"Sheffield is the best city I have ever lived in to experience proper weather"
Joe Shute is an author and journalist with a passion for the natural world. He works as senior feature writer for the Daily Telegraph where he writes the weekly Weather Watch column. Previously he worked for the Yorkshire Post and Halifax Evening Courier.
Outside of journalism he writes nature books for Bloomsbury. His first, A Shadow Above: the fall and rise of the raven, was published in 2018. His latest book, Forecast: a diary of the lost seasons, was published in June.
He is giving a talk about his latest book at Off the Shelf Festival on Sunday October 17 at 1pm at the Millennium Gallery. Visit https://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/event/forecast-a-diary-of-the-lost-seasons-joe-shute/
I live not far from Abbeydale Road and love its independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs and of course the Picture House. One thing I don’t love, however, is the traffic and pollution and in 2019 I helped set up the community group Abbeydale Street Trees to re-green Abbeydale Road. To date we have raised £15,000 to plant an avenue of street trees along the high street (and are hoping to plant the trees in January).
We have had amazing local support from businesses and schools. We have planted more than 150 small hedgerow species and large mature trees along the Abbeydale Road corridor in school grounds, churchyards and private land. We are also currently in talks with the council about creating a parklet on the street. It’s been incredible and inspiring to see so many people come together and volunteer their time and energy to improve the street. The strength of community is something one encounters all over the city.
As a weather watcher one of my favourite things about Sheffield is the number of rainbows you see here. If it’s recently stopped raining head up to your nearest hill and enjoy one of the many vantage points looking out over the city. Chances are you will see one.
Sheffield is the best city I have ever lived in to experience proper weather due to its topography and proximity to the Peaks – be it open blue skies or bucketing down snow. The seasons resonate here in a way they never did in London where I used to live.
We are also blessed in the city to have one of the oldest weather stations in continual operation in Britain in the guise of the Weston Park Weather station. The station was founded on September 1, 1882 and over the centuries has amassed a treasure trove of meteorological data which shows how the weather in Sheffield has changed. Basically things are getting considerably warmer and as recent years have shown extreme rainfall is becoming far more common.
When I first moved to Sheffield five or so years ago I volunteered for a year as writer in residence at Green Estate on Manor Top. I ran a series of writing workshops with youngsters on the estate and spent a year together documenting the seasons as they passed. The Manor is where they do the test planting for Pictorial Meadows wildflowers and in summer is transformed into a beautiful meadowland.
I am always out on my bike either cycling out to the Peak District or around the city. Some of the new cycle lanes which have sprung up in recent years are fantastic, especially the area around Castlegate and I love the combination of traffic free routes, flood defences and wildflowers. However there is a lot to be desired elsewhere in the city and I regularly feel as if I am taking my life into my hands cycling along London Road and Abbeydale Road. I have read in the Sheffield Telegraph that the council is considering re-opening roads such as Pinstone Street to traffic but feel rather than going backwards they need to do far more to encourage cycling in the city. So many other cities are currently doing a lot more to promote walking and cycling and it feels like the council needs to catch up.
I haven’t actually been since it has reopened following its grand refurbishment but I have always felt Graves Gallery is such an unappreciated gem in the city. It is really tucked away at the top of the Central Library and perhaps as a result doesn’t receive the attention it deserves but the art collection there is exceptional. My favourite artwork on display in the old gallery was Grayson Perry’s Comfort Blanket tapestry which adorned one of the walls. I am very much looking forward to seeing it again.