Monday, January 15, 2007

Muddy waters...

I like to walk by the riverside. I also like to persuade others to come with me. So, on yesterday's cold but sunny Sunday, I was joined by M and my two sons for a two hour stroll around and about Victoria Dock. I wore my new hat. Victoria Dock is a housing development built on Hull's former Victoria Dock. Clever what they've done with the name, eh? Once upon a time it was a hive of industry. Now it's a hive of families who are labouring under the illusion that they live in a village rather than a stone's throw from Hull city centre. Their laboured illusion is exacerbated by buildings such as The Village Hall, an inclusive primary school and a Spar supermarket that rips them all off. Sadly for the "villagers" they also have to contend with being surrounded by a vast River Humber-side public right of way (some of it part of the Trans-Penine Trail) that gives dreadful scruffy oiks like me the right to trample about just mere feet (or metres, if you prefer) from their back gardens. Natch, they all pull down their blinds and keep the curtains shut so we don't look in and think about robbing their plasma televisions. I do like this place, though, and the way that wild, muddy river slaps and sloshes about and reminds you what the city was built on and why it was here in the first place. This, folks, was an estuary of major significance. There are too few reminders, really, of the industry that once was although there is a new heritage trail for folk to follow if they fancy wallowing in nostalgia. All those houses still strike me as a poor way of re-vamping what was, admittedly, a stagnant load of old dockland. It could have been so much more than a faux-village for those afraid of full integration with the rest of Hull. May it all subside within the decade.

So, we walked up to the moored 'super ferry' the Pride of Rotterdam (I've been on it - it's great). My fellow walkers, having done an hour of the journey by then and bored of the experience, were happy to point out a car park near the ferry terminal that we could have driven straight to from our house, thus rendering the walking pointless if just getting to this particular location was all that mattered. But it's not about that, is it? It's about wearing your hat, losing all feeling in your hands and almost getting tangled up in fishing line that is strewn all over the place by men dressed in wet gear. The car park was full of Renault Scenics and Citroen C4s containing miserable looking couples eating sandwiches out of recycled silver foil and staring blankly out of their windscreens. They stared at us, some of them looking as if they were about to give a cry for help, others pissed off that we were blocking the path of their binocular lenses. Their faces suggested that they were not having the time of their lives, their general demeanour that they would either be back in the same spot next week or committing suicide within the hour. Keen to distance ourselves from such behaviour we turned around and started back for our own vehicle.

6 comments:

Stephen Newton said...

I so must book a weekend away to Hull.

Dave W said...

Perhaps I do the city, its nicer spots and its riverside residents a disservice. Vicky Dock, as we all call her, seems to be a relatively peaceful, crime-free haven. But, thanks to the bland development, Salford Quays it ain't. That's the tough bit - it could have been really special. Instead, we've settled for shite. Do come, Stephen, for eight pints down a real ale pub I'll be your guide.

bazza27 said...

me and wifey used to do this walk quite often when we lived at top end of Holderness Road, we must do it again.

NQ said...

By coincidence the better half and I were also strolling around this area yesterday. You're dead right; how much better could the area have been. Another missed opportunity.

Stephen Newton said...

Careful now, I may take you up on that. To be fair, Salford Quays is a pretty souless place. Places evolve character, don't you think? Build too quick and it simply doesn't work. The Lowry and Imperial War Museum are great, but it's a place to visit rather to live.

Dave W said...

Stephen, you're right about places evolving character. The council here have an appalling lack of planning nous though, which doesn't really help - they're currently just replacing all the mistakes of the 1970s with new mistakes that will, in turn, be pulled down in another 30 years. There's a gag that's often wheeled out around here about the city council finishing off the work the Luftwaffe started in the 1940s. The offer of dragging you about Hull is a genuine one and stands if you ever do have any reason to head to this end of the M62.