REGULAR readers will know of my frequent visits to Hull and my enthusiasm for this historic and welcoming East Yorkshire city.
It has seen me invited to take part in an annual pageant celebrating the culture and rich history of Hull.
It involves a group of Hull businessmen, led by Shaun Watts of Chameleon Business Interiors, inviting guests from outside the city to spend a day touring Kingston-upon-Hull.
However some people have failed to grasp the significance and majesty of such an event because when I explained the format to them they described it as a “glorified pub crawl”.
When we met for breakfast at Thieving Harry’s on Humber Street, overlooking Hull Marina a couple of Fridays ago, we were met by local historian Robb Robinson – who joined us before he heads off for the Caribbean where he lectures on cruise ships over the winter.
We then set off around the marina, through the Old Town before getting a rare tour of Trinity House, a seafaring organisation dating from 1369 which includes a charity for seafarers, a school and a guild of mariners.
Similar to the tradesmen’s guilds in the City of London, Trinity House has an incredible collection of artwork and other items showcasing Hull’s maritime history, from harpoons used by its once huge whaling fleet to drawings from Captain Cook’s expedition to discover Australia – as well as his original rifle.
We we taken round by Captain Charles Anderson, a Hull seafarer who became the captain of a cruise ship.
The 86-year-old was a fount of knowledge and has written a book about his career.
I bought a copy after he thumbed through it and showed me a photograph.
“That’s me with John Denver,” Charles pointed out helpfully.
After our tour we returned to the marina for lunch at Humber Fish Co, where I was able to reflect on a longstanding mantra that I hold to: You can appreciate local history so much more with a nice drop of Sancerre.
We were joined by Fred Normandale, a Scarborough trawler man who has a stash of great “fishy tales” from his many years at sea.
Fred still has two trawlers on the East Coast and he has written books and speaks about his experiences.
Like the sea captains of old, he lives in a grand old house overlooking the sea in Scarborough.
It was then off to several historic hostelries including the Lion and Key, Ye Olde White Harte and the Sailmakers Arms.
Now the only reason I remember the names of all these pubs it that I left Charles Anderson’s book in one of them and had to ring them all the following week to see if it had been found.
One of the group I was with stood out a bit more than the others.
I couldn’t work out whether it was his purple pointed Jeffrey West brogues or the fact that he was 6ft 9in tall.
I was introduced to him by Nic Marshall who runs telemarking business ResQ and has taken part in several charity challenges including climbing Kilimanjaro, cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats and even swimming across the River Humber.
“Now David, I know you were impressed that I swam the Humber, well this bloke is called Graham Boanas and he did even better – he walked across it.”
In 2005 Graham Boanas became the first man believed to have walked across the Humber estuary since Roman times.
He had worked out that at low tide the depth of the river would be below head height – well for him anyway – and set out on an epic charity challenge, braving mud banks, rat-infested reeds and treacherous tidal currents.
He raised more than £20,000 for charity and you might think once would have been enough.
But when a friend invited him to watch BBC motoring show Top Gear being filmed he was inspired to issue a challenge to the presenters.
Could he make the mile-long walk across the Humber from Brough to Whitton quicker than James May could drive around to the other bank of the river in a sports car?
The only rule was that the driver could not use the Humber Bridge.
“Did you win?” I innocently asked Graham over a small sherry.
“Did I win? Did I win? I’m a Yorkshireman, of course I won! I’m not letting some southern jessie beat me am I?”
Now I’m sure Graham doesn’t mean it, but when words like this are delivered so powerfully from a foot above your head it seems less like a conversation and more like a proclamation from the heavens.
THIS photograph of me on the Hull tour was taken by one of the group, Neil Fisher, managing director of successful refrigeration business Airco.
Now I thought this was just a simple photo of me listening intently to a fascinating history of the city and its seafaring past.
Instead Neil attached the caption: “You can tell by the way he walks he’s a woman’s man no time to talk.”
Given my taste is more chamber music and choral rondeau, I didn’t realise that this is a nod to the Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive, from the film Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta.
I don’t care what you say, I’m taking it as a compliment.
I’m a dancing man and I can’t lose.
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I KEEP getting stopped in the street.
No, not by the police, but by people wanting to talk about the Ivy restaurant, which I criticised recently for its poor service and an entry policy which Donald Trump would envy.
It seems I’m not alone in my views and I’ve lost count of the number of people who have shared not just similar, but almost identical experiences.
One reader, a former director of a major supermarket, told me he had attempted to go for lunch at the new Ivy Brasserie in Leeds this week but committed the cardinal sin of not booking.
“It was 12.50pm and they told me if I wanted a table to come back at 2.45pm,” he said.
“I can understand it was busy but it was the total lack of charm in which it was delivered – that I was lucky to be offered that.
“It prompted me to persist. I told them that the bar was empty and we would be happy to sit and eat there.
“After lengthy negotiation and with some difficulty we managed to get to the bar. I then recognised one of the staff who used to work at another restaurant and who offered to find us a table and we were shown upstairs where lots of tables were empty.”
When I wrote my original piece, I wondered if I had had an isolated experience, or if poor, inexperienced service was just confined to the Harrogate restaurant, where I ate.
It seems that isn’t the case.
I wonder if the Ivy staff handbook has sections on Arrogance and Ignorance?
THE amazing Maggie’s Yorkshire charity that I am fortunate to be part of held a black tie ball at Coniston Hall Hotel in North Yorkshire last month.
Organised by Caroline Pullich of Barclays, the event attracted the support of businesses including food firm Symington’s, Armstrong Watson accountants, OPM Labels, Sumo Group, Progeny Corporate Law and Grant Thornton.
The Bannister family, who own Coniston, were generous and welcoming hosts who, like sadly so many families, have lost loved ones to cancer.
I compered the evening and was able to introduce three of the Yorkshire Rows team – the working mums who defied the odds and successfully rowed across the Atlantic in support of Maggie’s.
Maggie’s is raising more than £6m to open a centre at St James’ Hospital in Leeds which will provide support for people with cancer and their families.
The guest speaker at the event was Harriet Dow, another Yorkshire mum who has incurable cancer and who articulated, with power and grace, what Maggie’s will mean to her and thousands of other people across the region.
Harriet’s husband Robin has completed several cycling challenges to raises thousands of pounds for the appeal and this month will be riding from the Maggie’s Centre in Manchester to the site of the new Maggie’s Yorkshire.
Perhaps it was the elation of the evening, but Maggie’s Yorkshire board chairman Martin Jenkins, the former boss of Deloitte in Yorkshire who is now a director at vehicle leasing giant Zenith, has volunteered to join Robin on his ride, despite Martin not having been on a bike for the best part of 30 years.
I’m told that Martin has now bought a bike and started training.
I didn’t ask whether he’s got all the lycra cycling kit too.
The evening raised £30,000 for Maggie’s Yorkshire from donations, pledges and an auction run by the entertaining and expert Richard Smailes of property firm FSS in Harrogate.
One of the lots was a signed photograph of James Bond star Daniel Craig.
It reminded me of a time when I had a little more hair and asked my barber, a forthright girl called Kirstie, if she could make me look like Daniel Craig.
“Bloody hell how am I going to do that? I’m a hairdresser, not a plastic surgeon!”
To make a donation to Maggie’s Yorkshire www.maggiesyorkshirebuyabrick.com
Have a great weekend.