Sheffield through Australian eyes: The good, the bad and the baffling

Sheffield Town Hall is among my favourite of the local buildings
Sheffield Town Hall is among my favourite of the local buildings
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Sheffield is an eye-opening city for a new resident. Britain's fifth largest city is an exciting place to get to know. The Star's new reporter, Australian Matt McLennan, shares some thoughts on his new home.

The good

Football: First thing's first, I'll mention the national sport straight away. I'll alienate half the city by saying I'm a Sheffield Wednesday fan, but you've got to pick a side. We're all Wednesday, aren't we? Perhaps not.

Views: How good are they? Looking across the fringes of the Steel City to the edge of the Peak District is just beautiful, and I never tire of it. Because of all the hills, so many hills, there are also plenty of elevated spots from which to gaze on the city. I think it's a place best viewed at night.

Architecture: There are plenty of great buildings to look at, and, around here, it's a mix of great and downright strange. Sheffield Town Hall is up there among my favourites, and The Q-Park on Charles Street is just odd, but I like it. The Sheffield Hallam University Students' Union building in Paternoster Row looks like something from outer space.

Parks: There are so many green spaces to choose from. It's great for a city of this size. Hillsborough and Crookes Valley parks are fantastic choices.

Local transport: The trams are excellent, and It helps that I live about 100 yards from one of the stops. The buses are also pretty decent. It makes getting around this city an easy prospect.

Inter-city transport: What I love about the north of England is how close all the other major cities are. You can get to Leeds in about 45 minutes, Manchester in an hour, Liverpool in almost two, and London in just over two. Edinburgh is less than four, and that's in another country! It's amazing for getting around the United Kingdom.

Sheffield Arena: What a place! I've been to two gigs there so far, and the sound has been incredible both times. It's a fantastic venue. You should be proud to have it in your city.

The friendliness: The people seem to be the direct opposite of the climate, or so it seems. The colder it is outside, the warmer they are. It's lovely. Understanding what they're saying is a different prospect, but more on that later.

Universities, two of them: There's always plenty going on around both campuses in the city. It certainly makes for a great, bustling atmosphere.

Christmas market: It's a magical time of year in this part of the world, and Sheffield is making the most of Christmas.

Street art: David Bowie in Division Street is my favourite. That's one of my favourite areas in Sheffield.

Food: Particularly, the variety. There are all sorts of options in just a short stroll down London Road. Mexican, Caribbean, Turkish, Indian. It's all there for you to choose from. And here's a newsflash: It's a bread roll. None of this cake nonsense.

Drink: I am a journalist, and I may as well keep up the stereotype. There are plenty of places to get a pint in this city, and a good challenge would be trying to get around to them all. That brings me to the bad.

The bad

Warm (not cold) beer: I'm sorry, I just can't get used to it. Cue the howls of derision, but I'd prefer my pints to be cold. An English mate of mine tells me temperature is the key, and the local beers taste better when they aren't cold. I just can't drink them warm, though. I'll have to stick to the Guinness, or scotch.

Rubbish: It isn't a particularly Sheffield, or even Yorkshire, problem, but the litter builds up in certain parts of the city, and it is noticeable. It's not a good look in Castle Street while you're waiting for the bus.

Hills: They are great for providing good views, but a stroll around Sheffield can turn into a nightmare for the legs in no time at all.

Weather: It can turn in an instant. I like the cold, but the howling, bitter wind and rain can appear almost from nowhere. It teaches you to be prepared for all eventualities, like living in Melbourne.

Smokers: You can't escape them. Everywhere you walk, someone is lighting up. Increasing numbers have turned to E cigarettes, which is a better option, but they're still in the minority. Each to their own, I guess.

Television licence payments: What the hell are they about? Charging for “free to air” telly? It's almost enough to make you read a book or roll the dice in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Almost.

Pedestrians: Most walk around with absolutely no awareness whatsoever. If you don't walk around them, they'll almost certainly run into you. At least they're polite in saying a genuine "sorry" when it happens.

The baffling

The Yorkshire dialect has to be the hardest thing for a foreign ear to get used to. Words like "reyt", "'ey up" , “nowt” and “owt” will certainly stump beginners. If you haven't "gor" it, you'll soon "ger" it, but it might take a while to sink into the old “ead”.

I have never come across people who are so economical with words, and, sometimes, even letters within them. The letter T, or lack of, is a case in point. Perhaps you English figure that you drink enough of it, so you don't need to include it in language, too.

Being called "love" six times per sentence, every time you walk into a shop, is also an eye-opener, but you get used to it.

Then, there's the peculiar trait of replacing the word "until" with "while". "We're open nine while 5.30" made me ask again the first time I heard it, and the second.

I could go on about the language for ages - it fascinates me as a foreigner - but brevity seems to be popular in these parts.