A Postcard To Blackpool : The Arrival
You could feel the anticipation and excitement in the fresh morning air, second only to a taxi ride to the Airport. The journey itself couldn’t be simpler, crossing the country from coast to coast, east to west. From the drab to the colourful, the familiar to the unknown, the quiet to the loud. As the miles tick over the destination drew nearer and the expectancy builds. I recall the events of previous years, the stag parties and breakaways with friends and partners, from childish fun, to special private moments, I ask myself, like I do every year.
“What will Blackpool have in store for me this time?”
The monotonous, unstimulating motorway makes progress almost unbearably slow until, at last, the first signal that we are getting close, and the first of the iconic (to my mind) landmarks; The Lancaster Services Tower. A saucer-shaped, concrete spaceship atop a thick stalk, but still managing to look angular 70’s-office-block drab. It whizzes past for another year and signals our turn-off for the final run-down.
As the vivid mountainous backdrop of the Lakes flattens out to the blurred horizon of the west-coast, my eyes strain to make out the great symbol of Blackpool, its Tower, amongst the similar shaped pylons scattered over the countryside in the distance. Eventually its unmistakable spear-like, ace of spades black mechanical structure fades into focus as the pulse rate increases. The first shot of adrenaline. As we draw nearer its vastness becomes ever more apparent as it dwarfs other insignificant, tiny features of the landscape up ahead.
Approaching from the south, flat, open suburban bliss gradually gives way to busy industry warehousing and retail parks. Even here, we are a world away from the depressing, run-down town-centers and failed economies of back home. Blackpool is cheery, open for business, and each and every time, welcoming. One final set of traffic lights brings you onto the famous sea-front, and my pulse ramps up another gear. The vast expanse of the Irish sea like a mirror against the blinding sun, and on over to the misty islands beyond. Again, unlike the derelict cash-starved eye-sores of back home, the promenade is immaculate, all sandstone and chrome. The tram system doesn’t just live on, it gleams with clockwork modern efficiency and, like just about everything else in this place, with the pride of the city at its heart.
As the South Pier looms tantalisingly closer, the sea is to my left whilst historic grand hotels and guesthouses flash by on my right. Not a single aspect seems out of place or wasted, as though the pieces had been dropped in like a child builds a train set. I could live a 100 lives and still not scratch the surface of the stories they hold.
The guesthouses are eventually overshadowed by the bold, bright, brash colours of the Pleasure Beach Amusement park, with the “Big One” roller-coaster soaring high into the sky directly above and various fast food eateries below. Ahead, the trademark horse and carts merge together with the musical arcade sounds of the bygone-era South Pier, the tram stops, the ice-cream and the candy-floss to create a scene you could only ever get in this one place on Earth. With great joy and wide smiles, once again, I had arrived.