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Monday, 5 December 2016

24 hours in Hull...

When I said to friends that I was off to Hull the following day for a 24 hour break, the first question they asked was "Why?"

There were odd looks too when I said I was going voluntarily, plus laughter when I said I'd suggested the idea.

Mr Thinking of the Days had to go to the Thai Consulate there, so instead of him whizzing up the motorway in a day, I'd suggested we book a night in a hotel and have a good look around Hull. There was method in my madness...I wanted to see why Hull had been voted City of Culture 2017, beating my home city Leicester into second place.

So a nice chatty, sunny drive northwards last Sunday...but as we came to the outskirts of Hull  and caught our first glimpse of the Humber Bridge, the weather had turned dull..

..and as we got lost in the diversions around the city, first impressions weren't brilliant. Housing estates, some empty shops, a faded air.

But things looked up as we arrived at our hotel in Hull's historic Old Town which overlooked the Kingston Square Gardens.

After a friendly welcome, we dumped our bags in our room (phew, it was warm in there) and we were off to make the most of what was left of Sunday afternoon. A walk into the heart of the Old Town, where we found Scale Lane and the Lion and Key Pub. It was an atmospheric old building, with a good choice of local artisan beers, but reeked of chips. Looking at others' meals , the said chips were huge logs, and the portions of fish looked as if they'd been fed steroids. Huge portions, but not for us, we had to visit a couple of museums before they shut.

Luckily, there's a number of them all side by side, and what's more, admission is free in all of them.
Walking along the river between  Drypool Bridge and Myton Bridge ,  we came across the Arctic Corsair,  a former deep sea trawler.

Now, as a former matelot on a cruise ship (yes really) I just love going on board old ships and boats. Unfortunately  this floating museum is shut until the spring, but it's got an interesting history and it saw action at the height of the Cod War.

There was a distinct chill in the air by now, and we entered the Streetlife Museum of Transport. Housed in a cavernous modern building, I loved getting on the old tram

 and the veteran cars and bicycles were interesting but I'm a sucker for the big set pieces...the street scenes, complete with recreated sounds of the day.

In the carriage tableaux you can smell the atmosphere too.

There were quite a few families looking around, reminding me of winter weekends in different museums when my children were small. Upstairs I nearly tried to borrow one, as I really wanted to go in the old mail carriage .....Mr Thinking of the days wouldn't oblige and go on it, so I went on my own. It was a compact carriage with the velvet drapes closed, dark inside, the only light from a lantern swinging from the roof and the sounds of the horn and the sounds of the carriage driver. I loved it!

I particularly liked the street scenes including a range of shops...

Time was pressing on though so we made a quick exit and walked next door to the Wilberforce  Museum

William Wilberforce was of course, the Hull Member of Parliament , who led the fight for the abolition of slavery. This museum is the house where he was born right on the edge of the river, and there was some fascinating if not distressing exhibits and audio interpretations of slaves and slave owners points of view. Not to be missed though...

As we left there, dusk had fallen and we made our way down the quiet and empty cobbled streets lined with Victorian and Georgian buildings..I felt as we'd  been taken back in time....

Back to the present day though as we went into the Sailmakers Arms...a convivial little pub with warm lighting and a very friendly welcome, plus live music from several local musicians who meet there every Sunday lunchtime until whenever o'clock. They all played individual songs, then joined in for a couple more, ranging from folk to ballads to more mainstream and newer material..

A lovely relaxing hour or so there, then there was another couple of pubs I wanted to see. Not that I'm a lush you understand  -at one I had water, at another a glass of lemonade...but you can find out a lot about an area from a historic pub.
Especially at Ye Olde White Harte which is also in the Old Town and dates back from the 1550's. Originally a house, it became a pub in the 1700's. From the road, we walked down a long alley  before finding the pub

I loved the windows here 

Original panelling  is everywhere, a huge inglenook fire, quirky, local beers, what more could you want? How about The Plotting Room? The very helpful barman told me the story....and took me upstairs to a room packed with the past...I could almost feel the previous occupants around me.

This is where back in 1642, the great and good of Hull met and decided to refuse King Charles I entry to the city of Hull, and it is this which precipitated the Civil War.

 History indeed, and then as we descended the stairs back to the bar, he pointed out this...
 How many other pubs do you know where there's a skull sitting on the bar? A skull which was found here during renovations in the 1800's . Who was this person? Well, there's a number of stories which conflict each other madly, but let's put it this way, this poor person didn't die naturally.
We walked around to one more pub, the George, which has the world's smallest window

before going for the oldest house in Hull, which we had spotted earlier on our travels..

We were very hungry so ordered promptly. A Sunday roast  for Mr Thinking of the Days and I chose sausages and mash with champ.  Rib sticking food for a cold Sunday evening which arrived promptly, tasted delicious and prompted us to order the sticky toffee coffee pudding, which despite its name was surprising light and tasted oh so good. When I come back to Hull, I'd come back here....

 We waddled back to our hotel, and conked out on the comfortable bed. Bliss, and  a good hearty breakfast the following morning before failing on the iniative test to get straight to the Thai Consulate .Those pesky road diversions again with a sat nav screaming at us to go around an impossible route
By eleven am we were on our way home......but choosing a different route home so we could drive over the Humber Bridge which is the world's eighth longest single span suspension bridge..

So, a very fleeting visit, and there's more I'd like to see. I don't know what's planned for Hull as it becomes the City of Culture 2017, but I'd like to be there at some stage to see how it is celebrated.

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