Praises to be sung...

Ian Stewart in  the Botanical Gardebs
Ian Stewart in the Botanical Gardebs

Ian Stewart came to Sheffield from Bristol in 2001 and later moved with his partner into a new home in Renishaw. “I was asked by someone in Bristol why I was moving to Sheffield,” he says. “Eleven years on I am still discovering the culture, heritage and natural beauty that exists in and around here – not to mention the famous welcome!” Ian is a student administrator for Sheffield Hallam University and spends much of his spare time rehearsing and performing for Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society, appearing next month at the University Drama Studio,  

Buxton Opera House

Sheffield and the surrounding area has some wonderful theatres, but I have a special affection for this gem in Buxton. It was designed by the great theatre architect Frank Matcham and its special appeal for me is the annual International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival which is now in its 19th year. It attracts productions and audiences from across the UK and beyond – including France, America and Australia – and university and school groups are included.

I love performing in musical theatre and I’m convinced that we wouldn’t have the same richness today without the wit and music of G&S. I specialise in the ‘patter’ roles which often have rapid, wordy songs and bags of character.

This April I will get to be ‘the very model of a Modern Major General’ in The Pirates of Penzance for Dore Gilbert & Sullivan Society. He’s an old friend, with a twinkle behind his monocle!

Matlock Bath

My partner and I have a Kawasaki ZZR 1200 motorbike and after a spin around Sheffield’s Golden Frame there is no better place to head for a break. It’s a magnet for bikers and even when the weather is not great you’ll see bikes of all makes and sizes.

And whether you fancy excellent fish and chips by the river are a cup of tea and a large cream cake in one of the many cafes, you’ll not be disappointed.

Renishaw Hall

On my doorstep! The grounds are always well kept and colourful but I am also pleased that they have now opened up the house – it’s fascinating.

The café serves wonderful home-made dishes and the changing exhibitions are so varied – anything from the chilling personal effects of the Nazi high command to the costumes of Dame Edna Everage.

Botanical Gardens

This is another haven. It’s so relaxing to walk along the winding paths or visit the glass pavilions in any season. I would often escape there at lunchtimes from the hurly burly of university life when I worked at the Sheffield Hallam’s Collegiate Crescent campus.

At the risk of giving the impression that I never stop eating, I will add that the food in the café is very good!

Chesterfield Canal

I like any part of the canal, be it the renovated stretches or those still waiting to be reclaimed. I don’t get a lot of exercise so strolling along the towpath gives me to enjoy some fresh air and also appreciate the delight of seeing the canal come back to life. 

The new basin at Staveley is a great credit to the joint effort of developers and volunteers. I can’t wait for the stretch alongside our Renishaw home to be completed, but even though the water level is currently low it’s already attracting wildlife including fish, ducks and frogs!

Mulan Chinese restaurant

This is a great place to eat in Renishaw and very handy for a takeaway. A friend of ours often comes over on a Friday and picks up our order on his way past.

He’s just started the Sheffield Independent Driving School and swears that nothing tastes as good after a hard day on the road. It’s reasonably priced and the ingredients are always very fresh and tasty.

Dore

My sister’s home is in Dore and there’s always a warm welcome and often a meal cooked by her husband, who is an adventurous cook ( I remember one recipe that he had half overheard in a pub...). We’ve had many family gatherings there with my three nephews, whom I am very proud of.

Dore also gave birth to our G&S Society and this year we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first production, with a revival of The Pirates of Penzance. I enjoyed many a rehearsal there in the church hall, followed by a drink in The Dev or Hare and Hounds.

It was sad that rehearsal requirements led us to move to Millhouses, but we still put on two concerts a year in Dore, at Christmas in the Methodist Church and in July as part of the Dore Festival.

Many of our actual productions have been at the University Drama Studio and we’ll be there from April 17 to 21 for our anniversary production.