Favourite Things: "The traders of Sharrow Vale are a real family'

Dr Marika Puglisi, an Italian academic from Puglia (that’s the bit right on the heel of Italy) would on the face of it appear to be an unusual candidate for a jewellery and gift store proprietor in the Sharrow Vale area of Sheffield. Marika came to the UK more than 20 years ago, fell in love with Yorkshire and spent most of that time in Sheffield working in academia and local government.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 9:31 am

Marika’s love of the UK came from her father, Mario, whose passion for English architecture, history and culture rubbed off on her from a very early age.In 1998, when an opportunity arose to visit and study for her PhD in Urban Planning at Leeds Met, she jumped at the chance and has since become a naturalised Yorkshire lass!

In 2014, Marika acquired her favourite shop, Ora Gallery on Sharrow Vale Road, and successfully maintained and grew a business that had already been trading for over 25 years.

Now in its 31st year of existence, Ora Gallery continues to serve the people of Sheffield and further afield from its bright new premises on Hickmott Road, S11.

Marika Puglisi - Ora Gallery. Picture by Sean Peck

“The Sharrow Vale Road premises always presented a challenge due to its relatively large size, difficult layout and its location at the far end of the road from most other retail offerings. The pandemic gave everyone a lot to think about, not least Ora, and we seized the opportunity to move around the corner onto Hickmott Road, where the foot-fall appears to be much better.”

Marika lives with her partner Sean, her son Max, her cocker spaniel – Nero and her cat Rocket in the Botanical area of Sheffield. Living in such a wonderful and vibrant area of the city, her first ‘Favourite Thing’ won’t come as too much of a surprise!

Botanical Gardens:

“Having such an incredible civic resource right on our doorstep is quite humbling, as is the pride and dedication you can see in the faces of the gardeners and volunteers who work there.

Sheffield General Cemetery.

I love the fact that you can visit the gardens a thousand times and each time be surprised by something new and intriguing you had not noticed before. The inclusivity of the gardens to so many more people than lovers of horticulture is a tribute to the city with numerous events and societies utilising the beautiful space on offer.

“I love to walk with Nero in the mornings even if he sometimes gets me told off because of his excessive enthusiasm.

I used to come here with my dad each time he came to visit Sheffield. He taught me to love English gardens, so full of all kinds of flowers and wildlife and I always feel closer to him when I am here.”

Sharrow Vale ‘Urban’ Village:

“The urban village ‘feel’ of Sharrow Vale makes it a unique visitor experience and the sad demise of Sheffield’s high street makes its role as a shopping destination all the more important.

With the loss of John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser, finding a range of quality gifts and produce anywhere in the city has become a real challenge. The traders of Sharrow Vale area are a ‘family’ and, together, provide possibly the most rewarding shopping experience in the city with an eclectic and varied offering that continues to grow and develop.”

Sheffield General Cemetery:

“And what ‘Favourite Things’ article, for me, could be complete without a mention of Sheffield General Cemetery, a wonderful area of tranquillity, natural beauty and local history so close to the hustle and bustle of Ecclesall Road.

Some of the buildings and monuments in the grounds are truly breath-taking and a dedicated army of volunteers have the huge task of battling the relentless march of Ivy and Rose-Bay-Willow Herb.

The cemetery is currently undergoing restoration work to the catacombs and for the historically inclined there are many graves and memorials dedicated to the long past industrialists of Sheffield.

It’s a beautiful and yet eerie place that finds favour with many local (and not so local) film makers who appreciate the atmosphere it generates.”

Redmires Plantation and the Sportsman Pub:

“The most recent addition to my list is the beautiful area of Redmires Plantation at Lodge Moor.

For me, there is no better place to relax and walk and have a lovely meal and drink at the near-by Sportsman Pub. At any time of the year, it offers wonderful contrasts in scenery and climate, being our ‘go-to’ place if we desperately need to build a snowman!

Also, it provides a poignant connection with my home (Italy) as the area was used as a prisoner of war camp during World War Two and many Italian servicemen were held there. The foundations of the living quarters can still be seen in the woods and you feel totally transported back to another time.”

To help in spreading the word about the ‘little gem’ that is Sharrow Vale and the Botanical Area, Marika is giving away an Ordinance Survey Designed Mug of Sharrow Vale area to the first 3 people who visit Ora Gallery and mention this article.

Ora Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00 - 17.00 and they also offer click & collect/mail order services via their new web-site at orasheffield.com.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​