Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?!
I’ve been ridiculously busy, traipsing up and down the country on my weekends, working Monday to Friday, and writing book chapters and proposals in every spare second I’m not at work, and blogging kind of took a back seat for a bit. Oops. Anyway, now that my book chapter has been sent off (welp!), there’s hopefully a bit more time for catching up on blog stuff, and I thought I’d kick off with my weekend in Sheffield with lovely literary fellow-Southerner, Emma, who I met at the Talking Bodies conference earlier this year. This might be a two-parter, but in case I decide not to split it, I recommend getting yourself a cup of tea. (Just quickly, before we get to the billion pictures of the rain, I need to just point out how fantastic this woman is. She’s been crazy supportive of me over the last couple of months, and it was really needed. Emma, you are awesome.)
I set off super early on Saturday morning, and got the train from St Pancras to Sheffield, arriving just as the rain really started. Emma and I went to Marmadukes for brunch, where we ate so much food and drank so much tea that we could barely move. Yum. After two hours(!) discussing PhD’s, the joys of Essex, and the amazing handwash in the bathrooms, we decided we probably needed a walk, and some shopping. Luckily (not), it started to pour with rain just as we got outside. Being the hardy southern individuals we are, and knowing there were charity shop book shops not too far away, we battled through, and were rewarded for our efforts with books and the best hot chocolate I have ever drunk, at Cocoa Wonderland. Ha.
Post chocolate haze, and more discussions, this time on feminism, trans narratives, and Eddie Redmayne, we hopped in a cab back to hers, where we piled coats and scarves onto the radiators, and headed back out – in Emma’s sofa on wheels – to Meadowhall.
My god, that place is a shopping mall and a half, no?
Emma told me it was designed to be used as a prison in case shopping malls didn’t take off in the UK, so it’s ENORMOUS, and galleried at the top. I liked it. I tried on ridiculous Jeffrey Campbell spiked platform boots, Emma laughed at my ridiculous Jeffrey Campbell spiked platform boots, we mooched around the shops, and then decided it was time for more food. She’s a girl after my own heart, that one.
We opted for Las Iguanas, because neither of us had been there before and because quesadillas, and *they’ve got an entire vegetarian/vegan menu* IKR?! Anyway, we were very impressed, and then we couldn’t decide what to eat, so we decided to just order the two things we were both undecided on and share. It was pretty much a weekend of immense decisions. Ha. There aren’t any pictures of our food, because we started eating too quickly, but rest assured, it was delicious, and we’ll both be going back.
After dinner we whipped around some more shops, and then headed home, with a pitstop at Tescos for cans of rum and coke, and too many bottles of sparkling water. We both got ID’ed at the till, which has pretty much made my entire life. Being ten years over the drinking age and getting ID’ed is much more satisfying than when you’re 20 and it just annoys you. Apparently, I’ve reached the age where I appreciate my youthful good looks. Ha!
I met Emma’s lovely housemates, and then we watched some Jessica Jones, debated the Bechdel Test, and went to sleep with alarms set early for a road trip up to Heptonstall.
Let me start off by saying this; if you are planning a road trip, I highly recommend taking one on in a Rover something that is basically made of sofa cushions, and accompanied by Shakira, Shania Twain, and Sheryl Crow. Musical gold, I tell you. Every day *is* a winding road.
Anyway, two hours into our singalong, we had a minor altercation with the satnav, who cheerily informed us that we needed to drive through Hebden Bridge, and then turn right somewhere up a 70 degree incline. That might be a slight exaggeration, but not far off. Instead, we drove around in circles for a bit, figuring out how to get up a ridiculous mud hill in the rain, and then suddenly found the tiny tiny village of Heptonstall pretty much by accident. It is honestly the cutest, quaintest thing I’ve ever seen. We parked, and walked up to the Cross Inn, which, if you’re in Yorkshire at all, you should visit. Emma had a Sunday roast which looked pretty awesome, and I had homemade veggie lasagne, which absolutely was. A roaring fire warmed us up while we debated the best options for the torrential rain bouncing off the cobbles outside.
Eventually, we decided that we needed to just brave it, so we got jumpers, scarves, coats, hats, and gloves on, opened the front door, and it had somehow, between the window and the door, completely stopped raining. We dashed up to the church, took a billion photos of the graveyards, and then went off to find Sylvia Plath’s grave.
She’s not in the main cemetery, and her grave isn’t signposted, but it didn’t take us too long to find. The new cemetery looks out over the hills, and is just gorgeous. We just about had time to get back to the car before the rain started again, and we headed out of Heptonstall and back down the hill with the windscreen wipers on full. It honestly stopped raining just long enough for us to find Sylvia and make it back. Magic 🙂
We drove back to Sheffield through the Peak District, which is beautiful even when it’s grey, and we saw the Actual Sea (not the Actual Sea, and Actual Field, but so flooded it had it’s own tide). We knew all the words to Sheryl Crow’s album, and cannot believe it’s 19 years old (madness), or that she’s 52 (also madness). We got back to Emma’s just as it was dark, and had cups and cups of tea before Emma dropped me off at the station to get a train back to London.
I had a fantastic weekend, and it turns out that it’s only the weather that’s grim up North, after all 😉