That was the year that was in my small world

Sheffield Wargaming Society at The Polish Club,Ecclesall Road.
Sheffield Wargaming Society at The Polish Club,Ecclesall Road.
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So that was 2013, then - a year of tragedy, triumph and twerking. It was a 12 months to forget for Syria, Egypt and Nigella. But there was glory for China which put a spacecraft on the moon and Argentina which put a Pope in the Vatican.

Edward Snowden leaked and Dorset flooded. Thatcher died and Sir Alex retired. A royal baby was born, and 24 hour news reached new lows as grim-faced reporters tried to think of different ways to say: “still nothing doing.”

But that was all big news and has no place on this little page. Here instead are a few facts you may have learned if you read The Diary this year (part one)...

Some baristas are perhaps a little too passionate about their coffee. Like Anthony Smith, for instance.

He was Sheffield’s entrant in the 2013 UK Barista Championship in January and, although he didn’t win, you certainly couldn’t fault his enthusiasm.

“Coffee is better than a girlfriend,” the 25-year-old of Meadowhead told The Diary. “It’s always there when you need it and it’s beautiful to look at and touch.”

It’s not clear what his actual girlfriend made of that. But hopefully she understands enough to cheer on Anthony, who works at Coffee Boutique in Dore, when he enters the championship again this year.

One way to solve a fear of heights is by becoming an aerial acrobat. Which is what Greenhill girl Helen Goodrum did. She decided to combat her phobia by tackling it head on - learning how to be a stilt walker and aerial stunts woman.

It only half worked, as it turned out. The 26-year-old was so gifted she has spent seven months touring the US as a professional performer.

Unfortunately when it comes going up tall buildings, as we reported in March, she’s still not particularly keen.

If you want an old picture of Sheffield, Jack Wrigley is your man. He’s been snapping the city since 1956, and has 30,000 images in his private collection.

If it ever existed here, the 86-year-old of Ecclesfield has probably got a shot of it.

“I go out most weeks even now,” he said in April. “It’s just something I love doing.” Just don’t ask him if he ever got a picture of the fish which lived in the Hole in the Road. “I’ve been asked so many times,” he said. “I don’t think a picture exists. I took a lot of the Hole but never thought to get the aquarium. I wish I had.”

You spend three to five years of your life on the toilet That’s according to Professor Paul Chamberlain. The Sheffield Hallam University academic has spent much of the last five years running a research project into what makes the perfect loo.

“Some people snigger when you tell them you’re studying toilets,” said the 54-year-old of Fulwood in April. “But think about this: you spend three to five years of your life on the toilet so it’s worth getting right.”

The project - jointly carried out with Istanbul Technical University - aims to find ways of making everyday furniture more user-friendly. Bog standard academia, it ain’t.

When it comes to miniature soldiers, Sheffield is a big deal. That’s because the UK’s second biggest wargames conference is held every May.

Nearly 3,000 enthusiasts travel from across Europe to re-fight real historical battles using toy soldiers, tabletop terrains, dice and cards – and the odd Machiavelli quote thrown in for good measure.

“The games tend to have one main objective,” noted co-organiser and Sheffield Wargames Society member Mark Hides. “To kick seven shades of what’s good for the roses out of the other army.”

The 2013 conference, at the English Institute Of Sport, was a success, incidentally. A group of Canadian gamers have already booked their tickets for the 2014 show.

A Hathersage lass links Kanye West, Rod Stewart, Mick Hucknall, Nigel Kennedy and Jeff Beck.

That’s violinist Lizzie Ball, and she’s played on stage with all of these household names. The 32-year-old, who grew up in Back Lane, has performed in front of 15,000 people at New York’s Madison Square Garden and at the Brit Awards.

Not bad for someone whose mother was somewhat perturbed when she announced, aged seven, that she wanted to take up the instrument.

“Violins can make a horrible noise,” Lizzie, 32, said.