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.

busy busy busy

All of a sudden, I’ve gone from no life to almost too much life. I want to record it for future memories, so here’s a megapost to bring you up to date.

Freedom Chorus
I started singing again, after a break of many, many years, and I just love it. My first gigs were at the Freedom Festival – we sang a wonderful piece under Myton Bridge (like trolls!), which was bedecked with coloured neon lights; we also sang a selection of “river” songs on the new Stage at the Dock. It was Very Wet Indeed, and we were like a choir of drowned rats, and our second performance on Corporation Pier was cancelled because the floor was too slippy. But it was fabulous nonetheless.

Then, in September, the Chorus performed on stage at the press launch for Hull City of Culture 2017. We sang a glorious arrangement of the Isley Brothers’ Caravan of Love, which has a resonance for the city, given that The Housemartins had a hit with it. We also sang at Paragon station at the crack of dawn that morning, were shown on BBC TV, etc. We were all very proud.

Lots of interesting stuff for the Freedom Chorus coming up next year, but my lips are sealed for now.

I’ve also trained as a Singing Champion for the city, trying to get more people involved in the great social activity of choral singing.

City of Culture 2017
I joined up to be a volunteer for CofC, and got in on the first “wave” – how I wish I’d heard about it early enough to be a pioneer volunteer, but I missed the opportunity.

So far I have done backstage tours of Hull Truck Theatre and Hull History Centre, have worked a few sessions on the information Pod at Hull Paragon station, conducted questionnaires on behalf of Hull Truck at Endsleigh primary school, paraded around the stadium (with other volunteers, not on my own!) at a Hull KC football match, done a guided walking tour of the city, partaken in a Woman of the World thinkin, been part of a workshop with Blast Theory, and probably more. I intend to update this blog as I do more stuff, because it’s going to be a wonderful year, and I don’t want to forget it.

Last weekend, I spent a high-powered and exhausting day doing Volunteer Leadership training, which involved Child Protection, Health and Safety, Discrimination and How to Lead. I now have two new cards to add to my lanyard, and am fully DBS checked (which may come in useful).

When we were volunteering at Cornucopia Festival in September, we encountered Bandanarama; they were so utterly barking that I went and asked them if they’d like a melodica player. It transpired that they would, and so I am now a member of the band, complete with motorcycle jacket (thanks, Ian and Carole!) and boots (thanks, eBay); I already had my own bandana. So far, I’ve played out with them in Beverley at the Flemingate shopping centre, and at St Stephens’ shopping mall; it’s always a hoot, and I’m so glad I’ve become part of the band.

A couple of weeks ago, we posed for a photograph in Quentin Budworth’s Hullywood Icons, and very mean and cool we looked too, though I say so myself.

The Wild One

Got lots of interesting stuff lined up for the next few months – so looking forward to it.

I'm just popping out for a while …

Pearson Park

I had to go to the Sainsburys at the top of the road, as we had run out of mozzarella (that is, I know, hideously Boden and middle class, but there you go); P decided to accompany me.

The thermometer outside the back door said -5˚, so we wrapped up warm. I was wearing jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt, a thin fleece top, a down waistcoat, a down jacket, a scarf, a woolly hat with ear flaps, thermal gloves, socks and wellies. And I was still not really warm.

We got the mozzarella and a couple of other bits and bobs, and then wandered over to Pearson Park to see the ducks. There were hundreds of birds there, including some geese who must be passing through. All so pretty in the snow, although I have to say it’s losing its appeal now – I want my roof fixed!

Cold duck, anyone? Birds on a frozen pond Ducks and geese Frozen pond in Pearson Park Glacier on Park Avenue!

weekend 11/12 sept 2010

autumn leaves

Autumn’s arrived with a vengeance, hasn’t it?

There was loads going on in Hull last weekend – the Freedom Festival, including music, street theatre, and a lot of drink taken, it seems; the city was heaving. There was also a local derby rugby match, and the Heritage Open Doors. The latter was the one we opted for.

We cycled down to town, locked the bikes in Victoria Square, then adjourned to Ferens Gallery for a cup of tea, via the Tourist Office for some literature. Then we wandered all over the city, looking in various splendid buildings, and round the Marina. We gave Queens Gardens (renamed for the weekend as Freedom Gardens) a miss, as there were security guards on the entrances and we just couldn’t be bothered. Lunch was in Level, one of our favourite cheap’n’cheerful eating places.

I don’t much like crowds, but I wish now we’d gone back later in the evening – the fireworks and other stuff going on looks spectacular. Still, there’s always next year 🙂

On Sunday, we cycled over to East Park, with a detour through the Garden Village. East Park is lovely – huge, with a nice lake, and a small animal enclosure. Lovely sunny day when we set out, but while we paused in the cafe for a hot sossidge roll (remarkably well priced a £1 each), the rain started, and we pedalled back in the wet.

Supper was rice and pea risotto, which was spectacularly nice, followed by rhubarb with almond sponge topping, ditto. And we watched Kill Bill 2, which was extraordinary.

weekend 17/18 July 2010

Red Arrows

We cycled down to the waterside early on Saturday morning, and spent most of the day there, watching the clipper boats come home, and enjoying the vibe (but not the rain and wind). Red Devils parachuting, and Royal Navy Black Cats doing daft things with helicopters too, and horde of people. Wandered up into town part way through for tea and a scone at Ferens Art Gallery, and checked out some rucksacks, as I need a bigger one. Evening was spent watching An Education, which was excellent, although we felt the ending was a copout.

We had planned to go cycling on Sunday, but it was really windy, so we took ourselves off to Burton Agnes Hall, making use of our Historic Houses Association membership. A beautiful Elizabethan manor house, still lived in by the same family who built it at the turn of the 17th century, with some stonking art collected by various denizens over the years – Matisse, Gauguin, Constable, August John – and they’re still collecting. The current inhabitants have young children, and use all the house when it’s not full of visitors, and it shows – it has a really nice feel to it.

There’s also a beautiful walled garden of an acre, with veg, fruit and flowers, board games marked out on paving slabs, various ponds, etc., a woodland walk, and lovely parkland. We shall go there again.

As it was so close to Bridlington, it seemed churlish not to go and see the sea, so we did that too, and had a brief stroll on the beach after consuming the compulsory fish and chips (I was good, and picked the batter off mine).

This week holds a big push to get a site finished, a proposal for a new biggish site, and the Driffield County Show (we’re skiving off on Wednesday, OK?).  And more blood tests, which I’m a bit worried about, because I haven’t really been very good of late.

weekend 4/5 July 2010

We had quite a Hull-based weekend, really. After hurtling up to Chants Ave (library, greengrocer, dry cleaners, yet another run of clothes to the charity shop), we cycled down to the Architecture Centre, to a lecture/workshop on “What is Hullness?”. This was really interesting, particularly when we got to the workshop/discussion element, and they provided a free lunch too. I ate too much; I’m dreadful at buffets, I just graze and graze, and I must learn to stop. We met some nice people, including some from the Hull Civic Society, and I will send off a cheque for membership for that later today.

After that, we went down to the bit of derelict docks that you can walk around, but it’s no good with bikes, so we cycled from The Deep down to the passenger ferry terminal. This path goes all along what used to be thriving docks and is now architect designed waterside living, or some such. Actually, it’s quite a sympathetic development, and it’s a lovely ride down the edge of the Humber; it was a beautiful day, the birds sang, the water lapped. Once we got to the terminal, we couldn’t quite see how to get past that bit, so we cycled back up Hedon Road, which has an excellent pavement cycle path, but there was a very strong headwind in that direction!

We stopped in at the discount kitchen place we’ve been meaning to stop at for ages, but there was one guy there who was clearly very anxious to lock up and get away, and they weren’t very exciting anyway, so we trundled on home. 11.25 miles in all on two wheels that day.

After the huge lunch, we weren’t very hungry, so we just had cheese and crackers and fruit for supper, and very nice it was too.

On Sunday, we did the monthly mega catfud run, then had a snack lunch before sallying forth to the Avenues Open Gardens event. The Avenues are a set of roads with beautiful Victorian houses, fountains on the crossroads, etc (why do people always think that Hull is ugly? It has some gorgeous architecture), and most of them have huge long gardens. We managed about 65% of them this week, in three hours of walking, and then gave up and came home for a nice cup of tea – we can finish the rest next weekend. All quite fascinating, including the astonishing house at 206 Park Avenue, which has a humungous garden, including a swimming pool surrounded by water lilies, and a steam train running around. Only a tiny train, but still …

A cracking weekend, all in all – hope yours was good!

it's summer!

I had a parcel waiting for me at the sorting office, so I planned to go for a ride on the silver machine – collect the parcel, and come home via a scenic route. I dragged it out of the cycle tent, fitted the old lady’s wicker basket on the front, opened the gates, locked the doors (it’s a tedious business), set the GPS … and down came the rain.

It was bloody freezing – cold wind blowing, rain, etc. I pedalled womanfully round to Harpings Road, collected the parcel (Terra Plana shoes of fabulosity!), and came home via the Avenues; 3 miles rather than the 8-10 I had planned. My route was a little longer due to the arse in a big white van who had decided he really couldn’t be bothered to pull into the NHS car park in the tenfoot* by the Westbourne Health Centre, and instead would completely block the way; you could have got past him, carefully, on foot, but a bike wouldn’t fit. Given people use that tenfoot for access to their drives, he was being really quite selfish.

Pete made us some drop scones for breakfast, and then we went off into the city. On the bikes again! Called round to the bike shop and swapped the now redundant mudguards for a pair of fingerless cycling gloves, and went and looked at locks in the locksmiths, but I felt £28 was a little steep – I’ll carry the rigid lock for now.

Parked up in Victoria Square, then had a mooch round the shops. Pete wanted to try on some Docs, as they have stopped doing half sizes, and I wanted a couple of bits for the gym. Then we went down to Queens Gardens to see the Gig in the Gardens – sadly a very poor turnout, due to the weather, but we wandered round the stalls, talked to a load of people, got an “End Racism” wristband, and had a really nice lunch from the Anatolian stall at £4.50 for the two of us.

It was too cold to hang around for long, so we took ourselves round the Ferens Art Gallery. One floor was enough – I was over arted by the time we got to the maritime pictures, so we’ll do those another day. We treated ourselves to a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the cafe, then rode home again. The blue beast was collected, someone came round to try the purple bike, roast asparagus and pasta was consumed, and Doctor Who was watched.

Today we vaguely plan to take the bikes to the flatlands round the coast, but Pete has a very nasty cough so we’ll have to see how he feels when he surfaces. And I have Stuff to do a big chicken and chickpea tagine in the slow cooker.

*tenfoot is the name given locally to the alleys between the backs of the big terraced houses here – they’re ten feet wide (you could guess this, really), and were used originally for carriages, I think. These houses have huge gardens, and most people have garages at the end, so they use the alley for access. Unless a sodding great van is in the way, of course.

choose your animal

I’ve had a bit of a summer cold the last few days, and so haven’t done any exercise, which has left me feeling a bit sluggish, so I went out for a brisk walk this morning at 6.30. It was going to be a Couch to 5k session, but sadly (or not) the leggings I was wearing were bought when I was two sizes bigger than I am now, and would have caused an Embarassing Incident had I carried on jogging, so I didn’t, and just walked instead; just over 3 miles, on a new route which included the KC Stadium, and back through the cemetery. I was catching up with Desert Island Disks podcasts – Stuart Rose, then Frank Skinner – and as I trundled across the Walton Street wasteland, I thought the headphones were making an odd noise, until I realised that it was a car behind me tooting its horn, waiting to get by. One more reminder as to why I’ll never wear headphones when cycling!

choose your animalA lot of pavements in Hull are chalked with the sign “pick it up”, which exhort dog owners to take their animals’ mess home with them. I was amused to see a “get a cat” chalking while out this morning – must have been done in the last couple of days, I think, as I’m sure I would have noticed it before.

a day out in Hull


Yesterday it was Hull Carnival – a parade, some street stalls, etc. The weather was nice, so we set off early (for us) into the city to have a look at the festivities.

There were stalls in Queen Victoria Square, Jameson Street and in Queens Gardens (where there were baby moorchicks on the pond). Majorettes and Boys Brigade and Army cadets and cyclists and folk in costume and police on bicycles, to mention just a few, all took place in the parade – lots of people who have worked *incredibly* hard for this one half hour in the year; hats off to them all.  It was lovely to watch, and you can see a set of photos here, should you be interested.

After that, we sat in Queens Gardens and ate a small picnic that we brought with us (eating out is very fraught if you’re trying to manage your diet, and it’s expensive too), then a mooch round the shops, something we hardly ever do.

Went into Primark and bought a pair of red skinny jeans in a size 14.  Yes, that’s what I said. I knew I wouldn’t fit into them, but they were so lovely I bought them anyway, on the assumption that I *have* to keep losing weight, so no doubt they’d fit in time. They do fit. They do up. I can breathe in them and sit down in them. Gosh. We also managed to purchase a pair of smart(ish) trousers for Pete, as we have A Wedding to attend shortly, and he had nothing suitable.

Then we went and had a look at the Maritime Museum, which is in the old Dock Offices, where they did themselves very proud indeed – lovely building, with very fancy plasterwork.

Then we walked home again (I reckon we did about 6.5 miles in all), via Tescos (sorry) for some bits and pieces, and some strawberries and cream, Indian food out of the freezer, Dr Who and slumping.  A nice day out.