Barnsley's far from grim if you look hard at it with the right glasses on!

I was saddened yesterday whilst walking through my beloved hometown. There were the usual folk, shouting and people staring at them. Then this woman turned to her daughter and said,
"It's like this everyday. I hate coming into Barnsley now."
It made me feel very sad. I feel sad to see another ambulance coming to the aid of someone in town. I hate pictures coming up on social media showing parts of Barnsley full of litter and rubbish and worse still, seeing stuff just dumped on the roadside. I have a friend who was so incensed once that she pulled up, threw the stuff in her boot and took it to the tip herself. I have another friend who tends the flowers that surround their Welcome to our village sign. I know which kind of person I'd rather be. The one keeping my lovely hometown, village clean. We don't actually have a Welcome sign to my village. Saying that, I wouldn't want this one, in the style of League of Gentlemen. Although Barnsley does have a Royston!

Our lovely, once thriving town and now there are certain parts you don't feel comfortable when walking through them. Such a shame when I think back to the 80s and 90s when it was a thriving market town and my aunty and uncle travelled every week from Huddersfield to visit the famous market.
My family and I came in every Saturday morning, to visit M and S, Littlewoods, BHS, Woolworths, WHSmith, Boots. So many good, quality shops. We'd buy our pick n mix from Woolworths, our cheese from Pickles market stall and pile our bags high with delicious fruit from the stalls. This photo from Barnsley and Surrounding Districts on facebook brought back do many fab memories of May Day Green and Cheapside with the old mushroom seating in the middle.

I always went home on the Town Link, laiden with wonderful produce for the week ahead. Everyone was so friendly and my gran practically knew everyone in every shop. I'm taking over the mantle on that now Gran! This quote sums it up.

My two friends and I visit the new market often and it is great to see it flourishing. We hope the new additions of fab, independent coffee houses like HAVE it and the Old George and fab places like the Falco Lounge will bring folk back into Barnsley. While ever there is a TKMaxx, I will always go into town at least once a week!
I love The Old George, The Old George Town Hall and now The Yard. These are very friendly coffee houses with lovely food, especially the homemade vegan soup and the yummy brownies. They are all similar, yet original. They have provided fab venues for my friends and I to pop in for morning coffee, brunch, lunch and even afternoon tea.

This is one of my fave montages of HAVE it from a past blog. We'd chilled, listening to Fleetwood Mac, chatting whilst sipping a specialised pour over coffee. The vibe in here is so welcoming and restful. I love the vintage, retro gift shop in the back too, full of coffee pots, vases, jewellery, personalised bread boatds and scarves galore!

They sell the fab Barnsley Brew tea and coffee. The museum shops sell them too. The stall on Barnsley market is really good too. They have started selling coffee bags which felt wierd to start with but are lovely! Barnsley Brew make up hampers that are lovely presents.

I was so pleased when we heard another Lounge was opening in town. We go to the Zorro Lounge in Stocksbridge so knew it would be fab and dog friendly. It's name is a nod to the novel, 'Kes'. My friends and I enjoyed the open night and it has continued to be a fab place to visit for meals or cocktails. Their separate gluten free and vegan menu is amazing! We went one one Saturday and the doors open into the new library. The atmosphere was lovely. There were families popping in for a meal after they'd visited the library, the children playing with the games provided. It does feel like a community hub, helped along by the cheery, helpful staff. There is a book swap shelf, The Creation Station in Barnsley meet to do crafts, charity days with raffles are held and now I've just seen there is a Bipolar support group mees every week. This is brilliant for the community.

It is lovely to see the independent retailers in town, particularly those on the Victorian Arcade. This photo from facebook of the Arcade lit up at night reminds me of the Van Gogh, Starry Night painting.

I make a point of supporting our local, small businesses. I do think you are buying products handmade and crafted with love. I definitely support local trading and think this quote is so true.

The Victorian Arcade is lovely and I love all the independent businesses there like Dancerama, Blackwood Sports, the wool shop, Ryan Jewellers and Kingston Jewellers. Both jewellery shops sell unique pieces. I particularly love the Danon jewellery at Kingston jewellers.

I really enjoy visiting Newburgh Gallery at the bottom of Dodworth Road and Burrwood gifts in Pogmoor. These little gems are wonderful, friendly places full of gorgeous gifts, many handmade. These are my two 'go to' places to buy original gifts.

It saddens me to think of all the unique, specialist shops that were once in Barnsley. I used to visit Elstone's on Market Hill, with my dad, for Lion's midget gems and Pontecraft cakes. And Watson's tobacconist on Shambles Street, the tobacco smell fused with sweets, wafting invitingly out of the doorway. When I walk past the jam packed full DIY store at the bottom of the Arcade, I stop and smile, remembering days gone by. This was, and still is a shop you could buy anything from. I used to think Granville would walk out at anytime with fork handles, like in Open all Hours. When you peered through the window, there'd be shiny lighters, hose pipes, nails and radio alarm clocks. It always intrigued me this shop!
I love shopping local and supporting small businesses. Or at local craft, vintage fairs. It's lovely speaking to the makers of handmade and homemade quality products. It's good for them to know their products, some which might have taken hours to make, are going to a good home.

I absolutely love handmade, original jewellery and my fave is Brownfish designs, a local designer who upcycles tins to create the best jewellery. She sells her gorgeous jewellery at Cooper Art Gallery, Arthouse in Penistone, Created in Yorkshire in Wakefield and other places. They have made great gifts over the years, but I mainly buy them for me!

On hearing the lady's words yesterday, which were rightly said, I felt I had to push again the better parts of Barnsley. I could go into the politics of it all and delve deeper but that's another blog. Our town has been suffering over the last ten years and, infortunately these worse parts that were just pockets before are becoming more widespread. This can be seen nationwide as you travel around the country though. Many towns have been looked over as the pull of indoor, luxury shopping centres has taken over, with the bonus of free parking. I do frequent these places, but much prefer visiting a town or a city with character, where you can do the following: enjoy the fresh air (if you dodge the vaping clouds); admire the old buildings; walk in the sunshine;  pop into a cosy pub for lunch;  drink a flat white coffee, alfresco on a tree lined courtyard (ignoring the huge, industrial bins, Wakefield); find an old church to wander around and partake in afternoon tea (Peterborough); fill yourself up on delicious street food (York) or pop into a craft fair to buy a pair of gloves and come out with three carrier bags (Lincoln).
There are so many lovely parts of Barnsley and its neighbouring areas. We are so lucky where we live. We are surrounded by such amazing countryside, in all seasons. I must admit though, that Autumn is my all time fave. This Autumn, I'll be visiting all these local places, most dog friendly, and I'll be blowing away the cobwebs! We can get bogged down by the negative; we all do it. We need to remind ourselves of the beauty on our doorstep. Get those positive glasses on and keep looking!
You can't beat a good dose of fresh air. Go outside and breathe it in! We always feel refreshed and invigorated, and not just physically, but spiritually and mentally too!

I've always thought our Town Hall was a magnificent building, especially as you stand at the bottom of Regents Street and look up at it. I once read that George Orwell was against the building of it, back in the 30s, as he thought the money should have gone on restoring the miner's cottages instead. Good point. I do love the building though, that has become the heart of Barnsley. My friend snd I probably get funny looks as we have our selfie, capturing the gorgeous gardens and fountains! I've even got used to the red sculpture at the side!
I loved the light show for the switching on of the lights last Christmas, with the tree and the fountains lit up. My friend took this photo back in May, with the gorgeous, blue sky and the Tour de Yorkshire bunting. It was lovely to see the shops and businesses flying the bunting!

Barnsley Live is an amazing day where bands and singers perform at a variety of venues throughout the town. It's set up to raise money for charity too. We spent a lovely eve at at The Tipsy Cow, Pour House 22 and Temple of Muse, listening to talented singers. I love this mural I made with the sun setting on our Town Hall.

Barnsley is like the Town and Country mouse put together. You can step one way to the suburbs, another to the countryside. You can be in a shop one minute, then strolling down a leafy suburb the next. A few minutes more and you're in a park, breathing in fresh air and frollicking amongst the daisies! Here are just a few special places on our doorstep.

Locke Park
A park engulfed in many happy, childhood memories: conkering and leaf finding; playing on the swings; playing rounders; pretending to play tennis on the tennis courts; running (when I was fitter); going to the feast week fair and eating our body weight in candy floss; watching fireworks and bonfires and filling up on bonfire toffee; sledging and writing my diary as an angst teenager! I remember the old cafe where the loudest lady in Barnsley used to shout out your number for chips! I love the newish dog friendly cafe that is there now. I'll sit and read now. Or write this blog. I've moved on a bit from writing my lovelorn diary accounts of unrequited love at 16!
I love this montage of photos I've taken over the last two years. It really shows the park at its best. This park has suffered criticism over the years but I feel it is on the up again and is a popular choice for families and dog walkers.

What strikes me as I walk around this amazing place is the flowers. Especially the gorgeous roses in lovely colours. A few years ago, the tower was renovated and is open to the public to climb up the first Sunday of each month. I must go!

I love this photo I took of the bowling grewn with the tower in the background. It's one of my faves, with all the Autumn colours.

These are also taken in Autumn. How stunning are these trees?

These were taken in spring as the buds are unfolding and beauty is just everywhere.

I'm often stopping in this busy park. I stop to listen to the children in the playground or to a plane up above. But I mainly stop to admire the flowers and the trees. As the saying goes, 'to smell the roses'. Particularly the yellow ones, the most fragrant of them all.

As I walk round the park, the Blur song, 'Parklife' often jumps into my head.
"All the people, so many people!"
It is lovely to see folk out, enjoying themselves. I'm still on the lookout for the 'dirty pigeons' though!

Cawthorne Park
Another childhood place was Cawthorne Park. We have this place programmed into a subconscious sat nav, I'm sure! Again, we have do many childhood and teenage memories of days out here, picnicking amongst the goose poo and staying out until the sun finally set behind the trees. I love visiting here, especially Fairyland; it's so magical.

There is something so calming about this place, especially when the flowers are bathed in sunlight. I love this lake with the carp. It remibds me of a pre raphaelite garden and I keep expecting wood nymphs and fairies to flutter by and land on my hand. We have visited here in Winter, as it got dark and it was so atmospheric.

The Victorian walled garden where the pears grow up the walls is very special too.

When we come to Cawthorne, we are spoiled by the lovely cafes and they are all dog friendly. The Lucky Pup and Thyme Bistro are amazing. We love to sit outside the lovely Pavillion too, sipping on Turkish Delight hot chocolates. Yummy!

Wentworth garden centre walled gardens is also stunning. There are so many gorgeous trees and flowers. And the maze to get lost in!

The bright colours in the old garden are so lovely and the deer are great to see. When my class were studying 'The Secret Garden', we chose this location to show the kids a secret, walled garden and they loved it. They were fascinated with the weathered statues, loved the maze and let their imaginations run wild, wondering what was behind the crumbling, wooden door.

Elsecar Park is also a lovely place to visit. When you walk over the little bridge into the trees, there are so many different birds and it's a bit like sitting in a sanctuary as the bird's song mixes with the sound of flowing water from behind. The bandstand brings back memories of Sunday afternoons and the bandstand being used for its purpose. The reservoir is relaxing with the sound of children playing in the playground behind. They have renovated the dog friendly cafe and we love the crazy golf next to it.

The walk around Worsbro Reservoir is a superb walk, in every season. The branches of the trees hanging over the reservoir and reflecting onto the water are lovely. There are always ducks sunbathing on the top of the waterfall, under the bridge and we nearly always see the heron concentrating on the fishing going on! In Spring, it's lovely to walk past the mill and the playground to the little bridges with the blossom trees. You pass cattle grazing in the fields and you feel immersed in nature. A bonus is the gorgeous Millers cafe which is dog friendly and has yummy homemade cake. The mill shops sells Worsbro Mill flour and the marvellous local Barnsley Brew tea and coffee.

Ingbirchworth reservoir is also a good walk to do. The views are lovely. A gpod place to catch a sunset. And, as a reward for all that walking,you can pop to Yummy Yorkshire for an icecream!

I used to be against these wind turbines when tbey started popping up on our greenbelt and was of the opinion that they ruined the scenery. However, on visiting the wind farm just up from Ingbirchworth, I stepped out of the car and was blown away (no pun intended) by their majestic presence. It just hit me like that! I was aware of the relaxing, swooshing sound too. When I take sunset pictures, I like to use these turbines as a silhoutte. But then I've always been drawn to the power station silhoeytes you can see on the horizon, my dad pointing them out to me as a child. We counted the towers together and watched the smoke as it dispersed into the atmosphere. Or, in the eyes of a seven year old, the clouds ate up all ths smoke and cried it back out.

A bit further afield, but it can't be left out, is Yorkshire Sculpture Park at Bretton. It was always a treat to visit here when I was younger. We used to park at the other side and over the bridge. I remember a school trip where we all danced around the totem pole sculptures. We now park at the gallery end and walk around with a take out cuppa. In my opinion, the best time to visit is in Autumn when the colours of the leaves are glorious and stand out amongst the wonderful sculptures.

This next photo, taken at Bretton, is one of my all time faves. Trees are both powerful and soothing to the eye, especially these. Such a beautiful place.

There are so many lovely places to visit, as shown here. Especially at sunset! Just stunning!

I love this next quote. It can be taken two ways. You are happy to leave your hometown to somewhere better. Or, it can mean you are returning back to your hometown and you are overjoyed to come home because you've missed it. I prefer the second one!

So here ends my longest blog! I will continue to sing my town's praises. Sonetimes it's hard though. Like last weekend when we visited the Arcade. We were saying how lovely it was that the small business shops had donated raffle prizes for the Macmillan coffee morning at Toasted. Against this lovely, community spirit story was the fact that lead had been pinched from some of the shops, leaving them prone to rain and water damage. It's really sad when there are hard working people slogging away to make their businesses work. These people and small businesses need supporting.
I do look at my hometown in rose coloured glasses. I suppose I do what my favourite book character does and I use my imagination, even
suspend disbelief when I'm walking through toen some days. It's about seeing the best bits, of any town and city. What do we do then? Moan about our town and just shop at Meadowhall or online? Or do we keep supporting our town and its lovely, local businesses? Even go so far as tending it ourselves, as my friend does her village? Or pulling our sleeves up and like my other friend when she was fedup of the dumping of rubbish on her doorstep? There's a scheme called Just a Card being pushed on social media. If everyone just bought a card or a pen from a small shop, these special shops in town and little villages could keep going.

Buy local or Bye, Bye Local.


  1. Great blog and beautiful pictures! You are a great ambassador for Barnsley and district.

    1. Thankyou! I try my best to give a shout out to lovely, small businesses and beautiful places to visit.

  2. Aww love this, so many nice places in our town

  3. Lovely photos. I'm proud to be a Barnsley born and bred lass. Always lived here and probably always will. There are many positives among some of the negatives, as your lovely blog points out.

  4. A fabulous dedicated to Barnsley being proud of where you are from lovely photos too captures it perfectly. I am a Yorkshire Lass and crossed from West to South 11 years ago but over here it feels like home. Thank you

    1. Aww. Thankyou so much for your lovely comment. Love my town and missing visiting all these gorgeous places!


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