Sheffield on song

Musician Ainsley Stones at Granes Park animal centre
Musician Ainsley Stones at Granes Park animal centre

Ainsley Stones, who lives in Beauchief, is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Sheffield. His diverse songs and skilled instrumental playing have received considerable local and national acclaim for two decades.

He has also played some 1,500 gigs nationally and internationally and is known as a lively and colourful front man of his own band, in which his wife, Krista, plays bass. Ainsley’s new album About Time is set for release in September. “Mum and dad brought me up listening to some really great music, for which I thank them even to this day,” he says.

Graves Park and its pigs

Being from High Green originally, the south of Sheffield was always a little bit of a mystery to me until moving to Greenhill a few years ago. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of this end of the city has to be Graves Park, which in my opinion is Sheffield’s finest.

In particular the park has what may be described as a zoo of sorts, just up near the main car park which is home to cows, donkeys, goats, various fowl and many other creatures too.

The most likeable of these has to be the pigs. Churchill once said that “dogs look up to you. Cats look down on you. Pigs look you in the eye as an equal” and I can see what he means.

They are always happy to be scratched and patted but one gets the impression that they could take or leave the attention. Marvellous. Maybe they are a little like a typical Yorkshireman?

Remo’s Italian Café

2011 really was the year in which I embraced Sheffield’s café culture, and there really are some gems to be found. My absolute favourite has to be Remo’s in Broomhill. It is, as people say, the “real deal”. I’ve consumed more Italian food and drink in my adult life than anything else, and just occasionally a place gets the food, drink and ambience absolutely right.

When you sample any of its great menu, you are reminded that most of what passes as being “Italian” food and drink in this country is a bland imitation of the real thing. Remo’s is a class apart. Try a mocha if you’re passing. You’ll never drink one anywhere else.

Café Okeh

Café Okeh is a very eye-catching 1960s-themed café which opened recently on Abbeydale Road and is full of character.

Outside it you will see vintage mopeds (yes, the real thing) so you are unlikely to miss it, and inside every effort has been made to keep the place feeling distinctly vintage.

The focal point of the café has to be its period jukebox on which you can play any amount of your favourite 60s tunes for free, and there is also an impressive array of music memorabilia from the decade.

My Dad says it’s very authentic and loves the place. Food and drink is good, honest British stuff. You want fries? You’ll get proper chips!

Wavelength Music

I bought my very first Gibson guitar from here when I was about 14 and I have been a regular since. Many music shops are full of glitz and sales pitch but not this place. I can honestly say they have only ever sold me exactly what I needed and nothing I didn’t.

The staff have a great if very dry sense of humour and are very knowledgeable. The shop is crammed to the rafters with all kinds of guitars and I pop in frequently to check out the new arrivals.

Please though, if you are tempted to try a guitar, don’t play Smoke On The Water or Stairway To Heaven. There are laws against it now.

The top of Springwood Lane, High Green

Being a sentimental sort, I sometimes drive up to my childhood stomping ground in High Green.

I was lucky enough to have been brought up right at the top end of the Angram Bank estate (Carlthorpe Grove to be exact) and it was a great place to be as a kid.

Our house was about 100 yards away from the entrance to open woodland at the top of Springwood Lane, and in a time before the world became obsessed with wrapping kids up in cotton wool, it was the norm to go out and play for hours and hours on end, running about like an idiot with a few friends, a football and maybe a few Star Wars toys for company!

No-one ever came a cropper, no-one did anything seriously naughty and we all burned off enough calories for a well-earned fish finger sandwich by the time our mams called us in later in the day. Happy, simple times.

Beauchief Tennis Club, Bob and Glynn’s corner

Just down the road from us, nestling behind the 1930s bay-windowed houses, is the marvellous Beauchief Tennis Club.

I’m no tennis player but the bar is worth the subs alone! The particular highlight of the club for myself and Krista (the missus) has been the continued presence, for many years, of our dear friends Bob Parkinson and Glynn Hill.

These dapper, charming and fiendishly good-humoured gentlemen are in their late 80s by now and are our honorary grandads.

Some years ago they made the right-hand corner or the tennis club bar their own and for almost 10 years we’ve had the pleasure of listening to their ripping yarns and intelligent, humourous banter.

Sometimes we’re quick-witted enough to be able to contribute a comment of a high enough standard but these wonderful guys are hard to beat!