Jan. 13th, 2017

lupestripe: (Default)
Taking a brief break from writing about my SE Asia trip to talk about last Friday night, which saw us go down to Sheffield to say goodbye to Ferdy, who is moving to New Zealand for a year.

We headed down to the Iron City after work, opting to book a hotel as we didn't know what time festivities would finish. There was a plan to visit a Turkish restaurant but with proceedings starting at 6:30pm and us having no hope of getting there by then, we realised that if the meal was prolonged, we would have little time to see everyone before having to head back on the train. This turned out to be a very good decision as in the end we were out until 2am, pretty much leaving when the clubs closed. Also, with Wolfie and I being delayed by work, we didn't get down to Sheffield until nearing 8pm so staying overnight was definitely a good option. We drove down for convenience so decided to stay at the Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel, a funky little place that was very cheap, probably owing to the fact it was the first Friday after New Year. We were upgraded to a business suite and it was very pleasurable.

With a little time to kill as everyone was finishing their meal, we headed to Pizza Hut, largely because we don't have one in Leeds anymore. I had forgotten how good their pizzas are, and with unlimited salad too, we certainly packed adequate soakage for the drinking ahead. We also got to try one of those cola dispensing machines that add a dash of fruit to the mix. These are often pretty hideous but my raspberry one was quite nice. I mentioned drinking but in the end we didn't have very much, largely because Wolfie was on call, meaning that we had to limit our intake. This also meant I kept buying low-strength beers, so we were actually pretty sober throughout.

We met everyone in BrewDog at around 9pm, with just Ferdy, Nineleaves and Kunzai being the people we knew. A lot of Ferdy's family were out plus we also got to meet her husband, who is a boisterous football fan so we hit it off quite quickly, particularly as he spent a lot of his time ribbing a Newcastle supporter who was also one of his friends. There were three beers we had yet to try in BrewDog so we sank those, while I snuck away to buy Ferdy the only New Zealand beer they were selling, a ribbed bottled beer from Tuatura. She drank it a few days later and said it was delicious. As we were drinking our final sample, people had headed over the road to The Old Inn, a more traditional beer house that was sadly playing loud boom-boom dance music. We headed over there after we had finished in BrewDog and it was a little too loud for me, with forming a conversation quite difficult. They tended to serve real ale too, which was nice enough but lacking the flavour of craft, while Nineleaves and Kunzai were clearly frustrated about the lack of being able to talk. It was also quite rammed, so after this we headed over to the newly remodelled Devonshire Cat, along the way singing 'Nigel's a cunt' to the tune of Pigbag, which may have been a little immature but somewhat cathartic.

In the Cat, we sampled a few Abbeydale beers in shock with the fact they have trendifyied the place, sticking the bar right in the middle of the room. It does seem to have less of a craft beer and more of a real ale focus, which is a shame, but then the Abbeydale brew master was in and perhaps it was just a tap takeover. With Wolfie not wanting to drink any more, I moved on to the cocktails, trying a bramble one and a creamy one containing egg white, which surprisingly worked. We also had some monkey nuts as they had no other snacks, with us leaving discarded shells all over the tables. Alas the time soon came to say goodbye as Ferdy and her husband still had a lot of packing to do ahead of their flight out on Sunday, so we said a teary farewell before they headed off, with the four of us (Wolfie, Nineleaves, Kunzai and myself) heading back to the hotel shortly afterwards for some sleep, walking as Wolfie's painful foot which had inflicted him on the way up to BrewDog had now cured itself due to the alcohol.

Saturday was largely a day of hanging around before heading back to Leeds in time for EF registration at 7pm. We nearly didn't make it due to a lorry carrying haybales on the M1 catching fire but we did get back which was something of a relief. During the day, we just potted around really, in the first instance waiting for Nineleaves and Kunzai to check out as they had thought you could leave by noon when it was actually 11am. We moved our car around from the hotel carpark to a nearby Q Park before taking a walk by the River Don as this was part of the city I had not yet seen. To be honest, there isn't much down here and we ended up in a little cafe run by a Moroccan family, who served us delicious tea and cakes. The lady behind the counter was really friendly and we noticed the rows of tagine pots on display, so we know where to come when we want a tagine in Sheffield. Nineleaves and Kunzai met us here before we walked towards the city centre to check out the Peace Gardens and the interesting museums it contains. Many of these have a Sheffield theme, with the history of metalwork one being of particular interest. The range of items sculpted out of steel was quite wonderous, from the functional such as cutlery and a dog-shaped knife to more ceremonial pieces such as a punch bowl and commemorative cups to symbolise the millennium. There was a lot of focus on the apprentices they were training in metallurgy while another exhibit detailed all of the high-tech industry that Sheffield now manufacturers, disproving all of those people who complain about Britain's lack of industry these days. High quality bespoke manufacturing is where it's at, and it was good to see this weaved into the narrative of how Sheffield developed off the back of metalworking. Another exhibit was effectively a shrine to the philanthropy of a Victorian gent but I didn't spend too long in here as I needed the toilet, spending quite a lot of time engaged there.

We were waiting for another fur to arrive from Chesterfield, who ended up being about two hours later than advertised, prompting us to get our own lunch. We initially tried Head of Steam but the BBQ meat didn't appeal, while the nearby restaurants were of a similar vein. Kunzai didn't want to walk too far so we ended up in The Graduate, a standard pub with pretty standard food. I had a mac and cheese burger, which didn't quite work as the mac and cheese was a little too bland, while I got a Fuggle Bunny ale that was far too proud to be British for comfort. While here, we had a nice chat while watching Manchester United v Reading in the FA Cup Third Round on television. After this, we met up with the other furs and ended up in Nosh, a little coffee shop where I had a white hot chocolate, which is sadly rarer to find than you would think. It was delicious but conversation was a little stilted as everyone was obsessed with Pokemon Go. Consequently, we didn't stay too long here and we made our excuses, with the remaining quartet heading for sushi and us heading home.

It was a great weekend and it was sad to see Ferdy leave, although we are hoping to visit her and her husband soon. I do hope New Zealand goes well for them and I'm looking forward to hearing about their adventures.

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