Orchard Park

On 19 Jan 2017,  I once again went out with the BBC Humberside bus, this time to Orchard Park, a huge social housing estate in North Hull. Once benighted by tower blocks, it underwent a £15m redevelopment a few years ago – the towers are gone, replaced by houses, and there’s a lovely community / medical centre.

People were happy to talk to us, but not to the microphone by and large! However, we met some lovely folk, including a lady who had lived on the estate for sixty years.

Ferens Art Gallery

Ferens logo
Courtesy of @FerensHull twitter account

Ferens is one of my favourite places in the city – lovely gift shop, great café, lots of lovely pieces. It’s been closed for nigh on eighteen months, while they did a ~£5m upgrade/refurbishment, and it reopens to the public today, 13th Jan 2017. They have added proper climate control, more security, generally freshened it up, and made it ready for some of the big events coming up later in the year, such as the Turner Prize.

They’re running a big programme for volunteers, and I did my first training on Wednesday. There’s going to be a lot to learn, in order to be able to do it properly! We were asked what we wanted to give to the gallery, and what we wanted to get out of it. I responded that

  1. I loved the place, and I’d missed it, and it would be lovely to pass that on to visitors, and
  2. I felt I didn’t know enough about any of the pieces, and how to interpret them, and hoped that volunteering would teach me this.

They seemed quite happy with my answers, and I hope that the Ferens volunteer programme will continue after this year.

The Lion at Home by Rosa Bonheur
The Lion at Home by Rosa Bonheur

We had talks from various people, including Kirsten Simister, the curator, and a tour of the museum given by Sean … someone. This was a real privilege, as no member of the public had yet been in. I spotted my very favourite painting, The Lion at Home by Rosa Bonheur – for some inexplicable reason it has been hung opposite where it used to be, so I was a bit alarmed at first. There is however no sign of my lovely Henry Moore Torso – apparently they haven’t quite decided where to place it yet. But I did get to see the Lorenzetti, about which there is much excitement both in Hull, and in the wider art world.

In the evening, I was lucky enough to have bagged a volunteer spot for the Friends of Ferens private viewing; I was stationed next to a big metalwork piece in the central area, mainly to try to prevent people tripping over the security ropes. I saw quite a few folk I knew, and had a really nice time talking to everyone, despite having little knowledge about everything. But that learning will come.

Sunny Scunny

picture courtesy of metro.co.uk

I signed up to be a City of Culture volunteer on the BBC Radio Humberside bus, which is broadcasting Phil White’s show live from Monday to Friday, every week of Hull’s City of Culture year. BBC Humberside covers a large area – East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire down to the Wash, up to Bridlington, and across over to Selby – and they decided to take this bus out to their audience during the course of this year. I underwent some training at their offices, which included a tour of the studios, both television and radio, and a meet and greet with the legend that is Peter Levy (who has been presenting Look North since before television was actually invented, as far as I can tell). I was very lucky to get onto this bit of the City of Culture programme, as there were only sixty training vacancies.

So, on Tuesday 10th January, I cycled down to the BBC for a 9.30 start, and we set off for Scunthorpe (Scunthorpe?!) at about 10:15. The bus had already left, and it can’t carry passengers anyway, so we trundled off in a BBC car driven by Kate, the producer, and with Phil White in the passenger seat, and myself and another volunteer, Kate, in the back. Conversation ensued, sometimes between all four, and sometimes just me and Kate. Phil never stopped paying attention however, as a couple of times he held a microphone to my face and interviewed me on air, having picked up a lot about me from the car 🙂

Our job really was to talk to people, and find some who were interesting enough to be interviewed, and basically to wave the flag for both the BBC and City of Culture. Which is great – I love talking to people. What I did discover is how much love people have for their local radio station; the presenters get loads of text and e-mails, and their audience really do feel that they are personal friends. I introduced a man to Phil who raises money for a hospice in Scunthorpe – they had a lovely chat on air, and afterwards the chap could have hugged me, he was so excited to have spoken to him, and thanked me profusely.

So that was my first trip to Scunthorpe, and it was huge fun; next week I’m off to Orchard Park in Hull on the bus, and will report back later

two a day!

Yesterday, Monday 5 December, I did two City of Culture training events!

East Park Hull in the frost

The first was a guided walk around East Park (what a shame it doesn’t have its own web site, but I may just do something about that myself). The park is about 12 minutes walk from where we live, so I did indeed walk over there, on a beautiful sunny morning with the thermometer at -1C. We were given a tour of the animal area, a nice talk on the various boats, and a stroll round the park, all preceded by a cup of coffee and a mince pie, made by the excellent ladies who run the very nice café.

I walk round the park often, and now I am pretty much able to lead other people round, so that’s all good.

In the evening, I cycled down to Queens Gardens, for a workshop with BBC Radio HPeter Levyumberside. They have obtained A Bus, which will be trundling around their coverage area all next year, outside broadcasting Monday to Friday between 12 and 2.30, and they need City of Culture volunteers to add as production assistants, and maybe do a bit of interviewing. It sounds enormous fun. We had a tour of the studios, both radio and TV, and we met the famous Peter Levy, who has been presenting Look North for nigh on thirty years, and gets mobbed whenever he goes out!

So, that was about 8.5 miles yesterday, on foot and by bike. You’d think I’d be getting fitter by now, really. Still, my trusty velocipede now has a new inner tube in its rear tyre, and air (such luxury), and is much, much easier to pedal.

I am out seven days in the next eight, so stay tuned for more exciting stuff.

Eternal Father, strong to save …

Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t much care for religion, but there’s something about singing in a church.

So when a call went out to local choir people to turn up to Holy Trinity Church on Saturday 4 December, to record For Those in Peril on the Sea as a soundtrack for part of the Made in Hull opening event for City of Culture.

You wouldn’t necessarily think it would take 2.5 hours to record one hymn, but we sang it loud and soft, with accompaniment on the mighty organ and without, with words and without. And then we sang some other stuff to help out one of the people recording it with one of his own projects.

And then we had coffee and cake, which was nice. The church is becoming a minster next year, and we have all been invited to sing at the investiture (or whatever it is), so that’s something to look forward to.

I wandered up to St Stephens shopping centre after that, to return a pair of shoes to Schuh; they were perfectly obliging, and gave me a refund, which “would take up to five working days to reach my account”. Funny how that doesn’t happen when you buy something, eh?The afternoon before (Friday 2 Dec), I attended a course on Customer Service as a City of Culture volunteer, at the Hull History Centre. This was given by a chap called John Lennon (!), and was most interesting and quite useful. I was, to my horror, late, as my bike had a flat tyre, and I had to hurtle for a bus. Pete manfully mended it for me during the afternoon, and so on Saturday morning I went to fetch it from the shed, to find it had a flat tyre again. More bus, and I treated it to a new inner tube on my way home.