Saturday, 15 June 2013

After the having read, watched films and listened to the music of Sheffield, the city has finally come to life.

I didn’t expect I would experience so much difficulty in understanding the accent, especially after having been a long time listener of the Arctic Monkeys! It was embarrassing when I misinterpreted the phrase, “Are you alright?” as an inquiry into my wellbeing and I am still not quite sure how to answer this greeting. So far, the Northern hospitality has not been obvious or pronounced.
 
The instantly recognisable Park Hill housing estate looms over the city. Urban Splash, a design firm specialising in regeneration of decaying structures, has got its work cut out with its redevelopment. The conditions of the flats which not yet been redeveloped are shocking however the new apartments look stylish inside and out, but that may not be enough to convince a prospective investor. The high-risk nature of the project means that the first phase of redeveloped apartments are the most affordable, but if they don’t sell the next stages will not proceed. Redevelopment of the entire site may have been a better option than their gradual approach but Urban Splash is remaining tight lipped about the progress of the sales. Whether or not the historic listing of Park Hill is a mistake remains to be seen. If I were a prospective investor, I would hold onto my money.
 
Sheffield Hallam University takes prime position in Sheffield, linking the train station to the city centre (AKA heart of the city). It has a great bustling atmosphere and I can only imagine how alive it is when it isn't the holiday period. It is a pity we are not participating in any of the Doc Fest events which seem to be generating so much excitement everywhere. 
After the first day in Sheffield, I attended the optional pub tour, which took us to two pubs. The first pub, The Graduate is just like a country pub at home and the second, Bungalow and Bear, is a hipster bar in a converted fire station. I returned to Bungalow and Bear later in the week and watched a performance by Leeds psychedelic-rock band, Weirds. I like the reuse of buildings such as Bungalow and Bear, and even Liberty Works, which still hold so much character from their past.
Nestled in the countryside, the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet was a charming place to spend the morning of the second day. Considering how old the site is it is in remarkable condition. It reminded me of the pioneer settlement museum in Swan Hill which I visited as a child, so I can imagine how much fun the visiting school children were having.  The school children were dressed up in old-fashioned attire and matched up with my childhood image of England shaped by Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton stories.
 
Later in the day we had lunch in the midst of the industrial wasteland of Kelham Island at The Fat Cat pub, which specialises in craft beer. Despite its location, The Fat Cat is not a working mans pub, rather it is a destination for beer geeks, hipsters and cat lovers alike. It is an example of gentrification in Sheffield after the collapse of the steel industry. 

I absolutely adored the artwork and interior decorating of Chatsworth House which we visited on Thursday. The extensive grounds were gorgeous with families of ducks roaming around. I could definitely see myself living there with Mr Darcy :P
The lectures each day have enhanced my experience of the places we visit by providing background and I feel very fortunate to listen to the insightful guest lecturers. The days are long and tiring but definitely worth it. This weekend I am going to London to experience the famous nightlife, shopping and visit The Crystal! I'll report back when (if) I return!  
- Angela Plazzer, Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning

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