I have lived in Blackburn for almost all my life and have spent much of the last few years dreaming of escape! Maybe that's because I've been here too long and am destined for something new, or maybe that's because of the town itself.
Starting with the positives:
It has practically everything you need in terms of schools (with everything from Westholme Girls and QEGS Boys schools to the various state secondary schools which all seem to be called humanities and technical colleges these days), housing (all kinds are covered in Blackburn, from council houses to stately manors) and doctors and dentists.
In terms of shopping, it has all the big supermarkets (Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Iceland, Lidl and Netto) with relatively easy access. The town centre has plenty of choice and is in fact working on more, with a massive extension of the Mall, which will bring Primark among others. There is also the 3 or 4 out-of-town shopping parks that have sprouted up which offer huge versions of Matalan, JJB, Boots, Mothercare, Next, TK MAXX, Argos and all the usual suspects in terms of furniture and technology.
As for activities, there is the fairly newly built Cinema complex which incorporates bowling, games arcades, bars and so on. There is the Ice Arena which has been there at least 10 years now. There's also a selection of restaurants - mainly indian, chinese and pub food.
So, I hear you say, so far so good, what's the problem?
Well, I think my dreams of escape are from a town that seems really dated and is unable to keep up with it's neighbours - Preston, Bolton and Blackpool for example. The choice just isn't as good and the town is just a little too run down.
True, a lot of work is being done to improve the town, but it just seems too little too late. It feels like they are trying to expand and squash things in anywhere they'll fit rather than look at improving what is already there.
The people, whilst they are nice enough, seem to cling onto memories of bygone times. Times when Blackburn was an industrial giant, rather than a skeleton of its former self. Or times when the football team (Blackburn Rovers) were premiership kings (back in 1995), rather than the team who are clinging on to the premiership dream by the skin of their teeth.
Maybe my dismal view stems from the rain that all the other reviewers have mentioned - but surely I can't blame the town for that? Well it does seem like there is a little grey cloud hovering over the place - both physically and metaphorically.
I'm sure there are people here who still think it's a great place to be and I'd love to be corrected, but in the meantime . . . I'll keep dreaming my bigger, brighter and better dreams!