More than Bright Lights and Bingo

With a few unexpected days between house sits, we decided to do a bit of extra touring; we’re on a holiday, if you will.  As long time Corrie fans, Blackpool has featured high on the list of must see locations in Britain.  Think back to Jack at the bookies while Vera plays Bingo, Roy and Hayley dancing in the ballroom, and Tyrone proposing to Maria at the top of Blackpool Tower.  Of course, Tyrone’s glimpse into the future didn’t quite pan out, but with so many great (and not so great) seaside holidays enjoyed by our Corrie friends, we just had to go.

As with any popular holiday destination, there are rabid fans and there are the haters.  Blackpool certainly has it’s haters.  “It’s a bit grotty.  It’s dirty and run down,” said some. “Are you sure you want me to leave you here?  Can I take you somewhere else?” asked Angel’s Mom, the lovely home owner from our most recent gig who drove us to our holiday destination.  NO!  We want to see it for ourselves!

The iconic Blackpool Tower. Opened in 1894

The iconic Blackpool Tower, opened in 1894

Blackpool has been entertaining the masses since the 18th century when it was one of the fashionable seaside resorts along Britain’s seashores.  It grew slowly until railroads made access a lot easier in the 1840s and 1860s.  Sure, the North Pier looks a little worse for wear; I would, too, if I’d been around since 1863.
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As with other northern seaside towns, business hasn’t been what it used to in Blackpool.  Affordable air travel has taken beach goers to places like Spain and Greece, leaving many British resorts scrambling for business.  All the same, Blackpool still has a lot to offer for a quick trip and a bit of fun.
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The Promenade was originally opened in 1912.  Additions and improvements have been made over the years and it truly is a beautiful place to walk and to access the beach.  What we weren’t expecting was to stumble upon the Northwest Stages Rally.  This is one of those surprises that travel brings.  According to the friendly folks who chatted with me, these stag rallies involve normal vehicles that have been souped up, and they are driven on closed off areas of public roadways with obstacle courses.  These are held all over the northwest and we just happened to be in the right place at exactly the right time.

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This isn’t the sort of event that would normally grab me, but the energy of a crowd of enthusiasts can be quite contagious.  We were able to get very close to the action, only about 20 feet from the starting line.  The vintage cars were the first to go, and watching them go through the obstacle course was quite exciting (more so than a picture can show).  From there, they roared down the seawall and took a curve with a rock wall; honestly, it was so wet, I was more than a little afraid for their safety.

In search of some more traditional Blackpool entertainment, we decided to check out the casino.  Again, not a standard option for us, but we’ve got to see why people are here, don’t we?
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Confession, our usual casino schtick includes having a drink, tossing as much as $2 in a slot machine, and doing some serious people watching (and by “usual,” I suppose I mean every few years for about an hour).   First thing first… no drinks!  What?  No scantilly clad women tottering on toe crushing high heals serving watered-down cocktails. This is NOT like Vegas in the least.  I tell you, sober gambling can not be the highly lucrative business that drunk gambling is (lucrative for the casinos, of course).  The next bit truly had us doing a double-take:

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We’re almost accustomed to seeing kids in pubs, now in casinos?!  We continue our tour as I perfect my super-sleuth-blogger under-the-radar picture taking, and we start to see arcade games and kiddy rides (including a really cool overhead one that I, obviously, wanted to go on).  This was just mind boggling, as we are used to casinos in Canada and the US being adult-only dens of vice.
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Time for some real adult only entertainment.  For over 20 years, an all male burlesque caberet show has been dazzling locals and tourists alike.  Zoe, the hostess, spins discs and chats with the audience between each number.
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I’m not sure how Julie Andrews would feel about this remake of Do Re Mi, but we thought it was hilarious, especially when ‘Maria’ lifted her skirt and flashed her bloomers at me after I took her picture. My super-sleuth-blogger under-the-radar videographer skills still need some work, sadly. When a 6′ beauty with sky high hair and boobs sweetly asks me not to video the performance, I respond accordingly.
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Here you have it, proof that we were out after dark (a very rare occassion, indeed).  Also, proof that the streets of downtown Blackpool are well lit, clean, and pretty damned empty as you approach midnight on a Sunday night.

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The next morning, The Environment Department warned of dangerous tidal waves, so you can bet we scurried down just in time for the show.  A bonus on the program was seeing a fellow storm chaser being completely doused by a massive wave (and subsequently being warned by a laughing Mr. Drowned Rat not to get too close).
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Before losing the use of my fingers due to the cold, we strolled across the Comedy Carpet.  This celebration of the entertainment industry, the backbone of Blackpool, is a collection of jokes, famous one-liners, and songs. Each letter is made of marble, encased in concrete.
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If gale force winds hadn’t threatened to blow us over, we might have stuck around a bit longer to read.  We had one final item on our to-do list before catching the train.  We were in search of Blackpool Rock.  We had seen this classic seaside candy being made on tv, and friends told us that we had to try it.  We saw shops selling the stuff, and I had put off buying it until the last morning.  *PANIC* I couldn’t find the pink mint flavour.  Many of the shops were closed on this stormy Monday morning, and I was feeling a little sorry for myself (inspiring Karen to perform a little ‘Foot-Stomping-I-Want-Candy’ dance on my behalf).  Just by chance, she looked across the road and spotted Blackpool Rock mecca. She is now my Rock star.
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SCORE!  Pink Mint Rock (and a few of the new-fangled flavours I was warned about).  A nice, sweet ending to a great trip.  Do I need to return to Blackpool?  No.  Am I glad we went?  You bet!  There are a lot of places I won’t necessarily revisit, but I am very happy to have seen them once.

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13 thoughts on “More than Bright Lights and Bingo

  1. Intrepid travelers, you and Karen, to go out in so much rain and wind. But I love getting to see the sights this way, as very likely I never shall. Thank you for the tour.

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  2. Katheryn, before we set out, we had to decide not to let the weather stop us. There are times we grumble, but we do try to “soldier on.”

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  3. LOVED the trip to Blackpool – I too am a Coronation Street fan and I can picture when Tommy ran away and was lost on the walkways of Blackpool – Wow! So cool that you were there. Great stories, great photos, great girls (that’d be the two of you)!

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  4. Thanks for taking us all with you. Your trip is filling in the pieces of our bus tour. I’m anticipating our next destination! Thanks, Leah

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  5. Blackpool definitely looks like a fun place to visit at least once! Glad you found the pink mint candy! What does it taste like? Something you’ve tried before and needed to have again?

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  6. It doesn’t tast like anything else, to be honest. As my friend, Sue, said, we woild expect it to be hard, but that one is a bit softer, chewier than the others. It is also less ‘pure sugar overload’. I only tried one other flavour, and ended up throwing it away. The pink mint was nice. A fresh, soft mint flavour. I’m not a huge fan of non-chocolate candy, as a whole, but this was good.

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