This year’s UK City of Culture is Kingston upon Hull. We had a trip there recently to explore this old city, which, a bit like our home city of Norwich, is ‘off the beaten track’. I’d been here before but only briefly, and wasn’t overly impressed with its noise and scruffiness… but that was a while ago.

Our two-day trip was a real eye opener. My abiding impressions are of a place that is unpretentious (and still a bit scruffy in places), warm and friendly, but with a certain ‘edge’ (maybe just ‘bluff yorkshire’?).

We had a fascinating guided walk around the city in the company of a local lad who showed us many wonderful places with fascinating stories, including the street named- no one knows why– ‘Land of Green Ginger’, which also has the world’s smallest window…see the picture below, to the right of the information board… yes that vertical slot; it was used by the inn’s stable lad to keep an eye out for arriving coaches so that he could be up and at ’em!

We saw how the city ‘public realm’ is being transformed with much new paving, fountains and seating. We saw some amazing art in the Maritime Museum ( a work of art itself) and the Ferrens Gallery.

We were impressed with some grand old buildings (and stayed in the Royal Hotel, itself a remnant of the grand Victorian age of rail travel).

We found (eventually) some superb pubs tucked away from the main streets and did our own mini ‘Ale Trail’ as well as exploring a wealth of museums (all free entry), walking along the River Hull and looking out over the Humber. We joined a discussion about freedom, justice and modern slavery (well this is the city of William Wilberforce, the driving force behind the abolition of the slave trade back in the middle of the 19th century).

If you get the chance, go t’ ‘ull. It’s a place on the up; in a way which grabs your attention, and then gives you a warm hug. Oh, and there were also some rather fine ornamental gardens on display…

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