Monday, January 31, 2011


I was supposed to be away on my Tobacco UK Tax Resistance shopping trip but my plans were thwarted by the Belgians.

And the news when we arrived at Hull Docks that out boat to Zeebrugge was cancelled because of technical difficulties at the other end was not made any easier due to the ugliness of the city which we had to drive through twice in one evening.

My eyes still hurt from looking at the horrific architecture. Tried as I could to find something nice about Hull as we drove through, I simply could not.

The image of the City's Premier Inn is an example of how Hull got it all wrong. It looks rather like it was designed by people on acid - who had a bad trip half way through the build and then changed their minds.

I know my view is limited as I have never visited the city and I'm sure even Hull must have some heritage pleasing to the eye. I did sneak a look down into the Old Town as we passed and it looked quite nice but certainly the approach to Hull is a bloody eyesore.

The building which houses the Deep underwater attraction, for example, is just plain awful. There is a beautifully decorative old pub that stands on a corner as you enter Hull. It looks as if everything around it was demolished and then rebuilt in 60s asbestos.

Then there is the old, shattered, Airfix factory which, apparently, will be a business park. If the rest of Hull architecture is anything to go by, then I'm sure it will be built on the cheap and look pretty horrendous when it's finished.

The best thing about Hull, I think, is it's people. I felt sorry for the lady at the check in desk who had been on since 7am telling disgruntled passengers that their trip was off. She was monumentally patient with my grumpy other half and even managed to charm him around by throwing in a better cabin and bus transfer to and from Zeebrugge to Bruges.

I told her we hadn't eaten - as we planned to eat on the boat despite the expense - and a hungry man is an angry man. She advised that there were plenty of nice places to stop and eat in Hull. We didn't find them. As we drove through the ugly place we passed take away after take away and the only restaurant we could find was Chinese.

It was on the edge of what felt like a really rough area, next to a place that sells conservatories, but there was no parking that we could see - except a space that threatened clamping for a release fee of £75.

As we were only an hour or so from home, we decided to drive back to eat. We pulled into Damon's restaurant - a place we haven't been for years because it is rather over priced for what you get. We felt all dressed up with no where to go and so justified the stop.

The place has always been non-smoking on the restaurant side and if you wanted to smoke before, you had to go the bar. I didn't mind that. I did, however, find their no smoking sign offensive. It boasted "It's The Law!" to rub smokers' noses right in it - despite the fact that its walls were littered with images of old 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s Hollywood stars like James Dean - all with fags in their mouths.

Monumentally hypocritical but at least the photos help to keep alive my culture and they haven't been airbrushed on demand by the anti-smoking industry yet.

It was one of very few visits to eat out since the ban and I recognised why I hate it. It felt like being at work. I don't mind not smoking at work. I can handle that fine. But when it comes to my leisure time, I should be able to decide where I spend it and how. A fine meal was also ruined by not being able to have that after meal smoke - like the after meal brandy that others are still allowed to enjoy.

The pleasure of eating out has gone.

Now we're home again, I'm back to work, and looking forward to a rescheduled shopping trip next week if all goes to plan.

Maybe I'll shut my eyes as we drive through Hull next time - and then the nightmares won't return.