2019 – A Review.

Well as I haven’t been great at keeping this blog up to date (as usual), I’ve got a whistle-stop review of the year all in one post. Where I have blogged previously about events, I’ve linked to the post. As I’ve always said, this is for me, to remind me of what I’ve done and where I’ve been.  If you are interested enough to ready it then that’s great, I’m sorry it’s so long! 

Firstly, a crafty review of the year.  After a really slow start, I really picked up the pace from about September onwards and finished up completing 14 separate projects (12 if you count the baby outfit made up of three items as one project).

January saw me complete my first big crochet project with the draught excluder.  This taught me a lot and has stood me in good stead to tackle other things this year. Next up was April with Herbarium, a really pretty shawl done using mosaic knitting which is a new technique to me.  Nothing then until September when the gift knitting and crocheting took over.  I squeezed in the hat (Wynn) right at the end of December to finish the year on 14 completes rather than 13, although I’m not superstitious really. Click on the thumbnails for the larger pictures.

So, onto the year in general. Overall it’s been a good one, lots of weekend breaks, holidays, theatre visits and general getting out and about-ness going on. 

January – Quiet start to the year with the only event of note being Saturday Night Fever at New Theatre with Mason and Rosie. I blogged it here

Colourful fountains

February – Starting to get busier now.  We had the wonderful Knife Angel and the Brick History lego exhibition, both of which I blogged here .   My sister Ann and Sisters-in law Chris and Lynne also recommenced our monthly evenings out for tea.  I really look forward to and enjoy this as without a central hub that we all visit (i.e. my mum!) it has become too easy to lose touch of what is going on in each other’s lives and families.  Speaking of families, we also had a lovely afternoon out with our brother-in-law William, a few beers, bite to eat and then back to the bus station via Victoria Square to see the fountains in full colour glory.

March – I had a couple of volunteer shifts this month. Firstly at the beginning of the month, I did a Sunday morning at the Ferens for the Open Exhibition,I enjoyed this as I just love being able to spend time looking around at the Ferens and if it isn’t a busy shift, there is plenty of time to do that.  Then at the end of the month, I volunteered at one of the public open days of the archaelogical dig of the South Blockhouse, King Henry VIII’s fortifications of Hull. I blogged this here

No Pasaran

In the middle of the month, there was the unveiling of a new memorial to the nine men and one woman from our area who in the 1930s, went off to fight with the International Brigade against Franco’s Facist army in Spain.  Four of these brave volunteers never returned and although there is already a plaque inside the Guildhall (which only has eight names on it for some reason), it isn’t exactly accessible to the public.  Funds for this sculpture were raised by the Hull International Brigade Memorial Group.  I missed the unveiling but went to see the memorial a few days later and I think it’s really eye-catching.  I hope it will make people look and question it’s purpose.  Goodness only knows that in these hate filled times, we need to celebrate those unselfish heroes who were willing to give their lives for the freedom of others.  You can read more about the sculpture here and the International Brigades Memorial Trusts here

April –  Theatre visit this month was to see The Full Monty starring Gary Lucy as Gaz, the whole cast were excellent and it was a fantastic show.  Debbie and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was just the laugh a minute that we needed.  So, did they do the ‘full monty’ at the end?  Well if you haven’t seen the show, I won’t spoil it for you.

I’ve wanted to visit The Bunker at Holmpton for a while now and I persuaded Patrick that this was a good use of a the first Sunday of the month.  After a lovely Sunday lunch in The Station pub in Patrington, we continued down the road to Holmpton.  There stands an unassuming looking bungalow, the likes of which were built in various parts of the country and which hide beneath their ground floor a nuclear bunker filled with technology to monitor aircraft and other military activity during the Cold War period.  Built in the 1950s as an early radar warning station and used by the Royal Observatory Corps during the 1980s  ,it was decomissioned in 1991 but used for training for several years.  It was sold by the RAF in 2014 and the owners and volunteers have put so much work into creating a fantastic resource for the history of this period.  I found it fascinating and would highly recommend a visit.

April also saw us volunteering at our annual local CAMRA branch Beer Festival. Held in the wonderful Hull Minster, this is a great event. We love to work a few shifts, it’s great fun although hard work.  I have the greatest respect and admiration for the whole committee who take leave from their jobs to dedicate the full week to setting up, working throughout and clearing away.  I don’t think the public realise how much work goes into this, I certainly didn’t give it much thought until I became involved myself.

At the end of the month, Patrick and I visited Skipton for their CAMRA beer festival. We stayed in the most beautiful little cottage and I blogged about our stay here.

May – Our annual trip to Thornwick Bay to the same caravan as our previous two visits.  Unfortunately we were not so lucky with the weather as we have been other years and it was damp and misty all day on the Saturday so I didn’t get to go up the lighthouse which I had planned to do. Sunday was better weather and we spent the day at Bempton.  Blog post about the weekend here.

Also this month we saw Turn and Face the Strange at Hull Truck.  My third time and Patrick’s second, we had also brought along William, his sister Emma and brother-in-law Chris who all really enjoyed the show.  It is a multi-media production documenting the life of Hull born Mick Ronson, one of David Bowie’s Spiders from Mars and a hugely talented musician and producer.  Sadly passed away at the young age of 47 in 1993, this show, written by Hull’s Rupert Creed and Garry Burnett, who act as narrators throughout,  pays tribute to Mick’s lovely, down to earth personality and massive talent.  If you ever get chance to see this if it comes around again, don’t miss it.

June – First outing of the month was with our friends Pete and Donna to Kardomah94 to see L’il Jimmy Reid.  After huge pizzas in the restaurant at the front, which none of us managed to finish, it was through to the theatre in the back for the show.  I blogged it here.   Sadly, Kardomah has since closed, due to ill-health of the owner.  A sad loss to Hull’s culture vultures as this place show-cased acts that wouldn’t draw a large enough audience for other venues.  We don’t have enough small, intimate theatre spaces and this one was rather special.   

The end of June saw us heading to Cornwall for our annual holiday.  I started to blog each day as it happened but lost track half-way through.  I will continue it at some point though and you can read the story so far starting here.  Of course my better half is much better at blogging than I am and you can read his version of events here.

Victoria & Albert Museum

July – Gosh we had a busy one this month.  First up was Hyde Park Summer.  Several weeks ago, Pete and Donna had asked if we fancied going to one of the Summer in Hyde Park concerts with Robbie Williams headlining and featuring Texas on the line-up along with Keane and Blackeyed Peas.  We agreed at the time but then when starting to add up the cost of travel and hotels were actually beginning to regret it. However, tickets had been bought through Groupon and were non-refundable so we set out to make the best of it. After an initial hiccup after booking a fraudulent AirBnB and having to be refunded for that, I managed to book us into the Travelodge at Covent Garden for a bargain price.  We had the most fantastic weekend and although Texas’s set was disappointingly short (I believe they had another gig to get to), Robbie was at his best and had the whole crowd eating out of his hand.  London was as fabulous as always and with great friends to share it with we didn’t want it to end.  Patrick’s blog post here.  During this weekend, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum for the first time.  Free to enter and far too big to see all in one visit we will definitely be back at this amazing place, we didn’t even scratch the surface!

The main event for me in July was my son, Michael’s graduation with a PhD in Computer Science.  I think the new Dr. Michael Walker was quite pleased with himself.  His dad, brother and I certainly were proud.  We had a lovely day, although Michael got the time of the reception wrong so by the time we arrived in York, we’d missed it!  The ceremony itself for these things is a bit tedious as, let’s all be honest here, the only graduate any of us is interested in is our own son or daughter so sitting through everyone else’s kids isn’t the most exciting thing to do.  After the ceremony, we went into York and had a nice meal at a Thai restaurant called Phranakhon, described as Thai tapas, it was small plates of food so you could sample different dishes.  Wonderful food and a nice atmosphere.  I’d definitely go again.

Next up was my Christmas present from Patrick, a Pulman dining experience on the East Lancashire Railway.  We’d seen the dining cars last time we were in Bury for the Stumble gig in October 2018 and I’d remarked how wonderful I thought it would be to get dressed up and to dine in one of these carriages on a steam train. I can tell you it was amazing.  It is a black-tie event so the cruise outfits came out of storage for the occasion.  I felt a bit of a twit walking through Bury dressed up like we were going to the Ritz but once at the station, we were obviously part of the crowd.  It was so nice to see everyone in their finery and what made it really nice for me was that a young lady came over to me and told me that I looked stunning.  I returned the compliment, because she did too but it really made me feel good to have a stranger make a point of complimenting me like that.  Patrick looked gorgeous in his dinner suit too.  Once on the train, the food and service were spot on.  We made the mistake of ordering a beer thinking we may be waiting for our food but it arrived quite quickly, before the beer actually so with the wine waiting for us, we wished we hadn’t bothered with beer.  It was a really special experience and both of us said we’d love to do it again.  Patrick’s blog post here

Lastly, at the end of the month, we visited Bolton for the RL Challenge Cup semi final featuring Hull FC.  Bolton is a bit of dump (well the part we saw was anyway), Hull lost (being a Rovers’ fan, I didn’t laugh much, honest) and although we had a giggle with Harry and Janette, it was mostly a forgettable weekend to be honest.

August – A quieter month, at the beginning we had a lovely meal out with our friends ‘The Crew’.  Andy and Jenny were up from Colchester so it was a full complement of eight of us.  We met in Pave, where we sat outside and I had a bee crawl up the inside of my trouser leg!  We managed to rescue it with no harm done to either me or the bee and then Patrick went inside to get some water and sugar to revive it as it was clearly not feeling very well(nothing to do with me I hasten to add).  After all that excitement, we moved on to one of our favourite restaurants, The Persian.  The owner is a lovely man of 70, always friendly and helpful.  A good time was had by all.

Also this month we finally got around to having gates and a fence on the driveway.  All in all the driveway has been costly but it looks lovely.

 

 

On 24th August, we went to Headingley for the fourth day of the Ashes match, due to me bidding for tickets in a charity auction and winning them.  I’ll leave it to Patrick to tell the story of ‘The Greatest Day Out’.  This game will go down in cricketing history and I’m so pleased to be able to say that WE WERE THERE.

Over the bank holiday weekend we made our first ever visit to North Cave Wetlands, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve.  What a lovely place to visit with excellent, warm and comfortable hides from which to watch the various birds and other wildlife.  It was a really hot day and the highland cattle were keeping themselves cool standing in ponds which made for good photo opportunities.  We’ll definitely go back again.

Finally, on the last weekend of August we had the Freedom Festival.  This annual event has always been my favourite of the year and I look forward to it with great anticipation.  It has grown year on year and got better and better, except for this year and last if I’m totally honest. The event used to be held mostly over the marina area and the local pubs had outside bars where you could get a decent ale to drink as you wandered around to see the various acts.  There was always a tent with spoken word artists on stage and at least two or three music stages with various bands and artists performing throughout the days and evenings.  Dance acts on the Stage @theDock as well as the circus type acts performing in the streets and on pop up stages here and there.  In 2018, the decision was made to move the main festival to Queen’s Gardens, the bars are just generic lager/cider bars, the spoken word tent is no longer and the acts are more foreign rent-a-circus with any music being limited to Zebedee’s Yard.  It has completely lost that vibe and atmosphere and I found it really disappointing.  The one stand-out act for me was the wonderful On  Edge by Justice in Motion which was a dance act highlighting modern slavery in the construction industry with a very moving story.

Justice in Motion perform On Edge at Freedom Festival

One more thing to mention for August, this is the month I started doing the Couch to 5K running program again.  I did this a few years back but then never continued with the running.  This time around, I am really enjoying it and actually looking forward to each day’s run.

View from The Market Cat

September – Patrick’s birthday month so we decided to book a trip to York on the train.  We had a great day and even found a new bar, The Market Cat, with a wonderful view from the top floor.  

The BBC spoken word festival, Contains Strong Language which started in Hull in 2017 is held each year in September and this year I had booked myself a ticket for the opening event, Richard Strange singing the songs of Lou Reed at Middleton Hall, which is part of Hull University so just around the corner for me.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but what a fantastic gig it was.  The musicians were world class, all had great pedigree and had played with the world’s top artists and Richard Strange (by name and nature I think) was just amazing, carrying off the songs like he owned them.  I do wish I had persuaded Patrick to go along because I’m sure he would also have enjoyed it.  It was one of those concerts that you just don’t want to end but sadly it did.  

Also back on for the festival, an event that we’d missed out on during Freedom Festival.  Fair Winds and Following Seas was a collaboration between Hull poet Vicky Foster and Hull band, Broken Orchestra.  It was a walking tour of the River Hull with ethereal music interrupted by Vicky’s poetry at strategic points along the way, all done by GPS (modern technology, what a marvel eh!).  So, I’d booked tickets for the Sunday and the weather was seriously bloody awful, windy, cold and heavy rain.  We had arranged to meet William too and we all arrived at Scale Lane bridge,wrapped up in waterproof clothing with our headphones and the app for the walk all ready to go.  We had a briefing inside the bridge before setting off, weather was dry at this point luckily.  It was really clever the way the poetry started up as you reached certain points on the walk.  The highlight for me was getting access to the inside of Drypool bridge in order to cross Alfred Gelder Street safely.  We went up inside, saw the inner workings of the bridge and looked out of the window and then back down the other side and out again.  I was made up I can tell you.  I’ve always wanted to go inside the bridges since I was a little kid.  Further along the river and back along High Street and the rain started again, by the time we got to the end point at the pier, we were soaked and freezing and the Minerva pub was a welcome sight.

October – A big moment for me this month, after completing C25K I joined with the East Hull Fitmums 2 mile group.  It was a bit of a struggle keeping up but thankfully there was another newbie with me who struggled a bit too.  We managed the whole run though and everyone was really supportive. I was in the walking group previously but always intended moving up to the runners.  Sadly the next run I did was the last one of the year as my knee started to really hurt and despite having physio, is still painful now. It’s nothing serious,  just ‘runners knee’, quite common apparently. I managed a short 2km run last week but nothing since as it is too painful.  I may need more physio or just strengthening exercises.

Also in October, we went with our local CAMRA branch to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway beer festival.  Patrick has blogged here.  A good day out but I think a bit too expensive and we probably won’t do it again.

Theatre outing this month was to see Blood Brothers.  I’ve seen this four times now and it was Patrick’s second time and Debbie’s first.  It was great but I think I have probably seen it enough times now.  It doesn’t have the same impact after this many viewings but the comedy and music is still brilliant.  We had tea at Operetta before the show and although the service is incredibly slow (to be fair, the waiter looks to be about 80), the food is always very good and prices reasonable.

November – Yarnfest, blogged here. Theatre outing was Kinky Boots.  We had seen this in London with Coral and William and loved it.  It is one of Debbie’s favourite films so she was looking forward to it and we met Lizzie and her fella Charles at the Kingston Theatre Hotel for a bite to eat before the show.  The food was a bit disappointing I thought.  Most of us going for chicken chasseur from the specials board, the chicken was overcooked and the portion wasn’t overly generous for the price.  The food here used to be really excellent but I’m not sure I’d rush back again.  The show was spectacular and we all loved it.

Later in November, we had a lovely evening at our house with the crew.  We had decided on a tapas theme and cooked a variety of dishes including an experimental chicken and chorizo stew which was delicious.  There was heaps of food so lots of lovely left-overs! 

December – On 11th, I met up with Shona and Colette in Walkington for lunch.  We haven’t met since this time last year and it was lovely to see them both again.  Colette is looking great and still fighting hard against pancreatic cancer.  We all said we really must make more of an effort to meet up more often in the coming year.

Christmas happened.  It was lovely with the boys here for the day and we all enjoyed an Indian banquet rather than a traditional Christmas dinner.  I got some lovely presents, including a beautiful watch from Patrick.  The blanket I had crocheted for Michael appeared to be appreciated and they all got hand knitted socks and a neckwarmer for Patrick.  After Christmas, Patrick developed a nasty chest infection and it was touch and go whether he would be able to travel down to London when we were to take Michael home and then spend a night in London.  He rallied round like a trooper though and off we set on the Friday.  It took a while to get down there but we arrived safe and sound.  We decided to get ready meals from the Tesco in the town as Patrick wasn’t up to going out.  Michael’s new flat is much nicer than the previous one.  It’s a maisonette in the small town of Rickmansworth just North of London and it looks to be a nice town from what we saw of it on the Saturday morning.  We got the train into London which took about 40 minutes and as we couldn’t check into the hotel early, we decided to find the nearest Craft Beer Co pub which was about a 15 minute walk away.  After a couple of beers we made our way back to the hotel to get freshened up for the evening out.  I wanted to see the Christmas lights of central London so we made our way to Oxford Street to start with.  There seemed to be some sort of dickhead-drivers rally going on with a convoy of extremely expensive sporty (and very noisy) cars revving their engines whilst stuck in the heavy traffic of central London.  The lights were spectacular and we spent a good couple of hours wandering around enjoying the atmosphere.  Patrick’s blog and photo slideshow does the whole thing more justice here.

So, that was 2019, sorry for the overload in one massive blog.  I think I need to make sure and blog more regularly in 2020! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry VIII’s Hull

Last week I donned my Absolutely Cultured volunteer uniform for the second time this year to volunteer at a public open day down at the site of the Humber Field Archaeology excavations of the South Blockhouse.. Mainly so that I could learn a little bit more about the Tudor fortifications of our City myself.Here in Hull we are not very good at blowing our own trumpet or even publicising our involvement in important historical events so it’s no surprise that I grew up knowing nothing about the fortifications that King Henry VIII commissioned to be built in the 16th century. I’m sure I’m not alone in that lack of knowledge but I have become better informed in recent years.Hull Castle and the North and South Blockhouses, all connected by walls were built along the east side of the River Hull between 1541-1543 and have been the subject of archaeology excavations in recent year. In 1997 excavations were carried out prior to the access road the The Deep being built and found that the South Blockhouse remains were intact. At that time, Humber Field Archaeology unearthed a cannon which is now displayed in the Hull and East Riding Museum on a replica wooden carriage. More excavations were carried out in 2017 under what is now the car park of The Deep Business Centre and this year the archaelogists have been digging up another section of the remains. These display panels explain a bit about the dig. There were no significant finds in terms of artifacts during this excavation but for me it was fascinating to see the outlines of the walls and gun turrets and later alterations when the Citadel was built, adding to the fortifications. We had over a hundred visitors on the day I was there and over 500 on the following Saturday, mainly due to the interest created on social media by the excellent overhead photography from Octovision.

My photographs aren’t the best but I’ve pointed out the remains of one of the gun turrets in the photo below.

Part of the walls with the remains of a gun turret
One of archaeologists taking careful measurements.

The dig site has now been re-filled but there are hopes of obtaining funding to open it up again and create a visitor centre. I hope that happens.

February Round-Up

Here we are in March so I thought I’d better catch up with February before I forget it all.  It was quite a busy month events-wise with a couple of volunteer shifts and a fair few social shindigs.

I decided in January that having had a bit of time off, it was time to get back into some City of Culture volunteering.  So, on Saturday 3rd, I did an afternoon shift at the Brynmor Jones Library on the University of Hull campus at an exhibition called Painting Power – The Art of Terence Cuneo.  I intend posting more about that on my Hull2017 blog but here is some information about the artist.  I thoroughly enjoyed my shift with another lovely volunteer whose name I can’t recall and we spent most of the time searching for the little mice that the artist used to hide in his paintings.  He is most famous though for his painting of trains.

Whereas I am most famous for taking wonky photos!  So, to remedy that and the fact that I feel I am outgrowing my phone camera, I decided to go into Jessops the next day to look into buying a reasonable compact camera.  I wanted one that would do the Auto thing but also that had enough manual controls so that I could learn to take better photos.  After some advice, I ended up buying a Panasonic Lumix TZ60 and have enrolled on a course for beginners digital photography at Hull College which starts in April.  I actually enrolled on one starting 20th February but it was cancelled due to low numbers.  Hopefully the April one won’t suffer the same fate as I am really looking forward to learning how to use the camera before we go on our Scottish Highlands holiday in May.

The next weekend we were at the wedding of Patrick’s nephew Andrew and his fiancee Julie.  I took a few family snaps but was a bit too self conscious to go around snapping everyone. 

Before that, on the Wednesday night, I went to Hull City Hall to see Erasure with my work colleague and good friend of 28 years, Debbie.  Debbie has been a fan of the band since the 1980s and has seen them too many times to count over the years.  It was my first time and although I enjoyed it, I’m not enough of a fan to be too fussed about seeing them again.  I’m pleased I’ve seen them though and they were excellent.

The next Wednesday, Patrick and I were at Hull Truck to see The Culture – A Farce in Two Acts.  I’m afraid this was a bit of a let-down for me.  I am aware of what a farce is but this was just too much door slamming, talking too fast and unbelievable mistaken identities to be funny, it was just silly and irritating.  The second half improved thankfully and we ended up rather enjoying it.

My next volunteer shift was The Feren’s on Sunday 18th, again more about it over the page but it was basically invigilating the Open Exhibition, which is an annual event showing the work of amateur and professional artists of all kinds.

Next up at Hull Truck (told you it was a busy month), was Turn and Face The Strange, a show about our very own Mick Ronson.  Former Spider from Mars (along with fellow Hullensian Trevor Bolder and Driffield lad Woody Woodmansey), Mick went on to work with many other musicians over his career.  The show originally ran at the Freedom Centre last year as part of Hull2017.  I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to see it again, truly one of the most enjoyable shows I have seen.  Part live band, part film archive all wrapped up with anecdotes from friends and family it is a feast of entertainment and I think all those present learned a lot about the vastly under-rated Mick Ronson.  This review from Yorkshire Post about covers it.

Finally to close off a very active February, my sister and two sister-in-laws and I went out for our monthly meal date.  My sister Ann and I started it off last year, meeting up sporadically as a means of keeping in touch with one another’s lives as since mum died, we don’t really see each other or even speak to each other very often.  Lynne and Chris joined us in November last year but then our arrangements were in danger of falling by the wayside again until Ann text me to suggest meeting on 26th February.  We went to Dukes on Princes Avenue, so named after the streets opposite which are all named after Dukeries, Welbeck, Thoresby, Clumber, Belvoir and Blenheim.  We had a good old natter, catching up with one another’s family news and some lovely food.  Between us we had the fish and chips, the baked haddock and a veggie burger.  All were really lovely and the chips were real, proper chips.  Highly recommended all round.

Phew!  Bit of a mammoth post there and I promise I’ll try to keep up with March with more regular posts.

APRIL – First Shifts

In April I had my first volunteering shifts.  Both at Hull University, first up was the Science Festival.   This is an annual event and to be honest, I’m pretty sure they could have managed just as well without us vollies but it was lovely to have the opportunity to be a part of such a fun event.  It was a day crammed full of children’s activities, all science based of course and I’m not sure who had the most fun, the kids or adults!

Next up was a shift of gallery invigilating and visitor welcoming at the BP Portrait Awards exhibition in the Brynmor Jones Library, the same place as the Lines of Thought was held.  This was a fantastic opportunity for me to enjoy the amazing portraits on show.  When you are there for 3 hours, it’s plenty of time to see them properly rather than rushing round which is what we all usually do if we are honest.  A few pictures below of some of my favourites.

MARCH – So…I Volunteered

I had thought about becoming a City of Culture volunteer last year when they first announced the volunteer program but I was worried that because I work full-time, I wouldn’t be able to do much to help.  After the first week’s events though, I decided that I really had to be involved with this once in a lifetime opportunity or I would regret it forever.

I looked into it a bit more and discovered that it is really flexible, you really do exactly how much you want to do.  You are offered shifts based on your interests and availability via an online portal and if you want to do it, you sign up, if you don’t then no problem.

I went for an interview and to try on a uniform for sizings in early February and was notified about a week later that I had been accepted.  Two core training sessions followed which were really good fun.  Just a bit of information about how the volunteer program works and a section on local knowledge.  Uniform collected and I was ready and raring to go….’scuse the slippers!