Suspended Coffee Sheffield

Help people in need get a free hot drink

This week you may have read about the concept of Suspended Coffee. Richard Hennessy explains a bit more about it and why he is trying to get this up and running in Sheffield:

The idea is that independent coffee shops in Sheffield allow people to buy a suspended coffee which is either kept ready waiting for them in the shop or a voucher is given which you then pass to a homeless person.

This way the homeless person gets a drink when they want one, people can give something to a homeless person if they are in a rush and don’t want to give money, the local coffee shops sell the tea/coffee (Americano) at £1 so they make a little money (but not an extortionate amount) and more money is invested back into the local economy.

It is an idea that came out of Italy originally I believe but it is taking hold around the world and I am trying to give the idea a foot hold in Sheffield.

Giving a coffee (or tea!) to someone means so much more than just warming them up…it shows you give a monkeys which could make a big difference. Handing over a voucher for a brew or a sarnie is also a great opportunity to start a conversation with a homeless person. Ask a couple of questions and you might gain a deeper understanding of some of the issues affecting the homeless/poor.

Piccolo Sandwich bar on London Road has already pledged their support for the scheme. Could you approach your local coffee shop do the same?

You can get in touch with Richard or find out the latest on Suspended Coffee Sheffield via their Facebook page and @suspendedsheff on Twitter.

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Five festivals not to miss this autumn in Sheffield

I love the summer in Sheffield but apart from during big events like Tramlines, the city can seem quiet during July and August. Then the holidays come to an end, the students return and before you know it, Sheffield has become home to a run of festivals stretching well into November. Here’s a round up of what’s going on:

Sheffield Food Festival

14-16 Septembersheffieldfoodfestival.org

This three-day festival has moved from July and is now slimmed down from a full week in 2011. There is still lots going on this year, with a themed menu of city centre events for all the family including demonstrations, tastings, workshops and of course an opportunity to gorge on lots of delicious local food and drink.

Don’t miss: The Sheffield Breweries Co-operative (Peace Gardens, Friday 14-Sunday 16 September) Your chance to meet the brewers and drink the beer from nine of our local breweries in a Peace Gardens marquee. Have all our best-loved Sheffield beers ever been available under one roof before?

Festival of the Mind

20-30 September | sheffield.ac.uk/fotm

This new festival hosted by the University of Sheffield could prove to be one of the stand-out events of the year (I should mention that I have some involvement with it though so I am probably a bit biased.) Sheffield’s creative community and academics from the University are coming together to put on over 50 events. There are some intriguing and wonderful collaborations, including Do It Thissen, a celebration of Sheffield’s post-punk music scene, 50 Ideas for Sheffield and virtual art gallery Computer Love.

Don’t miss: The Arrivals Zone. The brilliant Sheffield Publicity Department hosts a dream tourist information kiosk outside the train station in Sheaf square. Expect more than just leaflets about our galleries and museums.

The Last Laugh Comedy Festival

2-30 October | lastlaughcomedyfestival.co.uk

Toby Foster is going solo with this year’s comedy festival and it is now known as the Last Laugh Comedy Festival instead of Grin Up North. You probably won’t notice too much difference though: it’s the usual programme of comedy, from performances fresh from Edinburgh to full-blown arena shows.

Don’t miss: My friend who went to Edinburgh this year recommends Pappy’s sketch troupe, nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award this year (12 October, The Greystones) and the excellent storytelling standup Elis James who is charming, engaging and above all, hilarious (19 October, The Lescar).

Octoberfest

11-13 October | bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/200811octoberfest.html

South Yorkshire seems to be getting its fair share of BBC events this year, what with The One Show in a very wet Endcliffe park last month, Richard Hawley’s Magna show on 6 Music this weekend and now Radio Five Live is popping over the Pennines for a weekend of events and live broadcasts. Radio Sheffield is involved and the press release says we can expect ‘an eclectic mix of news and sport programming, audience debates and interactive activities in venues across the city’.

Don’t miss: A live audience broadcast of Fighting Talk.

Off the Shelf

13 October-3 November | offtheshelf.org.uk

At 21 years old, is this the oldest festival in Sheffield that is still running? This festival of words includes the usual mix of more well-known faces (Richard Wilson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Stuart Maconie, Peter Hook and Simon Armitage) and topics closer to home (Tracing the Sheffield Jungle, A Sheffield A-Z, Sheffield Stories, Big Sky – Stories from the Edge).

Don’t miss: Praise or Grumble with SRSB. Did you know the radio football phone-in was invented in Sheffield? Or more accurately, by legendary former Radio Sheffield sports editor Bob Jackson, as he lay sunbathing one summer in Cyprus? The Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind’s Mappin Writers host this event with Bob as guest speaker (Saturday 27 October, 2pm, 5 Mappin Street).

And there’s more

There are also some other festivals taking place over the next couple of months in Sheffield including the fourth Celluloid Screams horror film weekend at the Showroom (26-28 October) and the MADE Entrepreneur Festival (19-21 September).

Although there isn’t too much overlap between the festivals I’ve mentioned, they do seem to be tightly packed over a few weeks. Would it be better to move one or two of them to the spring instead?

In search of the Sheffield carols

A festive tradition that’s right on our doorstep

I love a local tradition, and the Sheffield carols is one of our best. It’s still going strong since it started in the late eighteenth century, when singers and musicians would gather in north west Sheffield pubs during November and December to sing Christmas carols.

The carols aren’t just the obvious ones that you hear everywhere at this time of year. Many of them mix church and secular material and are composed by local musicians, with variations of words, melody and tempo depending on which pub you are in. What’s brilliant is that some are still referred to by their local names, such as Bradfield, Stannington and Malin Bridge.

Although the basic etiquette for these ‘sings’ in pubs may seem a little daunting, tracking down when and where they are happening is easy thanks to the listings on www.localcarols.org.uk.

The first pub we tried was The Sportsman in Crosspool, on a weeknight in the run up to Christmas. Here we found the Loxley Silver North Band playing a mixture of local carols and a few of the obvious ones – someone even requested Jingle Bells.

The band sounded great, although with just a small gathering of people singing in one area of the pub, it didn’t quite feel like the full local carols experience. So it was time to try one of the village pubs further north.

The Royal Hotel in Dungworth is famous for its local carols. We headed over on boxing day and weren’t disappointed. The pub was rammed, with people gathered round an organ, singing their hearts out. This was exactly how we hoped it might be.

We were made to feel welcome, despite not really knowing the carols. We soon discover that many of the words and tunes are quite familiar. This is the end of Sweet Chiming Bells, one of the many variations of While Shepherds Watched (excuse the shaky filming on my phone):

The enthusiasm of people singing is infectious. Looking around, it seems like generations of families are in the pub, with nearly everyone drinking the tasty Bradfield Brewery beer, which is brewed just up the road.

Singing like this in a pub may seem a bit strange to some people, but when you think that this local carol, called ‘Stannington’, has been sung for hundreds of years in Sheffield public houses, it is hard not to be drawn in:

In fact, spending time with people who are part of a tradition like this is quite special. It’s heartwarming to be part of something that has been taking place for so long but hasn’t really changed.

I bought a Loxley selection songbook from The Sportsman (just £1) and now I know that many of the carols are quite easy to pick up, I would feel much more confident about joining in. What’s more, it seems silly not to make more of such a cherished tradition that takes place right on our doorstep, so I’ll definitely be back next year.

There’s more about the history of carols in this BBC documentary by Howard Goodall. The Blue Ball pub in Worrall is featured from 52 minutes, 18 seconds:

Eat Sheffield 2011 award winners

This year’s results

Last night the 2011 Eat Sheffield awards took place in the Winter garden and St Paul’s Mercure hotel. The winners were:

The Eat Sheffield Restaurant of the Year
The Devonshire Arms

Green and sustainable award
Silversmiths

Newcomer
The Wig and Pen

Our Cow Molly milk bottle

Our Cow Molly milk

Sheffield food hero
Ed Andrews from Our Cow Molly

Food outlet
Street Food Chef

Family outing
Endcliffe park cafe

Traditional pub
The York

Gasto pub
The Devonshire Arms

Asian/oriental
Hui Wei

Indian
Aagrah

Italian
Nonnas

European
La Mama

British
Silversmiths

Cafe
Fusion

What do you think, are these winners deserving of their awards? Or was your favourite restaurant, pub or cafe overlooked?

There’s more about the Eat Sheffield awards in this news release from Sheffield Hallam university and you can see some more pictures from last night on the @eatSheffield Twitter feed.

Eat Sheffield awards 2011

Eat Sheffield awards 2011

Sensoria 2011, Sheffield

Sensoria 2011 programme

Sensoria, the UK's festival of music, film and digital

The festival of film and music

Sheffield’s spring festival of film, music and digital returns for 2011, bringing together events, gigs, screenings and exhibitions across a packed ten-day programme.

The opening day on Friday is now of course a public holiday, so if you want to avoid a certain other event taking place that day then why not visit the Devonshire street party and market? And later on, a free festival of live music kicks off at the Washy, with sets from the Violet may and Pete David and the Payroll union over the course of the weekend.

On Saturday, a secret location plays host to a (Re)mixed in Sheffield warehouse party. It features plenty of great artists like Toddla T, Heaven 17, I monster, Lords of flatbush and Asbo a-go-go.

The Bibliotheque discotheque event (Tuesday 3 May) sees a disco of sorts located in the Central library. I recently heard a good documentary which gave an insight into the world of library music. It is amazing just how many of the TV themes that were originally library tracks we’ve sub-consciously absorbed into our national psyche. The library disco should give a glimpse into this world.

You may have seen a big screen in Tudor square for the snooker and Sensoria will also continuing this with its very own Screen on the square. Each day has a specified programme of films, including Sheffield on film from 6pm on Wednesday 4 May.

Excellent Sheffield-based photographer Shaun Bloodworth has his first solo exhibition as part of the festival. Underground, running 28 April-16 May at Bank street arts, documents the electronic music scene since 2005.

If you’re a musician or filmmaker then Sensoria pro (5-6 May) has now been expanded to two days. And at 6pm on Thursday 5 the Electric works hosts the launch of 2 weeks 2 make it, a music video competition.

Speaking of competitions, throughout the festival you can also see an exhibition of entries to the Thornbridge/Sensoria beer mat competition in the Winter garden. The winning mats (below) feature lyrics from Sheffield bands Pulp, ABC, the Human league and Artery, as well as some local photos. You may have already seen in pubs stocking Thornbridge beer.

These are just a few of the events taking place. Visit the Sensoria website for the full listings.

Sensoria beer mats

Look out for the Sensoria beer mats in Sheffield pubs

Shane Meadows’ new Robinsons ad, filmed in Sheffield

This is Sheffield

There are plenty of Sheffield locations to spot in this advert from This is England director Shane Meadows and Warp films. Keep your eye out for – I think – High storrs road, Ecclesall parish hall, the hardware shop at Bents green shops and Bingham park.

Robinsons have also uploaded making-of video, which they say was made by the children in the advert:

Bradfield farmers’ market and the Our cow Molly farm

Bees, beers and bovines in Bradfield

North west of Sheffield lies a community which is making a bit of a name for itself with the production of local food and drink. Bradfield and neighbouring village Dungworth are home to some of the city’s best known local producers and on Saturday I popped up to Bradfield farmers’ market to catch them all as they gathered under one roof.

Bradfield farmers’ market

Bradfield village hall and green

Bradfield village hall and green

I’ve not been to Low Bradfield before, which is where the monthly market is located. The last couple of markets have coincided with snowy weather but today it is fine, which makes the drive up through the countryside on the edge of Sheffield even more pleasant. In the spring sunshine the village looks very picturesque, nestled in among the hills with a pub, village store and central green area.

The market is held in a modern village hall building. There are around fifteen exhibitors selling products such as beef, pork, milk, pies, chicken, ice cream, fruit, vegetables, beer, cheese, bread, honey, wax products, cheesecake, jams and cakes. Other items on sale include soap, bird feeders and fire wood. Refreshments are also available from a cafe.

Cheese

Cheese

At places like this, half the fun is going around each stall and enjoying the free tasters. Although that isn’t to say that all the food is overpriced.

For example, the cheese (three for a fiver) is comparable to what you might pay in a supermarket plus you can pick up a dozen eggs for £1.70. And of course you know you are getting good products as well as supporting independent producers.

The major Bradfield and Dungworth names in attendance include the Sheffield honey company, Our cow Molly ice cream, Bradfield brewery and Bradfield meats.

Sheffield honey company candles

Sheffield honey company candles

The Sheffield honey company has been around a couple of years now and as well as producing various types of honey (my favourite being the one with a vanilla pod in it) they now sell other beeswax products such as candles. You can now even buy a block of straight honeycomb which is supposed to be delicious melted on toast.

Production of the tasty Our cow Molly ice cream grew out of a dairy farm set up in 1947. In 2007, with the value of milk plummeting, they decided to diversify and the Our cow Molly brand was born. You are more likely to see it on sale in north or west Sheffield, although the Crucible and Lyceum stock it so make sure you try some as your interval snack next time you go.

Bradfield brewery beers

Bradfield brewery beers

Bradfield brewery beers are already all over Sheffield and can also be found further afield. I think their most popular beer is probably Farmer’s blonde, which I would recommend. They all have Farmers in the title though so are pretty easy to spot and are available in bottles and kegs as well as on draught.

Lambing season at Our cow Molly

Laden with local produce, we decide to head back to Sheffield. We’d been given stickers at the market which entitled us to a freebie from the Our cow Molly ice cream shop, so can’t resist calling in on the way home.

It is a great time of year to visit Cliff House Farm in Dungworth, the home of Our cow Molly. The weather is finally warming up and lambing season is here, which means there is plenty on view.

Our cow Molly lamb

Our cow Molly lamb

I last came to the farm for their big bonfire in November, which was great fun. On pulling up in the car park we are greeted this time by a lamb and its mother. There are also new born calves and goats to see, as well as cockerels, rabbits and of course cows.

Eddie the farmer is currently giving short tours of the lambs and their barn, and although we had just missed one, he is more than happy to take us round and talk to us about his livestock and the meat, milk and ice cream they produce.

Children are enjoying the animals and of course the prospect of finishing off our visit with an ice cream in the parlour is a treat for everyone.

Our cow Molly lambing tours: weekends in March and April, 11am and 3pm

Bradfield farmer’s market: upcoming dates

Sheffield: land of milk and honey on the culture vulture by Lucy Harper

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Eat Sheffield 2010 award winners

Independents versus chains in Sheffield

In case you have missed it, the winners of the 2010 Eat Sheffield awards are:

The Eat Sheffield Restaurant of the Year (judged category)
The Milestone

Favourite Family Friendly Food Operation
Endcliffe Park Café and Our Cow Molly Ice Cream Parlour

Favourite Gastro Pub/Bar Dining
The Milestone

Favourite Café/Deli
Fancie

Favourite Theme restaurant
Cubana

Favourite British/Modern European
Silversmiths

Favourite Italian/Mediterranean
Ego

Favourite Indian
Kashmiri Aroma

Favourite Asian/Oriental
Wagamama

Best Local Produce Menu (judged category)
Silversmiths

Sheffield Food Champion (judged category)
Amanda Perry, Fancie

Best Newcomer (judged category)
Lokanta

When I heard rumblings on Twitter last night that Wagamama had won the best Asian/Oriental category, I was a bit disappointed that the winners might be mainly chain restaurants, which would reflect badly on the city’s restaurant scene.

However, if I’m not mistaken, only two chains were crowned winners last night (Wagamama and Ego), with the rest being local, independent businesses. But thinking about it – and given that many of the awards are voted by the public – why shouldn’t a chain win an award?

Sheffield is a proudly independent city and I’d much rather we were home to stunning local restaurants in every category, but the truth is we still have some way to go. So if anything I hope the results of this poll spur on city restaurants to up their game even more and prove to the public that the food they produce really can compete with the biggest names out there.

Of course a chain like Wagamama is helped by the clout of being an international name, with no doubt a marketing budget to match. But the majority of last night’s results also confirm what we already knew, that Sheffield people love Sheffield names. So there is an opportunity there for the independent restaurants to grab.

I think a good restaurant scene in a city needs both independents and chains as part of its offering. Some people like a chain, as they know what they’re getting, can offer good food and also can be great value for money.

But we also need our independents to give Sheffield something distinctive. In turn, this keeps more money in the local economy through direct revenue for the owner and also supporting local suppliers.

What do you think – would a Eat Sheffield 2011 winners list that was 100% full of independent, local businesses be a triumph? Or would it show that we are inward looking and content to live in our Sheffield food bubble?

Sheffield food box

A box of Sheffield food delights

Some relatives are moving back up to Sheffield so we decided to make them a little welcome home present:

Sheffield food box

Sheffield food box

They are into their food so we wanted to show them some of the best food and drink brands in the city. After crowdsourcing the best Sheffield food products on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, we had plenty of suggestions for what to include. This is what made it into the box:

We also threw in a copy of Our favourite places guide to Sheffield and wrapped the box in postcode wrapping paper from the Museums Sheffield shop. The present was given last weekend and went down very well.

Some Bassett’s allsorts would have also fitted in there nicely, as well as perhaps some fresher items like Fancie cupcakes. Were there any other Sheffield goodies that we missed?

Sheffield food box

Sheffield food box

Top ten Sheffield Christmas presents

Sheffield-themed festive gifts

Stuck for a Christmas gift ideas? This list collects together some of the most popular Sheffield-themed merchandise from the last few months.

  • Pub maps

Explore the drinking dens of the city with this pub stops of Sheffield map by John Coates. It is designed in the style of the famous Henry Beck London underground tube map, which like a circuit diagram, focuses on the order of the locations instead of their exact geographic proximity. Available in mouse mat and poster versions, the designated coloured routes make for all sorts of interesting pub crawl variations. Or if you fancy an alternative pub crawl compass, then you could also try the heritage pub crawl map that you may have seen displayed in various local pubs.

Buy: Sheffield scene shop on Surrey street | zazzle.co.uk (for just the tube map)

Pub stops of Sheffield mouse mat and poster

Pub stops of Sheffield mouse mat and poster

Sheffield heritage pub crawl

Sheffield heritage pub crawl

  • Something Hendo’s-inspired

Is there a better way to impress people when they come over for tea this Christmas than with some Hendo’s-themed memorabilia? There are plenty of options available to help celebrate the city’s favourite condiment: one litre bottles of relish, aprons, illustration prints from Jim Connolly and Kid Acne and if you really want to splash out, a limited-edition set of silver accessories. The final option is a very long-lasting Hendo’s-themed gift that a bride bought her groom as a wedding present…

Buy: Various locations | madeinsheffield.com | archipelago-art.co.uk | kateyfelton.com

Katey Felton's limited edition Henderson's relish silver accessories

Katey Felton’s limited edition Henderson’s relish silver accessories

  • Sheffield illustrations

As well as the Hendo’s prints mentioned above, there are plenty of other local-themed illustrations available. Obviously Pete McKee is one of the most well known (don’t forget his Children’s hospital 2009 Christmas card) and Jim Connolly’s Sheffield superheros screen prints are also popular. The treasured Rare & racy shop on Devonshire street has various other prints, including Jonathan Wilkinson’s excellent We live here series of defining but less-celebrated Sheffield landmarks including the wedding cake, Park hill, the Roxy and the egg box.

Buy: Rare & racy | therealmckee.co.uk | archipelago-art.co.uk | welivehere.co.uk

 

  • Charity voucher book

I’ve already written a post about this charity voucher book, but the premise is simple: spend £50 on a book of local vouchers that includes £1,000-worth of savings. And £15 from every one sold goes to charity. You won’t get round to using them all but after using three within the first month I had made my money back and of course have got a whole load more bargains to look forward to. Be quick though, as most of the vouchers expire in August 2010 so the longer you leave it the harder it will be to cram them in.

Buy: Shop on corner of Pinstone street and Cambridge street | charityunleashed.co.uk

Charity unleashed Sheffield voucher book

Charity unleashed Sheffield voucher book shop

  • Victorian map of Sheffield

People from Sheffield love old Sheffield stuff and this map shows the city in 1849 as ‘a pleasant and organised town…relatively spared the ravages of the early unplanned industrialisation’. One for the toilet door?

Buy: Cheapest from Sheffield scene shop on Surrey street | victoriantownmaps.co.uk

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  • Cooling towers memorabilia

The Cooling towers shop may have been and gone but the Tinsley towers still hold a dear place in the heart for many people and befittingly there are still plenty of souvenirs available by which to remember them. Why not start with this matt photo print from RPG Photo and also these mugs from artist/designer Alice Skelton?

Buy: rpgphoto.co.uk | Mugs available from aliceskelton.com and the Bessimer gallery in the Winter garden

Cooling towers print from RPG Photography

Cooling towers print from RPG Photography

  • Pop books and shop books

There are a couple of Sheffield-related books with a nostalgic tinge that have been published in time for Christmas. Neil Anderson’s Take it to the Limit explores the late 70s and early 80s music scene through the eyes of the Limit nightclub, or Sheffield’s Hacienda as it was know by some. More pop music nostalgia can be found in artist Martin Bedford’s Up against the wall, a book collecting together some of his famous Leadmill posters that he produced to promote visiting bands in the 1980s and 1990s. And starkly contrasting with the city centre that we know today, the Shopaholics guide to 1970s Sheffield looks back to a time when town was the major shopping destination of the north.

Buy: Local bookshops | amazon.co.uk

Sheffield pop and shopping books

Sheffield pop and shopping books

  • I love Sheffield eco bag

Julia Gash bought this local variation of the I love New York design to Sheffield a couple of years ago. She was previously involved with the (now closed) Gash shop on Devonshire street but has since set up a business selling eco bags and the I love Sheffield one has been a huge hit, as you can guess from the frequency that you see them around town. They continue to be particularly popular with students and it looks like some variations on the original design are now available, too.

Buy: Various locations including the Sheffield university students’ union studio shop

I love Sheffield drawstring eco bag

  • A piece of history

The crucible is due to reopen imminently and the theatre’s new carpet is apparently inspired by the distinctive 1970s design of the original. The theatre has been selling off pieces of the old carpet to raise money and at the last count a few of them were still available.

Buy: Sheffield theatres

The Crucible carpet: old (left) and new (right)

 

  • Food discount card

The city may still be up-and-coming in the culinary stakes but progress is slowly being made and there are now some good places to eat out. Chef Richard Smith is the man behind many of the area’s more impressive restaurants and his relax, eat and drink privilage card could be just the gift for a foodie friend or loved one. You get £50-worth of restaurant vouchers, a £25 bottle of champagne, a free meal on your birthday, money off every other meal, free tea and coffees and more. At £100 it isn’t cheap, but when you remember that his restaurants include Artisan, the Cricket inn, the excellent-value Canteen and the imminent Spice market cafe on Ecclesall road, it won’t even take a meal out at each before you earn your money back.

Buy: relaxeatanddrink.com

Has anyone got any more present recommendations?