Navigate – Hull Maritime City

Over the weekend, the city centre has been host to four light installations to mark the start of the Hull Maritime City project. A project which will see refurbishments and regeneration as well as the creation of visitor attractions promoting our rich maritime history. I’m really excited about the scheme, it has the potential to put Hull firmly on the map of places to visit and spend time in.

We decided to make an evening out of it and firstly popped into the splendid Hop and Vine for a beer, then onto Brew for another beer and round the corner to Tanyalak for some Thai food before heading off to see the installations once darkness had fallen.

However, I’m afraid I was a little underwhelmed by the Navigate installations. The blurb copied below from the VHEY website talks a good job but as with most of these kinds of things, the reality doesn’t really live up.

From VHEY – Navigate will include four stunning light installations – Meridian, Oracle, Zenith and Pendopo – across the city centre.

Large beams of light will be shone from Hull City Hall and over Whitefriargate as part of Meridian. Using four powerful lasers, a visual line is created in the night sky, a point of reference for those navigating the city.

An eight-metre lighthouse, Oracle, which has been specifically commissioned for Navigate, will float in Prince’s Dock and show the superstitions and importance placed on the weather and what it holds for the fortunes of those venturing to sea.

Linked wirelessly to meteorological sensors, the Oracle takes real-time readings of wind speed, humidity, pressure, temperature and rain.

Queen Victoria Square will also be home to a chorus of kinetic sculptures, Zenith, producing an immersive sonic landscape of the sea.

Trinity Square will host the Pendopo, a sound and laser installation containing a remarkable robotic musical instrument inspired by the metallic sounds of East Asia’s Gamelan percussion ensembles.

Firstly we headed to Trinity Square for Pendopo.

Pendopo

This was probably the best of the installations. A kind of giant xylophone linked to lasers so that it looked like the lasers were pressing the keys to strike the notes. A pleasant plinky plonky tune, quite meditative really. Had it not been so cold, I could have sat somewhere and relaxed with a drink in hand to this.

After a detour to the White Hart for, you guessed it, another beer we headed up Alfred Gelder Street, admiring the beautiful architecture as I always do, to Princes Dock for Oracle.

Oracle Weather Tower.

This apparently showed the weather conditions as an audio visual display played onto it, using lasers and sound. In reality it appeared as different coloured lights shooting up and down the tower. I’m sure it’s amazing technology that allows this to happen but just because something is clever doesn’t necessarily make it great viewing.

We got a bit bored and cold after 5 or 10 minutes and wandered over to Queen Victoria Square for Zenith.

Zenith – Voices from the Sea

This is described as celestial kinetic sculptures acting like prisms creating colours and reflections. They were pretty, revolving prisms on a pole with seating below them so you could sit and enjoy the colours being projected around along with the ethereal soundtrack (they’re always ethereal I find). Within the soundtrack there were apparently faint voices singing sea shanties and foghorns. I didn’t get that but I am a bit deaf so don’t take it as read that it wasn’t there.

Meridian – Navigation of the City

We could see the lasers in the sky from the White Hart as we were walking towards them. Projected from the top of Hull City Hall up into and across the sky. Again, not hugely exciting to watch

After all this excitement we needed a sit down in the warmth and some refreshment, so it was back to the Hop and Vine for a couple more beers before getting the bus home.

January Culture

After our lovely evening at Swan Lake, our next theatre visit was to see Beautiful, the Carole King story. Patrick and I saw this last time it was at HNT and it was so good that when I saw it was back, I knew I wanted to see it again. Debbie and I booked it on a Black Friday deal, two for the price of one along my sister-in-law Janette and her friend. In the event Jan’s friend couldn’t come so Debbie’s friend, Debra came with us. We went for tea in The New Clarence but sadly weren’t overly impressed with the food. Janette went for lasagne, which she enjoyed and it did look good. Debbie had haddock gratin and although nice, just needed some vegetables with it. My fish and chips was a bit greasy and the batter soggy on the bottom. The pub has recently reopened and is being run by Jamie Reading of the Whalebone. His beer selection is good, eight on when we were in, a variety of styles. I wish him well in the venture but I think the place needs a lot of TLC to make it feel more welcoming and cosy.

Onto the theatre and the show was fabulous , telling the story of Carole King from her early days at the Brill Building writing songs with her husband Jerry Goffin and ending with her solo concert at Carnegie Hall to celebrate her multi gong winning album Tapestry. With performances by the cast playing the Drifters, the Shirelles, the Chiffons, Little Eva, we were transported back to the 1960s and thoroughly entertained by the amazing hits of Carole and Jerry. We all loved every minute of it and like the rest of the audience, were up dancing at the encore.

Next up for me should have been The Mousetrap. As an Agatha Christie fan, I’ve long wanted to see this famous play, the longest running in the world I believe. However, it is a play, not a huge musical production and I don’t think Patrick would particularly enjoy it so we were reluctant to pay London prices to see it. At Hull prices and with my Extras discount it was a bargain! I got tickets and told P he was going. Unfortunately however, he was given an appointment for an operation which meant we’d miss it, so I sold the tickets to a work colleague. Then the bloody operation got cancelled on the day!! Now, I could have got tickets for us again but we weren’t really in the mood for it under the circumstances. So there we have it, I still have yet to see the Mousetrap.

At the end of the month it was a change of venue to see New Purple Celebration, the music of Prince at Hull City Hall. I went with a work colleague, Julie, who is a huge Prince fan. We enjoyed the gig overall, it was a good performance but the infamous Hull City Hall acoustics spoiled the sound up in the balcony as usual. A couple of times I got a bit bored as the band dragged out a song ending for far too long and the guitar solos weren’t music to my ears either it has to be said. However, the audience were up and dancing from the start to the end and it was a real party atmosphere. One of the best parts was when some of the band members came down into the audience to usher a crowd of the dancers up on stage. Great fun. We came away feeling like we’d had a good time.

Audience participation!

Swan Lake

Hull New Theatre

I’ve always wanted to see a live ballet, and a couple of years ago I got to go to see Cinderella with my beautiful sister-in-law Coral. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed, it wasn’t what I expected. The humour in it didn’t work for me but I’m sure that’s just me. Since then, I’ve been hankering after seeing another ballet to restore my faith so when I saw that the Russian State Ballet were coming to town, Debbie and I snapped up a pair of tickets. With our Hull New Theatre Extras discount of £10 off a each ticket it was a bargain! For me, knowing nothing about ballet, Swan Lake is the iconic one. If you asked 1000 people to name the first ballet to come into their head, I’ll bet 900 of them would say Swan Lake. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to seeing it.

Firstly we went for something to eat at a new Greek restaurant close to the theatre, Keramikos Greek Taverna. I’ve read good reviews so was looking forward to it and honestly, was really fancying a nice moussaka. The menu though was a bit limited and more meze type dishes with only a couple of mains, neither of which were moussaka! We ordered a selection of four meze and a chicken souvlaki which came with chips and salad and just shared it all between the two of us. The food was very nice but the place was too crowded and noisy for me and the whole meal felt a bit rushed. From sitting down, we’d ordered and eaten in just over half an hour. I get that it’s that kind of thing; meze, casual dining etc. and I didn’t expect a 5 star experience (nor did I want that) but it wasn’t a particularly comfortable experience and when we’d left we went into the Theatre bar and enjoyed a leisurely cuppa to wind down. I must be getting old!!

Onto the ballet. We’d decided to go for seats in the circle to have a good view of the whole stage and I’m pleased we did. The performance was magnificent. The story is simple enough but if I hadn’t read it first I wouldn’t have followed what was happening. Having said that, I don’t think it would have mattered to me. It really was all about the dancing. A couple of the scenes went on a bit but oh my goodness, when the swans came on I was mesmerised. I can’t believe the strength and skill of these dancers. At one time the swans were all en pointe, gliding across the stage as another group of swans came in from the other side. They passed through each other so smoothly and it was hypnotic to see. The principal dancers playing Odette/Odile and Siegfried were skilful and graceful but it was the swans as a group that I could have watched all night.

All good things come to an end and what a strange end this was. I’m assuming that Odette and Siegfried died and the end scene of them dancing was symbolic of being together for eternity but then it just ended quite abruptly and the stars of the show came forward to take the applause. The chorus of swans stayed at the back and none of the other dancers came onto the stage to be applauded. The curtain came down and that was it. I have never been to any performance anywhere where you don’t get to show your appreciation to the whole ensemble and it felt really odd.

All in all though, I loved it. It was everything I expected and wanted to see. A magical performance.

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! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yarnfest Hull – November 2019

I didn’t know what to expect from the Yarnfest event organised by East Yorkshire Yarn held at Hull’s Freedom Centre last Saturday, whether it would be somewhat of a large craft fair or perhaps a small version of a Yarndale type event. The answer is, it’s a cross between the two in my opinion.

As I walked into the first room, which was mostly stalls of finished goods for sale, my first impression was that it was indeed a craft fair. Now don’t misunderstand me, craft fairs are lovely events and I enjoy a good browse but I was hoping for more from this event than knitters selling hats and crocheters selling their blankets which was mainly what was on display here. It was however reassuringly crowded and I was pleased to see so many people there.

However, the best of the stalls (in my opinion anyway) were in the next room and I spent quite a long time browsing and chatting to exhibitors.

The first one I stopped at was Bearlescent where there were some stunning bears and rag dolls for sale. These were not toys for children though, these were more the kind of thing you would display in your home. I fell in love with the rag dolls, one would look beautiful in a little rocking chair or Lloyd Loom chair if we had the space to show it off.

They didn’t come cheap at an average of £75 but as each one takes between 30-40 hours to make and is all hand-made with hand-painted faces, I don’t think the price was excessive at all.

Bearlescent Bears

I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the bears though I did notice there was a kit on sale to make a bear so I assume this is something they can provide. Quite a nice idea I thought.

I next stopped off at the Life and Loom stall as I am quite interested in trying weaving. The Life and Loom weavers work with people with additional needs or disabilities but also run workshops and social weaving sessions for the general public. I had seen on their website that they had held workshops to weave your own shoelaces which seemed to be quite a cool thing to do so I asked if there were any plans to repeat that but sadly not. I was told that they do run weaving workshops at Traenerhus in Hull so perhaps I’ll look into that at some time in the future. Traenerhus do provide some very interesting workshops in all kinds of crafts and is worth a look at.

Life and Loom

Next I came to the stall manned by Seaside Yarns of Hornsea with a good range of well-known and reasonably priced yarns, patterns, kits and notions. I had quite a long chat here as the ladies noticed my hand-knitted Steed jacket and we got talking about knitting and crochet projects, as you do!

Seaside Yarns

I couldn’t resist one of the festive sock yarns from West Yorkshire Spinners and came away with a ball of Robin colourway which isn’t likely to be knitted up this year as I have just finished my third pair of socks for Christmas gifts. I’m a bit socked out for now.

Around the corner I came across the gorgeous hand-dyed yarns of Mermaid’s Purse Yarns. There was both wool and cotton available and all could be dyed to order. There was plenty of stuff to buy and take away with you though if you weren’t needing some custom dyed. I almost bought a skein of 4ply and spent a while browsing the beautiful colours but at the last moment, decided against it. I honestly have so many of these single skeins of gorgeous yarns, still waiting for their forever project that I couldn’t bring myself to add one more to the yarn shelter. I’m sure someone else who has a use in mind will make a much better owner. If that sounds like you then I would encourage you to have a look at the shop online.

Choose your base and your colours and she will dye it for you.
Mermaid’s Purse Yarns

Another stall I spent a bit of time chatting at was The Halifax Spinning Mill stall. With a lovely range of different weights of yarn from breeds such as Shetland, Jacob and many rare and primitive breeds, this stall was of great interest to me. I love wool in it’s natural colours and am constantly amazed at the range of colours you can get without using any dyes. Again, I didn’t buy anything because I really do need to work through some stash before adding to it but I was very tempted and certainly have ear-marked this for future. The website isn’t of much use as it still has their old address, they have recently moved to Carnaby and the Facebook page isn’t an awful lot better really, though it is more up to date. I can’t find an online shop anywhere so I am not sure how you would purchase their yarns. I am interested enough to make the effort to contact them if and when I want to buy but that’s because I saw them at this event. No photos of this one unfortunately as by the time I had decided to go round and take some snaps, I couldn’t get a clear shot of the stall.

Featured as the header image of this post, the stall that was truly inspirational was a crochet exhibition showing off some glorious work with the aim of showing that, as lovely as they are, the granny square is not the be all and end all of crochet. I don’t know the name of the lady who had created all of these works of art and put together the exhibition but it was outstanding work. blankets, bags, toys and amazing animal heads from the book by Vanessa Mooncie . Just look at this lot!

Crochet display
Swan head
Swan head
Zebra Head

Other stalls I took photos of and deserve a quick mention are Beechwood Crafts who had a spinning wheel set up though it was quite popular so I didn’t get to have a go. There were some lovely needle-felted animals on display that I’d like to have a go at one of these days. (I really need to retire! haha)

Beechwood Crafts display.
Needle Felting

Carrie Hunt Pottery had a small stall with beautiful hand- thrown and glazed mugs and yarn bowls. Her website has an online

shop and she will post or you can visit and collect from her studio in the Avenues area of Hull,

So, in summary I think there was something for everyone here. For someone just looking for gifts to buy, there were plenty of makers selling finished items of all price ranges, for serious crafters there were people selling fleeces, spinning and weaving tasters and more upmarket yarns and products and for the general knitter there were the reasonably priced yarns and extras but also lots of other stuff to drool over and be inspired by.

I really hope all of the exhibitors had an enjoyable and perhaps more importantly, worthwhile day. Well done to the organisers, I’m looking forward to next year already!