Wow, what can be said? It’s been a whirlwind couple of days, and as I’m now drinking a glass of Mulled Wine after a three hours of constant driving I’m not entirely sure I can a lot at all. Hutton, as you can expect, is a beautiful spot, the village is ‘the’ quintessential Yorkshire village with stone cottages in rows, narrow and winding lanes running vaguely along side the ‘main’ road, and of course its babbling brook that zigzags its way down through the entire village, the whole thing nestled deep in a valley at the beginnings of the North Yorkshire Moors (the National Park that is). But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and this was no exception, so we left early on Tuesday morning, the sun shining, birds chirping, and as luck would have it, crapping on my car, perhaps as a parting gift, I’ll try to think of them fondly. The road down through Malton and ‘the Beverly Road’ was relatively smooth running, for morning peak-hour traffic, and as we travelled on and on through the not-so-rolling green fields it was easy to see why so many favour this county, why residents have fought and died for it. It is without a doubt beautiful, harsh and unforgiving, but tremendously beautiful. The rivers are sweeping and grand, flowing ever-on towards the North Sea, even this far inland they’re majestic and demand your respect with their strength of flow. The fields, whilst often sown down with similar crops to other areas, are mixed in their appearance, some rolling through the hills and dales, others flat and stretch on forever, or at least to the tree-line of a neighbouring property. We’ve seen a great difference in the growth of familiar crops, the pale yellow hue of canola/rape, anywhere between 2 feet and 4 feet high, paddocks of oats thick and lush, or slightly sparser and thirsting for life. The trees themselves seem to vary as well, from lined lanes of plain trees and poplars, to shaded copses and felled hedges and even a few old woodlands with looming up dark and foreboding before tapering back out once again into fields of green and yellow. Eventually these farmlands gave way to the outer suburbs of Hull, our next semi-stop.
Hull is an interesting city, in some ways it’s the first one we’ve been through on this trip – we came twenty years ago when I was a teenager – and I wanted to visit again as an adult, to see where various family had lived, and died, but I’d almost forgotten what Hull has been through since those days. A lot is said about London’s constant bombing during the Second World War, about the unending nights of sirens screaming and bombs falling, the explosions, the dust and debris, the utter destruction of it all. No one ever mentions what happened to Hull, not because the records don’t have it charted, but because it was never spoken of at the time, it was a city-wide, and to some degree nation wide, attitude to say ‘nout’ about it, for fear the Nazi’s would find out just how hard Hull had been hit, that it was all but crippled. My own Gran was spared twice during raids by escaping to the nearby shelter, and a third by cracking the hump as only she could in refusing to go to said shelter – it was the 4th time in one night, and with an infant in tow she was beyond exhausted. That night the bomb-shelter was a recipient of a direct hit. So for me Hull is a special place, some of my family have lived here for several generations, they’ve seen Queens rule in their prime, and the world go through two wars, economic depressions and still the heart of the city keeps beating. When we arrived it was pretty overwhelming, the traffic, the noise the everything that is city life, bearing in mind we’ve just spent three days in the countryside where the greatest degree of traffic is watching errant sheep stroll past the window. We may or may not have taken a couple of unintended turns and may or may not have found ourselves on the east of Hull before we meant to. At any rate we saw quite a piece of the city our first time for that day and were happy to press on towards the southeast and Ryehill (where another forebear ran a pub in the 18th c) before going onto Withensea before heading to Paull and some ‘long lost’ family from my Gran’s side that until recently (about 2 years ago) we’d never even heard of. Oh Ancestry.com you have so much to answer for, peas in a pod doesn’t even begin to cover it. Suffice to say, even leaving out the physical similarities, there are somethings that can never be denied, genetics will-out, and it certainly makes for an interesting afternoon and dinner conversation. We had to drag ourselves away by 9pm as we still had to drive the 10 miles back into Hull and I was getting rather sleepy by this stage.
Today we were back for round two, or at least we would have been if it weren’t for a slight detour around and through most of Hull as we searched high and low for a ‘top up and go’ point to reload my phone credit. Umpteen Sainsbury’s in Hull, but all Local – and the one’s we checked were without the all important ‘green symbol’ – fortunately we did find a BP service station that advertised the facility and within 10 minutes I was up and going again! Having now driven from central Hull to Wllerby we decided to have a wander through Waitrose’s, we’ve investigated Tesco’s, Morrisons and Lidl, so it was about time we crossed the threshold into foreign territory. We emerged half an hour later, having found ourselves a few handy items, and thought it time to once again head over to catch up with family. That’s been one of the highlights of this trip, meeting family that we didn’t know existed. Of course they did, we’re talking about 4th cousins twice removed, but it’s still blood of our blood, and it’s sometimes quite eerie to see those hallmark similarities between members – noses, smiles, teeth (yes, I’m serious), gestures, speech, things that we take for granted on any given day only to see/hear someone else do/say exactly the same thing – but it’s these same familiar characteristics that make you feel so at ease, that on some level you do know this stranger if only because at some point you share DNA, you share something so intrinsic to your very being, and that’s incredibly comforting. We had a lovely time, again, and a thoroughly enjoyable and filling full breakfast – somewhat delayed to noon as we were required on doggy-duty elsewhere for a time – before having a good chat for several hours. By mid-afternoon though it was time to leave, and it was hard, we’d been made so welcome, it really was difficult, but we had an appointment with an old Lady about 50 miles away.
I’ve never been to Lincoln before, I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen bits of it on the telly over the years, I’ve read its name in history books, but never visited when in the area. When we arrived at the outskirts of the city I was a little dubious as to whether I’d be a fan or not. From the outside it appeared no different than many other cities that found fame and glory in the medieval period, sand coloured stone-walls with imposing towers looming over the old stone-cobbled streets that run higgle-de-higgle through the centre of the city before the walls give way to one of the most impressive Cathedrals I’ve ever seen. If you ever have the chance go to Lincoln Cathedral, don’t worry about the whole religious aspect, go for the architecture, go for the incredible stone work, for the countless number of lives that were spent building this marvel, go for the stained glass windows that take your breath away as the sunlight pours in through them lighting up the stone walls, the whole place is breath taking and if that doesn’t sell you on it, sit there and take yourself back hundreds of years and imagine what the interior would have been in its original condition, brightly painted and gilded. Peasant or Noble, it would be hard not to awe struck. Afterwards we enjoyed a good ramble along those streets I mentioned before, we did a spot of window shopping and maybe a spot of antiques shopping, but at least it wasn’t books. Tonight we’re staying outside Kings Lynn before heading off into Norfolk, but for now we’re sitting back, enjoying a light dinner and catching up on some television.