Yeah, gun crime. Yeah, Robin Hood. Whilst they might make up a large proportion of the fair city's heritage and image there is much more to the place than these clichés suggest. Brilliant shops from a gigantic H & M and Primani (Primark to the masses) to a wide range of record emporiums from the corporate monsters to the more specialist, friendly establishment are all housed here. The trendy little art conclave of Hockley houses a wide range of independent stores to the magical Shakeout- sweets + milk+ ice cream= ecstasy. Nottingham essentially has a lovely intimate feel based on its smaller size. And I haven't heard a single gunshot.
Pubs, bars, venues etc. There are a lot. Can't hope to cover them all here, but here's some good uns. The Pit and Pendulum offers seven deadly sins themed cocktails and a goth atmosphere so strong you come out wearing eyeliner and a sense of despair at the world. Tantra on a Tuesday offers a ginormous range of cocktails for half price, and some guy on guitar whacks out all your cheesy favourites. BZR offers triples for singles and Pitcher and Piano will suit the richer students, with the unholy triple of converted church, overpriced alcohol and middle aged drunkards. Wetherspoons are plentiful and many a classy establishment lines the Lace Market area. The vegetarian and hidden Alley Café offers a late night ambience all of its own, with amazing food and organic beers a plenty in a friendly and often packed out room. Highly recommended. Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem offers real ale fans a wide selection in what claims (and looks) to be the oldest pub in England. Junktion 7 isn't far from the student area of Lenton and does a mean pear cider as well as housing a small venue that seems to always be hosting a battle of the bands.
In the fair old city of Nottingham there are clubs to suit every taste. The limited space here allows but a few a mention, so go explore kids! For those who like the company of sweaty cheese loving chavs, then Ocean and Faces should suit. Fridays at Ocean inexplicably require pre-booking most weeks due to the huge number of students it attracts. The Cookie Club is the city's main alternative venue, offering indie upstairs and metal and all that malarkey below. Stealth vs Rescued provides the sole alternative to mainstream conformity on a Saturday with a massive night, occurring in, bizarrely Stealth and the Rescue Rooms. It mixes indie hipsters with ravers and all and sundry with a slightly more choosey selection than most. Oceana provides student nights and more in several themed rooms. Demo at Blueprint Café is a beautiful mishmash of the hippie and the rave and is truly different from almost all that Notts has to offer.
One of Nottingham’s real strong points is its huge range of music venues. From the gigantodome of the 10 000 capacity Nottingham Arena to the intimate surroundings of the Social, pretty much all tastes will be covered for in some form. From the forthcoming delights of Sack Sabbath, the all star tribute band for, you guessed it, Black Sabbath to the indie pop sparkle of Los Campesinos! Nottingham has seen a lot of groups come and go. The Social and the Rescue Rooms give upcoming bands a home, with the White Stripes and the Scissor Sisters having played early gigs there to the world renowned Rock City which plays host to the bigger names with Nirvana having played in the past, and Editors and Ash lined up for autumntide. Trent Union enjoys a rapidly rising reputation whilst the Arena covers the superstars, with the Arcade Fire soon to visit. Junktion 7 puts on many unsigned bands, including maybe, possibly, your band, if you ask nicely. The Marcus Garvey Ballroom, in student central Lenton hosts the occasional gig, and a lot of raves.
Some areas of Notts have a bad rep. Perhaps deserved, perhaps not. St Anns and the Meadows are probably best avoided, and Radford isn't too safe. Students tend to live in Lenton (safety in numbers?) or Beeston if they want to be excommunicated (rents cheaper though). Town centre on a Saturday is but for the hardy, with police sirens wailing with coppers on horses and beered up skinheads in shirts threatening us floppy haired kids with a shout and a fist. Also avoid moving into a scummy shithole rundown pile. It's worth looking around for houses, there are some great ones out there, and some awful, awful, mould infested rat laden hovels.
Virgin and HMV, like any large city dominate in the town centre. Now Fopp has died a sad death one must search a little harder for the diamonds in the dirt. Look a little deeper and hidden away amongst the side streets are a number of little gems. Selectadisc caters for pretty much anyone looking for something a little bit different whilst Funky Monkey in trendy Hockley caters for dance and hip hop tastes. A host of second hand record stores are to be found around and about, with Rob's Records a hidden away little star with piles of vinyl towering to the ceiling. Looking more like a tip than a record shop many treasures surely lie amongst the bags and boxes stacked like a health and safety officers nightmare. Like every city in the UK the usual H&M, Topman/Topshop, Burton and River Island conflagration are to be found dispersed along the various streets and areas. The chav filled Victoria centre should deal for most mainstream tastes, whilst those on a budget can head over to the grotty Broadmarsh area, normally walked through at speed to get to the bus station. Although TK Maxx is to be found there, for the bargains amongst the tartan and plastic. Wild Clothing (yeah, it's in Hockley) should cater for the scenester in anyone with all the latest indie fashions to be found amongst the lumberjack shirts and second hand accessories.
“Industrial punk metal” (thanks, Wikipedia) band Pitchshifter and marmite band Tindersticks both refer to Nottingham as home, as do Stereo “gonna get myself connected” MCs and the recently reformed Six By Seven. In more recent times a horde of indie groups have started to emerge, from the shoegaze of Amusement Parks On Fire to the sparks of Punish The Atom. The Hellset Orchestra offer a gloomy charm all their own, whilst I Was A Cub Scout's 'emotronica' (or whatever NME want to call it) echoes from a nearby village. Lovvers and shameless self publicists Yo Chomsky! are the hyped acts of the moment.
The city produced 2 of the leading lights of alternative comedy, Dale Winton and Sue Pollard
The city centre is riddled with man made caves in the soft sandstone, the largest network in the UK. The mayor built an escape tunnel in the Middle Ages from the Council House to the outskirts. It collapsed and filled with sewage in weeks.
The Goose Fair is the oldest and biggest travelling fair in the country
Market Square is the largest town square in Europe
The Major Oak, a supposed Robin Hood hiding place weighs 23 tons, has a 35 foot waistline and is 52 feet tall.