Michael’s second day in Nottingham started off with bright sunshine and a walk around the University of Nottingham campus. It was great to show him what the Ningbo campus in China had in comparison with the original and rather large British one. We took a photo by the statue of the Chinese lion because it had Ningbo written on it, and coincidentally, the year that we were both in Ningbo together.
Once we had shown Michael the necessary sights of the University campus, we headed back to Danny’s house to then catch a bus into town to visit a board game cafe called Ludorati. Also, this isn’t necessarily a cultural or historic feature of Nottingham’s city centre, it had a great atmosphere and we ended up being there for five hours until our stomachs rumbled with hunger.
This led us to a restaurant and bar called ‘Revolución de Cuba’ which is one on of my favourite places for many reasons:
- it is cuba which is a spanish speaking country and i studied both in my undergraduate final year and feel a connection.
- it serves tapas which is one of my favourite cuisines… the chorizo and gambas pil pil guys…!
- the cocktails are creative and delicious
- the cocktails are on a 2-for-1
- on weekdays there is usually a live band playing
- the 2-for-1 offer can be for any two cocktails and it is not limited to having to have the same one.
- it’s just fabulous.
As it was a Sunday night there was also a 2-for-1 offer on tapas… so we spoilt ourselves without having to splash the $$ which ended our second day showing Michael around perfectly.
The following morning wasn’t so rosy. The day drifted by and by the evening we were in my car heading up the M1 to Sheffield. This put us in the right place to catch a cheaper train up to York the next day. The three of us, Danny, Michael and I, headed off to the station on the tram on Monday morning to arrive at a slightly wet looking York. Nevertheless, we wandered around the Museum Gardens, saw the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and walked a long section of the walk to get a good view of the York Minster (which is huge).
York is a lovely little place to get lost in and wander through the narrow and cobbled streets. We also walked along the river and around to Clifford’s Tower which is next to the York Castle Museum. Amongst these particular sights there is the centre of York itself that has a mix of wide modern streets lined with corporate stores and little old and narrow streets full of smaller boutiques and (loads of) antique jewellery shops. Despite the rain we had enjoyed strolling around, stopping for lunch at a place called Ate O’Clock and window shopping in the older parts of the city centre.
Fun fact: York has a street that is known for having the longest name but is the shortest street. It is called Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate.
I’d love to high five the person who came up with that name.
So York was ticked off our checklist of Michael’s tour of parts of the UK. With Nottingham and York down, it was Sheffield and the Peak District to go…
Michael stayed in Sheffield from Wednesday to Saturday. It was more relaxed than our first four days as I had to go to a couple of introductory modules and course meetings for my masters to start on Monday 26th September. Wednesday had a slow start.
In the early afternoon, we headed to the University campus as I had one meeting and I wanted to show Michael the Student’s Union to show the differences between universities here including the contrast between a grassy Nottingham campus and a more city based Sheffield one. Once my meeting was over Michael joined me and we both attended my departments welcome drinks (ha-dee-hah free wine)…
Kidding! We only had a glass of orange juice as we had to head back into town to meet Kathy for dinner as we had decided to join her and some of her friends to watch a play called ‘Relatively Speaking’ at the Lyceum Theatre in the evening. It was a simple but effective and entertaining play about miscommunication. Here is a little link to share the plot with you: http://www.englishtheatre.de/archives/article/relatively-speaking-by-alan-ayckbourn/
On Thursday we were in town, enjoying the sunshine and both exploring what Sheffield city centre has to offer. I met Michael at the Winter Gardens – basically a big greenhouse – which has the Millenium Gallery attached to it. This gallery has a variety of small exhibitions to show the history of Sheffield such as the steel industry that was huge during the Second World War.
One of the rooms was filled with an exhibition funded by the University of Sheffield called ‘Future of the Mind’. This was mostly made up of high-tech and fancy gadgets that are used for virtual reality. Michael and I wore a pair of goggles and earphones to experience a 2-minute video and simulation of being inside a bacterium cell. The fun part was we were able to shoot the bacteria with antibiotics at the end.
After that, we walked to the rustic yet majestic looking Town Hall and sat in the Peace Gardens with a Traditional Pasty. We were lucky that the sun was shining and we were able just to pass the day for a bit. We also passed by Sheffield Cathedral which is a lot prettier on the inside than we expected.
And the favourite part for Michael… was the afternoon tea. He said that Kathy had recommended a place called Etén Café so I gave them a call and sorted a table.
My lord. It was huge. There was an equivalent of four sandwiches on the bottom plate, at least five desserts each on the middle plate and a mountainous scene on top. I’m accustomed to seeing afternoon teas being quite minimalist occasions but ooooh no. We were going to have a feast this time! I guess it’s funny and nice to hear when your Canadian friend earnestly says to his friends and family back home: “We were wrong about the UK, they actually do have some British dishes, their own dishes.”
I think I deserve a medal.
I’ve tried my best to feed him dishes that are considered British… He’s had…
- Bangers & Mash (York)
- Chicken & Chorizo Pie (in Broadfield, Sheffield… known for some of the best pies in the areas)
- Baked Beans on Toast (made by yours truly)
- English Breakfast (made by Karmen)
- Afternoon Tea (Sheffield)
- He tried Henderson’s Relish (Sheffield)
- Bakewell Tart (in Manchester without me but it still counts!)
So…. he’s done pretty well. (Fish and Chips was ticked off last time he came to England with his school)
The last significant adventure we went on was to the Peak District. We took George and Lindsey with us and drove out to Derwent on the A57 to Glossop for a walk. This walk, although very picturesque, somehow turned into a 6 mile hike including a lot of uphill… Derwent is known for its reservoir that is held by a huge dam.
We survived the walk, ate a big meal at the Ladybower Inn as a reward, and walked the tame road route back to the car (which still took an hour to give you an idea of how far we had walked.) I do recommend visiting! The fresh air, hearty food and rolling hills and views are worth it.
Aaaaaaand that is the end of Michael’s grand UK tour for now. We ended it with a good coffee (/mocha because I’m not hardcore enough yet to have straight coffee) and cake at the Steamyard in Sheffield’s city centre.
I’ve absolutely loved showing Michael around the places that I call home. It still surprises me to think that the connections and friendships I made whilst away are still a part of my life and these international friends are just amazing. Distance really can mean nothing when you have friends who you can just pick up the phone to or skype whenever you both have a moment and chat about life. I’m going to miss him once he returns to Montreal… but I guess it’s just another reason to visit more of Eastern Canada in the future… (besides the fact that my parents are there.. they are in the west though!)
All my love to international friends, I hope you are all well and loving life.