I was bowled over by the size and design of the back garden, the sensitive work of the immediate past owner who sold on the property before seeing the garden in full bloom for the first time. The weather was stunning, echoing what was happening elsewhere in England, but this was still unusual for me because I have few memories of hot sunny days in Hull, as they were very rare when I lived hereabouts.
We travelled first for a visit to Beverley viewing the landscape from the top deck, a patchwork of grazing land for sheep and the vibrant yellow of rape fields. The town itself seemed to have changed little. Where new in-fill developments have blossomed they blend in beautifully with the skyline and brick colour of the older buildings, a living tribute of some good work by the local Planning Committee.
I photographed the County Hall building where I spent four exciting years as the leader of the Liberal Alliance Group on Humberside County Council, noting that little had changed except the plate now displaying the East Riding of Yorkshire as its Council's name.
The one disappointment was that "Nellies" the original gas-lit pub next to the bus station (officially called the White Horse Inn but affectionately re-named by the locals in honour of its long departed landlady) was not offering lunches. So we had to change our midday feasting plans to visit the Dock and Duck, which offered traditional pub fare served by very traditional big-bosomed barmaids. The hot weather drew us back to Seaton for a lazy afternoon taking in the sunshine in the garden.
The following day we visited Hull. First to the scene of my greatest triumph as a local councillor, the pelican crossing I had installed in 1985, to connect the good citizens of the east side of Beverley High Road to its western side for a safe passage to the Haworth Arms pub. Although the original name is still on the side of the building the protruding signs called the place "Scream" presumably to attract the younger clientele from the nearby university, which is where we went next.
After a photograph taken outside of 17 Auckland Ave, one of my former student houses, I ventured forth into the university grounds to see new halls of residence taking up what used to be a green space next to the Social Services building, itself now subject to the close attention of the builders.
The Brynmor Jones Library and the central pathway though the heart of the university was a joy to behold. The manicured lawns on which revising students were stretched to take in the sunshine were better than ever, and I noted walking back towards the main entrance that the Arts building in which I spent a few hours in lectures during my undergraduate days had now been renamed the Larkin building after the university's former librarian and poet.
The Newland Avenue area seemed little changed from 20 years ago when I lived there, although there were more coffee houses than there once were, and even a Polish delicatessen demonstrating at last that there were now enough immigrants in the city to patronise an ethnic retailer.
But it was the people on the street here, and even more obviously on Holderness Road through which we passed later in the day on the bus, which reminded me of why I wanted to leave the place in 1989. Hull was always predominantly a white working class town where the aspiring middle classes in the professions and at the university were newcomers (like me). Mostly low skilled work kept the long term residents in their place, with little ambition other than to frequent the local boozer and chip shop, and to make an annual pilgrimage to Bridlington for their holidays. These were easily contented but uninspiring people: a big city with a suffocating, small town, narrow-minded attitude.
After taking my pictures in the city centre and old town area, we took the bus through East Hull, the empire lauded over by John Prescott from 1970 until this year. Here the lampposts were laden with signs encouraging the locals to engage with NHS Hull over the nature of the health services being provided.
Ann and I kept an eye out from our top deck vantage point for "normal" sized people on the streets. The only ones we spotted were the rare immigrants in this part of the world, with the obese locals tending to waddle-walk while herding their equally obese children towards vendors of fizzy drinks, or towards roadside benches to eat chips out of the paper at three o'clock in the afternoon. It seems that NHS Hull has an uphill task if it is to address the deep seated health problems in this part of the world.
In conclusion, it was interesting going back to visit my old haunts but I did not feel any emotional string-pulling. I was proud of what I did there between 1973-89 but it was clear that I made the right decision to leave. Hull has progressed and in many ways looks better than it once did, but you still cannot shake off the narrow ambitions of the place even now.
It was, and is, simply too small for me.