Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

A Football Tourist’s Guide To Hull – Part Two

(If you missed Part One, here’s the link.)

On returning to the hotel last night, I hovered in reception as I tried in vain to remember what question I needed to ask about breakfast. I was sure it was important. But the two pints in Wm Hawkes had removed it from my brain. At length I shrugged and made my way to my room.

I wasn’t rushing to get ready the following morning. If I got up at my own time I knew I’d be fine. Alarms are things to be used sparingly these days. Lockdown has taught me that I needn’t be constrained by time in the way that I was. I have a much more laissez faire attitude to time these days. Things will happen when they happen (I almost miss a goal as a consequence of this on Saturday).

I chose Ronnie Hilton as my shower companion this morning. We’d stopped at his grave yesterday, which stated that he’d brought joy to millions across Europe. I’d looked him up and discovered that this famous son of Hull was a singer. I was delighted to see he did a song I could add to my Rain playlist (‘Don’t Let The Rain Come Down’). And I was shocked to see he already featured in my music collection, for it was he who sang the classic ‘A Windmill in Old Amsterdam’.

At 1015, dressed and packed at leisure, we headed down for breakfast (which, you may recall, we paid for the night before for a £2 discount).

‘Breakfast finished at 10 o’clock.’

Damn.

Now I remembered that important question I had needed to ask about breakfast last night.

Lee was fuming but I saw this as an opportunity to go out exploring. Back in our room, I set to work researching the best places for breakfast (or was it brunch now?) in Hull. Ah! I found just the place…

We popped to the car to renew our parking ticket for another 24 hours. We only had an hour left on it and I was in no mood for rushing. We only had one thing to do today (well, two now we had to go out hunting for food) so had little intention of using much more time than that. This wasn’t to prove the case, as Hull kept us in her clutches for much longer…

Nibble

On arrival at this caff, there was a cluster of people at the door.

‘Oh there’s a queue. Let’s just go somewhere else.’

‘It can’t be a queue. That’s ridiculous. It’s 11am on a Wednesday.’

A handful of people entered the caff while a couple of others stood to one side to confer. We took this opportunity to swoop to the doors, where our host declared there was a table for two that had just become available. She directed us to our table.

This place was buzzing with an eclectic mix of customers. On our walk here we had gathered this was the arty/hipster/bohemian quarter of Hull. And it was popular. That had been a queue outside – and it was already building again. Just how good was this caff?

I gazed in awe at the cakes on the counter. I wanted all of them! But it was way too early for cakes.

I ordered a Yorkshire Tea with honey as I contemplated the menu. Ooh they had specials!

Well how could I resist the Anna, Boss Lady? I love a bit of cabbage for breakfast (bacon, cabbage and leeks being my weekend special during lockdown). I also love eggs. And one of my Lincoln foodie friends swears by hot sauce on a breakfast (‘once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back’).

Dear reader, this was the best breakfast I’ve ever tasted – and Lee said the same about his Full English. The individual components were of such good quality. I’ve never tasted bacon as good as that in my life.

As I enjoyed the sweetest little shortbread biscuit with my brew, Lee explained to the staff that he was filming to showcase the best places in Hull and would love to include Nibble.

‘Oh that would be great – thank you! Are you here because you’ve seen the video on YouTube?’

We were puzzled. But a quick search revealed that Rate My Takeaway had visited a month earlier and given Nibble a rave review.

We skipped out of the door and past the constant queue (which we understood now, having experienced the quality of food and service).

Hipster Humber Street

Now this was a Street I hadn’t expected to find in Hull. We had spotted it yesterday en route to the Minerva but didn’t have the time to explore it properly. Today we did have time, with 24 hours on our parking ticket, Lee’s match vlog already uploaded and a day off to spend at our leisure. We were also in great spirits following that awesome breakfast.

My pre-trip research had already revealed that the dinosaur experience was only open at weekends (boo!).

I double-checked anyway while we were here (as you know I love dinosaur action) but sadly this was not to be today. Little did I know there would be dinosaurs unearthed later on today…

Humber Street Gallery: Dead Bod

This had been the only place on today’s itinerary. We had heard from Tourguide Tony (from the Hop & Vine) that Dead Bod was a local legend and that I needed to pick up a Dead Bod tee. I had been suitably intrigued. Who or what was Dead Bod?

And here is the legend that accompanies the art.

We got chatting with the staff here and remarked that we had observed already from our short time here how Hull celebrated the lives of its dead. This morning we’d spotted this memorial plaque on a bridge.

In the Streetlife Museum there was a statue of the man who’d put the bulk of the collection together.

The friendly staff here told us to look out for the street art depicting The Bee Lady, who was often seen around Hull dressed as a bee, collecting for charity. We were falling in love with Hull by the minute.

Sadly, a few days after our visit, the Bee Lady, Jean Bishop, passed away at the grand old age of 99.

Before we left the gallery, I enquired after a Dead Bod tee, but was advised that their order hadn’t arrived yet. Boo. I was advised that they were available from the shop at the Hull People’s Memorial Museum on Whitefriargate. Ah yes! I remembered that friendly lady in Wm Hawkes last night had mentioned Whitefriargate. We knew where that was, too, as that was where we had called in at the record shop cafe. I looked it up and noted it was open until 4pm. It was 1230 now. We had plenty of time to get there. Didn’t we?

Taphouse & Bone Machine Brew Co

I can’t say I had my drinking head on today after yesterday’s exploits but I could manage one to help me resemble a human again.

And this place!

I struggled to climb into the seating at a booth opposite the bar. I know I’m short but I could really have done with a stepladder here. Helpfully, they were smooth seats, so I could slide my way in.

I couldn’t quite make out the finer detail on the beer board so asked the waitress for help.

‘Something dark that’s brewed here please.’

‘Men Beyond The Glass?’

I didn’t understand but mumbled something about whatever you recommend. I then squinted at the beer board and realised that Men Beyond The Glass was the name of a beer that involved dark chocolate and black coffee. That sounded just the ticket.

As I gazed around the room, I spotted a food kiosk at the back of the room.

Ohh if only I hadn’t already eaten!

And here was the on-site brewery.

You may recall from my virtual pub crawl round Hull earlier this year that I fell in love with the Bone Machine tees.

I enquired after them today but was told that sadly there were none available. This was not a good tee day.

But it was now a good beer day.

Sadly our visit here was somewhat hurried, as we had a timeslot booked at our next port of call.

Fish Trail

Which didn’t stop us pausing to enjoy this shark.

This forms part of the Hull Fish Trail of 41 fish around the Old Town.

Before we arrived in Hull, I had planned on completing the trail (which can be completed in under two hours). I even used the trail map as my basis for my itinerary as can be evidenced below.

But there was so much else to discover here we hadn’t found the time.

Although we did spot one by accident en route to the Minerva yesterday.

The Deep

But this is what we were here for today. Having missed out on the aquarium in Bournemouth because we hadn’t had the foresight to book, this also happened here yesterday. So, all of an hour ago, we made sure we booked in to The Deep so we wouldn’t miss out. And boy were we glad we didn’t miss this.

We were greeted by a very friendly man on reception, who explained where we needed to go, handed us our tickets and took our photo with a zappy little machine. He explained that our tickets were valid for four months and the photo was to ensure that the tickets weren’t used by different people next time.

Before we entered the aquarium, I stopped for a quick comfort break. You’ve got to grab them where you can when you’re on the move. Dear reader, you know I like a good toilet – and these are quite possibly the best toilets ever. To the extent that – once I’d finished in there – I ran out to Lee exclaiming:

‘You HAVE to go to the toilet. They’re AMAZING.’

Why? Well, the cubicles were themed.

How ace is that?

I also thought the hand drier sounded like a boxer.

I can’t remember if it was any good or not but it gets bonus points anyway.

At length we entered the first exhibition of wall art.

We then entered a dimly lit exhibition charting the ancient history of the ocean and its inhabitants, filled with skeletons.

I found this unusual map of the world fascinating. It charts the height of the land and depths of the oceans.

Next came a big tank of actual live fish.

Oh I could have sat here for hours watching them. They’re so graceful, gliding through the water and it’s so relaxing.

I particularly loved this little 70s fish (a mandarin, we later learned).

I only moved on when I saw a sign announcing PENGUINS THIS WAY.

And then came the main exhibit. Oh. My. Word. We were standing so close to sharks and catfish and rays and sea turtles and…

(I gasped)

…what is that?

This rare green sawfish took my breath away in much the same way as Josh Bowler does when I see him on the wing for Blackpool. I spent a long time staring into the tank, hoping for another glimpse of him. Every time he passed by I had to remember to breathe.

Dear reader, you simply MUST visit The Deep if you’re ever anywhere near Hull.

The architecture of the building is remarkable. We viewed the penguins again from a level down, where we observed them rocketing underwater. And there were numerous viewing points around the main tank – culminating in a glass lift that takes you up through the tank itself. Just breathtaking stuff.

We spent some time chatting with a lovely man who talked us through the water filtration system and how they try to replicate the ocean water and zap the bacteria. We bumped into him again later, as we stood on the stairs, gazing at the sawfish, and he was a mine of information about the sea creatures. I love listening to people who are passionate and enthusiastic about their jobs. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone was such a joy to encounter.

Before we knew it, we had been here for three-and-a-half hours. Where had that time gone? We had enjoyed every single minute. But we were hungry now, so headed for the caff, where I had a Christmas sandwich.

I couldn’t leave without popping into the shop. How could I resist, when it had a pun for a name?

And of course we couldn’t resist buying a little memento of our joyous visit. I was tempted by the sea turtle’s ‘take me home’ eyes, but instead plumped for the dinosaur (you know I love dinosaurs). Did you know that sharks are technically dinosaurs, they’ve been around for that long? Just one of the many fascinating facts we learned here today.

Lee was taken with the turtle hand puppet so we took two new friends home with us (or would, if we ever managed to tear ourselves away from Hull).

Alternative Blue Plaques

Another of Hull’s quirks that Tony had recommended I look out for was the city’s Alternative Blue Plaques. It was only now, when we had finally stopped darting around, that I remembered to look out for them. And I spotted one.

Here’s the story behind the plaques.

I’m gutted to learn I missed the one memorialising Dead Bod on the side of the Minerva.

The Moths: Amy Johnson

We spotted a huge moth on the side of a building today.

Tony had prepared us for these, too.

The moths commemorate Amy Johnson. We learned in the Streetlife Museum that Amy was of Danish heritage but her parents moved to Hull (where Amy was born) and Anglicised their names.

Amy was the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, back in 1930.

Amy served the nation in World War II, when she transported RAF aircraft around the country.

Amy disappeared during a flight in 1941, the circumstances of which are still disputed.

The Hull People’s Memorial Museum

Now you may recall that this was the place to buy the Dead Bod tees. Because we’d spent so long in The Deep, it was after the shop’s 4pm closing time before we got back to Whitefriargate.

I gazed longingly and dejected through the shop window and pointed at the Dead Bod tees inside.

‘Ohh look – they’re so close!’

I sighed.

‘I suppose I’ll just have to order one online. There’s a web address in the window.’

Just as I was tapping the address into my phone – as if by magic – the shopkeeper appeared. As we explained the distance we’d travelled and the emotional attachment we had formed to Hull and my desperate need for a Dead Bod tee, she allowed us in to make a quick purchase. We thanked her profusely. What a lovely lady.

We skipped off down Whitefriargate and back towards the car, stopping to look at anything and everything that took our fancy.

There was so much to see and do and enjoy and revel in here. Hull is a city of joy and we had fallen in love with it. This was our favourite Football Tourist’s Guide of the season so far – and they’ve all been corkers. It really was such a wrench to leave. I’m already hoping to draw Hull away in the FA Cup. Thank you Hull. I’ll endeavour to remember you as fondly as you remember your lost sons and daughters. You certainly have a huge place in my heart now.

Here’s our video memory of our time in Hull.

Next up: Blackburn Rovers at home.

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