Michael Tipler was born and bred in Crosspool. When he was aged seven his family moved across the Derbyshire border to Ridgeway in pursuit of his father’s dream of a country cottage with an orchard. A small orchard was achieved, but the cottage had no gas supply, no bathroom or water heater (in fact no form of heating at all other than one coal fire), no phone line, and an electricity supply frequently knocked out by storms. Michael survived to become a teacher of English and Modern Languages at secondary schools in Chesterfield and Sheffield, where he lives now. His ‘other life’ has been as an amateur actor and singer for over 35 years on local stages and occasionally much further afield. His next performance will be in Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Orpheus in the Underworld at the Montgomery Theatre from April 6 to 9.
With medieval woodland over the wall, and allotments lying in summer sun on the lower slopes down to Bannerdale, this was my home for over 30 years. I swear when I first moved in during the late 1970s I could lie in bed and hear nightingales down in the woods below. Decades later, if there were no nightingales, there was plenty of wildlife still to be enjoyed: squirrels and foxes, owls, jays, wrens, tree-creepers, nuthatches, woodpeckers. Living up on the Edge was to me the special benefit of being in the socially diverse, villagey, logically-named suburb of Nether Edge. View Brincliffe Edge from a height, say across the valley from Cherry Tree (off Derbyshire Lane top), and you appreciate what a remarkable feature of the city it is: a dark hog’s back bristling with trees, rising steeply out of the surrounding streets.
Surf And Turf
Formerly called RushOur, now re-styled but still in the same hands, this intimate diner is one of my favourite places to go for a tasty, well-presented meal in unassuming comfort. I’ve enjoyed a good few ‘special occasions’ down there on Chesterfield Road. I know if I walk into Surf And Turf I shall be well looked after. Pansy’s food is always beautifully cooked and flavoursome. And now that I live near enough to leave the car at home, I can relax and enjoy Jeremy’s attentive bar service!
The Winter Garden
I remember watching this remarkable structure being built, and the impact its imaginative design and use of materials made in a city centre where relatively few attractive buildings of any period seemed to stand much of a chance with the planning department. It drew the eye in an exciting way when you stood on Pinstone Street. Then the blow - this view was all but wiped out by the erection of the St Paul’s hotel! Maybe, after all, I now have to concede a little something to the planners and architects who have given us a delightful pedestrianised area co-ordinating St Paul’s Parade and the Peace Gardens with Tudor Square and the theatres. In the middle of it, the Winter Garden provides the perfect place to meet friends and share panini and hot chocolate from Zoobys while snuggling out of winter winds and rain.
Ringinglow Round House
Local artists and photographers are drawn to this historic, picturesque former toll house opposite the Norfolk Arms at Ringinglow. For Sheffielders it marks a gateway to the Derbyshire Peak. As you head up towards Burbage Bridge, look back from the tops on a clear day and enjoy the finest view of the city in any season. Turn away from the city and all sorts of prospects open up: a bracing scramble over Higger Tor, the Surprise View over the Hope Valley and the start of Stanage Edge. All these riches and many more, just minutes from our own doorsteps.
The Monty has been the place where generations of families have introduced their newest members to the incomparable excitement of being in the audience for live theatre. By the same token, generations of the same youngsters have trod the Monty’s boards for the first time, learned their stagecraft and honed their skills, finding a hobby, a community of friends, a joy for life and maybe in some cases a career in theatre - or a life partner! I have many wonderful memories of performing there.
The Charity Shops
I readily accept I shall never be considered a style guru by my friends. But I can scrub up quite well if the occasion demands. In such circumstances I turn to the hospice shops and my favourite label - St Luke’s. You can find quality garments at bargain prices. My best find was an Yves Saint-Laurent tux in fine silk and wool. And besides, they’re great places to trawl for bits of stage costume and theatre props.