|A bandaged up Blackpuddle Tower|
Oooo look, it’s Blackpool
I was up early and full of excitement this morning as today we would actually meet with meet Jen C in the flesh. So we needed to make sure we were there on time. It’s about a 30 min bus ride to the train station at Burnley and then another hour to Blackpool North. It was raining all morning too, so we caught a cab down to the bus stop so that we weren’t wet all day. I couldn’t see out of the windows of the bus so I missed the entire journey to the train station. Boo hoo.
The train trip to Blackpool though was just gorgeous. The trains are clean and comfy and overall, quite pleasant. The train inspector, quite a friendly man and even smiling, was not bad considering I handed him a rather large note to pay for the tickets. The scenery on the way to Blackpool was just stunning, so green and lush, and the flowers along the train tracks just a beautiful reminder that nature happens wherever you least expect it.
Arriving at Blackpool was where all the fun started today. I met my first British police officer, who was lovely enough to have his photo taken with me (yes that one), and no mum, I wasn’t arrested.
|A view from above|
It was cold and wet when we arrived so we found a little cafe to wait in until Jen arrived. This is where our adventure truly started. An elderly couple, who I would have thought were homeless looking at them, were in the cafe and boy could this woman talk. For the 80 minutes we were in the cafe, we heard the same conversation over and over again, “I gave you £45 for the accommodation, the accommodation cost £45, why are you giving me change”, “Love they gave me £5 back, I don’t know why”. Now repeat this over and over to yourselves for 80 mins and you’ll see what I mean. And did I mention she was loud?
There were brief moments during the morning where we had a break from the monotony; a group of ladies were here to see Sir Elton John play on the beach (Wow, that’s a bonus). It was still cold and wet, but they were looking forward to his performance. From everything I had heard about Blackpool, this was not something I would have expected, but apparently, he was there at the request of the Queen as part of the Jubilee and tower celebrations. And with their departure, we were back to the old, “I gave you £45 for the accommodation, the accommodation cost £45, why are you giving me change”, “Love they gave me £5 back, I don’t know why” ARGH!!!
Thankfully it was soon time to go meet Jen at the train station. Watching the people get off the train in all sorts of clothing was different to say the least. Some were dressed like hookers, some like clowns, some, God only knows what. Andy got a giggle out of watching me watching the people get off the train. I was simply dumbfounded at what I was seeing.
|Don't do it Jen, we weren't |
that bad were we?
YAY Jen was here now and we were off to the beach. Jen had travelled all the way from Scotland to come and met us face to face. Now that’s what I call a BUZZ meet. I have been looking forward to this time with her. The weather was still cold, but at least the rain had stopped. Like most of the places I have seen around the UK, half of the shop fronts were either boarded up or empty. There was also litter everywhere. It was a real shame because the UK could be such a gorgeous place. The people I’ve met are really friendly and I really do believe they love this place, but there is a real sense of “it’s not up to me to do this”. There is a real sense of general apathy for the upkeep of the place.
|Ready for Sir Elton|
There are trams that run along the front of Blackpool, it would have been awesome to see Blackpool from one of these just to see what the whole of the strip (Golden Mile) looked like but due to Elton’s concert on the beach all tram services had been halted (He must be good). So we just walked and walked and walked. We were on a mission, we needed to see the tower, from the top, and I needed to take back some Blackpool rock and a souvenir fridge magnet. All for other people. The rain was still holding off but it was very windy and cold for a hardened Aussie.
|The last few steps to the top|
We went to the tower first. Now to really appreciate this place you need to look at the architectural decor throughout the areas on the way into the Tower adventure. The tiles on the walls were just stunning, art deco inspired. Everything about his place was just beautiful. The Tower adventure drags you through a 4D experience (not the highlight, you can avoid it by saying you have reactions to strobing lights and to be honest, I would advise this is a good thing to do) before you actually get into a lift to go up. Once you get out of the lift you walk out onto a toughened glass floor looking down, now you know in your mind it is ok to do this, but everything in your body says DONT!! I was watching a baby crawl across the clear flooring, so I had to overcome the fear and get on with it. We then climbed up the 2 higher floors that were possible for us to explore. The views are just amazing.
Click here for the full Blackpool album
|The Tower Ballroom|
|No wrestling in the Ballroom|
Back down at ground level and we went to explore the Tower Ballroom. This is just breath taking. The paintings on the ceiling, gold work surrounding the room, the woodwork, and the Wurlitzer organ that rises up from the floor on the stage. Awesome. The dance floor was filled with dancers whirling around so gracefully, making me wish I had continued ballroom dancing lessons when I was younger.
Hunger soon took over and then the need to continue our exploring, and by now it was pouring down with rain too, so we headed for the nearest pub for drinkies and to get out of the rain. This is where we saw the buck’s party (stag do) with all the guys dressed as clowns. Seriously, this place is meant for serious people watching. We enjoyed the warmth of the pub, but needed to move on as they were trying to get others seated for food where we were and besides, the noise was making it hard for us to continue a conversation.
We wandered some more along the front of Blackpool, found some places to get Blackpool rock which is a candy stick that has Blackpool written through the candy via the process of its making. Basically though, it’s just flavoured and coloured sugar. The rain started coming down again and so we found a coffee shop to keep dry in. OMG I am 10,000 miles from Byron Bay and I find their cookies on the shelf being sold in this coffee shop. The Byron Bay Cookie Company creates some of the best cookies in the world and they do a gluten free variety as well. Their sticky date and ginger cookie is my favourite. Having said that, I have been trying to get a scone with jam and cream (afternoon tea), what we call a Devonshire tea back home, but so far, with no success.
We still hadn’t eaten properly by then, so it was time to hunt down some real food. Fish and chips looked like a great option in nice warm environment to sit down and thaw out. I have made it a habit since being here to try things I have never eaten before. This time it was a different type of fish, Haddock. Andy had a steak and kidney pudding, which is essentially a pie but with a suet casing. I still maintain that the food here is wonderful but the serving sizes are way too big for me.
|One of Blackpool's three piers|
The rain stopped again so we were off to the Central Pier. We walked to the end of the pier where it was soooo cold and windy, but so worth the walk out there. There was nothing but the ocean between you and the horizon. The “I can fly Jack” scene from Titanic soon came to mind although I am still yet to understand the real meaning behind the padlocks placed in memorial to people on the railings. These were memorials to people who had obviously passed away and I thought maybe it had been people who had suicided there, but then there were locks there for old folk too.
By now Elton John was playing and we had the pleasure of his music and 12,000 fans for the whole of our walk back to the train station. We needed to be on the 8.30pm train back to Burnley and Jen was coming with us as far as Preston. It was a rather long walk back, but with our own music track, thanks Elton, the walk wasn’t as cold and miserable as it could have been. Blackpool was indeed an experience. It is like a dulled downed version of Las Vegas, certainly a place for people watching, a place for kids to have fun, and a place where anything goes and most likely does.
|Yep it sure looks like Vegas|
But this is not where it all ends. The train trip home was a real eye opener too with a hint of Instant arsehole, just add testosterone and alcohol. Yes we had picked a carriage full of lager lout football supporter types all chanting their ‘let’s piss off the opposition’ battle cries. We even had to move carriages as the drinking ‘boys’ were about to kick off and start fighting and it wasn’t a chance we wanted to take, not to mention we couldn’t hear ourselves talk over it all.
|the awesome Jen|
We soon said our good-byes to Jen at nearby Preston station. There was never a dull moment with her, nor a time that we were ever lost for words. The highlight of the whole Blackpool trip was Jen being there, she was just awesome and I now look forward to the time when she can come to visit Australia for a holiday. And now I can say I fully appreciate what Andy meant when he told me that Blackpool was just a place you go to wander around aimlessly without any real purpose. The time there simply flies by, unless of course you find yourself queuing for the rides at the Pleasure Beach, which for legal reasons (my excuse and I'm sticking with it) I didn't.