(james benedict brown) on the road

Sunday crumble

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 19 November, 2006

The Sheffield University Architecture Society has launched a knitting circle. It’s started small, but will quite possibly take over the world, one Sunday afternoon at a time. The first manifestation of this event is taking place downstairs, while the dishes from Sunday lunch (home made broccolli and stilton soup) sit by the sink, a deep home made apple crumble waits expectantly for the oven to heat up. Darkness is setting in over Sheffield, and all is bliss in our little terraced house on top of the hill. When I left Montréal, I had many fears that there would never be a true substitution for Sunday nights around the kitchen table. In a small way, I have been reassured that my weekly routine is evolving into something new but no less comforting. All I have to do is learn to knit.

Yesterday I walked a few minutes up the hill to go shopping in Crookes. Crookes is both the name of a neighbourhood in north-west Sheffield, and the name of a long, gently curving street that runs through this district. Most Sheffield residents will know it from the bright illuminated sign on the front of the 52 bus, which is an occasional treat for those students who have chosen to live up here, a hundred metres or so in elevantion above most of the university. It’s a tough climb if you’ve spent all day in lectures, or all night in a pub. For us, it’s now home, and on a Saturday morning, it’s a fun place to go shopping to construct a weekend breakfast. This being Sheffield, you can find in almost adjacent shops both an organic fruit and veg store and a discount frozen food chain. That means quality muesli and native British fruit from one, and remaindered microwave chocolate puddings from the other.

Crookes sits on top of a hill that protects this side of Sheffield from the windswept Peak District. You have only to walk a few blocks from our house to be presented with a breath taking view down onto the countryside. The advantages of this location easily outweigh the inconveniences (always being out of breath when you get home, and most un-insulated drafty attics being colder than northern Québec in January): from my desk I can see out across the city, with the sparkling phosphorescent lights of the Don Valley stretching out like an unimaginatively-described sparkling carpet.

In Friday’s Independent The Long Blondes (a band based in Sheffield) described this city with the love that most of us can’t help sharing:

“Sheffield is like an eccentric aunt. There’s a lot wrong with it, but you it anyway … Historically, they always used to get the most radical architectural ideas and stick them in Sheffield. When you come into the train station, Park Hill is just a concrete wall. It just looks like something out of Eastern Europe…”

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