Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 23, Hexham to Blackpool

We decided on going to Blackpool, mainly because R kept saying to everyone that I wanted to see the oldest tram system in the Western World? Well, I wasn't desperate, but it would be interesting.

I had to ask three different people before I got a definitive answer that the speed limit on the motorways is 70mph. Even then, no one knew what the speed limit was on the A69. 60mph seemed appropriate to the road to me, so that is what I travelled at between Hexham and Carlisle. The road west to Carlisle pretty well follows the Tyne river valley, as does the train, with the Cheviot Hills up to the right.

We bypassed Carlisle, but did stop for fuel and brunch at a service stopping place. It was busy!!! We then turned south onto the M6, the major motorway to Glasgow in Scotland. It was a pleasant drive with very pretty scenery. One magical moment was when three wind turbines came into view as we rounded a corner. I just love wind turbines on a landscape. I know some of you hate them, but I don't. We saw a lot in the North Sea on our way to Amsterdam too and in various other places.

Driving on the motorway was interesting. I will post about driving in the UK separately.

We passed through a beautiful gorge, with steep hills either side of us. By the visible erosion, it was land that should not have been cleared. I wondered why the sheep did not fall down the almost vertical hills?

Just before Preston, we turned off the M6 onto the M55, going straight to Blackpool. The drive had taken longer than I expected.

Entering Blackpool did my head in. It was a road raised above the ground and it only seemed to lead to massive carparks. We just did not seem to be able to get to local streets or the beachfront to orient ourselves. We parked in the last carpark and fed the meter and set off on foot and realised that you can get to the beach front by road. They just make it hard, and I worked out later that there must be good reasons to keep tourists on one road and lead them into large carparks.

We reached the beach front and in the back of my mind was a night sleeping in the car. We really needed to find some digs. I had mentioned to R that perhaps we should stay somewhere a bit nice after our modest digs in London and he agreed. We found a map dispensing machine and then a nice lady in a boat information shop or something like that, pointed us in the direction of the tourist information centre. We hovered a bit there until eventually attended to. R had picked up some brochures and was flicking through them.

What sort of place would you like to stay, asked the assistant. Somewhere under $200, I replied. She tapped away on her pc and came up with Blackpool Hilton, one night, $170. Includes full breakfast, bit of a bargain really. Done I said. Only later did R tell me that he was considering a B & B for $44 for the night.

Well, we got the seventh floor, the top, with great views of the sea. The room was as you would expect a Hilton room to be. The breakfast was sublime. The staff ever so helpful. I could have stayed a week.

After checking in, we wandered back along the beach front. The waves were large and crashing against rocks and concrete. Just yesterday we were in Blanchland and nearly blown away, but that day, the windiest place in England was Blackpool. There was a dog show on and the wind had blown the marquees down, with a couple of personal injuries. I am sure the dogs looked very fluffy.

We returned to the tourist information place to find out about tram fares etc. R's sister K had told us about a fantastic show in Blackpool called Funny Girls, so we asked about that. The guy told us where it was located and indicated carefully that it was in an 'area' that we would like.

We bought some absolutely dreadful chips and took them to the beach front to eat. We spied three cute topless lads, and so thought it was an ideal place to eat our chips. Could I carefully take a discrete photo of them? No, their girls had sussed our interest. Piss orf you skanky hos.

We tried to go up in the Blackpool Tower, but we were a bit too late.

R got hassled by a begger, a gypsy I think. I was hassled later by another one, also gypsy. These chick gypsies had no idea of how to get money from gay men. One was absolutely outraged when R told her that he did not smoke. I just ignore them or tell them to go away. R is a bit more charitable, in that he will listen to their crap stories, although he never gives beggers anything either.

We wandered the streets a bit and looked in shops and headed in the general direction of where Funny Girls was located. We started to see some rainbow flags. While K had said Blackpool was the regional gay capital of England, I think it is behind Brighton and Manchester.

We headed back to the hotel, yes, you are paying big quids, you need to spend some time there, and we relaxed in the comparative luxury for a couple of hours. I even had a bath, deep and hot.

We ventured out for dinner at about eight and ended up eating at the Washington Hotel in a nice bay window and it offered two main meals for $16. The meal was fine, the host of the hotel personally attentive. But it was Monday night, and it was pretty quiet in downtown Blackpool.

Judging from the exterior, it was not a night Funny Girls was going to be happening. We happened across a bar, but the door person put me off. We were trying to look tres cool and relaxed but of course we looked like what we were, two old queens who were very unsure of themselves and what we were doing.

Here is another bar, and it looks less threatening, so we spent a couple of hours in the Flying Handbag. It was quite a nice place, very spacious, with a drag DJ and the drinks not too badly priced. Two old queens decided it was time to head back to the hotel, just as all the cute, young and interesting people were arriving. Not a bad turn out for a Monday school night.

The Blackpool Hilton. Not the most attractive place on the outside.
View from our room.
A Blackpool sunset.


  1. The Blackpool Hilton? They've changed the name again, have they? First it was the Pembroke, or something. Actually, first it was Derby Baths, a rather resplendant art decor building that they tore down in the 1980s to build that hideous monstrosity. Then it was the Stakis. Then something else.
    Whatever it's called, you managed to choose the biggest dump in Blackpool there Andrew...and that takes some doing seeing as there's so many from which to choose.
    By the way, the dog show had to be abandoned when three of the marquees were blown over and two Jack Russells squashed...or something like that. I remember that day...a tad on the blustery side, but nothing that we're not used to round these parts.

  2. Anonymous5:15 pm

    Gypsies? Ignore them. Never invest a cent of emotional energy in them.

  3. Could have lent you my barge pole for the gypsies :P
    Great sunset and that view...!
    And...the trams???
    Did you travel on the trams...?

  4. I was hoping for a picture of the wind turbines, but I suppose it's not safe to take pics and drive at the same time.

  5. Well, ok Brian, it is only four star, but we thought it was pretty good. I did not see anything much better. We were tired of old.

    It would seem Reuben, that they are no longer referred to as gypsies, but travellers.

    Your broomstick would have done Jayne, but then you need your transport.

    Correct Daisy. But I will see what I can find on the net.

  6. I give beggars nothing, bar the shits.

    I was going to say $170 would get you a hostel for a week, but then you'd say you get what you pay for, and you'd be right.

  7. I never did do 'rough' very well Robert. I likes me comforts.

  8. They're not all rough, it can stink by morning when you're in a small room of three double bunks, but the facilities by my standards were classy. My last trip was to America about ten years ago and the hostel in Santa Monica was very plush; Flagstaff had a bar downstairs (lots of faux film stars), and Fort Mason (in huge grounds) was right on S.F. bay.
    I was paying $15-$20 a night, and to top it off, the hostel in San Diego was right in the centre of Fifth Avenue ("Gaslight precinct") which would turn Brunswick Street pale. It was strange to be living there, a feeling of oddness and importance -going through the tables to open the front door with my key (rooms upstairs) but America is like that.

  9. Only six people then snoring and farting

    I think I know what you mean about a feeling of oddness and importance. I felt a bit like that in London.