A weekend in and around Hull in East Yorkshire
by Slug on February 24, 2013
We wandered into Hull's Old Town to use a cash machine and perhaps nab a bite to eat. Unfortunately we were uninspired by the sea of chain bars and restaurants in the main street of Old Town (well those of them open on a Sunday lunchtime anyway). I'm not really into the sanitised and bland version of food that most multinational and large companies seem to offer.We then spotted a sign for Ye Olde White Harte down something of a back alley. We're not adverse to spending time in back street boozers as long as they are clean and colourful, and the alley soon opened up to allow us to view an attractive looking beer yard area and a characterful looking pub. While Ye Olde White Harte was pretty quiet (although to be fair we were past peak Sunday lunchtime eating hours) we were immediately struck by the very nice traditional looking Inglenook fireplace, the wooden panelling and stone flag flooring, as well as the real ale on tap.The bar tender was a friendly woman smiling benignly as we peered at the different pumps offering real ale. It turned out that Ye Olde White Harte mainly sells Theakstons Ale with a couple of Caledonian ales (including their famous Deuchars) and one other guest. I love Theakstons XB and spend a considerable proportion of my student years under the influence of the stuff, but alas this was the one Theakstons not on offer. While I was determined not to like my pint of Lightfoot, it said something about the pub that my glass soon emptied and I had forgotten I was sulking about the absence of XB. Of course Ye Olde White Harte has a full stocked bar and sells a good range of other drinks too.We were also pleased that this was a bar offering simple sandwiches; we were really in no mood for a Sunday roast and the trimmings. Our order launched a couple of the locals into complaining that the landlord didn't order enough food in, which perhaps indicated to me that the place might be struggling a little, but the bar menu nominally offered general pub fare such as lasagne and chips, pie and chips, burger and the like if you wanted something hot. Our sandwiches were a very reasonable £3.50 a pop, and the bread and filling were ample and came with a basic side salad; certainly nothing to complain about. They also arrived promptly. While we stared around I spotted a little booklet for the pub available behind the bar for £4. As the booklet cost more than my lunch I thought it was a bit steep, but on the entrance I noticed a sign which confirmed the pub was the site of the discussion which prompted the English Civil War in 1642, where the then governor of Hull vowed to refuse entry of the city to Charles I. Thus the discussion in the pub started the physical opposition to the King, and the rise to power of Oliver Cromwell. I’d like to think the discussion happened after a few too many pints of XB, but alas the house (which was rebuilt in around 1630) only became a pub in the late 1700s. The other rather startling thing about the pub is that it has its own skull found during renovations of the pub in 1880 or so. It says something of the age that the pub was allowed to keep the skull and pop it in a display case in the bar (where it exists to this day). It is said the most likely story was that a drunken sea captain brained a young lad one night and the body was hidden in an attic to avoid any awkward questions being asked. True or not, I rather like the story. I would like to think that Ye Olde White Harte might be a fairly lively place to visit on a Friday and Saturday evening but visiting on a Sunday lunchtime found the place pretty quiet with Radio 2 echoing slightly around the rooms downstairs. However, for a casual find I was delighted to wander and come across an interesting pub with good beer and cheap acceptable food.
Although it's primarily for families and children, my beloved and I have mused for a while that we would like to take around Hull's premiere tourist attraction The Deep. My beloved had occasion to work in Hull from time to time so we kind of figured it would be a formality, but as it happened her work patterns changed and we had to make a special journey. As you might expect for such a modern and popular attraction the place knows how to charge, but to be honest I thought the £10.50 entrance fee could have been even steeper. The Deep is a large aquarium tank with a lot of other smaller display cases displaying creatures that live in or near water – fish, frogs and the like. The Deep was part of the regeneration program for the docks and it is just across a bridge from the nicer part of Hull city centre, the Old Town. I did like the modern angular building jutting out to sea, which in the mist rather reminded me of a landlocked ship's hull. Of course, Hull was hiding many of its better aspects on the day we arrived as a sea fog had taken over the city. To be truthful, Hull isn't the prettiest of places so perhaps that fog was a blessing in disguise. After a short queue to buy our tickets and enter the building, we spotted a couple of restaurants and rather helpfully for those on a budget, a picnic area. Obviously the spots are very geared and occupied by children, so we found them very noisy and the smell of sweet doughnuts and popcorn very sickly sweet. I'm so grateful not to have children.Given the sweet smell and noise we couldn't decide whether to use our hands to cover our ears or nose while we entered the attraction. For this attraction you start at the top of the water and then go down; entrance is up quite a few steps, or you can wait with the screaming toddlers and get your legs bashed by pushchairs. There is quite a queue for the lift, but as we were only going up three (quite high) stories we took the steps and found it a lot less stressful and noisy. The first slow descent goes down a ramp where you go back through time to discover some of the beasties of the sea from long ago. I thought this bit was quite nicely done, and then our tour took us into the main tank area where different plant and animal types displayed in small areas (both sea and river life) from various places in the world. I'm sure anyone deeply into their sea life would find the display rather basic, but it offered a reasonable starter for 10, and the wordings of the boards were heavily eco influenced. It also stressed how some of the plants and animals might be beneficial to humankind but we are losing the species and thus the opportunities to exploit them. Of course "the deep" is mainly about the massive tank in the centre of the display, with various viewing windows and a tunnel to walk through with the fish swimming around you. We did find the size of the tank truly impressive, but the biggest windows in the bottom had reflected light on them. My tip is to find one of the darker smaller windows onto the tank on the way down for photos and for an undisturbed view.The other star attraction is the glass lift which slowly takes you back up to the start of the attraction; again, we couldn't bother with the scrum of push chairs and sticky fingers on the Perspex so chose to take the quieter stairs out of the attraction.The Deep wasn't the best thing I've ever seen as the displays were fairly simply explained, but it was pretty and impressive enough for us to spend almost 2 hours wandering round at our own pace, so I didn't consider the Deep to be poor value overall.
My beloved's birthday is just after New Year at a point when everyone is still hung over from Christmas and frightened to spend too much money as the bills are just arriving on doormats. We always save a little to celebrate her special day and she loves going away. This year we booked for a night's bed and breakfast at Rowley Manor a few miles out of Beverley in East Yorkshire. We weren't expecting too much as the deal cost £79 for the two of us.Entrance to the Manor was very impressive and we liked the well proportioned old home set in 16 acres of land immediately. It was the former rectory to the local church and now a 16 room hotel. I won't say the hotel was in tip top condition but for £79 for the room with meal included then it was an absolute bargain. We actually felt quite special in the bar area with its old book cases, old theatre posters, leather Chesterton sofas near the fire and a view out at the horses. The public rooms are the nicest; we loved the grand reception area and very nice back bar in particular. The dining room was a little too large to feel intimate and was just a little past its best. The bed rooms much less impressive; there was old tired furnishings in the bathroom in that avocado suite and beige flowered mock tiles kind of way (and shower controls so delicate I veered from lukewarm to scalding hot), and the water flow was on the wrong side of annoying. Likewise we could find no remote control for the TV (they found us one when we asked), and the heating in the room comprised of a small convection heater rather than the radiators (which didn't work). The replacement heater didn't work in our friend's room so they had quite a bracing night. However, despite these annoyances, the rooms were quite nicely furnished in a traditional country hotel way and the room wasn't too small. Service made up for the slightly worn bedrooms in that we had very good, warm and friendly service throughout our stay. Our evening meal was good – for starter I had butternut squash and goats cheese salad and found lots of both. There was also a nice bit of stewed beef steak in a very tasty sauce and nice vegetables, and then a very plentiful cheese board with 4 different cheeses (but not different enough for the £5 supplement it attracted. Overall, the evening meal was solid and good but not really top notch. Again, for the money it was good value, but if you are anticipating an extravagant splurge then think again. The wine was nice and not too OTT at £17 a bottle; the Argentine Malbec was rather gutsy.Summing up – we enjoyed our night at Rowley Manor; in summertime there would be a number of walks to explore and a walk to Beverley Races would not be too far. Likewise, there is an undistinguished pub about a mile up the road if you fancy a change. While the place wasn't in tip top condition the deal of £79 for a night with dinner bed and breakfast was certainly good value.
Fancying some lunch before we drove home we wandered around the coffee shops of the East Yorkshire town of Beverley to little avail. They were either busy, smelt of stale chip fat or rather bizarrely sometimes both. After deciding to walk to the minster only to discover we were risking wandering into the Church in the midst of a big funeral, we almost decided there and then to head for the car and go home. Thankfully, fairly near the minster down a side street we spotted a rare Beverley institution; a cafe that neither stank of stale fat and which was almost empty. The inside of the Tea Cosy was very pleasant, with its wooden panelling and dark muted colours it reminded me rather of a classic 1940s tea rooms. Outside however was a lovely little patio area which in summertime must be a nice place to sit and enjoy the rare rays of the sun. The pottery was rather heavy and modern looking and gave a bit more of a funky edge to the traditional look of the place. Service was relaxed, and there was quite a choice of teas and coffees to sample although unfortunately the soft drink I asked for was out of stock; instead I was quite happy with a bottle of fizzy water while my beloved had a pot of tea. In terms of food, the menu was pretty standard with offerings of sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatoes. My chilli jacket potato with salad was very plentiful and I was quite happy with the cost of around £5. My beloved's Pannini also went down well. As we waited for our meal we found the restaurant to be spotless, and a couple of what were obviously regulars wandered in for their early afternoon cuppa and cake. The cakes looked lovely, and we showed great self restraint in not partaking. The only slight downside came when the relaxed service got a little too relaxed and we had to ask them for the bill so we could pay. However, it was a small grumble. Obviously the Tea Cosy isn’t there for more refined and demanding diners, but if you simply want a fairly standard bite to eat for lunch then you can do far worse in Beverley. We would certainly return.
It had been quite a few years since we had had a good look around the market town of Beverley in East Yorkshire, so on out last afternoon in the area we decided to drop by and see what it was like. The town centre used to have a lot of small independent shops, but like most other places in the UK they have now largely been taken over by multiples. There are some more upper market shops around such as White Stuff and Fat Face for clothing, but we decided to take a good look around the fabulous looking St Crispin's Arcade. This is a big old house divided into different areas for antique stalls to sell their wares. There was plenty to look at from books, pictures, maps and china and pottery. We actually bought two items which appeared quite keenly priced; a silver coated jewellery box which obviously dated from the 1930s and was very heavy, and a piece of unmarked studio pottery; the two items together were £20. I doubt I'll make my fortune, but I'm sure other places would have sold them at a higher price. There is a little cafe in the St Crispins Arcade but the place smelt a little stale and fusty so it didn't seem like a good place to stop as much as we enjoyed the arcade. Unfortunately the market wasn't on, so we decided to walk to the minster which is quite an impressive structure. I'm not too excited by Churches so we were fairly relaxed that there was a funeral ongoing, so we decided not to go in, although our hunt for a suitable place to eat for lunch was getting a little tiresome. On the edge of town is the famous Beverley Racecourse; we have been there with a rather nice Champagne picnic for a friend's 30th birthday celebrations. I remember we didn't win anything on the horses but getting home was a bit of a blur. From memory it is a couple of miles out of town, but worth checking to see whether a race meet is on. Having wandered around Beverley we had the impression that the town would be a nice place to live, and in fact on doing a bit of research it did win one of those surveys undertaken from time to time voted the best town in Britain to live. Having spent an afternoon in Beverley I have to say that while it is pleasant enough I wouldn't particularly want to spend a week's vacation in the town, although there are some interesting places nearby within car travelling distance.
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