Kingston upon Hull City of Culture 2017
Never heard of Hull or as local people call this gritty northern city 'Ull?
Well that could be set to change as Hull steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight as UK City of Culture 2017.
Welcome to Kingston-upon-Hull
Kingston-Upon-Hull is situated on the North Bank of the River Humber in the southern area of Yorkshire. Traditionally it was classed as being in the East Riding of Yorkshire until government boundary changes. For more years than it liked Hull, as it is popularly known, was classed as being part of the newly created county of North Humberside. Few liked this new region and although it meant further costly changes back to East Riding of Yorkshire signs the people were happy to comply.
Kingston-Upon-Hull may be a fairly large City with more than its fair share of problems but it is a fighter, and so are its people. In recent years access has been easier due to the long awaited construction of the Humber Bridge. At time of completion this Bridge held the record as the world's longest single span suspension bridge in the world. It held this record for about 17 years.
Costing locals a small fortune, even today, this bridge has been both a blessing and a millstone. By the time it was completed in 1981 it was too late to help locals as much as was hoped. Ever increasing tolls have also been more than just a pain. However, it has brought visitors and businesses to Hull, many of whom would have bypassed the city previously.
When Hull's vibrant Fishing trade died so did many of the local industries. Add to this the severe bombing that Hull suffered during the Second World War and it is easy to see that Hull has not an easy ride during the last 60 years or so. In 2007 many Hull Homes were severely hit with the June floods.
In the fifties Hull had the reputation of being the third largest Port in the country but that record was lost years ago as many of the city's docks closed.
Hull has hit unfortunate dizzying heights in more than one way as a hit in a "Worst place to live in England" poll, but hopefully those days are gone.
So, fighters we are and the 21st Century has seen many changes around the City. The local Council has tried to revamp our active Museum quarter, our sporting heritage, shopping, theatre and more.
Further renovations have been underway for our City of Culture year.
Famous local people. past and present, include:- Tom Courtney, The Housemartins, Mick Ronson, John Alderton, Norman Collier, Maureen Lipman, Phillip Larkin, Andrew Marvell, William Wilderforce, Joe Longthorne, John Prescott, Alan Plater, Trevor Bolder, Amy Johnson, Roland Gift, Andrew Motion, Keith Devlin, Nick Barmby, Barrie Rutter, Sheila Mercier, Francis Durbridge, Ian Carmichael, Herbert Baker, Thomas Ferens and Maria Gilhooley(aka Waterson). This list has politicians, philanthropists, poets, actors, actresses, rock musicians and more, but is not exhaustive.
VISITING HULL AND THE SURROUNDING AREA
The city of Kingston-upon-Hull is counting down to its year in the spotlight. January 1, 2017, Hull becomes the 2017 City of Culture in the UK.
The 2001 UK census revealed that the population of Kingston-Upon-Hull, or Hull as it is more commonly known, as 253,400. This, my home town has had its fair share of problems over the years and has, in the past, been voted one of the worst places to live in England. Its population is decreasing as many people move away, usually South, where the economic climate is more favourable.
Yet this relatively small city has always had a good stock of museums and galleries. Most of these are owned and run by the local council and this means that they are free to visit. Hull has developed a Museum Quarter in the Old Town which means many attractions are close by one another.
More recent developments have entrance fees and are privately owned but overall Hull Museums and Galleries offer a wealth of interest, and are free to visit and therefore useful for those visiting Hull on a tight budget.
If you find yourself in Yorkshire why not stop by and take a look.
It may be that you cross the River Humber via the bridge on your way to Leeds, for example. Instead of by-passing Hull make a detour and see what is here. For those holidaying in Yorkshire Hull is only 7 miles from the market town of Beverly and 34 miles from historic York.
So one of Hull's best assets is its Museum service
Wilberforce House is situated along the High Street in the Old Town area of Hull. Many of Hull's finest buildings were lost in the blitz but pockets of them have survived.
The High Street boasts some fine old buildings and pubs, such as Ye Old Black Boy. A fitting name for a pub situated so close to Wilberforce House the birthplace of England's most famous slavery abolitionist but now renamed in politically correct fashion.
Wilderforce house has undergone various renovations over the years and the most recent was controversial. In the old panelled rooms some have interactive screens and the like which tell the story of slavery, William Wilberforce and the fight to change the law regarding slavery.
However the most recent changes have taken away some of the character of the house.
These displays could be displayed more fittingly in an adjoining exhibition room and the history of the house left in tact.
The previous alterations saw displays of replica slave ships with full size models of slaves on board. This was a very moving display, and the sound effects and commentary created a great atmosphere.
However Wilberforce House is still definitely worth a visit and can be found at:-
The High Street, Hull
Opening times are:-
Weekdays and Saturday 10am - 5pm
Bank holidays times may vary.
Last admission is 15 minutes before closing.
Entrance is free.
Nelson Mandela Gardens at the side of the house are a great place to have a picnic lunch. These have been reduced in size as access to other museums was incorporated.
The gardens at the back of the house lead down to the River Hull where it is possible to walk along the old walkway.
It is fitting that the floating museum the Arctic Corsair is moored on the River Hull, just at the back of Wilberforce House. This once active trawler was no longer needed with the loss of Hull's Fishing trade. However, rather than just scrap it, the Arctic Corsair became a museum manned by volunteers who are ex seamen. To visit you will need to book in advance at:-
The Fishing Heritage Museum next to the Hull and East Riding Museum. A short film is shown pre your visit.
It is usually open from March to October.
General public tours
Wednesday 10am - 4.30pm
Last tour starts at 3pm
Saturday 10am - 4.30pm
Last tour starts at 3pm
Sunday 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Last tour starts at 3pm
The old Transport Museum was situated further along the High Street, when I was a child, in a magnificent old building. As part of Hull City Council's revamp of the Museums a new purpose built building was constructed. This opened in phases but was completed a while back.
I used to love the old transport museum but find that this new place is very fitting and a great place to visit. It is well laid out and has old trolley buses, trams, trains, carriages, cars, small planes and more. There is an old reconstructed street which has many peculiar items on display, in the shop windows, which were all on sale when I was young. One old shop was taken lock stock and barrel into the museum.
The difference to the old Transport Museum of my childhood is that most of the displays in the new Street life are interactive. Children, or adults, can climb on board the old vehicles and signal box which makes for a more interesting and memorable visit.
Adjacent to the Wilberforce House Gardens, Street-life is easy to access and a fun place to visit, for all ages. For those less mobile there is a lift for viewing the upper floors.
Check out the opening times at:-
Street-life Museum of Transport
36 High Street
Tel:-01482 613 902 / Fax 01482 613 710
Hulls Maritime Museum used to be situated along Hessle Road near Pickering Park. In 1974 the contents of this museum moved to the old Dock Offices in the Centre of Hull. These offices had been next to an old dock but with the changing times the Dock was filled in and became the Queen's Gardens.
Princes Dock across the road was left rotting for years until a large glass and metal shopping centre was constructed over it.
Nearby on Monument Bridge there was a statue of William Wilberforce which was a local landmark. This was moved in 1935 due to the increase in traffic around Victoria Square and is still in its new location. It is along Queen's Gardens and next to the College.
Town Docks is perfect for Hull's Maritime Museum. It is a beautiful building with many rooms just right for the displays. There are some static displays but this museum does have a full programme of different events throughout the year and some temporary exhibitions.
Much of Hull's previous wealth and fortune was made from fishing and whaling. The city has fine artifacts which at least these days everyone can view. The old museum had some old whale bones outside but Town Docks has these on show indoors.
The Town Docks Maritime Museum is:-
Opens Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 1.30pm to 4.30pm
Last admission is 15 minutes before closing.
There is a museum shop which sells a good selection of prints, cards and the like. You can also pick up a huge selection of information leaflets about other local attractions.
Ferens Art Gallery or as it more usually called, The Ferens, is situated just across the pedestrianised square from the Town Docks Museum. Victoria Square used to be a very busy area of town but with the pedestrianisation it is now less busy. Victoria Square has a fine statue of Queen Victoria sitting in the middle, but, unfortunately, it is only over the City centre public toilets.
The Ferens is world famous and has a good reputation. It underwent changes in recent years and had a large extension added on to the main building, around the time that Princes Quay was being developed.
The Ferens closed for major renovations ahead of the city of culture. It is expected to repoen early in 2017.
The Ferens has permanent displays of past masters and modern geniuses as well as those that just baffle the beholder. Frans Hals and Canaletto were amongst the permanent displays along with many maritime artists. The temporary exhibitions have shown artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dali.
The gallery has installations at times and interactive exhibitions.
There is always a full programme of "hands on" workshops for children during the school holidays.
The centre-court downstairs has seen some strange exhibitions over the years. One that springs to mind was a completely wrecked car that was hung from its rear end and dangled over the Gallery. It was an exhibition detailing fragility and our mortality. Well I think it was.
The Ferens has had its fare share of controversy over the years and has never shied away from showing exhibits that are a little off the wall or contentious. One such exhibition never saw such a massive amount of visitors visit the gallery before as when the national press condemned it and at one stage the police threatened to close the gallery.
With cool marble and wood floors, roman chairs to sit on, and contemplate the art work, the Ferens is a great place to chill and relax on a hot day.
Admission to the Ferens, including the Children's Gallery, is free.
The gallery is usually open -
Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm
Last admission at 4.45pm
Sunday 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Last admission at 4.15pm.
The Ferens is open on Easter Monday, May Day bank holiday, spring bank holiday and summer bank holiday.
There is lift access for those with mobility issues.
There is also a popular cafe that is usually bustling with activity.
The address is:-
Ferens Art Gallery
Queen Victoria Square
Kingston upon Hull
The Deep is one of Hull's latest attractions. It is a huge submarium situated near to the River Humber. You can easily walk to it from Hull's Museum Quarter or there is a local bus service.
This place is not owned by the council and charges an entrance fee. It may seem quite pricey but it is well worth visiting. The Deep is set out over many floors and if you are into fish, fishing or simply the waters of the world it is a must to visit. Concessions are available.
It is easy to spend a half a day or more in here so make sure that you visit early in the day.
Princes Dock Street
Hull, HU1 2JX, United Kingdom
Tel +44 1482 381 000
It is possible to book part of The Deep for conferences and as an unusual place to get married.
Hull also has The Spurn Lightship which is a floating museum located in the Marina. Although the visit here may be brief it is interesting. Children tend to love clambering all over this old vessel which worked hard at Spurn along the Humber for many years.
I have not detailed the Hull and East Riding Museum as I have not visited this building, since it was the old transport museum. With dinosaur bones and bronze age treasures children should love this museum though.
Mahon the capital of Menorca
Menorca is one of the Spanish Balearic Islands, situated in the Mediterranean sea.
It is less brash, noisy or large than its close neighbour Majorca and is a beautiful Island. Having fallen in love with Menorca in 2010, we returned for another vacation in September 2011 and again and again. Our next visit is scheduled for May 2017.
One of the largest towns on Menorca is Mahon the Island's capital so I will enjoy a virtual visit with you, until I can walk its streets again.
Menorca was once home to the British military. As a Menorcan resident said to us "we do not mind you visiting these days, as long as you go home at the end of your vacation". That said many UK tourists eventually move to Menorca, as its climate is kind and its pace of life relaxing.
At the opposite end of the Island, to Mahon, is Ciutadella. This was once the island's capital and has much to offer the visitor.
These days though Mahon is the capital of Menorca. The British invasion of bygone years meant that Mahon's deep waters warranted a change of capital. Mahon is the deepest natural harbour in the world.
These days it is just the cruise ships and ferries that benefit from the deep waters. However, tourist boats offer trips around the harbour and beyond. The waters of Mahon contain many interesting sites such as:
Mahon is a great place to explore. Its narrow streets have the charm of a bygone time.
The people are warm and friendly and you will feel at ease be it day or night. It is hilly in parts so if you have mobility issues plan your visit well.
On a Saturday night the local people mingle with tourists as they enjoy the end of their working week. The cafes, bars and restaurants offer something for everyone.
We visited Menorca first in October 2010, a little before the end of the tourist season. Menorca closes its doors to visitors on the last day of October. Until May the next year the only flights available are not direct.
Take a flight to Barcelona and a boat trip to visit Menorca.
Mahon has an interesting fish market and a traditional market held in what used to be a monastery, spectacular views over the Bay of Mahon, shops, museums, a small gin factory and so much more.
Mahon Fact: Mayonnaise may have been invented by Duke de Richelieu in France, in 1756 but it was first conceived, created or what you will in Menorca. According to many sources, during the siege of Mahon, there was a shortage of food supplies. The chef decided to whip eggs and oil together, without adding any seasoning. This dressing was then served at a dinner party hosted by Duke de Richelieu. Mayonnaise was named after a battle against the British which was fought and won in Mahon. The name Mayonnaise was therefore from the word Mahon.
The currency at time of writing is the Euro.
The airport is on the suburbs of Mahon.
A bus station located in Mahon offers transport around the island and runs a service to the airport. The times and places visited vary according to the time of year.
Most visiotrs hire a car for ease of getting around the Island.
You can hire bicycles also.
As you will have realised by now I loved Mahon and so did my Hubby. Now this is saying something, as he does not usually like capital cities. I have added a few of my photographs taken in and around Mahon, but not too many.
To enjoy your first visit you really need to still have lots to discover.
Cornwall is a great county to visit. It is located at the South West corner of England. Its location guarantees it some of the best weather in England. The current from the Gulf Stream ensures that Cornwall often has the best temperatures in the UK. Sure Cornwall also has some bad weather such as that which saw Boscastle almost swept into the sea. A visit to Cornwall though is not dependent entirely on the weather. This county has so much to offer.
Part of the southern coastal side of Cornwall has been called the Cornish Riviera for many years though, due to its wonderful climate.
Cornwall covers an area of approximately 3,563 square kilometres. Not very large for a County when you come to think about it. For all that it is one of the most popular holiday regions of England and has plenty of diversity.
Cornwall is a perfect destination for all ages although it is hilly in parts. This means that visitors with mobility issues need to select their destination carefully.
Menorca windmills come alive
When visiting Menorca, a Spanish Balearic island, we tend to stay at the Hotel Del Almirante, also called Collingwood House, a former home of the famous British Admiral Collingwood.
Located on the road between the island's capital Mahon and Es Castell, known as Georgetown during the English occupation, the hotel is in a tranquil setting in spite of the busy main road.
The walk east along the road into Es Castell is easily done but for those less mobile there is a bus service or you can drive in.
A little before you enter Es Castell, at the roundabout, was a ruined landmark tower.
Locals told us it was not in reality a tower but had been a working windmill.
A year or so back, when we visited Menorca in June, we noted renovations taking place on the ruins of the mill, and in October when we visited the work looked almost complete.
There was still some work to do mainly on the immediate grounds. A cycle lane was under construction along the side of the road.
The work on that particular windmill location is now complete.
Menorca has a good road system and strives to update and repair on a regular basis. This means a surprisingly good number of cycle and pedestrian paths.
We were told that other windmills in the area are being restored by volunteers. They have taken inspiration from volunteers who continue to work on Isla Del Rey, or Bloody Island, situated in the Mahon estuary.
Across the estuary sit four wind turbines a nod to 21st Century technology and energy issues.
Further along the road, closer to Es Castell, work has started on the remains of another windmill.
Currently a restored windmill in San Luis has a recommended restaurant. In Ciutadella a steak house is also located at a windmill.
Look out for the mills, ruined, restored or in use, as you tour the small Balearic Island of Menorca. Restored they are a magnificent sight.
The old and current capital of the Balearic Island of Menorca, Ciutadella and Mahon, each hold a large market twice a week.
The market in Mahon is situated close to the main bus station and so is perfect for day trippers from resorts around the island. It is held Tuesday and Saturday each week. In Ciutadella the large twice weekly market is held in a main and central square; it is held on a Friday and Tuesday.
We visited the Friday market in Ciutadella on a Friday in October 2015 but were surprised to see that many of the stalls were the same as the Tuesday market in Mahon we had visited the same week.
What happens on a Saturday we wondered?
These two cities however are at opposite ends of the island, and both are well worth a visit any day of the week.
Goods on sale at the city markets and the number of stalls do vary between high and low season and in bad weather; if it is a wet and windy day expect fewer stalls.
We found the main goods on offer to be clothing, leather goods, tourist souvenirs, handbags and shoes.
Watch out for traditional Menorca [avarca] sandals that are cheap and appear to be too good to be true; they probably are.
It is better to visit a shop; at least one makes the sandals for you as you wait, than try to bag a cheap bargain.
Cheaper Menorcan sandals may be imports from China, have no longevity and stretch quickly. If you fancy purchasing a pair of these comfy sandals aim for a fit that it slightly tight for the best fit over time.
Market day can be a fun experience whether you buy or not; cafes, bars and restaurants are close by and they offer a truly international experience.
Mahon summer organ recitals
More Summer markets in Menorca
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