Another day, another chance for me to embarrass my son by taking endless photos of Universities. We’re coming to an end of a week driving him round Open Days and Campus Tours.  All very exciting, but I’ll spare you Guildford.

Sheffield was a late addition, hence a second trip to Meadowhall in a week.  Can’t complain, it’s a lovely autumnal city, particularly around Weston Park.

After a week of perfectly polite universities like Loughborough (no handpumps spotted) and Guildford, Sheffield comes as quite a culture shock.


The Students Union gives you a choice of four filter coffees, “Shabby chick pea” sandwiches, White Stripes on repeat, and “Boris the Musical” as the entertainment.

The guided tour round the campus is a bargain (it’s free), taking in some of the best modern architecture in the city, Henderson Relish factory, the National Fairground Library, an elevator that never stops (comments on YouTube are good), and a unique collection of Jarvis lookalikes.

At times it’s easy to forget that it won’t be you borrowing £50,000 to finance three years of relentless fun in a place like this.  I wasn’t the only Dad who asked more questions than was strictly necessary.

Interval Bar, Sheffield Student Union

Mirroring Leeds, the two bars in the Union both had more handpumps than in the whole of my village, so perhaps py is right after all. Disgracefully, no-one drinking at all at 2pm.

Our tour guide had given us an excellent history of the University, but fell a little short when I asked about the current guest beer range in their own pub. So we had to investigate that one ourselves.

I remembered the University Arms as an early Thornbridge showcase when it opened, but now it’s an exemplary showcase for eight excellent locals brewers served at perfect temperature with a Yorkshire head.  And clearly a showcase for happy staff too.  That bar with its green tiling is a typical Sheffield gem.


It’s smaller than I remember, and the bulk of visitors seemed to be fellow parents.  Very much a pub, and on my last visit it was heaving at 7pm.

Mrs RM had the Thornbridge (excellent, NBSS 4), and a hoppier but weaker Acorn (NBSS 3.5), and then suddenly wanted to go shopping at Meadowhall.  That’s not the consequence of good beer I was looking for.

The University Arms isn’t the key factor in my son’s decision, of course. But cheap season tickets for City AND top beer would be near the top of my criterion.




  1. Though I never went to Uni I have very fond memories of going to gigs at Manchester and Salford back in the day. My first ever gig was Half Man Half Biscuit at Salford in 1986. I would opt for Bournemouth now, not for the beer though, but to be near my favourite county of Dorset and its pubs and literary connections.


      1. Weymouth is a great seaside town with loads of child friendly pubs,which i dont need now,Lyme Regis is nice and you can get some Palmers tied houses done there,the same goes for Bridport which seems like it is in a 60s time warp,though most of West seems the same,West Bay is a short distance from Bridport and more Palmers tied houses there,i could go on and on as i love Dorset and have been there loads of times.


      2. We liked both Weymouth and Lyme Regis. Durdle Door was quite a pretty spot. Square and Compasses, while crowded, was quite an experience. I asked because I was curious if it was coast or country people liked in Dorset. I enjoyed Palmers 400 a lot.


      3. Sorry for the late reply; been sampling the pubs of Brigg today !? I visit Dorset yearly to visit Thomas Hardy locations, real & fictional, staying always in Dorchester. The Blue Raddle is my favourite there. The town with the largest concentration of GBG pubs is Poole. Otherwise its singles and two`s spread out all over the county. It is a beautiful area to explore and relax in…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Palmers Tally Ho is the beer I always seek out down there.
        If anyone is interested to know, Thomas Hardy featured many pubs in his novels and short stories, and some of his poems, most notably “The Dance at The Phoenix” (a pub in Dorchester). In his novel set in Dorchester, “The Mayor of Casterbridge”, some three or four are featured, the most famous being the Kings Arms in High West Street. The eponymous hero sold his wife at a fair whilst drunk. The Lamb and Flag in Oxford is another famous Hardy pub (“Jude the Obscure”)..


  2. The Mighty Lemon Drops at the Hacienda was another early experience. As was My Bloody Valentine in a small club somewhere in the Manc suburbs. Dodgy in an upstairs room in a pub in Chorlton. I digress…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…I’ll spare you Guildford” ? I’d be very interested to read your observations of Guildford. I’m sure there’s a few good pubs there, but am always stumped when planning a crawl there.
    Love Sheffield’s University Arms, though, a superb pub !


    1. I spared you more because there’s nothing new since my post from 23 June this year; quite like the town but pub stock seems to fall each year. Average beer in the 3 Beer Guide entries, which isn’t a lot for a large town. Villages south are better (and expensive !).


  4. I remember the paternoster when I went on the same tour. I thought that the sports facilities they were so keen to market not worth the cost of the free tour, but the lift was superb. One day I will go back so I can go all the way round.

    What makes the chick pea sandwiches shabby? Is the bread curly or something? I tend to go for cheese myself.

    Experience would probably point me in the direction of the University of Life, though I should point out that Guildford, Norwich and Chatham all lack easily available Henderson’s Relish and direct train services to Kingston upon Hull, Belper and Ashburys.


    1. For the benefit of other readers, Shabby Chickpea is a pun on Shabby Chic. Tha’ were reet gud, as Sheff folk no doubt at.

      I avoided Uni, Tom, gaining life experience from bossy women.


      1. I always thought that the phrase shabby chic was supposed to be pronounced ‘shabby shique’.

        I won’t tell Mrs RM about your comment on bossy women iff you award me 486 bonus quiz points.


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