With more and more emphasis placed on spending money in the UK (with ‘Buy British’ campaigns being all the rage right now), UK tourism is an industry that has been devastated by the availability of cheap and easy holidays abroad; whether it’s a classy city break for a discerning couple, or a 7 day piss up in I-Beef-Ah (which is nothing more than a glorified game of ‘STI Bingo’, if we’re honest). Just look at the state of seaside hotpots of yester year; Southend is now a point of ridicule, Morecambe is simply known as ‘that place that the funny man came from’ and Blackpool is like a ghost town. However, at Shouting at Cows we like to stick up for the plucky underdog. Therefore, we wish to show you why The UK has so much to offer, you’ll never want to leave! Besides, what can the south of France offer that Skegness can’t? Nothing, that’s what. Here’s our thinking person’s guide to Yorkshire’s finest; Sheffield.
With famous exports ranging from Steel to TV’s Sharpe, The South Yorkshire city of Sheffield is the fifth most populous city in the UK. After the decline of steel production in the 70’s, Sheffield renovated itself as the ‘home of snooker’, with the yearly World Snooker Championships taking place in its Crucible theatre. It’s probably replaced Steel production with other things too, but for me, nothing says ‘modern Sheffield’ like Steve Davis eyeing up a tricky red off the cushion. You want ‘northern grit’; watch that man wielding a cue. It will send shivers up your spine.
Sheffield is the greenest city in England, with 61% of its entire area being made up of Green space. This provides ample space for picnics, illegal drug use and dogging, which is the hallmark of every great city, I think you’ll agree.
Henderson’s Relish Factory
‘The Spicy Yorkshire Sauce’ is a fixture in central Sheffield. Those of you expecting some sort of brewery operation will be disappointed to learn that the Henderson Factory is little more than a detached cobbled house that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Coronation Street. Known to some as ‘The home of Relish’ (no-one calls it this), you can learn the story of Mr Henry Henderson, who started manufacturing his own special sauce in the late part of the 19th century. Now it should be said, It’s exactly the fucking same as Lea and Perring’s. Bottle, taste, label; the works. So either those two or Henry Henderson was lying, as I refuse to believe that two people invented an ostentatious sauce for cheese on toast by coincidence.
Don’t go expecting a relish based version of Willy Wonker’s Chocolate Factory either, with sauce rivers and pickle wallpaper. Though, there is a gift shop. With, like, mugs, and stuff.
The Crucible Theatre
The aforementioned crucible has put modern day Sheffield on the map. Opened in 1971 and named after a Sheffield-devised method for Steel production, If it isn’t witnessing a career defining performance by a young actor in a Shakespearian tragedy, then it’s showcasing Ronny O’Sullivan working out the financial ramifications of each yellow he potts, or Denis Taylor wearing his glasses funny. Its events are broad, its appeal universal; The Crucible Theatre, ladies and gentlemen.
Other sights in Sheffield include the usual city centre attractions, such as various arbitrary museums and statues, in-particularly the intriguing ‘Bus Museum’, which isn’t too dissimilar from the ‘On The Buses’ set. Gents; rope in your wife or girlfriend to come along, then recite various archaic and offensive views on women – It’s your chance to become Reg Varny for the day!
At one point Europe’s biggest shopping centre until Bluewater’s construction, Meadowhall is a shopping emporium. With every chain shop you can think of under its glass domed roof, it’s a capitalist, consumerist wonderland that comes across like a Phillip Green wet dream that someone ran with. Not saying it’s bad, but anyone with a semblance of moral value would need a cold shower after visiting it. Luckily I am devoid of compassion, so skipped up and down it’s marble hallways with gay abandon. And you can to.
Central Sheffield has a lot to offer also, with the usual city centre highlights of a gothic style shop selling band logos on Fruit of the Loom t-shirts, a pain inducing ‘artificially hip’ store selling non-descript Fred Perry polo shirts at £90 a pop, and the odd charity shop here and there that’s wall-to-wall, dripping with hipsters that would make you want to go postal if you had to hear another ‘gap yah’ story.
Sheffield’s premier music venue, Leadmill, is the place to be to hear tomorrow’s acts at yesterday’s prices today! Sheffield’s music scene has been fruitful in the past, with scene defining bands like Pulp, Def Leppard and Cabaret Voltiare. The scene has slightly tailed off in recent times, however. Despite bands like Arctic Monkeys gaining worldwide acclaim, Sheffield most famous recent product is Grindcore outfit Bring Me The Horizon, who are to this day, the single worst band I have ever heard in my entire life. “Oh Nick, stop with the hyperbole”, No, just no. They are a band so bad it made me apprehensive to even visit Sheffield. Imagine an average metal band. Then ply the musicians with loads of cheap, shitty limeade insuring that they have the attention span of children with severe ADHD. Then subtract all intelligence and musical nous from them. Then front them with a singer so bad that he can barely stay in key for longer than ½ a second. Then times it by 1,000 – and you have Bring Me The Horizon. They make me want to sell my ears.
However, if that sounds like an enticing prospect, then by all means, get down the Leadmill.
Corp is your trendy-alternative watering hole. Everyone decked out in black and covered in tatts, it’s full of design students, overgrown teenagers and people with ‘problems’. Not like proper problems or anything, but like ‘western and white’ problems; Boyfriend is being weird, lost a follower on Myspace, that sort of thing. Regardless, the drinks are cheap, the beer is cold and the company is fine, so expect a ‘jolly good knees up’ if one was to frequent it. But also expect the inspiration behind Bill Bailey’s “How Can I Feel Pain, When You’re Being So Supportive?” song on every corner of every room.
For those of you who are more of the ‘Nuts Magazine’ persuasion, Embrace is the local hotspot of choice. With Ben Sherman clad, Clark shoes wearing, shaven headed idiots rubbing shoulders with extras from The Only Way is Essex, expect a night high on debauchery and low on any sort of intelligent utterances. Girls dance on tables, every 3rd song is Rhianna; you know what to expect.
Pronounced ‘Rov’Rum’ by locals, Rotherham is famous for bringing us the most famous double act since The Two Ronnies or Nixon and Kissinger, in the form of the Chuckle Brothers. As with the decline of industry in the north, the decline of Chucklevision saw the finances of Rotherham being hit hard. The high street is now awash with closed down false moustache shops and branches of Blockbuster video, whilst the faint sound of ‘Ch-Ch-Ch-Chuckle-Chuckle-Vision’ can still be heard in derelict buildings and abandoned vehicles.
Regardless, the average person only sees one smashed up car dumped on a roundabout and one disused mattress in a woodland area, proving that assumptions are only partly true.
Containing the finest petting Zoo since NOFX’s 1996 album ‘Heavy Petting Zoo’, Wentworth estate is like a ‘Toys’R’Us’ of countryside activities; a derelict stately home, a garden centre, National Heritage sites and wildlife – all under one (metaphorical) roof! Wentworth House is – to quote a BBC documentary on it – ‘In trouble’, and due to be renovated into a hotel and restaurant plaza soon. This will be great, as it will allow you to eat dinner over views of Rotherham’s council estates, and let you drift off to sleep under the sweet sounds of a glassing outside a Rotherham public house. Perfect.
The Garden centre is full of like, erm, pots. And showroom conservatories. And homemade black pudding. And for some reason, they were also knocking out copies of ‘Unbelievable! The official Autobiography by Chris Kamara’ there too. Puzzling one, that.
And so, there you have the definitive guide of what to do in Sheffield. Forget your sojourns to Sicily, or dalliances to Dresden; all the fun can be had right here, in old Blighty. So bin your Lonely Planets, put the suitcase into storage and just think that in 24 hours’ time, you could be the owner of a ‘Henderson’s Relish’ t-shirt. Is that an opportunity you can really afford to pass up on? Didn’t think so.