Once upon a time … in Blackpool
The frolics of Blackpool have amazed me for quite some time. Many of my friends have recommended me this ‘beach resort’ and I have been there a few times just to see on how different I could experience it every time I go there. Needless to say that each journey is a unique experience, replete with colour, light and noise. At times it is sunny and bright, other times it is cloudy, rainy and cold. Being in Britain I must say that all these weather conditions can be experienced in the exact same day, so no surprises there, if you think you may need to take shorts and some tees, plus an umbrella and a cardigan with you, well you’re right!
I was lucky this time, the weather was fabulous, and against all odds and my own obsessive nature with planning every single detail of my trips, I decided the day before that I wanted to go to Blackpool. The weather forecast ‘promised me’ a nice and sunny day, maybe some 24°C, and that was enough for me. I packed a bag, invited a friend and just went for it – nowhere to stay and nothing else planned. “When we get there we’ll see, and if we find a Bed & Breakfast we could stay for the night, otherwise we could return home late that night”.
The journey was good, despite some problems in the motorway, which always pisses me off, in particular when ‘weekend drivers’ manage to block an entire 3-lane motorway for no apparent reason. They seem to like driving as fast as 40 mph when they could go as fast as 70 and beyond…. and Lorries… oh, don’t even get me started on that! I think they should be banned from the roads during weekends and from Monday to Friday during peak and off-peak times too.
Anyhow, I felt very excited as I approached the city. I could just see the Blackpool Tower popping up in the horizon, like a suburban Anglicised ‘Paris’, where its majestic presence is symbol to all those surrounding it and visiting it, and revealing Blackpool to be explored and discovered. As I drove into the city centre, I felt again as a young boy in times long gone approaching the beach for an exciting time. I suddenly reminisced of eating ice cream, doing sand castles, playing beachball with friends, and just being free and young again. That was last century indeed and decades long gone, perhaps even one day this will be a family tale for my descendants to enjoy – if they are interested in such things, which I clearly doubt. I never cared for my grandparents tales back in the days, and now I regret that they are no longer here (albeit one) for me to inquisit them about their youth times.
Coincidently, Blackpool is also known as the “city of lights”, because every year and for the last 100 years, at the same time between September and November the city displays winter lights that stretch for more than 6 miles, starting at the Tower and going down the beach promenade. So, I was expecting something really special, this year, as this was their 100th anniversary and the city had spent millions of £££ (that is the British currency – pronounced pounds) with new lights and all those fancy gadgets. Even night buses and electrics have lights on, some in the shape of trains, others as boats. I did see lights but nothing more than what I had seen previously, but maybe I just didn’t look hard enough, and neither I walked the 6-miles to see all the lights. I was not that keen but I recommend to those who may like walking and hiking.
Blackpool had changed so much in just few months… the promenade was fixed and looking amazing. The sun just glared through the beautiful pavements, a mixture of colours, shapes and text. We could spend hours just there, reading what was written down on the floor. But most people just walked by not even noticing that below their feet were stories and jokes and funny things to make you laugh. Seats had been strategically placed so we could overlook the sea and the sand. The beach was packed; the donkeys were busy with kids ridding them. This is definitely a good time for donkey owners, but perhaps a not a good time for donkeys because they work for the same wage – food – independently if they have customers or not.
The streets were jammed with vehicles of all sorts, those of an automobile disposition, those with rails, and those with hoofs. The carriages were waiting for customers to pop in for a “2 mile stretch for £15 up to 4 people”, but the horses seemed rather depressed – I nearly hugged one but this could be seen as a “health and safety hazard” or I could be sued for harassing an employee of the city on duty. I nearly popped in to the “Cinderella carriage”, but my friend prevented me to do so; not for the appearance of the carriage but due to the cost – “with that money we can have a better meal”. I agreed, nonetheless, it would have been so much fun to experience carriage ridding in a pink pumpkin shaped carriage, looking down at the little people below in the streets and feel like a Disney character or even a European Royal… in other worlds, like a clown.
Parking was a nightmare, which surprised me. Last time I was in Blackpool it was in abundance, and there was no problem with it. I wondered if this was due to the ‘lighting events’, but then I found out that it was also a ‘mini-pride’ event. I was double-lucky then, as I adventured into the gay quarter of Blackpool and there was this colourful celebration of diversity, perhaps even better (as it was smaller) than others I had seen before. This cosy street of the city, very much near the centre, had been closed down just like that, and an open-spaced ‘nightclub’ had been erected, with stages, drink-and-food stalls and all sorts of amenities that people need to party. The place was jammed, vibrant, and very much noisy. I only stayed for a brief moment, just enough to absorb the positive energy and happiness, and I was very much impressed with the shows being presented. Drag shows as I had never seen before, with voices that matched Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, and even Witney Houston. All real voices, not karaoke, which amazed me even more since I never thought that a man speaking ‘manly’ could ever sing with such ‘womanly’ voices. Let’s figure out my ignorance! In seconds I was there, mindfully in the moment, even dancing, which you would not see me doing in public, not even dead. See short recording I made on youtube here.
I stayed for the night, after browsing through dozens of B&B’s, to find out there were ‘no vacancies’ and for moments I felt like that ancient couple (Joseph and Mary) who could not find any available Inns. Well, the difference was that I wasn’t pregnant but just expecting not to have to drive for 2 hours to come home. So, finally I found this place which I can only describe as a Grotto, smelly, small and damp, that charged me “£42 for a double room including breakfast”… not that I cared for breakfast, because I was predicting that I would not even dare to try their food. Well, I proved myself wrong, and in the morning I had cereal and salami & cheese on toast that the owner purposefully purchase for us ‘Mediterraneans’. This was their interpretation of a continental breakfast. Oh bless, ignorance is bliss! Howver, their nice gesture was everything to me.
Anyhow, I slept like shit… the bed was hard and I can swear there were fleas and bed bugs, or it could be because I had drank around 20 expressos and lattes that day…anyhow I did not sleep well at all… and people shouting and screaming in the streets nearby as much as 4 a.m. did not help either. After that moment all is a hazy memory, until the alarm clock went at 8 a.m. for us to get ready for the “Mediterranean breakfast” being served from 9 a.m. The nicest experience was the “hotel” pooch, a female Jack Russell Terrier called Tilly, that kindly approach me and sat on my lap as if she had known me her entire life. I can swear I had never seen that dog before, unless we were somehow related or acquainted in a previous life (but I don’t believe in such previous opportunities), so it must have been that the dog was just a kind soul who had been trained to be nice to guests. This experience made me wish I had a dog, so for the next few days I searched online for a dog, high and low the market chain and even in kennels and rescue centres. I was already planning in my mind, what it would look like, its breed, its lineage, its name, and its activity schedules. All this was going very well until reality slapped me in the face – “I can’t have a dog! I live in an apartment, 4 storeys high, in the middle of a city centre and have a busy life as it is”. Maybe one day.
Well, I’m not moaning, and I did have a good time – shame it all ended soon and I had to come back to reality of my life. I did take some good photos, but apologies for the quality… and I feel like I need to explain this again – I’m not a photographer, I just take photos! This is just to show that Life also happens in Blackpool.