Can you indulge me for a couple of posts please? Can we pretend that I’m not posting a week after Bank Holiday and that instead I am a mere day late? I could be wrong, but just lately I get the feeling that my employers want me to actually work for a living. It’s incredibly inconvenient and has really gotten in the way of my blog posting duties.
So you remember Bank Holiday right? Of course you do, it was a just a day ago.
You might have picked this up by now but I love my Hull. I’m not the only one, all of us Hull citizens (do we have a name?!) are fiercely proud of our mothership. And when I say fiercely proud I mean scarily, up in your grill, proud of it. Don’t be talking shit about our city. Only we’re allowed to do that. I think it comes from being constantly under siege, we have to be proud, we have to believe that we are the greatest because if we believed everything we heard about ourselves we’d all throw ourselves in the Humber and have done with it.
I don’t know why everyone hates us but nobody wants to say anything nice about us. Like, ever. Instead people will say “You’re from Hull did you say? Oh yes don’t you have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Britain?” “Isn’t Hull the obese capital of Europe?” “Don’t you have the worst schools in the UK?” “Is it true that the streets are so vicious everyone wears stab vests?” “Didn’t you get voted number one when the Crap Towns book was first published?” (Yes. It’s a sore point.)
The main problem appears to be that there is this general impression that Hull is a not very nice place, for whatever reason, which is then perpetuated to the point where it becomes fact. You’ll get people telling you about the city who have never even been there. Bad form, people, bad form.
I am on a one woman mission to promote my city. Yes at times it is a little bit shit but I bloody love it thank you very much and you know what? Some parts of all cities are a little bit shit sometimes.
This Bank Holiday someone came to visit me and I wanted to show Hull at its very best. However with no car and with guinea pig duties pressing heavily on me I felt somewhat at a loss as to where to take them.
Inspiration came in the form of East Park. The house I grew up in backed on to it so I was there most weekends when I was growing up. It’s where I first learnt what a wallaby was. It’s where I got bitten by a goose (horrifying experience). It’s where I played bob-down tig with my Dad only didn’t bob down fast enough, leaving me with a crescent shaped scar on my forehead where his fingernail punctured my skin. Aaah happy days.
The best thing about East Park is that it has it all. Playground? Check. Animals? Check. Grassy areas. Check. Places to climb? Check. Water play area? Check.
It was the rather lucky recipient of a £6 million pot of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund a few years ago for the purposes of redevelopment and it is now a work of art. Whereas I made do with a paddling pool which would be filled up in early July and not emptied until the end of August, children now have a whole trickling river to play in complete with fountains and Archimedes Screw. Whereas I used to vainly stand at the fence, willing an animal, any animal, to come near me, I can now lean over and touch goats and point at guinea pigs and get close to the deer and wallabies.
An albino wallaby! Hello my name is awesome.
The little sweet shop on the corner that was there when I was a wee thing is still there now and you can still get a bag of duck food for 50p and go and sit near the boating lake and get attacked by ducks and geese and pigeons.
(Luckily my life changing experience of being bitten by a goose has not totally traumatised me)
You can wander amidst the gardens and you can now go to a freakin’ cafe which they built with the new money. You can clamber amongst the rocks of Khyber Pass, albeit with a little more health and safety considerations than when I was young. You can climb up some steps and see this view in front of you.
Yes. That is in Hull people.
And even more exciting than any of this is the fact that I’ve discovered that East Park has a free outdoor gym in it! I saw a BBC Breakfast segment about this a long time ago but had no idea where was one here right under my nose. So much fun and I swear, if I lived closer (another misconception is that Hull is small. It’s not. It’s freakin’ massive) I would go here. Exercise bikes, cross trainer type contraptions (which are harder work than the real thing), leg press, chest press machines. All there and available for you to use. For free. Unbelievable. You might have to fight the kids for it however, I did a fair amount of muttering that went something along the lines of “I’m not allowed to play on their swings, why do they get to go on this stuff” but I guess I should be gracious and be pleased that young people are taking an interest in being active. (God I’m such a zen master.)
Just call me Hull’s Official Ambassador.