City Views: Alex

Non-Sheffield people are sometimes a bit mystified as to why my wife and I moved here last year, especially as we have no pre-existing ties to the area…

However, Sheffield people instantly understand why we’d want to be here. I think that sums the city up: little-appreciated by outsiders but loved by anyone who takes the time to discover its magic. In our case, we visited together for the first time a few years ago and almost instantly saw it was a place where we could imagine living one day.

I’m originally from Brighton and my wife is from London. I thought we’d stand out as being southerners here (I lived so south that French TV used to interfere with our signal); but we don’t, and that’s partly because lots of people go to uni here and never leave. We’ve lived in a variety of countries and Sheffield has a blend of so many of the things we appreciated in the other places.

The food here is amazing too; I’ve loved trying every pork sandwich I can find

For example, I think Sheffield has the best pubs in the world. In most cities I find one or two pubs that are gems, but here I only know a few that aren’t. Proper beer, from great breweries, at fair prices, served in characterful settings – even the beer festival is held in an industrial museum! My local, the New Barrack Tavern, is the Yorkshire Cider Pub of the Year! Pretty special. The food here is amazing too; I’ve loved trying every pork sandwich I can find, I’ve even chatted with someone who used to play golf with Mr Beres. Yemeni food was also new to me and has been a particular highlight.

I’ve seen more live sport in Sheffield than perhaps in the rest of my life combined: the Steelers for hockey, the Sharks for basketball, the Tigers for speedway, the world’s oldest football derby between Sheffield FC and Hallam FC, a cycle race through the city centre, and a long-awaited first visit to the Crucible. I’ve met more people into climbing here than anywhere else. I’ve tried parkrun for the first time despite running like Mr Bean. I’ve also been to many, many cultural events such as Festival of Debate, Off the Shelf, Tramlines, Sheffield Carnival, Doc/Fest (my wife was an extra in a film), Phlegm’s exhibition, Photomarathon Sheffield, spoken word poetry nights, the launch of the Writers Hub….

Everyone in Sheffield raves about the Peaks – and I love them too – but I’ve been even more excited by walks along the Don, the canal and through the many astounding parks. Once, for no particular reason, I decided to get up early and go on the longest walk of my life, about 50km, around the city (and that was the first time I checked out High Green).

The sense of social responsibility in the city is brilliant. I’ve become Chair of an amazing local charity called The Suit Works and co-run a meetup called Social Good Sheffield. Everywhere I turn there are local grassroots initiatives making a difference. Everything isn’t perfect here but the people have a good attitude, a sense of community and a refreshing lack of pretension.

I don’t consider myself a local just yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve influenced my Dad to become a fan of Hendos, I know how to correctly pronounce both Oughtibridge and – even more importantly – Penistone. We’ve bought our first home here so we’re sticking around. Now we feel like the lucky insiders who have an insight into just how amazing this city is.


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