Hull – UK City of Culture 2017

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Date of travel

April, 2017

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Adult family

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Hull is the UK City of Culture for 2017 so when my sister and i decided we would like a couple of days away it seemed a good idea to go and explore this City. Neither of us had been there before, in fact we are both ashamed to say that we hadn’t even realised that the full name of the City is Kingston Upon Hull! (very confusing for foreigners looking for it I would think!) It was easy enough to get there from London and it was fairly cheap with our Senior Railcards (such a good purchase!). We took a train from Kings Cross to Doncaster and then a small 2 carriage train to Hull which went through intriguingly named places like Goole, Gilberdyke and Hessle.

We stayed at The Ibis Hotel, City Centre and it was literally a 5 minute walk from the station. The staff were really friendly and our room was small but clean and had all the amenities we needed (and there was a “help yourself” jar of sweets on the hotel reception desk which obviously impressed me!)

It was situated perfectly so we were only a short walk to all the sights. There are numerous museums in Hull and all of them seemed to be free. Our favourite was The Maritime Museum. We were pleasantly surprised to see that some of the enamel poppies that were at The Tower of London a few years ago have been moved to Hull for a limited period.and these now form the sculpture “Poppies Weeping Window” (see attached photo). This is said to commemorate the naval personnel who died in the war.

Across the street from The Maritime Museum is Ferens Art Gallery. This has just had a major refurbishment and is now very popular.

There are more museums in the Museum Quarter -The Wilberforce Museum, Hull and East Riding Museum, The Street Life Museum and The Arctic Corsair ( a veteran of the Cod Wars this is a fishing boat now open to the public).

Hull’s fishing industry is commemorated by “The Fish Trail”. You can follow the pavement and find the A-Z of all things “fish” along the way.

One sight not to miss is Holy Trinity Parish Church. This Church, which was founded in 1285, is soon to become a Minster (a ceremony will take place outside the Church later this year). Although it is being refurbished at present it is still worth a visit.. The staff were very friendly and helpful as they showed the part of the Church that is still open at the moment. They told us about the 7 wooden mice carved into the woodwork of the Church by Robert “Mousey” Thompson!

There is much acclaim in all the tourist literature about Hull’s aquarium “The Deep” . To be honest we were a little disappointed in this. Yes, it had numerous interactive displays which children obviously love but when it came to actual fish we weren’t that impressed. The new penguin colony seem to be totally inside and you can only see them through a glass window. The main shark/big fish tank was impressive but not as large as some others I have seen. It was also incredibly dark in there which isn’t great for us doddery old Silver Travellers!

A rather odd tourist attraction is the Hull Land Train. Mally Welburns brightly coloured Land Train is a different way of viewing the City. We rode it to get to the aquarium and it costs £2.50 round trip. Mally does a commentary CONTINUALLY, half of what he says is obviously total rubbish but the children found him amusing and there was the odd historical fact thrown in now and then! However, after the 40 minute journey we felt the need to head to the nearest pub for a stiff drink and a bit of peace and quiet!

When it comes to shopping in Hull we were surprised to see that the High Street shops were really run down. (In fact, even a charity shop had closed down so I guess the situation is pretty dire!) We did come across three new shopping centres all within a small area. These all contained the usual national stores like H&M, Marks & Spencer etc. We didn’t quite understand why Hull council wouldn’t have invested in their High Street rather than building these soul-less malls.

Eating out was interesting. Midweek in Hull does not seem to be very lively after about 8pm! We visited a Pizza Express overlooking Princes Dock and although the view was lovely and the staff friendly, the service was abysmal! We did find a wonderful pub though. The Corn Exchange’s menu has nothing but pies! I had a “Wild Shroom” pie which contained mushroom, asparagus and white wine. My sister had a “Sag Pie-neer” which had paneer cheese, spinach, potatoes, chilli and mango. Served with gravy and mash these were incredibly delicious!

We rounded off that evening with cocktails at Bar 82 in Princes Dock. This was one of the few late night places we found for a drink – and when I say “late” I mean about 10pm!

Everyone we met was really friendly and chatty. It put us Londoners to shame as it reminded us how friendly people are “up North” and how insular we can be down in the South.

Our 2 days was over too quickly. There is a lot to see in Hull and it is especially good for children. There is also, I believe, a walk you can do over the Humber Bridge but we didn’t have the time..maybe next time!


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