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Beaching with the bingo brigade in Blackpool
Blackpool in General
Member Name: bilbob20
Blackpool in General
Advantages: Colourful, plenty to do, and surrounded by people who are just out to enjoy themselves
Disadvantages: It's as cheesey and tacky as all hell, but who cares?
Its easy to be dismissive about Blackpool. The epicentre of bingo holidays, theme parks and the ever-famous British stock-a-rock, it has long since been scoffed at by people who now enjoy annual holiday's in places like Benidorm, Marmaris, or any other similarly themed cheesefest that passes off as the family holiday. In all honesty, my first trip to Blackpool this weekend only highlighted that it is no worse nor better a place to holiday than any of the aforementioned foreign resorts, with the exception of the missing sun - something we Brits have come to accept as the norm.
The reason for my visit to Blackpool was part work part pleasure. The bar I work in on a Saturday night takes a group of pensioner's down for the weekend, and I was nominated to assist the wee old fella's around the place, or run to the bar, or carry them back in a drunken state to their rooms. In fairness, they never moved far from the bar and the hotel staff were quite happy to bring them drinks to their tables. So this gave myself and my travelling companion a fair bit of time to go around and see the sights of Blackpool. Of which there are surprisingly many.
We stayed at St Chads B & B which is a massive establishment on St Chad's Road, the main road that drags along the beach front. I was a bit unimpressed when I entered the dingy reception area on arrival. However, at £87 for 3 nights (breakfast included), I didn't expect the Hilton. As long as the rooms were clean and the food edible, I would have been satisfied. Surprisingly, the rooms were pleasantly immaculate, spacious, well-aired and our family room looked directly onto the best view of the beach, the promenade and the lights of Blackpool. The breakfast turned out to be a delicious feast, and the staff were hospitable, friendly and just personal enough to make everybody feel at home. I'm not sure that they remembered the gentlemen we were escorting from last year, but if they didn't, they certainly didn't show it.
There was plenty of entertainment at our B&B as well. For all you Bingo Bats out there, there was several cash winning games every night - with some people winning £100. I did hear a few pensioners complaining that the bingo boards weren't anywhere near as good as the books you get at the real bingo - really??? There was a singer named Karl Palmer, who is one of the best cabaret singers I've ever heard. He did songs ranging from opera, to blues, through 70s, to modern pop. He had a great rapport with the audience and the kids without having to try too hard. The following night there was a singer named Murray Gee Mac, a man so relegated to cruise ship entertainment that I could almost feel the floor sway beneath me. He did a collection of the old cheesier numbers and put on a bit of a comedy routine with a couple of fellow Scots who would have given you a red neck to be Scottish.
There is plenty to do in Blackpool, although it can be an expensive trip. The best thing to do is follow our lead and search online before you go for discount vouchers etc. The pleasure beach was our first day out. At £32 per person, I didn't really feel that enamoured by it, as I'm not really a thrill ride person. There are a few smaller rides such as the flying ships, and the water logs, which I loved. However, the bigger attractions probably pull thrill seekers who want to go on Infusion (the official name for the terrifyingly huge rollercoaster ride) or similarly terrifying rides. There is entertainment galore provided with staff dressed up, plenty of scary attractions to see and even reasonably priced food. I'm glad I didn't pay the £32 though. We got a code from an irn bru bottle which allowed us to enter the code and buy our wristbands online. The offer gave us 2 for 1, which meant we both paid £16 each. Much better value then.
There is also a water world now open directly across from the pleasure beach. We didn't get a chance to visit, but some of the kids (and big kids) at our accommodation were raving about it. This is definitely something I would like to try the next time we go, as water rides are much more my thing. Another alternative to the big thrill rides is a smaller carnival of rides which are placed about half a mile from Blackpool Tower. It sits out on the pier, and has waltzers, the extreme and the big wheel. I tried all of these, much to my own amazement and my companion's amusement. There is also a reasonably friendly family bar placed at the end of the pier which allows kids as well.
Placed along the main road are several restaurants and bars. The best of the one's we visited was The Manchester and Reflex. The Manchester played a variety of club music, had drinks for as little as £2, and had a great fun atmosphere. Reflex also played quite a bit of RnB and dance music and also chucked in a selection of 80s hits to reflect its 80s décor. The music was a little loud for during the day in Reflex and we struggled to talk but again it was fun enough and the drinks were more reasonable than we had expected.
Two other attractions that we considered but didn't get a chance to visit was the Blackpool Tower (which freaked me out when I could see people walking about on the glass directly above me) and the Blackpool equivalent to Madam Tussaud's. Most people will be aware of the Tussaud's in London which homes celebrities, famous characters and historical figures. Well Blackpool's version is almost exactly like that in theme. Again, you can get discount vouchers online for that. I saw it online for £8 per head, whereas entry at the door was approximately £14 per person.
September weekend is also round about the time when the Blackpool lights go on for the last quarter of the year. It is pretty spectacular a sight, which is only enhanced by the novelty value of the tram system and horse and cart rides that carry you up and down the main road. It also has a modern shopping mall similar to those scattered around the main cities in the UK. This is placed just behind Blackpool Tower and is central to other high street shops that are scattered along the way. So it's not just Blackpool rock and cheesy t-shirts to be had. Blackpool actually caters for everybody.
The website that you go to for various discounts and offers is www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/ which turned out to be an excellent saving. You always get vouchers like this from places like "The Sun" newspaper etc. Its definitely worth keeping an eye out for these things.
Summary: A tacky but fun weekend had by all