Thursday, 2 June 2011

Having a ball in Blackpool

LMS poster outside our room - note Jane & me on left

As you'll have gathered, we enjoyed our taste of the Blackpool Dance Festival 2011. I do hope there'll be dancing in heaven, probably not of the Rumba type, and, if there is, I hope there'll be as many free lessons as you need - and that I'm cured of my two left feet inter al! Although we were watching amateurs, I'm aware that hours and years of practice lie behind those beautifully coordinated and expressive movements. I read on one dancer's profile (Ben Taylor) that he'd started dancing aged 8 and his partner (Stefanie Bossen) at 5. 15 years' dedicated practice!

Our day wasn't quite over when we left the Winter Gardens. Next stop the Ashley Victoria Hotel, where, you may remember, Nikki Duckworth of the Lancashire & Blackpool Tourist Board had fixed us up instead of the disabled-unfriendly original place. From the start it was good news. Wally, our host, had kept a parking space for us right in front of the hotel and helped us to our room on the ground floor. I'll have more to say about being disabled in Blackpool. It's enough to say that Nikki had found an ideal place for us. It was clean, nicely decorated and unpretentious.

Our next move was finding somewhere to eat. We tried Frankie & Benny's, but we'd have to wait 3/4 hour for a table. Having sat for 5 minutes listening to rather too loud music, we decided to cut our losses and headed across the car park to McDonalds, where the music was quieter, the food cheaper and the tables dirtier. But, to be honest, we didn't need more. And so to bed, anticipating the excitements of another day.

Monday dawned cool and damp, though the hotel heating kept us warm plus a full English breakfast at a very civilised hour! Then it was out to explore the delights of the North Beach Promenade. I couldn't help noticing the generously proportioned profiles of many of the holiday-makers - perhaps it was just a contrast with the super-fit dancers of the day before! For some reason, Jane wasn't attracted by the Fun Palace. Trade at that time was slow. No doubt it had picked up when the sun came out in the afternoon. We looked at the hats, and the rock and candy-floss, but weren't tempted. Jane quite liked one of the tee-shirts, but then we remembered our age....
The Big One

Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes
Having exhausted the delights of the north, we headed south in the car, passing the Pleasure Beach with The Big One in action. By an exercise of immense will-power, we resisted going in, and drove on south. On the Lytham road, there was a reminder of the changing face of tourism - a shut-down and decaying holiday village. Perhaps one day a use will be found for it. Driving into Lytham St Annes brought us into the other face of Lancashire's seaside holiday industry. Very polite (mainly). Home of the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf course when next year's Open is scheduled. Great sand dunes, which seemed unsuitable for a wheelchair, and so we settled instead for Fairhaven Lake, a park-cum-nature-reserve, with a very wheelchair-friendly path right round the perimeter. While we were there, the sun came out.

St Annes Pier
We moseyed around looking for postcards and came across the St Annes' pier - a rather half-hearted affair, especially as the sun-deck at the end was closed. This is clearly where the Lythamites let it all hang out. Sad to see there's a clairvoyant here as well as few in Blackpool - what a waste and blot on the landscape! There was one redeeming feature here, however.

At Tiggis, Lytham St Annes - highly recommended
We thought we'd look out for somewhere to eat in the evening, and ended up having a cappuccino and a mocha in Café Nero. Jane's experience from Cornerstone came in handy there. There were some dark chocolate brownies on display. When we asked for one, they apologised but said they were still frozen. "Could you give it a few seconds in the microwave?" Jane suggested. So they did - and it was worth it. Yummy! Cornerstone, Grove, teaches Café Nero, Lytham St Annes a useful wrinkle! In return they recommended the local Tiggis for our evening meal - which proved an excellent tip. Very good food, excellent service, and good disabled access. A great finale to an fun- and action-packed day.

As we drove back to the hotel, along the Golden Mile under repair, a solitary figure was gazing out over the sands as the sun set.

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