Favourite Things: Enjoying best al fresco life in our open air city

John Gibson, pictured at the Sheffield Amphitheatre. Picture: Marie Caley NSTE Gibson MC 2
John Gibson, pictured at the Sheffield Amphitheatre. Picture: Marie Caley NSTE Gibson MC 2

John Gibson has lived in Sheffield 30 years now. He completed his legal training at Howells Solicitors, specialising in Criminal Law and has stayed ever since. He became Partner in 1991 and now leads the reputable criminal defence team.

I live in Crookes, with my wife Moira who is now retired. I’m moving steadily in that direction, and being blessed with two granddaughters under two, I’m not going to be stuck for things to keep me amused in my spare time for a while.

If I had to describe what’s best about Sheffield in one word I’d say “open-air”. If you say that’s two words, I’m happy to argue my case – I’m a lawyer after all!

So – although I have a lot of time for the likes of Weston Park Museum, Crookes WMC, Depot Bakery, and Shepcote Lane Police Station, I’m going to go al fresco

with all my choices.

The Five Rivers

Peddler Market.

Peddler Market.

Number one for me has to be the Rivelin Valley, accessible almost from my front door via the cemetery, where, whilst walking the dog one day we almost made it into the funeral scene in The Full Monty! A truly magical place for all seasons, a post-industrial fairyland that deserves World Heritage Status, or at least a blue plaque.

I’m due another bash at the Five Weirs Walk, which reflects the city’s ever changing face. I’ll start on Exchange Place by the entrance to The Megatron, our very own catacombs, and then head for meatballs and mash at the sumptuous IKEA café.

The Seven Hills

Sheffield’s proximity to the Peak District is a big plus, but there’s no shortage of stunning walks in and around the city limits. Bradfield, Mayfield, Eckington and Ecclesall all spring to mind. My favourite is the walk from Redmires to Stanage Edge, especially in the snow. You get elevated views across to Hope and beyond, without the bother of an uphill trudge. It brings to mind two great Sheffield artists – Martin Decent’s Derbyshire landscapes on the way out, and coming back, Pete McKee’s picnic cityscape nestling among the hills – “it’s reyt tha’ knows”…

The 1001 cafes

Get out and about and you’re spoilt for choice at places to eat outside at. It’s great to see Peddler Market go from strength to strength –last time I tried to get in, the queue was twice round the block. With a nod to the “golden triangle” of cafes on and around the Porter Brook River, Brocco, Forge Dam and The Hidden Gem. My current number one is the Pudding Ladies by the boating lake at Millhouses Park – chorizo, pancetta, new and sweet potatoes, spring onions and peas, on a bed of wilted spinach topped with a poached egg”.. A massive bowl for £5.50 – now that’s what I call an All Day Breakfast!

The Soundtrack – Music in the Park

Tramlines of course is now very much a part of the Sheffield scene. I hope the move to the Hillsborough Park sustains the vibe, even if only as a dress rehearsal for the Arctic Monkeys... I saw them in the open air (in a tent, but in the open air) in 2011, and I also saw Hawley at Graves Park a couple of years later – incomparable music in great settings – I can see a great double bill shaping up in September!

The Pictures

We’re lucky to have The Showroom, The Light and The Curzon in town, and I hope all three are sustainable. We try to go to each in turn.  Come the summer I’m up for more open-air cinema action though, like what I’ve experienced in recent years  with the magnificent Docfest screenings – Mavis Staples in a very chilly Botanical Gardens is a fond memory, as was ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ drive-in movie at Lightwood. I am up for whatever the Park Hill amphitheatre has to offer this summer. Park Hill has fond memories, Howells had an office there in the 80’s, very cutting edge.  And the nightscape view across to town will be worth the entrance fee. Can I put in a bid for “The Full Monty - the Directors Cut” (the one with me and my dog in!)?  See you there!