Writer’s universe

Gavin Extence
Gavin Extence

Gavin Extence, 31, is a novelist. He moved to Sheffield in 2000 for university, fell in love with the city, and decided to stay. He has moved house at least eight times in the last thirteen years, but now lives in Walkley with his wife, daughter and cat. His first novel, The Universe versus Alex Woods, was picked as one of the Waterstones 11 best debuts of 2013, was a Richard and Judy summer read, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Eliot Prize. You can hear him talking about it at an Off the Shelf event at The Foundry at the University of Sheffield on Wednesday

Meersbrook Park

The view from the top of Meersbrook Park is incredible. You can see right across the city, and in the summer, it looks like a toy town which has been dropped in the middle of a wood. I lived in Meersbrook for about five years, and whenever I needed a bit of inspiration I’d walk to the top of the hill and take in the view. I never got tired of it. It’s also great for sledging in winter and fantastic on bonfire night, when you get to see every fireworks display in the city – for free!

Sheffield Libraries

Of course, I love books, and I love being surrounded by books, but I’m also aware of how much Sheffield’s libraries provide to the community. I spent several months using them when I was researching my debut novel – I had no money at the time, couldn’t afford to buy books, and would not have been able to get by without them.

Furthermore, Sheffield has some really beautiful, quirky library buildings. They’re a wonderful resource for everyone in the city and should be cherished.

Broomhill Tavern

Its décor may not be the sharpest in Sheffield, but I love this pub for its friendly, laidback atmosphere – as well as for sentimental reasons. My wife used to work in Broomhill, and when we first got together, we’d meet up in the Tav most Friday evenings. We now have a 14-month-old daughter, so those days are unfortunately long gone. We’re pretty much teetotal. Babies and hangovers do not mix.

Showroom Cinema

Cineworld may have the biggest screen in the country, but what good is that if it’s only showing the latest Michael Bay atrocity? Sheffield’s home of independent film has a much better hit rate. Along with its weekly programme of great films, the Showroom also plays host to the annual Sheffield Doc/Fest, as well as providing a great venue for live music and several Off the Shelf events.

It’s also, for my money, one of the city centre’s most eye-grabbing buildings. I love the art deco design, and the café-bar is probably my favourite place to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by. I could happily spend the whole day there.

The Sheffield Round Walk

You may have seen the signposts dotted around Meersbrook and Endcliffe Park, but for those not in the know, this is a long-established circular walk through leafy southwest Sheffield.

The route never leaves the city, but it’s almost entirely parks and woodlands from start to finish. It covers that long, blurry zone where Sheffield basically melts into the Peak District, and is another reminder of what a privilege it is to live in Europe’s greenest city. The route is 14 miles, so make sure you’re wearing sensible shoes.