Dining with sharks
If I told you we’d just spent the weekend overlooking a marina with the sun twinkling on the water and the yachts looking their sleek and splendid best; we dined watching sharks and then went for a walk on the beach to do some excellent bird-watching; then stayed on a farm and ate delicious locally reared steak, where would you think we’d been? Yes, that’s right – Hull!
Did you know you could do all that in a weekend on the east coast of Yorkshire? Well, you can. We stayed (not for the first time) at the Holiday Inn at Hull Marina – the finest spot to stay in Hull, as it has the very best views. We had an executive room, with all that you’d expect from a top chain hotel: bath robe, toiletries and a TV bigger than the one we have at home – and we also got a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk with our welcome tray.
Why had we chosen to come to Hull you may ask. Well, that’s simple: we had come to dine with the sharks. We’re long-time supporters of The Deep and, being married to the Editor of a magazine called UltraMarine, it seemed the obvious place to go to celebrate his birthday. Even though we’ve visited The Deep many times (check out their annual passes), we still experienced a thrill in being allowed in after hours.
Diners are able to take advantage of a relaxed stroll through part of the aquarium, watching the inhabitants in the atmospheric subdued lighting. As we dined on an excellent array of expertly cooked and beautifully presented dishes such as slow cooked Morrocan-style lamb and a little-known fish called an Atlantic Char (a cold-water fish in the Salmonidae family), we watched the red-tailed catfish start to settle down for the night. (We were dining in front of the freshwater tank.) We did get to check out the sharks at night too and see all the display tanks’ lighting change from daylight, through dusk, to night time. Even if you’re not that interested in fish (to look at), I would still recommend the Two Rivers Cafe as a place to dine. The food was excellent, the service was impeccable, the staff were incredibly friendly – and above all, it was excellent value for money. Oh, and the chef’s shortbread was second to none!
If you live near Hull, I’d say, use it as a regular restaurant and if you don’t live near Hull, you should consider making a special trip. As one of the presents I’d bought my husband was membership of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, we thought we’d make the most of it – and the unseasonably good weather – and spend the day at Spurn Point, where we did some walking, beachcombing, stone-skimming and bird-watching. We then took advantage of the Trust’s cafe and had a bite to eat.
Then it was off to our farm stay at West Carlton Guest House where we were greeted with a warm welcome – both in terms of friendliness and the real fire in the guests’ lounge. We were given a quick tour of the large Georgian house before being shown to our lovely, spacious room. Our host, Caroline, had kindly reserved a table for us at the local pub and even gave us a hand-drawn map so we wouldn’t get lost. The Falcon Inn turned out to be a great recommendation, serving hearty pub food like steak and chips, which was just what I needed after all that walking.
After a well-cooked breakfast, it was time to wend our way home, wishing ‘good luck’ to West Carlton and ‘happy tenth birthday’ to The Deep.
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