In an age dominated by huge shopping centres and out-of-city retail parks, it’s refreshing to see that the Avenues area of Hull is thriving with its wealth of independent stores, funky bars and commendable restaurants. Indeed, no trip to Hull is complete without a whisk around all the shops that Chanterlands Avenue, Princes Avenue and Newland Avenue have to offer.

In spite of the fact that my wife and I had hustled into Hull to sneak into Beyond Coffee in order to make enquiries relating to the hiring of a birthing pool, we promptly ditched Chanterlands Avenue upon discovering that the coffee-shop had closed. Sporting a lofty To Let sign, it sadly represented a dour shadow of its former self.

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The range of shops along Newland Avenue is simply staggering. Located within strolling distance of the Hull University campus on Cottingham Road, the thoroughfare has long been a firm favourite with residents, day-trippers and students alike. While a dip into Planet Coffee proved tempting, we eschewed our desire to relax with a hot drink in hand by loping into Broomsticks, an atmospheric haven for anybody with an interest in spirituality. Selling a breathtaking mixture of ethnic clothing, incense sticks, crystals and books, it’s one of those places that readily draws you in with ease, not least because the shop is such a pleasure to browse around.

A little downwind of Broomsticks basks the Ruby Lounge, one of the best places in the area to grab some wholesome grub. Having missed lunch, we opted for a late-afternoon snack to tide us over until tea. The extensive menu doubled-up as the stuff of nightmares for anybody beset by indecisiveness. Fortunately, my wife was in the mood for a panini packed with steak strips, as was I. My mouth watered at the mere thought of such food, with the two-piece panini served with a light salad and curly fries. Just like the food and hospitality couldn’t be faulted, neither could the stylish interior décor, the attention-demanding glass-rack hanging over the bar a see-through sight to behold.

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Over the road, Roots looked equally as busy. A Caribbean Grill kind of gaffe, it had recently opened to deserved fanfare, ensuring that Newland Avenue continues to serve folk with all tastes.

The consumption of food and drink aside, the avenue caters just as well to those into fashion, Bohemia perhaps the most well-known boutique enjoying the acclaim it’s worked so hard to attain. Many of the garments within its confines are one-offs, tailored to reflect latest trends, featuring designs inspired by prevailing cat-walk obsessions. One thing’s for sure… your eye brows will never fail to be raised by the unique cuts on display.

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For those in the mood for catching some live music, The Piper Club isn’t far away. However, it’s The Adelphi towards which my feet routinely inch. One of the most famous underground venues in the UK, it’s played host to the likes of The Stone Roses, Pulp, Radiohead and Oasis over the years, and it’s still one of the best places to swipe a cheap pint whilst turning one’s ear to a band or two.

Incredibly, Chanterlands Avenue and Princes Avenue have just as many superb shops, cafes, bars and restaurants to entertain the masses, but that’s another story for another day…

(Steve Rudd)

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