Saturday, 21st/Sunday, 22nd April

In 2017, our Coach took us to Liverpool, on a magical mystery tour with the Beatles. This year, our trip was a little more cultural: Lincoln with its Cathedral, York with its Minster and Hull ... with Philip Larkin.


There were about ten members of Friendship Force on the trip and it was great to meet up with Janet and Robert Malloy, ex-members, too.


Last year, we left St Margaret’s Bus Station at 8 o’clock. This year, the pick up wasn’t until 

9.45 a.m. so we deducted we weren’t going far, Skeggy maybe? We hoped we were wrong.


Catching our breath


It was a sunny day and a pleasant journey ... to Lincoln, where we were given four hours to explore. Five of us started our tour with a coffee in the black and white timbered High Bridge Café that straddles the 16th century bridge over the River Witham.

High Bridge Cafe 

The hill to the Cathedral seemed steeper than it used to but it was worth the climb and looking in the quirky, little shops gave us plenty of opportunity to catch our breath on the way up. We wandered round the Cathedral and discovered a concert being held in the Chapter House, off the cloisters. A women’s choir, with a mixed programme, sounding very strong in such surroundings. It was a shame that we ran out of time and didn’t visit the castle but sitting in the pub yard over lunch, with a crisp, dry, white wine, was most relaxing.


Our hotel for the night was in the centre of Hull, its back entrance accessed directly from the railway station concourse. A Britannia hotel, the Hull Royal Hotel seemed to be undergoing renovation and many of the rooms had been brought up to scratch. The food was good, both dinner and breakfast, buffets with plenty of choice. There was no entertainment in the evening, which was a little disappointing to some of us, who wanted to party.


It was here that we found the Philip Larkin connection. There is a plaque on the outside wall of the hotel, dedicated to Larkin’s poem, Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel and a statue of the poet stands on the station concourse, with snippets from some his poems on round, engraved slabs nearby.


On Sunday, another mysterious destination - Bridlington? Beverley? York? Our driver, Ken, kept his passengers guessing as long as possible. Till we actually parked in York, we weren’t sure he wasn’t teasing when he said that was where we were going.


The day started sunny but within half an hour to so of being dropped off, the April showers came. We had four and a half hours and there was a great deal to see: the Minster, the Treasurer’s House, the river. The Art Gallery was disappointing as half of it was closed while a new exhibition was being prepared. 


One treat was to watch the St George’s Day Parade: Scouts, Guides, Brownies and various bands, marching to the Minster.

St Georges Day Parade 


We all seemed to have had a good tour. Not bad value, all that for £59 per person. Some of us would have liked to explore one city and to visit the seaside for the second stop, but overall it was a memorable weekend and we were back in sunny Leicester, after a good drive home, at 5.30 pm.


As Larkin said: 

A lighted memory no miles eclipse 

A harbour for the heart against distress.