City Views: “Whilst we can’t embrace in lockdown, the city itself feels like a warm hug”
Waking up for another day in lockdown, my cabin fever is at an all-time high, so I decide to venture out to Norfolk Park. Standing at the top, I gaze out at the city that has shaped my adult life. I notice the steep outline of the arts tower glistening in the distance, the hum of trains coming in and out of the station, and the grey mist of the night fading away into the morning blue sky. I have two perspectives of Sheffield: one as a student when life was simple and carefree, the other living through a pandemic as a stressed-out twenty-something. Whilst we can’t embrace in lockdown, the city itself feels like a warm hug.
I think about how my relationship with Sheffield has evolved through the years. As a first-year student, it was all new and exciting. The usual night out routine was pre-drinks in the flat, before heading straight to a club, maybe with a few drinks at The Francis Newton if we fancied a quick stop-off. We’d make our way towards Corp in our uniform on a Wednesday, our feet sticking to the blue pint-stained floor. The next day, we’d hear the music ringing in our ears until we were ready to go again.
I notice the steep outline of the arts tower glistening in the distance, the hum of trains coming in and out of the station, and the grey mist of the night fading away into the morning blue sky
Working in a busy sports bar over the next two years, I noticed the fiercely proud and independent spirit of the city. It always lifted my mood when John, the resident bouncer, would greet me with the cheerful words, “Ey up duck”. I’ll never forget the first time I heard this term of affection. “Why are they calling me duck?!” The phrase was new to me, despite growing up in the neighbouring city of Leeds.
I associate Sheffield with friendship. Friends I’ll treasure for life. Friends that will always tempt one another to get lunch at The Cavendish during breaks between lectures (we’re suckers for mac ‘n’ cheese). I realised that Sheffield is a notoriously friendly city; it feels like a village in comparison to the hustle and bustle of others, and you’ll always catch a smile from a stranger in the street.
A year after graduating, I find myself back here, seeing the city in a whole new light, and appreciating the colours of the day. Living in the centre, I am constantly discovering new nooks and crannies that give Sheffield its character. The first time I returned after a year away, I was welcomed back by the unique profile of the city, with its huge rolling hills, kaleidoscope of orange shades, and stark industrial beauty. Rural yet metropolitan, with an abundance of quirks and perks that make it a city like no other.
The quietness of lockdown has allowed me to appreciate Sheffield in a different way. I find myself noticing smaller moments: coffee hatches and smiling eyes, the knowing nods from people in the supermarket, and the vibrant street art which has become even more meaningful. Paradoxically, the community comes alive in the stillness of the pandemic, providing cosy doses of comfort we never knew we’d need so desperately.
Making my way back down the hill, I head towards Tamper for a coffee (the best!). I take a sip and smile; here’s to every moment we’re lucky enough to cherish, and to the nostalgia built into the brickwork of the city. Here’s to appreciating the little things that are never quite so little.