Friday, 6 March 2009

To Hull and Back

Bill's work takes him to Hull for 2 days each week, at least until they find a full time manager. They haven't been very successful with this thus far and I have lots of opinions about that, but I'm going to keep them to myself for the moment. As Bill tends to stay overnight rather than driving both ways I thought I'd go down with him and see what was what. The Holiday Inn Express charges for the room, not by people, so other than buying my dinner it didn't cost him any more for me to go.

No one I know gets enormously excited about Hull. It's not an easy place to get to being off the main East coast train line between Edinburgh and London. It's not a touristy area being fairly industrial, though not noticeably so within the town centre. I think it's main problem is that Hull is Dull and very flat. Actually, it's not even really Hull, properly it is Kingston-upon-Hull, like Newcastle-upon-Tyne and why they don't call it Kingston, which at least sounds nicer, is beyond me.

Anyhow, I did my research in advance and found two fabric shops. Also, Beverley, a little market town about 10 miles north of Hull was a much wealthier area with 8-10 charity shops to check out. We drove to Bill's office Thursday morning. It was too early to check into the hotel and so I walked from his office to the train station. Personally, I thought £5.50 for a 10 mile journey was pretty steep but I didn't want to drive Bill's car for the first time in a new place. [Did I mention Bill got a 'new' car? He traded his little Citroen C-3 for a much larger C-4.]

Beverley is just about story book pretty. That said, I didn't take that many pictures. I thought it was a hoot they had a street named "Old Waste". I noticed they'd recently lost their Viyella shop but still had Kaliko and Jaegar shops.

I was amazed to find they had a Minster in as small a place as Beverley.

I didn't go in and now I've found their website I think it would have been good. Having seen Yorkminster and Durham Cathedral a number of times, though, I don't know how much different it might have been.

I did cover all the charity shops and made a good haul. I can't list them all now, but the 9 pieces include a jeans jacket that looks like it was made for me, several tops and a skirt -- I like wearing longer skirts and boots in winter -- and a sweater with a fake fur collar that just went with one of the leopard print tops that I wore with a black skirt when we went out to dinner. It sounds a bit weird, but it went with my reddish hair, trust me. And all for about £27.

In the last shop I overheard the volunteers talking. One was telling about their holiday last summer where they visited the Grand Canyon, Brice and Zion and all around that area. When I went to pay for my selection they asked if I was on holiday and I explained about living in Newcastle how I identified wealther areas to visit the charity shops, of which Beverley was definitely one. The woman replied "So they keep telling us, so they keep telling us". I thought about the vacation she just described and wondered what is the point of being well off if you don't recognise that you are?

It was a bright sunny day but the chilly wind was relentless. I never stopped until about 4:20 when I grabbed a cup of tea and a KitKat (the least of the available evils) just before they shut. I was pleased to be done and return to the hotel, which is right across from the train station. Bill joined me shortly and a little later we went and stuffed ourselves with peri-peri chicken at Nandos in the shopping mall on the other side of the hotel from the train station.

Bill showed me Hull from various windows around the hotel, the best of which is maybe this one with the football stadium shining in the distance and the wavy roof of St Stephens mall in the middle.

We discussed that Hull, being a major port, was bombed a lot during WWII. It looks as though most of the rebuilding happened at a time when architects were completely uninspired. On the other hand, Britain didn't get rich out of the war in the way that the US did and it took them a very long time to recover from their war experience. So much so that I've heard it said they wondered at times if'd they'd actually won at all.

Even in daylight, this is the best I could do with Hull.

Friday, after packing and putting our things in the car, I went down to the marina where Bill said he sometimes does a morning run.

I was pretty amazed at how wide is the river Hull.

I also learned that it is still a major port with more customers, I think it said, than the US and Japan combined. I found a number of nice

old, interesting


but in trying to find the fabric shop I wandered well out of the town centre into an industrial and residential area that was very depressing. There was an interesting set of buildings for sale on Charterhouse Lane that the internet says was perhaps a boarding school, a child care centre, before that a hospital and perhaps a monastery. They are listed (historical and protected) buildings in any case and though they are grand -- and perhaps the rest of that street is as well - the neighbourhood to the North and West is dire.

As I walked down New George Street I noticed an Asian lady dressed in a bright sari standing in a window. She was upstairs in one of the brick boxes the council builds for housing. I glanced up at her a second time and she gave me a small flutter of a wave from waist height. I raised my arm in return. Walking on I began to imagine her a prisoner, waving so small so as not to be seen by her horrible husband... Bill laughed at me later and said it was probably a cultural thing and she was just being ladylike. I do hope he was right and that I just have a silly imagination.

I found my fabric shop just inside the town centre
from there after walking past it 3 times; there was no name on the front of what apparently used to be a small house. Somehow the overwhelming odour from one of the women's fish and chip lunch put me off buying any fabric. Beyond the smell I just didn't feel inspired or challenged by anything I saw so I kept my money and left. At that point I couldn't be bothered with the other fabric shop, which was a good hike on the other side of the hotel. From there my aim was to find a loo, grab a sandwich and meet Bill back at the car.

The drive home through the hilly green countryside lifted my spirits. I enjoy these little mini-breaks, but I'm always pleased to be home again.

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