Thursday, 2 September 2010

Great North Fun Day 36

Big Wheel
It seems strange that a few short weeks ago we were seeking out wild camping spots in the remote parts of Glen Trool to see the stars in the most un light polluted area of the UK, and now we're in Blackpool waiting for the illuminations to start on Friday.

I haven't been to Blackpool since I was a kid and it's every bit as tacky as I remember - perhaps more so - but that's a good thing.  I'm a great believer in doing something properly so if you're going to be a tacky seaside resort then go for it. And Blackpool "goes for it" in style.  From the novelty shops selling strange and unusual shell ornaments to the multitudinous rock shops and the arcades along the Golden Mile eager to relieve you of your hard earned cash.  Blackpool is indeed major league tacky and I love it!

We spent most of today at the Pleasure Beach getting hurled around and soaked on the various rides.  What the Pleasure Beach has that none of the other major theme parks do is history.  In amongst the modern giant rides like The Big One, Valhalla and Infusion you can still find The Grand National, The Big Dipper, The Steeplechase and many other of the old wooden rides.  Some of them are real rickety old bone shakers but that's part of their charm.  Each of the older rides has a plaque describing it's history with some rides dating back to 1904.  Even the more modern classics are fun - I defy anyone who lived through the era of Jim'll Fix It to board The Revolution without thinking of boy scouts eating their packed lunch.
Blackpool beach and Tower

"The Big One" could also describe the entrance fee which at £30 per person can easily give you more of a fright than the Ghost Train, but we had a full day in there so maybe not so bad when you compare it to similarly priced theatre tickets.  The queues were refreshingly short (probably due to the entry fee) and  we didn't wait longer than 20 mins for any of the rides.  Unfortunately the real weak point is the people who work there.  Where Disneyland has permanently happy staff the Pleasure Beach has staff who have modelled themselves on the three missing Dwarves - Surly, Miserable and Stroppy.  You could see them laughing and joking amongst themselves but as soon as it came to dealing with the public the smiles vanished instantly.  One exception was the guy manning the Sky Rocket ride who actually seemed happy to be there.

Once we'd ridden everything at least once and I'd scoffed the obligatory candy floss (an absolute must for me on any trip to a funfair) we wandered down to the beach for a stroll and a paddle in the sunset.  Even though Blackpool is jammed with people the beach is big enough to provide a bit of an escape from the sheer lunacy of it all.

Tomorrow is the big switch on, Robbie Williams apparently, not that we'll be anywhere near enough to tell.  We plan to head back to the Pleasure Beach to cheer up the staff (we got 2 day passes), then hopefully up the Tower before walking along the illuminations.  It's our last full day so may as well go out with a bang!

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