Posts Tagged ‘Sheffield’

Call Me Robin

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

I am contemplating a life living in a forest with a bunch of merry men and attempting to win the heart of a fair maiden named Marian. I’m not sure how long it would last but at least I could feel confident heading off into the woods knowing that I’m not that bad with a bow and arrow.

On Sunday, Sir Pubert and I had a one-hour archery lesson in the Peak District near Sheffield. My single previous attempt at archery had ended in many tears and an early exit from the range. Seventeen years later, I had finally moved past that experience and felt confident enough to try again. My dad was a little concerned about me attempting archery again, but I assured him that as I am no longer 12, I am significantly less weak and pathetic and I now have a better understanding of the physics of bow handling,  I would be ok. But secretly I was still a little nervous.

The class was held at the Ringinglow Archery club and we were instructed by Damian. For obvious reasons the safety instructions were outlined very seriously but soon we were on our way to firing sharpened sticks through the air.


Not a bad view.

Our first target was 10 metres away, which doesn’t sound like much but when you’re attempting to make a thin projectile hit a dot on a board, it seems much further. It was very relieving when my turn came to shoot my first arrow and I not only managed to hold on to the bow correctly and make the arrow fire, it also hit the target. It wasn’t a bullseye by any means, but it didn’t go completely off track and hit one of the horses in the nearby paddocks. That is success in my books.

We were soon firing off arrows like pros – Sir Pubert will be disappointed if I didn’t mention that his final score was higher than mine, but who hit the central part of the target first? Oh, would that have been me? Why yes, I do believe it was.

Archery target


Pubert wasn’t content with the 10 metre target and convinced Damian to let us have a go at the 20 metre range. I missed my first shot but managed to land the rest of the arrows. It was amazing to see how much you have to change where you aim when you move from one distance to the other. I would classify myself as a short-distance archer at the moment with potential for inclusion in the Olympic team in 2016.

Le Tour de Sheffield

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

It’s that time of the year again when super-skinny, lycra-clad men ride around on bikes for the entertainment of us less-skinny, less-lycra-clad folk. The hipsters are excited – Le Tour de France has begun and this year it started in good old Yorkshire, land of puddings. There has been plenty of build up to the big event with an increased interest in bikes and the colour yellow. I was visiting my brother in Sheffield over the weekend, which happened to coincide with the York to Sheffield stage of the Tour. I had hoped to see the bikes in action but the route didn’t pass anywhere near the centre of the city and my lack of transport and inability to plan ahead meant that I didn’t make it. Instead, my brother, Dad and I stood outside the Sheffield town hall and watched the riders do their thing on a very large screen. The atmosphere was charged, we had a great view of all of the action and we could listen to Phil Liggett. The Tour isn’t the Tour without Phil. Oh and we waved to a camera man in a helicopter and appeared somewhere in an aerial shot. FAME.

Bikes on a big screen.

Bikes on a big screen.

Two years standing on the Champs Elysée and this year next to a large screen in Sheffield – that must make me a regular Tour attendee. I should get a tshirt.


Sheffield’s Resident Pig

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Last weekend I went and caught up with my brother and sister-in-law in Sheffield. It is handy living a 50 minute train ride away from my family. It is a significant improvement on a 24 hour plane ride; that’s a long way to go for a hug. My visits to see Ben don’t generally involve much other than sitting around drinking coffee, cooking dinner and then going to bed early. But sometimes it is this sort of relaxed comfort that is exactly what you need to remind yourself of the good things in life.

Saying this, on Saturday afternoon things turned wild when Ben and Zoë took me to Heeley City Farm to meet the animals residing in central Sheffield. Nestled in a residential zone of the city, Heeley City Farm is a community based animal farm, café and garden centre. It is a fantastic space to bring kids and is also highly entertaining for us older folk. Who doesn’t like looking at lambs? Here are some of the characters we met on our visit:

Goat butts.

Goat butts.



Winner of the Best Animal of the Farm competition.

Winner of the Best Animal of the Farm competition.

We think this is a chipmunk but there was no signage to confirm or deny.

We think this is a chipmunk but there was no signage to confirm or deny.

We went to the café for afternoon tea and each had a piece of homemade cake. Flavours included a vegan pear cake, lemon polenta, and I had a sticky ginger cake. They were all quite delicious and clearly made with love and community spirit. Happy cake always tastes better.

Hello, 2014.

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

It dawned on me last night that I have slept in four different beds over the past week. I have donned my backpack for three adventures, the feeling of being a traveller living out of a bag and adjusting to a new pillow has been enlivening. Last weekend I was in London, visiting friends and catching up with cousins. I then spent New Year’s Eve in Sheffield with my brother and his girlfriend where I had a great night’s sleep on a bed fashioned from couch cushions and doonas. Last night I stayed at my cousin Lesley’s house and in between all of these trips I had one or two nights back in my own bed in Manchester.

My weekend in London made me want to move back to a big city.

My weekend in London made me want to move back to a big city.

I am currently missing the feeling of travel and adventure. Every few months I get the urge to run away and explore the world, avoid reality and just enjoy discovering new places, people and food. I want to sell everything I own, buy a car and just drive around the UK, stopping in small towns, walking up mountains and reaching the most remote areas of the island. There has to be a way that I can do this without running out of money or going insane, I just haven’t quite worked out how. But as 2014 gets underway and I begin to realise that this time next year I will most likely be moving back to Australia, I am remembering all of the places in Europe in that I am yet to see. I know they will still be here and I can always come back, but they are so physically close to me at the moment and not using this opportunity would be such a shame.

This year I want to go to Budapest and I am vowing to see the Northern Lights. Where I will do this, I’m not quite sure but I’m sure a quick Google search of “How to see the Northern Lights” will provide some solutions. I also need to go back to Paris and I have never been to Ireland. Then I will also need to go somewhere warm such as Spain or Greece and I really haven’t seen much of the south of France. Plus I have barely even scraped the surface of discovering places within England itself.

Right. Better go and pack my bags.

Discovering Hills with the Dutch

Monday, August 19th, 2013

I have just spent a few days hanging out with more ‘extended cousins’, this time from my Mum’s side of the family. Marthein (my mum’s cousin) and his wife Gerda drove from Gouda to Sheffield on Thursday and I met them at my brother’s bakery just in time for lunch. That afternoon we visited Kelham Island, a museum about industry and steel production in Sheffield. My favourite room was the Hawley Collection – full of saws, knives, screw drivers and surgical instruments, it was tool heaven.

The sunshine came out on Friday as the three of us headed into the Peak District. We didn’t have a plan of where to go and what to see so it was a day of spontaneous exploration and adventure. First stop was Derwent Reservoir, a popular spot for walkers and bike riders.

Whoever designed this dam wall wished he was building a castle.

Whoever designed this dam wall wished he was building a castle.

It almost reminded me of Mundaring Weir except with more water.

It almost reminded me of Mundaring Weir except with more water.

Neither The Netherlands nor Australia is known for  mountainous terrain so we were all very impressed by the lumpy landscape of the Peaks. We took the opportunity to climb these natural wonders and enjoy the views from raised ground. Our first climb was Mam Tor, a 517m hill with remarkable views across the countryside. While the sun was shining, it was a windy day and it became increasingly more breezy the higher we got. At the top of the hill you had to hold on with your toes to stop yourself from flying off the side. I did contemplate base jumping but decided my mum wouldn’t approve.

Gerda making her way up the hill.

Gerda making her way up the hill.

View from the top of Mam Tor.

View from the top of Mam Tor.

After we had descended and climbed back into the safety and warmth of the car, we headed to the nearby market village of Castleton in search of a castle. And a castle we did find – again on top of a hill. Peveril Castle was first built in 1080 and now all that remains are some ruins. There is, however, a tower that you can climb and you get a wonderful view back towards Mam Tor.

Castle ruins, green grass and nice views.

Castle ruins, lazing grass and nice views.

View from the castle.

View from the castle.

It's Mam Tor!

It’s Mam Tor!

After all of this climbing we needed a cup of tea so dropped into a pub advertising tea and scones. We didn’t, however, notice the other sign that announced no food was being served between 3–5pm, and so our 4.25pm arrival meant that no scones could be served. This was also following our less than wonderful lunch at a pub in the historic precinct of Chapel-en-le-Frith. All of the menu items arrived in a truck and were then heated and plated by a man in a chef’s uniform. It wasn’t a top food day but the views were great.



Bread Winner

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

On Saturday afternoon I took the train through the glorious hills of the Peak District to Sheffield to see Brother Ben. I don’t think I will tire of this train ride – an hour of rolling hills, small English towns, sheep (so many lambs at the moment) and beautiful trees. On Saturday the sun was sort of shining so the sky was blue with big puffy white clouds. Quite spectacular.

So pretty in the Peaks.

So pretty in the Peaks.

On the Sunday I helped the Forge Bakehouse team sell bread at the Sheffield Antiques fair. Ben and I set up the stall with the wonderful help of Martha’s mum and her bread mobile (or Range Rover) and then two hours later started packing up. The bread disappeared in a flash as people stood umming and ahhing about which bread to choose, eventually deciding to take multiple loaves after I suggested slicing them up and popping them in the freezer for future convenience.

Mmm... bread.

Mmm… bread.

It was a fun weekend involving plenty of food and Ben falling asleep on couches after having two very early morning starts. The only down point was that I somehow missed my train back to Manchester by 30 seconds, meaning I had to buy another very expensive ticket to get home. Not happy, but as I am currently reading my horoscope on a daily basis for my 108in108 challenge, I discovered that it wasn’t my fault – it was the stars. Or the moon or whatever. The energies. Apparently that weekend was a BAD weekend to travel for business and I would experience hold ups and inconveniences. So there we go. It wasn’t just because I lost track of time and left home too late. Damn you, moon!

Visiting the Mother Country

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Recently my seat allocation on trains has been very disappointing. I always request a window seat where possible but my past few train rides have had me either facing backwards, in the seat next to the wall between two windows, or the countryside was so covered in fog that I couldn’t see anything anyway. But not this time – I am currently in a winning position on my train from Sheffield to London with a huge window view in a forward direction, the sun is setting and there’s no one sitting next to me. BOOM! WINNER!

Train view

So pretty.

My Christmas and New Year break in Sheffield has come to an end in the alarmingly sudden fashion that all holidays seem to have. I can’t really call it a holiday – more a volunteering mission where I participated in the rewarding and particularly humanitarian activity of providing baked goods to the British. It is nice to have my brother living so close by as my desire to have family members around continues to increase. Ben’s business partner, Martha, and her family treat Ben and I like long lost relatives and fed us three meals involving pork on Boxing Day. I don’t think I’ve eaten that much pig in so many different forms over such a short a period of time in my life.

I am starting to really like England – a few years ago when I was contemplating moving to Europe I was adamant that I would never live in England. Far too many Australians live there, they speak English and it rains too much. But now that I have spent some time there and have eaten more sticky toffee puddings, beef and mushroom pies, and random wild birds in delicious sauces, I am starting to see its positives. And while some have very strange accents, terrible hair cuts and worse dress sense, the British are generally all very friendly, relaxed and hilariously polite. They also say weird things like “Ta-rah” and call you “Love” a lot, but you’ll be pleased to hear that I had Martha and her brother saying “Hooroo!” after just five days of my stay.

Mmm... sticky toffee pudding...

Mmm… sticky toffee pudding…

I have also come to realise that the only reason why the rain is an issue for me is because I am never appropriately dressed and therefore getting wet and stepping in mud puddles is an unpleasant experience. Ben and I went for a walk through forested areas of Sheffield towards the Peak District, and we passed lots of Brits wearing gumboots or heavy-duty walking shoes and EVERYONE made a rustling sound in their plastic, waterproof jackets. It dawned on me that I, too, could own some gumboots (preferably red with white stripes or spots) and waterproof clothing and then I would be able to walk straight through the giant mud puddles like a five-year old. It would be brilliant! I am now overwhelmingly excited about this concept.

Foresty. Well... nearly.

Foresty. Well… nearly.

While in Sheffield I decided to start applying for a UK visa, not completely certain that I am allowed to do so from France. Hidden deep within a PDF that you are told you have to read on about page two of the application, was a small note that essentially says that yes, I can apply from France. Well, thank you for telling me, UK Immigration department. Greatly appreciated. So if all goes well, on 1 March I will move to England. Where exactly, I’m not sure but Ben has offered me his lounge room floor which is much better than a cardboard box under a bridge. Things are looking up.

Serious Apple Pie

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

I am currently sitting on the train from Sheffield to London digesting. Ben and I went to his local pub, The Broadfield, for lunch and both rolled home in a state of extreme excess. Ben was worse than me having chosen the beef and mushroom pie which is served with hand cut potato chips and mushy peas. The pies are very good but I wanted dessert so I was somewhat smart and chose the leek, potato and stilton soup. We both then ordered apple and walnut pies. In my mind I pictured a decent slab of sweet pastry filled with soft apples and the odd bit of nut. I had quickly dashed off to the loo and returned to discover a PIE THE SIZE OF MY HEAD sitting on my plate. It wasn’t just a slice, it was a full pie with a pastry lid and everything. Next to it, the ball of vanilla ice cream looked miniscule. Ben and I looked at each other and just laughed – how the hell were we going to eat these things?

That's a big pie.

That’s a big pie.

The answer was ‘we couldn’t.’ We tried – oh how we tried, but we both left large amounts of pastry cases on our plates. I usually love the pastry more than the filling, but even I couldn’t tackle this. The pie innards were very good – huge chunks of apples with whole walnuts and dates. Seriously tasty. But way, way, way too much. Even if Ben and I had shared one we wouldn’t have been able to finish.

It pains me to leave food on my plate, particularly when I have enjoyed it, but if I had continued to eat my stomach would have exploded into a hundred million pieces, strewing itself throughout the pub with large chunks of pastry hitting other customers’ faces. And I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about it.

Rewind to Christmas

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I realised I never blogged about Ben and my Amazing-Christmas-Dinner-Feast-For-Two so allow me to do so now, mainly through photographs. Neither of us could be called chefs (Ben is certainly a baker but a whole chicken is a lot different to a ball of dough), but if the help of a National Trust english cookbook, we made one mighty fine roast chicken. To go with it, we had some delicious buttery brussel sprouts, broccolini and asparagus, crunchy roasted potatoes, and it was all followed by gooey chocolate puddings. It was one seriously good Christmas dinner and our night was made even more special by watching the all-time family classic, Hook. RU-FI-OOOO!

Better than KFC.

Better than KFC.

The recipe made six puddings which sounded like a good idea at the time...

The recipe made six puddings which sounded like a good idea at the time…

Mmmm... chocolate pudding...

Merry Not-So-White Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Merry Christmas friends! I hope you are all happy, healthy and having plenty of cake on this festive day. I am currently sitting in my brother’s lounge room in Sheffield, listening to a Hospital Records drum and bass podcast and waiting for my next meal. It isn’t far away – lunch should be in the next half an hour or so. Ben and I have bought a chicken for dinner along with some brussel sprouts and other vege and we’ll have chocolate puddings for dessert. Not bad for a Christmas for two!

I have spent the last few days working in my brother’s bakery and it is nice to sit down and do NOTHING. Ben and Martha have worked so hard over the past five weeks to get their bakery open, functioning and capable of delivering bread for the Christmas period. It was slightly insane over the last few days and I think my lungs are full of icing sugar from dusting 40 stollens three times. It has also been a delicious past few days with plenty of bakery treats being slightly too dark or misshapen and therefore available for bakery staff consumption. Mmm… weird shaped croissants taste just as good as perfectly shaped ones.

And have my dreams come true and is it snowing outside? No. But one of my favourite people, Stephen Fry, informed me last night on the Christmas special of QI that it only snowed in England on about 15 Christmas Days during the 20th century and therefore the likelihood that it would snow today is quite low… But it is raining so at least I know it is England.

I shall leave you with some glimpses of my Christmas. Thanks for reading – love to you all!

Poppyseed stollen

Poppyseed Stollen – so beautifully dusted and wrapped (I did that)

Forge Bakehouse

Christmas bread at Forge Bakehouse

christmas stollen

Mmm… marzipan stollen for Christmas morning tea


Waking up to Christmas with Wham!


Ben and my banana Christmas tree