The world’s smallest festival?

The post-festival blues didn’t strike this week, because I’ve been busy doing some supply teaching assistant work at Whiteways School, and some volunteer work at Walkley Primary. On Thursday, I held my first memoir writing taster, which went really well. In particular, it was great to start to build links with Your Good Mourning, a wonderful bereavement charity based here in Walkley, Sheffield. Some volunteers from the charity came to my course and they were so inspiring. I love learning, and this week, I’ve certainly learned a lot from  the people who came along to the course, and also the children I was working with.

We’ve had weird weather though. Thursday saw torrential hailstorms and Friday was cold, wet and windy. It seemed like another Bank Holiday wipeout was in the offing, and I felt sorry for the Oxfam stewards on their first outing of the year, at Symmetry festival. However, Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. I fired up my laptop, promising myself I’d go for a walk later, once I’d caught up with some freelance work I’m doing, editing a memoir.

After a couple of hours’ work, I was on a mission. I needed to find out more about ambulances in Sheffield in 1913 as part of my research, and bizarrely enough, the Fire and Police Museum is a short walk away from my house. I walk past it all the time but I’ve never visited. It was lovely and warm outside and as I walked into the imposing Victorian building, I questioned my logic – spending a lovely sunny day indoors! I asked about the ambulances and unfortunately, I’d chosen the only day when the vintage ambulances were  having their MOTs! I got the information I needed though: in 1913, ambulances in Sheffield were horse-drawn, and would have been up until 1940. In 1933, a race was held between a horse-drawn and a motorised ambulance. The horse-drawn ambulance won!

The museum is quirky and charming, with lots of corners to explore and old fire engines to climb into (I’ll have to go back another day and look at the ambulances!) The museum is based in the old fire station in West Bar, Sheffield, and has the UK’s longest fireman’s pole! There was also a terrifying display about murders, with some of the actual murder weapons on show. If you ever wanted to know about the Crookes laundry murder, look no further! As I walked home, I was amazed by how lush and green our local green-space, Philadelphia Gardens is looking, despite the mixed spring weather.

When I got home, I received an invitation to see the Allstar Revolution perform at a house party in Crookes, a short walk away to the area of Sheffield where I used to live. It was a gorgeous early evening, with lots of people having barbecues. As I walked up Mona Road, I could hear a band performing loudly. It turned out to be a jokey acoustic rap act called Ham Pocket, playing at the end of a long, but very narrow garden, which was packed with people. There was a gazebo on the lawn, an afro caribbean barbecue and a bar, complete with a thatched roof! The trees and bushes were decorated with various kinds of hats. I chatted to other members of the Allstar revolution collective, ducking out of the way as their equipment was squeezed past the partygoers. The gig was brilliant. The band got everyone up and skanking, although we were dodging the increasingly unstable moves of a very drunk guy! The songs sounded perfect in the summer evening and the sound was great. Hopefully the neighbours enjoyed it too!

I left the party to meet up with some good friends at the University Arms, a lovely real-ale pub which used to be the lecturers-only club at the University of Sheffield. We watched another brilliant gig, this time by blues maestro (and renowned Dr Who enthusiast) Tom Attah.

After the gig, I took my friends back to the world’s smallest festival. It was winding down a bit, but some friends of mine were still there. I stayed up far too late, so I had to work hard today to get myself out of the doghouse! I think I’ve just about made it, and I’m going to take it easy for the next few days as my voice is still croaky from last weekend at Bearded Theory!

And Steve, the host of the party, should take care. Six years ago, a young man called Rich held a festival-themed birthday party that involved fake beards. Now it’s a 5,000 capacity festival, with some of the biggest names in music on the line-up!

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