The Blake Hotel.

53 Blake Street,
Walkley.
0114 233 9336

The Blake Hotel is located in Walkley, just off Upperthorpe and opposite Ruskin Park. Last year it was reopened after being taken on by new landlord James, already known for his involvement in high-quality drinking establishments like the New Barrack Tavern (Owlerton/Hillsborough) and the inimitable Sheaf View (Heeley). A former Kelham Island Brewery employee, James has transformed the pub from a derelict mess into a joyful retreat through hard graft and determination, just as he did with the Sheaf ten years earlier.

This is no city centre hang out, so don't expect a Top 40 jukebox or a range of fluorescent alcopops. The Blake is a cosier, more traditional affair, with a small bar serving a range of rotating and reasonably priced real ales (around the £2-£2.50 mark), some of them locally produced and all of them well kept, as well as at least one proper (read 'powerfully strong') cider and a selection of quality continental lagers. If you've been to the Barracks or the Sheaf before then you know the score. 'Affordable', 'friendly' and 'unassuming' are all words that spring to mind, but more than that the Blake embodies the Northern pub spirit which lends many of Sheffield's best boozers their charm.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Blake's operation is that at any one time it offers over 100 whiskeys - officially the largest collection in Sheffield. It has a spacious and accommodating beer garden, equipped with a covered smoking shelter and offering a stunning view of the city centre across Upperthorpe. Perfect for a post-walk pint or a Sunday afternoon tipple, or for those taking part in a Full Monty tour (Ruskin Park is the location of the playground scene, and the pub itself - then boarded up - can at one point be spotted in the background).

Blake Street is also (arguably) the steepest road in Sheffield, so you can sweat out the revelry before and after. The pub is best reached on the 95 bus route from the city centre (jump out at Fulton Road and follow it down the hill) or by braving the hill behind Infirmary Road.

The Christmas Market.

Fargate.
Contact - Julie Wilson.
just.jules@ymail.com

As Christmas approaches with its usual unflinching formidability, Sheffield City Council is preparing for the renowned Christmas market on Fargate. This year they are placing particular importance on featuring local independent traders and their Sheffield-made produce. Available to this select group are discounted rates on up to ten log cabins at the very affordable price of £50 each per day. The Council are encouraging traders to bind together and share these cabins for a week at a time, thus showcasing as much of Sheffield's unique trade as possible.

The markets around Fargate and the Peace Gardens have on previous years brought as many as 250,000 people to the city centre over the festive period, most with an eager hunger for purchasing gifts for their loved ones. What better gift than one crafted by a local independent, we ask you?

In addition to the bounty of independent trade soon to be on offer, the organisers will be providing a purpose built Santa's Grotto for the little uns - one which we are told will put its conveyor belt-like predecessors to shame. This is fully interactive, so get the family involved. Also on show will be the popular Bar and Hot Griddle experience, with various expansions of this theme sprouting out in the weeks leading up to the big day.

The Christmas period is undoubtedly a great time for traders both large and small, but when you are out there shopping please remember that independent traders are one of the crucial elements in bringing character and individuality to this city. Don't let Sheffield become another high street clone town. Go through the pages of this magazine and previous issues for just a glimpse of what is on offer.

Streetsmart.

streetsmart.org.uk

Calling all cafes and restaurants! Streetsmart is a charity that is working with them to raise funds to support homeless charities during November and December. It doesn't cost you a thing. Just ask your clients to pay an additional £1 on their bill and the money raised will be shared with local organisations combating homelessness. The Sheffield scheme is being supported by eatSheffield and the money will be distributed by Sheffield Agencies for the Vulnerable and Excluded (SAVE).

If you are interested, visit streetsmart.co.uk or contact Tracy Viner at the Cathedral Archer Project: tracy.viner@sheffield-cathedral.org.uk or 0114 3212312.



Yorkshire Tee.

S1 Artspace, 118 Trafalgar Street.
angga@yorkshiretee.co.uk / 07922219482


Yorkshire Tee has only surfaced recently but has made quite a stir. They are based at S1 Artspace and already supply some of the most creative streetwear labels in the city.

Their aim is to not only supply to existing brands, but to help out up-and-coming labels as well. You can start your own label with just one t-shirt design. They can point you in the right direction for social media expertise, a free online shop and freshly printed garments, so get creative.

If you'd like to check it out yourself head over to their Facebook and Twitter pages. These guys know what they're doing.



Ay Up Ducks.

facebook.com/ayupducks


We've all been there - enjoying a pint, some great music or the wonderful people at our favourite boozer thinking: This is good but if only there were talking ducks to guide me to some other places I might like...

Ay Up Ducks combines street art with Sheffield's great pubs in the latest exhibition by local artist coLor. 25 ducks sporting local greetings and phrases form a show which spans the city and rewards you for getting off the beaten track. It's not a pub crawl. It's about putting smiles on faces and exploring the wealth of great places just past your doorstep.

Ducks seen in double vision will not count twice and if ducks actually start talking to you, please stop drinking and seek medical advice. Happy hunting.

The Riverside.

Mowbray Street.


The Riverside is a nice little boozer by the river in Kelham Island. This month they are launching a new series of comedy events called Sit Down, Stand Up. Taking place on the third Wednesday of the month, it promises to be a cosy, laid-back affair, with Dave Twentymen and Mike Newall booked for 16th November and Andrew O'Neil and Ray Kane for 21st December.

Also worth mentioning is that the Riverside will be putting on jazz four-piece Portico Quartet (interviewed in Now Then #36) on 12th November as part of Upstairs Downstairs. This gig is free of charge (donations taken on the door), and will also include the Legend of the Seven Black Tentacles, Cuckoo Clocks, Peter Antoniou, Dean McPhee, Tom Goose and an open mic session hosted by Wordlife. An epic line-up.


American Soul.

44 Chapel Walk.
facebook.com/AmericanSoul.co.uk


Hate their foreign policy, laugh at the farcically named Baseball 'World Series', but one thing our cousins across the pond do better than anyone is sweet treats (or 'candy', as they say).

Having moved from the Forum shops to a much larger and better looking premises on the historic Chapel Walk, American Soul is something to behold. Though exclusively dealing in all things sweet, it is far from your common sweet shop. Boasting a massive range of goodies, from 'sodas' and cereals to what is probably the largest selection of jelly beans this side of LA, the lovely chaps that own this place have created a Willy Wonka-esque world of wonder that will have the little uns begging for a daily visit, as well as reminding the rest of us what it was like to care about nothing more deeply than sweeties.


Thelma's.

345 Sharrow Vale Road.
07930284143


A good café should provide three things: the kind of delicious homemade treats you never have time to make yourself, great coffee and a really cracking sarnie. Thelma's bags three gold stars using this scoring system. The homely décor and convenient location in Hunters Bar makes it an equally lovely spot to catch up with your buddies or eavesdrop on ladies who lunch.

But the warm atmosphere doesn't stem from the styling alone. Thelma's is a genuine family business. Run by the lovely Rowley sisters, it is named after their late grandmother. Worth sampling is their fantastic ciabatta with parma ham and mozzarella, plus three side dishes of potato salad, green salad and couscous. Even by Eccy Rd standards, it's particularly lush. Thelma would be proud.