Joy in green spaces

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Neil Grant is managing director of Ferndale Garden Centre, Coal Aston. He fell for a Sheffield lass at Writtle Agricultural College in Essex. Linda’s parents ran a nursery in Bradway and gave the couple a chance to start growing commercially. Thirty years ago, the family bought Whitethornes garden centre at Coal Aston. Neil, who co-presents BBC Radio Sheffield’s garden phone-in at 9am on Sundays, has children James and Hannah, and lives with Linda in Beauchief.

View along Abbey Lane looking west

I love the sunsets as I drive down Abbey Lane on my way home every night. The sun setting and the amazing cloud formations over Ecclesall Woods, framed by the first foothills of the Derbyshire peaks never fails to amaze me. I’m an occasional acrylic painter, but due to lack of time I paint pictures on a digital screen with the click of a button. I sometimes stop to try and take a photo. I imagine the monks centuries ago stopped along the way too, to admire the scenery of the ‘beautiful headland’ (the meaning of Beauchief) and the big skies beyond.

Whirlowbrook Hall and grounds

Any time of year the beauty of the trees is awesome. The way the light streaks through the branches in winter, over snow covered ground, the fresh spring beech leaves with the light glowing through the thin unfurling foliage, or autumn of golden colours, amazing fungi and sweet chestnut ‘hedgehogs’ - it’s constantly changing. Over 30 years the only real change is the lake at the bottom of Limb Brook gradually silting up! Many a Sunday afternoon walk has ended with tea and cake in the cafe and next September our daughter’s wedding reception will be there, her childhood dream coming true.

region’s gardeners

Over 30 years of meeting and advising them, both at Ferndale and on BBC Radio Sheffield, what lovely people you are! How hungry you are for ideas and information. Often challenged by the harsh local winter climate, always desperate for Mediterranean summer evenings, but as spring arrives (eventually) - there you are, making Sheffield a more beautiful place.

Abbey Fryer chip shop, Millhouses

Fresh chips, good light and flakey haddock in crispy batter. Always a smile and a chat from the team, either the agony of another Bramall Lane saga or the weather.

The Kingdom People of Sheffield

Confused? There is a body of people I’m delighted to know, who look beyond personal gain and prosperity in favour of this city and beyond. In regular meetings together across the city, I’ve seen their lives change and seen them change the lives of countless others. They are people of influence for positive and transforming change. Some turn out every Friday night on West Street helping ‘victims’ of the night life, some volunteer with street people, others operate shelters for trafficked people, many serve food in various places. Kingdom People? There is ancient script that says ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ describing a transforming state that these people live in for the good of all. You might call them Christians, they might say ‘followers of Christ’, I call them Kingdom People.

food scene

Involved in three food fairs in two years and offering locally produced foods at Ferndale, I’m amazed by the depth and range of foods from the Steel City. Sheffield Honey, Moss Valley sausages (especially the choritzo ones!), Tipple Tails cakes, just to mention a few. It’s all beautifully bought together in the Sheffield Food Festival by our very own food hero, Nikki Baker from Sheffield Hallam University.