Visiting Hulland, exile, and the delicious comfort of pancakes

When I was six, I boarded a ferry at the Port of Hull with my family and left behind my native land, my East Riding. I was too young to understand the full impact of this loss, the agony of exile and rootlessless being big concepts for a little boy to grasp. In the years that followed we returned only fleetingly to Hull, passing through the sleeping city like ghosts, bleary from an overnight ferry passage, bound for Scotland, the home of my parents. And Hull vanished too quickly, my nose pressed to the window, drawn to its industrial buildings and 1970s dereliction, as the road stretched north to Beverley and then the North. Recently I came across a comment, made in jest, that Hull should become part of the Netherlands. But there is perhaps a connection, and few can travel the backwaters of that part of East Yorkshire and not be struck by its flatness, by its arching skies, and massive horizons, as though one were transported to a living painting by ancient Dutch masters. The architecture too is similar, with tall Georgian town houses along the Hull river, or its 1960s functionality, as though one could be in Rotterdam or Arnhem. And then I stumbled across the Go Dutch Pancake House and the threads of connection became a little tighter wound, Hulland and Holland united in food. We arrived hungry and just in time to miss a downpour of muggy rain, a show we could enjoy cosily through the huge windows onto Paragon Square. I sipped spicy Dutch beer, beer that was deliciously cold, refreshing and with the scent of cloves and spice. Dinner itself was a satisfying and tasty savoury pancake, topped with crisp salad, feta cheese, and I knew that I would need to make this find one of my regular haunts. And as I often do with my favourite places, I painted it!



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