No, please, dont laugh. I dont know why I bothered with that, because everybody does laugh. The City of my birth, where I very happily spent most of my first 26 years must be one of the most maligned places on this island.
The sad fact is that most of the jokes come from people who have never visited the 13th largest City in the UK which has finally been returned to where it belongs - in the heart of picturesque East Yorkshire. Perhaps its the blunt name - I must admit we have got lazier about using its full title - Kingston Upon Hull, which in my opinion begins to give a more accurate picture of the place.
Hull is quite unlike anywhere else in this country. Our maritime history is ever present, and a life at sea is what has made Hullensians the proud, friendly and almost incestuous people that we are.
There can be few more impressive sites than rounding a bend on the A63 to see the Humber Bridge, whether on a commonly sunny day (it is true that Hull has better weather than anywhere else in Yorkshire) or when it is illuminated and reflected in the estuary at night.
Many people believe that the sight of Hulls remaining trawlers in Albert Dock as you drive into the City on Clive Sullivan Way (named after an adopted son of the City who played for both the Rugby League teams which have shaped much of the Citys social character) are a reminder of the smelly fish for which we are famous, and a blot on the landscape. To us, these boats are as much to be proud of as Rovers in Birmingham and trains in York.
As you enter Hull, you pass the infirmary. At 14 storeys, the citys tallest building is not exactly something that Prince Charles would approve of.
Hopefully something that Charles would find more impressive is the marina area. One of the most sought after inland berthing marinas in the country, this part of the City is particularly attractive at night with several lively bars and restaurants on the quayside lending a truly Mediterranean feel.
Across from the marina is the intriguing Princes Quay Shopping Centre, built on the old Princes Dock. A testimony to our love of water is the fact that rather than drain the dock it was decided to build the centre on stilts over the water.
One of the most pleasant features of Hull City Centre is the fact that walking around the main street is a pleasure, following the decision to pedestrianise most of the main thoroughfares spreading out from the beautiful City Hall on Victoria Square.
As a result of the best efforts of the Luftwaffe (Hull was the third most bombed City in England after London and Coventry), Hulls architecture features rather too much of the functional 1960s style, but in the old town we are thankful to have salvaged much of the original City including the lively fruit and meat market with its Saturday morning auctions and Marlenes Café, serving the best sausage sandwiches Ive ever tasted!
Littered throughout the Old Town are some fantastic pubs, many linked by the Fish Trail, silver fish laid into the pavement to guide tourists round the City. Perhaps the most famous and interesting of these pubs is The Olde White Harte with its much celebrated Plotting Room where it was decided to refuse King Charles I entry to Hulls large arsenal, a major factor leading to the start of the Civil War.
For those who get their enjoyment from walking round museums, Hull is a true Utopia. The Town Docks museum opposite the City Hall charts our maritime history, but High Street is the place to be with the transport museum and its curious Victorian Chemists shop, and the Wilberforce museum, an insight into the life and works of the champion of slave liberation.
One mile east of the City centre is Victoria Dock Village, where the nouveau riche of the City have flocked to live in waterside apartments and balconied houses. This is the future of the City and is reflected in a growing number of arty restaurants and café bars around town. Further east is the North Sea Ferry terminal, our link to Europe, where 2000 people a day are brought into the City along the Humber Estuary.
I cannot close this introduction to a vastly under-explored area without mentioning Spurn Point, an ever thinning spit of land separating the Humber from the North Sea. This beautiful nature reserve has for years been a final farewell to sailors as they depart on their long voyages to the cold fishing grounds of the Arctic. A harsh life for many, but one from which Hull has prospered and for which we are all eternally grateful.
Although I have now reluctantly made the short move inland to Leeds, a City which unexpectedly is growing on me, I miss the sea, the clean air and the village atmosphere that Hull provides. One day I will return, because despite all preconceptions, I can honestly say - its never dull in ull!
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