Blackpool was one about the only "coastal resort" that I’d positively identified as a place that I would NOT visit. From what I could make out it’s a place that you either love or hate and in my mind it epitomised everything that I disliked (loathed and despised would be too strong an expression). There were crowds, tacky shops, "kiss me quick hats", roller coaster, candy floss, more crowds and variety shows by the dozen. Indeed having studiously avoided the place for almost 60 years it was with mixed feelings that I gave the green light to my company’s request that I offer some consultancy to Blackpool Council. As an aside I’ve only been working for "Corelogic", a company providing software for Social Care Providers, since I retired from my work as a Social Work Manager with a large Local Authority, and their logic (flawless I had to admit) was that I could spend some time in this west coast resort whilst visiting "my long term commitment" in Manchester.
Blackpool is only a short train journey from Manchester so at the end of my working day with the City Council, I headed for Picadilly Station to catch one of the frequent trains to Blackpool. With mixed feeling I boarded the train and counted down the minutes when my long term ambition "NOT to do something" would vanish into thin air. I’ve only now have one "NOT to do" left and I’m sure that I will manage NOT to watch the "Sound of Music"!
The train journey is probably slower than a car journey, but I wasn’t in a hurry so I sat back to enjoy the view from the comfort of the carriage. Well when I say the view I am perhaps overstating the pleasure of this – it was after all the middle of winter and it was totally black outside of the carriage. I enjoyed the trip by settling back and enjoying the recently uploaded Beethoven symphony on my i-pod.
When I reached Blackpool I can cheerfully report that everyone I met was genuinely polite, cheerful and engaging. The station porters gave a cheery wave and the taxi driver got out of his cab to help me get my case into the cab. He was responsive to my questions about Blackpool and nothing was too big an effort for him. A short ride down the front (I’m guessing the tower was at the back of me because I saw no evidence of its presence) and we were soon heading away from the "tourist zone" to the residential serenity that would be my home for the night.
The owner of the B&B gave me some tips on local dining and after the briefest of check-ins I was strolling towards the small shopping area in this "conurbation" of Blackpool. I could choose Chinese, Indian, Italian, British or could have eaten Fish and Chips, Pizza or kebabs if I’d have chosen. In the end I enjoyed a quiet meal in a local Bistro (see separate journal entry).
On my second morning the taxi company was ordered for me by the hotel and once again I was driven to my destination by a charmingly helpful driver. The town might be going through hard times and the recession biting into their income but you can’t beat the Lancashire hospitality that was evident wherever I went.
On my way back to the station later that day I actually saw Blackpool notorious tower. A mini Eifel Tower that has been an attraction for generations. Of course there were signs of "better days" but Blackpool has embarked upon a twenty year programme to tidy up the town and bring it into the 21st Century. They’re half-way through this project and I couldn‘t help but feel that this is one resort that must survive as a pleasure town. It was the summer home for thousands of workers who used to make their "annual pilgrimage" as part of the "works holiday" and millions of children will have clambered on the rides at the pleasure beach.
Indeed I did finish up feeling that I’d been a bit hard on the town and perhaps it did deserve the opportunity to display its wares to me. I guess I’ll never be 100% enthusiastic about Blackpool but I am looking forward to my next visit when I might make sure that I can at least explore a little more of the town.
Watch this space!!