Gripes & Graplings

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blackpool Illuminations

Have you ever been to Blackpool? You know, that tacky seaside town in the North West? What’s more, have you ever seen the Blackpool illuminations?

Today was wet and relatively windy – the perfect day for taking a car ride out to see the lights, especially as Richard had never seen them before and Paul loves anything that’s pretty. By our reasoning, with the weather being what it was, not too many people would bother to venture to Blackpool to see the illuminations and we’d sail through quickly.


Bumper to bumper traffic moving at an average of 2 miles an hour is what we encountered. Either several thousand other families had the same idea as us, or the fact that this weekend was the last chance to see this year’s display had brought fans of the illuminations out in droves.

Linn Marie, who’s 16 and surly at the best of times, had come along for the ride. As soon as she saw the queue her face took on one of those looks that could turn a strawberry sour with one glance, and every comment was along the lines of “are we really going to drive through the whole thing?” and “when are we going to stop and eat?”

We’d planned to have dinner in Blackpool but the heavy traffic meant that parking anywhere remotely close enough to decent looking food establishments was anything but easy. Eventually, with hunger pains plaguing several members of the group, we opted for a New York style diner. Well that’s what it advertised itself as being, anyway. Whether or not they’d serve deep fried burgers and charge 15p extra for a sachet of ketchup in a real New York diner is debatable, and somehow I can’t imagine them sending their clientele onto the street in order to access the loo, either.

Fed and watered, we persevered and eventually saw the entire six miles of lights strung across the main road that runs parallel to Blackpool beach – its famous ‘Golden Mile’. From just before the Pleasure Beach, home to the ‘Big One’ - the UK’s highest roller coaster ride, to well past the South Shore, the lights shone and sparkled in every conceivable colour and portrayed all sorts of themes from mermaids and photography to Blackpool Rock and one-eyed jelly babies. Yes, you read that right. Illuminations depicting Cyclops babies with tubby tums that looked oh-so pokeable.

Richard’s favourite was the ‘Haunted House’ because it had “Draclia” looking out of the window. Linn Marie was impressed by the ‘My Little Pony’ set-up and Paul like a tree that had big balls of light at the ends of its branches. Me? The ‘Pig Disco’ because it reminded me of my clubbing days.

One thing I can’t help wondering about is where do they store all those lights for the rest of the year? In a lock-up at the end of a dark alley? Or maybe at the back of the mayor’s garage? I’m blowed if I know!

Two and half hours we spent in Blackpool, two of them just to see the illuminations. And to think I’d already seen them, just three weeks ago! I guess I must be a glutton for punishment!

Related Links:
Blackpool Illuminations
Blackpool Illuminations II



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