11 September 2010

England Vacation Part 14

September 9, 2010

The day started out pretty foggy, but it burned off quickly as we made the long journey north to Blackpool. It's a two and a half hour drive from our place in the Shropshires but well worth it.

We arrived and quickly found a parking spot, purchasing parking tickets in most areas in England sucks, you need to take a piggy bank with you. Despite having ten pounds of coins in my pocket, that would have gotten us parking until about 5 but the machine ate a pound or two and shaved a couple hours off our ticket... which resulted in us getting a different kind of ticket later. We shall write a letter.

Blackpool looked like it would have been a beautiful vacation spot about 30 years ago, many of the buildings are in disrepair and there are plenty of undesirables milling about. If you can get past that, this is the place to kick off your child's gambling problem. There is a mile of casino's disguised as 'fun houses' for kids, plunk in your coins and win tickets... just like Ruckers. Only the kids are playing VLT's as well as the typical games of chance for these worthless tickets. When they have amassed their fortune in tickets, and daddy's wallet has been emptied, it's time to go redeem the tickets for something at the prize fulfillment store. Basically a dollar store that takes 100 tickets to the dollar... the kids had won about 400 tickets collectively.

On the piers, everyone had something to sell from two dollar watches to the junkiest of junk, lot's of schucksters. I was approached by an woman with a Lavender blossom in tin foil with a blessing, she looked like an old witch looking for a donation. The kids wanted to look in every store and we obliged. There are also about 2 miles of hotels, all 6-8 bedroom hotels, it was kinda weird to see actually... there were hundreds of them.

The bright spot of Blackpool was the theme park called Pleasure Beach, a very nice spot with plenty of rides and roller coasters. The world record for consecutive roller coaster riding is still held there.... 1000 hours on the Big Dipper, a 90 year old wooden track thrill ride. Many of the rides in this park are closing in on their hundredth year. If you can afford the entry, it's well worth it to spend the day there. I even went on the largest roller coaster, The Big One. It was scary as hell and a looong way up! From the top, we could see that the tide was out... we could also see Newfoundland, yeah.... it was that high.

When Pleasure Beach closed, we crossed the road and walked out on the sand... it was amazing how low the water level had dropped. The pier we were on was fully over the water at lunch time, now it was about 100m from the water. I would estimate that the water dropped about 30'. There was a really neat sculpture on the shoreline, it was a functional organ that played as the tide came in, using pressure from the water to force air through the instrument. Really inventive.

My car battery was dead when we returned, even though it was a standard transmission we could not push start it, because the parking break on it is electronic and could not unlock without power... dumb design. If Vauxhall is not made by General Motors, I would be surprised... it's got all the same lousy attributes and a button for everything, more buttons than functions.

We hung out until dark to see the illuminations, which in Canadian English terms means lights. The streets were lit up as were the trams and buses. Parker said it looked like Vegas for kids. It was pretty neat. Worth seeing, even thought it meant a very long drive in the dark. It was like a grand xmas light display for about 2 miles down the main road with some sections (tastefully) sponsored by companies.

On the drive home, it started raining... no problem. Then we found out the only road leading to our small town was out and we had to take a diversion... no problem. I did not think that the roads could get any narrower. The workman on the highway said, 'Dun go mad, she's narrow and there's open back bridges'... I have always thought the roads were narrow, but didn't think they could get any worse. But, when both mirrors are dragging along the bushes on either side of the car, you know it's narrow, and the road was pretty slick, it was mostly hard packed dirt, which was now very slick. Now that was pretty cool and scary at the same time... we did this for 4 miles and had three cars come towards us which we had to navigate through at the odd opening in the road.


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