And thus, I find myself in Sheffield at the time of the Steel City Derby. This, in case you were unaware, is the name given to any football match between The Mighty Sheffield United and our porcine neighbours Sheffield Wednesday.
It’s been a while since the last one, because the teams have been in different divisions in the football league. However, with United’s promotion last time out, the derby is back on, and it’s big news. And yes, it’s great for the city, but I can’t help but feel that the media frenzy around this particular episode has gone a bit over the top. As media frenzy is wont to do.

Obviously – obviously – I want United to win. But as time has gone on, I have to admit that the results of these sort of big games have become less important to me. I’m old enough to have seen many Steel City Derbies. I’ve seen us win some, I’ve seen us lose some, and – and hold onto your seats here, folks – I’ve seen some draws as well. Incredible.

And yet – no matter the scoreline in these games – football, life, friendships (even with those from the other lot), and the constant threat of nuclear apocalypse all continue.

It’s not that it doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. It matters a lot and for those 90 minutes, there will be nothing else on my mind. (In fact, there is a part of my mind that is nagging away at me, suggesting that maybe it actually matters too much and that’s why I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not bothered.)

It’s just that when it’s over, there will still also be other things that matter. Whatever the result, I will still support Sheffield United. Other (weird, misguided) individuals will still support the other team. Workplace banter, which has peaked in the run-up to the game, will slowly decline again. Life will continue.

And then in January, we’ll do it all over again (but I’ll be back in Cape Town for that one).

Weather warnings noted

It has started. It started this weekend. Subtly.
It started on the way to the Beagle Run.

We’re heading to my homeland soon, and whenever we do that, there is mention of the prevailing meteorological conditions over there. There has to be. It’s the law.
During previous visits, we’ve had an occasional glimpse of blue skya lot of rain and even some snow. Oh, and then that fortnight where it never got above or below 3ºC and was just… very grey.
I didn’t bother with photos that time.

The weather in the UK isn’t as nice as it is in Cape Town. You know that. I know that. But Mrs 6000 still likes to remind me of the anguish her body – which is a Capetonian body – is inevitably going to have to suffer while we’re over there.

It started this weekend.
It started on the way to the Beagle Run.

At 7am on Sunday morning, somewhere near Klapmuts, she asked what the temperature was. It was 11ºC. A bright but chilly start to the South African day. I told her that it was 11ºC, despite the fact that she was driving and had the thermometer reading directly in front of her on the dashboard. Sometimes it’s just easier to play along. Because we both knew what was coming next.

And what’s the maximum temperature in Sheffield today?

She asked, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

“It’s going to be 13,” I replied, dutifully.

We both knew this, because just the previous evening, we had spotted the UK weather on Sky News, and had remarked on how it was going to be 13 in Sheffield the next day. So my answer was just for confirmation, and to allow for the mathematically simple, but utterly essential, next line.

So, just 2 degrees warmer than it is now, then?

“That’s right.”

Wow. Just two degrees warmer. And it’s only 7am here.

“Yes. Just two degrees warmer.”

And we were done. For the moment at least. The weather in Sheffield isn’t as nice as it is in Cape Town. But then, in its favour, Sheffield has water. Decent internet. Great football. Proper relish. And fewer beagles.

Don’t get me wrong. Cape Town is great too. I love Cape Town. Mountain, beaches, Milk Stout, braais, Cape Agulhas (not strictly Cape Town, but you get my drift, right?). Yes, Cape Town has lots of good things too.

It’s almost as if each city has some positives and some negatives.

Apparently, one of the negatives about Sheffield is the weather. But I grew up in Sheffield. The cold doesn’t really bother me.
Although, I’ll admit that I’m actually quite glad we’re not going this week:

Storm Aileen is expected to bring very strong winds with gusts of 50-60 mph on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The worst of the winds, with gusts to 65-75 mph are expected to be across North Wales and the North Midlands. Longer journey times by road, rail and air are likely, with restrictions on roads and bridges. There is also a chance of power cuts, and damage to trees and perhaps buildings.

Oh come on, Aileen.

Weather-wise, all I really need while we’re there is a couple of days of calm weather to fly the Mavic. Anything else half-decent will be a bonus.

And then we can come back home and thaw.

Still. Could be worse.

As in, this view is still. And it could be much, much worse.

Incoming from Mr A Contact. This gorgeous image of Ladybower Reservoir, just down the road from the family pile in Sheffield.

Gorgeous. A hint of frost on the fields in the (?)early morning sunlight. And that mirror in the middle is the water supply for Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham. It’s not quite “Antarctic Ice Shelf” pure, but it honestly can’t be far off.

Ja. Cape Town may be beautiful, but my home turf certainly has its moments too.

Thank you, Mr A Contact

Clive Weir is not a fanatic

I know this, because he says he is not. Right there in the second sentence of his fanatical rant. I know that Cliver Weir is in shock, because he says that before he says he’s not a fanatic.


Clive is upset because Sheffield City Council made the decision to cut down some trees in Rustlings Road, Sheffield, despite a long campaign by some residents to keep the trees. The cutting down was done earlier this week, at dawn, by a private contractor – Amey – accompanied by a “massive police presence” (12 officers).
Given the unholy fuss about this seemingly underhand approach, one has to wonder why they went via this route. Perhaps because if they hadn’t, there would have been a riot. I don’t know, I’m just guessing.

Immediately after these sort of allegedly anti-environmental actions (I say ‘allegedly’, because the council are replacing the trees with… er… even more trees than they cut down), local news sites are a great source of amusement. I cut to the chase, and went quote chasing in amongst the looney fringe of the STAG (Sheffield Trees Action Groups) FB page.

I was not disappointed. Non-fanatic Clive Weir’s post was the first one I saw.

The word ‘fanatic’ is defined as:

a zealot, bigot, hothead, militant. Fanatic and zealot both suggest excessive or overweening devotion to a cause or belief. Fanatic further implies unbalanced or obsessive behaviour.

This obviously doesn’t refer to Clive Weir though, because he is not a fanatic. He does seem ‘somewhat disappointed’ with the city councillors though:

The people of Sheffield had an opportunity to rid themselves of the autocratic fascists that hide themselves under the banner of labour.

But wait, Clive. Knowing that they had this opportunity, they surely took it, right? Right?

What do they do?, vote them in again because they have been brainwashed by genetics to deny any competent dialogue .

Seems a reasonable excuse to me. But then I’ve been fortunate to avoid being brainwashed by genetics to deny any competent dialogue.

Or… or have I? [sudden concern]

Although I’ve been a microbiologist since I can remember, I have some knowledge of genetics through my degree in Biomedical Sciences, and I can only imagine that Clive is trying to hint at some sort of genetic brainwashing programme here, selective breeding or eugenics. It’s fanatical stuff.

Clive continues, wholly unfanatically:

I would need a lot of money to take on this bunch of knuckle dragging bipeds.To call them monkeys would do an injustice to the primates!

Which primates, though? Because both these groups are primates: the monkeys and the councillors. So are you saying that calling the monkeys monkeys would insult the councillors? Or calling the councillors monkeys would insult the councillors? Calling the monkeys monkeys would insult the monkeys? But they are monkeys. Eponymous disparagement. Is it rude if it’s the truth?
Ironically, monkeys mostly live in trees. Not in Rustlings Road though. Well, not any more.

And then, the bombshell:

What are you playing at you idiots,have you all got your heads up your own backsides, or too busy licking your fellow councillors?

For those of you who thought that Clive was some sort of fanatic (he’s not), did you get that? These are elected officials, paid to serve the people and they seem to be engaging in contortionism and somewhat iffy-sounding oral practices instead of voting not to cut down trees. Suddenly, Clive’s apparently misplaced anger is wholly understandable. Cutting down a few trees in a posh bit of the city has “pressed the button” and Clive is going to reveal all he knows about the goings-on in the Council Chambers. Already, we know that this includes bending, stretching, recto-cranial insertion and hot colleague-on-colleague tongue action.
Watch this space. Well, that space.

Clive needs to find peace. Mi Riam has him covered:


I can’t help that we’ve been here before, albeit more locally. Perhaps some candles placed in the shape of a fish would work here too.

“We are one, we are one, we are one! Wake up! Wake up! Rise with the rising sun!”

That rising sun now far more visible thanks to the lack of arboreal obstruction, of course. So every cloud has a silver lining.
And you’ll be able to see them better too.


I’m sorry, Carl? Gorilla? As in Gorilla gorilla gorilla? Do they really bulk buy a load of trees and start planting them either on common land or ask people if they can plant trees at the end of gardens?

I mean, I’m no expert on primates (although I now have a little more clarity on how not to insult them) (see above), but I’ve never seen this sort of behaviour on any of David Attenborough’s auspicious documentaries. I have a friend in the DRC – I’ll ask her if she’s had any gorillas come around and enquire about potential arboriculture opportunities.

I’m not promising any return to the entirely non-fanatical STAG page, but it would seem almost foolish not to, given the rich vein of potential blog-fodder on there.

In the meantime, go hug a tree. It might be the last chance you ever get.

Pocket knife maker

Nice piece this on the revival of the little mesters in Sheffield.
What are a “little mester”, I hear you ask? Here you go:

A little mester is a self-employed worker who rents space in a factory or works from their own workshop. They were involved in making cutlery or other smallish items such as edge tools (i.e. woodworking chisels). The term is used almost exclusively to describe the craftsmen of the Sheffield area, and is mostly archaic as this manner of manufacture peaked in the 19th century and has now virtually died out.

Except, as you’ll see from the first line, they are reviving, rising phoenix-like from the ashes as part of the craft/artisan revolution that seems to be taking over the whole planet. And the Guardian has got some great pics of Michael May – a cutler working in the little mester tradition in Sheffield:

5760 5762

If you’re ever in the Sheffield area, you can see more industrial heritage – including several little mesters workshops – at the amazing Kelham Island museum.