows and Damsons and Honeysuckle at Home as I passed – the latter run by my friend and fellow WI member Jude, sadly, on its closed day.
Back in the trusty car it was, then, and into the city centre to meet three friends in their lunch hour. They knew exactly where to go to find delicious food, fast, so the tourist experience continued at Roast, where I had a very scrumptious panini (shouldn’t it be ‘panino’? I always wonder). They then waved me off as I headed to the Central Library, a grand old building that always makes me feel as though I’m visiting a library in the 1930s. I became a member, being tipped off that doing so meant being able to download a wondrous array of magazines for free – then headed upstairs to take in the Graves Gallery. A peaceful hour later, I left feeling rather relaxed, and continued on to the Winter Gardens and the attached Millennium Gallery, where I enjoyed an exhibition celebrating the work of John Ruskin (to me, the male Beatrix Potter), and another acknowledging Sheffield’s cutlery and steely past – this tied in nicely with my cutlery purchases of the day.
I ambled around the flagged and cobbled streets and took some snaps. I really tried to look up at around at the architecture of the town hall, the Lyceum theatre and Wicker Herbal Stores; all buildings I have visited many times, but always on a time limit. I drifted into Bird’s Yard, where I felt a glow of pride seeing various friends’ handmade wares for sale there, and spent a while fondling Yorkshire Blankets. So woolly. I even popped in at Sheffield’s touristy souvenir shop, where I bought a leather Sheffield bookmark. This tourism thing was getting serious.
My brain briefly lifted out of holiday mode to consider that rush hour would soon be approaching, but there was still time to pop in at John Lewis to haunt the haberdashery section and ogle the buttons and yarn, and then to my last stop, Division Street, full of boho independent businesses and bars. I’m a regular at The Old House bar, where I hold my vintage book club – but I always visit after the shops close. So I popped into MoonKo, and after a chat with the chap behind the till, left with what I think may be the ultimate purchase of any holiday, ever. A glorious wooden eating spoon by Hatchet + Bear.
Even the drive home was victorious, as I did beat rush hour and sail the half hour journey back to the outskirts of the city like a dream. My day out certainly gave me an even greater appreciation of Sheffield, and its rich history. Perhaps even more satisfying was the amount I realised I still have to see and experience… and eat.
But that’s for the next staycation.