The Magical Mystery Tour (part 2)

You may have been wondering why I’ve taken the name of a Beatles EP for the title of this blog, considering it’s about Blackpool. The reason is, that there was a trip arranged to Liverpool, or how I like to pronounce it, LiverPEWL.

The day started off early. I awoke at about 6AM, bursting for a piss. Unfortunately, thanks to the sound the toilet makes, this wasn’t something that could be done quietly, so Chris was also awake by this point. Attempts to get back to sleep were rudely interrupted by the sound of the old guy in the next room being sick. We weren’t sure if it was the food that caused it, or an excessive amount of alcohol, but my word, he could have chonked for England. It must have lasted around half an hour and by then we were fully awake. Brekkers wasn’t being served until about 7:30, so after getting ready, we spent a good hour or so wandering around the hotel. We could have went outside, but the good old english weather had taken hold by this point.

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Some time later, off we jolly well popped to the breakfast room. This was also the same room where the entertainment was, and we had nothing to worry about when it came to getting a seat. It was absolutely massive. It was more like a warehouse. In fact, it was even lit by mercury vapour lights. I wasn’t that hungry anyway, so I grabbed a few pieces of toast and about 8 glasses of orange juice.

The coach to Liverpool wasn’t until 9:30, so after having breakfast, we headed back to the room. there wasn’t much to do in the room. I certainly didn’t want to touch the bible…

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I made a short video showing some of the room’s “features”, which I’ll probably need to edit down. Unfortunately, the “Windows Movie Maker” facility in Windows 7 is complete garbage, so I’ll have to wait until I get on the laptop to edit it properley. As a bit of an experiment, I’ve created a video of the epic hairdryer…

(I really, really hate the new Windows Movie Maker. If anyone has any free alternatives, let me know.)

Anyway, we boarded the coach for Liverpool, and that’s where the fun and games started. Apparently, there was one coach that had the city tour, for £6. The other two coaches would just drop you in the Albert Dock (not literally, of course), so you could go and walk around at your own leisure. By a twist of fate, we’d got on the correct one, as someone on the other non-tour coach had a suspected heart attack. Delays were also caused by some of the people actually wanting to go on the city tour, but now couldn’t.

One whinging old scrote even had the cheek to say “Eeee, well that’ll be another complaint letter going in”. I’m sorry, what? You’re going to complain because you’re getting a free trip to Liverpool, which you didn’t even know about 24 hours before? No, you silly cow, you put a letter of complaint in when they leave you there, and you have to walk back.

The journey was uneventful. I had my headphones in for most of the journey. Nowt like being a bit anti-social once in a while. I attempted to get some sleep, something I rarely do on a coach. I managed about a half-hour of dozing, before waking up as we crossed the River Ribble. Rain followed us the whole way down until we actually got to Liverpool, where it just seemed to mysteriously stop. The coach dropped us at the Albert Dock. You may remember this as being the location of the old “This Morning” studio. Now, maybe I’m just used to seeing it on telly, in the sunshine, but one thing that struck me, is how small it actually was. Normally, you see sights on telly, and they turn out to be bigger in real life, but the Albert Dock really didn’t seem that big at all..

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A lot of it was dedicated to the Beatles museum. I’m possibly the only person to have ever visited Liverpool, and rated the thought of going around a Beatles museum as a “meh”. I could only see it being overpriced. I’m not a great fan of their work. Like all bands, there’s some good stuff and a lot of mediocre stuff. I only like ‘Hey Jude’ because of the clearly audible “Fucking Hell” at 2:58. Listen to it with headphones, you’ll hear what I mean. Actually, that’s not quite true, I think it’s a brilliant song, but it’s not worth walking around a museum for!

I’ll tell you something though, I’m actually *glad* I went to Liverpool. About 3 weeks ago, I woke up with a small piece of music in my head, from the middle of a song. I obviously can’t explain in txt what it went like, but it was from the version of the “Liver Birds” theme music I’d ripped from LP at the back end of last year. Unfortunately, this revelation had me unintentionally whistling the afore-mentioned theme music whilst pointing my camera in the general direction of the Liver Buildings…

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After wandering without aim, we headed towards Liverpool One. Apparently, it’s a shopping centre, or something. Going shopping with me is incredibly boring. Unless I am actually going specifically to purchase something, I’ll visit two shops. HMV and Greggs. This, however, was a bit of a special occasion, as I went into another shop, in order to stock up on cheap t-shirts, and replacement socks (something which I’d also forgotten to pack). Chris spent £2.99 on an umbrella. Remember that for later.

HMV, despite being huge, didn’t have any spectacular offers, and Greggs appear to have ditched their corned beef pasties for “Potato and Meat”.

We walked around the streets for about half an hour, before we witnessed this sad sight…

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Yep, there’s another classic Thorn Alpha 3, about to be taken down and scrapped. In fact, there were a few in that road about to suffer the same fate. Shame.

After I mopped up the tears, we realised we’d walked round in a big circle, and walked down Water Street, back to the Liver Buildings. By this point, my feet were killing me. I’m not getting old, I blame the uneven beach I was walking on the day before. We walked back to the Albert Dock, and got some refreshments in the “Costa” that just happened to be in the entranceway.

The penultimate stop on our journey just had to be the wheel. You may remember my trip to York with Coatesy, where they had the large ferris wheel outside of the railway museum. Well, the wheel had repositioned itself to outside of the large arena on the docklands. I love these things, and even at the £7.50-each price tag, it was worth a go.

I took a few photos, but not that many, as most of the time I was recording video. While I enjoyed every second of the ride, Chris didn’t exactly enjoy it. He really doesn’t like heights! This had the undesired effect of getting some quality footage of him absolutely bricking it. OK, I didn’t help, with phrases such as “It’s draughty up here, isn’t it?” and “It’s got a bit of a wobble when the winds hit it”… I’m quite sure if the wheel had went round one more time, he’d have had a panic attack.

It would be wrong of me to post a video. Expect one coming soon when I get the lappy sorted out. In the meatime…

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We had a walk around the dock one more time, and raided a sweet shop as our final location. I bought several packets of large Parma Violets. I absolutely love these. Oh, and some cola Wham bars. I must admit, it was an awesome shop. It smelt just like Bretts in the town centre, but without their epic toffee apples.

So, that was the day. It was 3PM, and as Kauto Star failed to make it a fifth King George VI Chase victory, we boarded the coach, and headed back to Blackpool. Again, the headphones were in, and I dozed for most of the journey using my coat as a pillow. I awoke just as we were to cross the Wiver Wibble. I’d have thought it was pretty coincidental, but I think the reason I woke up was because I’d drooled all over the coat, and it was now stuck to the side of my face. Pleasant.

We arrived back to the hotel, and began to pack. It seems strange how light and easy to pack the bag was before I left, but how heavy and full it was…

We set off at about 6PM, for our second and final journey to the indian mentioned on Part 1. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as kind to us, with light rain falling, and a bit of a breeze. Chris took his newly purchased umbrella out with us. He stood in the entrance to the hotel for about a minute, trying to get the umbrella to stay up. Literally three steps away from the hotel building, the entire thing blew inside out, and was completely ruined. I was absolutely no sympathy, as I howled with laughter in the car park, barely able to walk in a straght line for about 10 minutes. It was, quite literally, the funniest moment of 2011 so far, and it’d take a hell of a lot to top it. Irony ensued, as the rain started to die off, and we arrived at the indian totally bone dry.

I was tempted to get the vindaloo, but instead, I just settled for the madras again. After all, I had the bus home to contend with the next day. If anything, the meal was better than it was the previous day. Curry excellent, rice perfect, naan bread was indescribably brilliant. It seems odd that the least complicated part of the meal would be the one that I remember. But, it was.

We walked back to the hotel, and I just had enough time for a shower before hitting a change of clothes, and of course, the free bar. I’d have been bang on time if I actually knew how to work the bloody shower. I am, and always will be a bath person, but when you don’t have enough time for one, a shower will have to do. I think I scalded my back and the top of my head about three times.

I arrived at the free bar at about 20:03, feeling gutted at myself that I’ve wasted 3 minutes of precious drinking time. Chris was already with Colin and Lynne. We made our way to the “Performance Area”, and sat through countless musical acts of very little value. I didn’t care. I had my armband. Someone else noticed I had the armband on, two Lancashire equivalents of “chavs”. It was really quite amusing. Now, as I’ve mentioned, I had the “white armband”, which granted me unlimited drinks, two at a time. These chavs wanted me to get two pints, one for them and one for me. That’s what I assume anyway, as I didn’t understand a word they said. Needless to say, I ignored their request, but found it amusing nonetheless.

According to the videos I’d taken, the night finished with a roaring rendition of “Hey Jude”. By this point, I was goosed, and as soon as the free bar ended, I called it a night, and headed back to the fourth floor, and my comfy, comfy bed…

I won’t bother writing a “journey home” entry. It was uneventful. More sleep, heavy rain, and a lorry in a ditch. I’m also happy to report that after a night in hospital, the lady who took ill on the other coach was released from hospital, and was able to travel back home with the rest of her party.

The Magical Mystery Tour

For those of you who couldn’t work it out, or don’t follow me on Twitter, I have spent the past few days in the lovely little fishing village known as Blackpool, on the north west coast ouf our fine land. There was actually a group of us going, around 20 or so, from the place I go to on a Tuesday night. This included Chris, who you shall remember from countless other trips, and posts on this blog.

After a brief 45-minute stop at Tebay services (Yes, I thought it sounded like a Yorkshire based auction site too), we arrived in Blackpool at 12:30. The weather all the way there was diabolically bad, so I was happy to see that it had brightened up by the time we’d got there.

We arrived at our room on the 4th floor. I say ours, because we were sharing a twin room. Turns out that was one of the reasons it was so cheap.

Oh, and the fact that the hotel itself is actually in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to the wonderment of Google Streetview, I knew this wasn’t going to be a problem, as there was a tram station right outside. What anybody neglected to tell us is that the trams only run for certain times of the year. And the middle of January is slap-bang in the middle of their off-season. Buggeration. This means that trips outside of the hotel were going to be limited to how far we could walk.

The first impressions of the room left a lot to be desired. Fair enough, the bed and carpets were clean, but everything else seemed to have either a layer of grime on them, or were damaged in some way. The pubic hair on the edge of the bath really, really didn’t help matters.

After a few minutes, and a quick change into something less comfortable, I headed down to the bar area, to find that it was already in full swing – at least two thirds of the congregation had a pint down them. I had a couple too – it would be rude not to, but I didn’t want to get drunk. Instead, me and Chris went out to explore the area. One thing we both do when visiting anywhere is to find the closest shop, and a place to eat. Obviously, meals would be provided by the hotel, but neither of us are a fan of set meals. We’re also not a fan of out-of-date biscuits, meaning the ones the hotel provided weren’t exactly suitable…
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After a quick walk up the beach we arrived on Red Bank Road, in an area called Bispham. It appeared to have more shops than hotels on it, so we headed down it, and struck gold. There was a Sainsburys, but more importantly, there was an indian restaurant on there, namely the Sunam Tandoori. Gold struck.

I’d forgotten to bring a razor and toothbrush (the most obvious things that weren’t in my case), so after a scoot around the Sainsburys we headed back to the hotel. On the way back, I was startled by a pair of concrete doves who, I thought for a split second, were real. I’m an idiot sometimes.

We got back to the room, and not a moment too soon. Now, I don’t know if it was the beer that caused this, or some of the rubbish I’d eaten on the coach, but I ended up with an epic bout of the squits, which lead to another issue with the room… the bathroom didn’t exactly have any type of ventilation. Chris stepped foot in the bathroom shortly after one of my several explosive visits. His expression was like someone out of a movie, being thrown back from a doorway, following a bomb going off. We probably should have picked up some ‘Oust’ in Sainsburys…

Things eventually “dried up”, and I went out to photograph the sunset. Over the tram tracks are two sets of gates. As I walked through the second gate, I let it close behind me… two old biddies, who were miles away, thought I should have held it open for them, greeting the closure of the gate with a sarcastic “Oh, thank you, sir“.

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Yeah, I’m talking to you two.

Anyway, the sunset was amazing. I’ve taken lots of them over the years, but this was the first one on the west coast.

Unfortunately, little did I know this was the last time I’d actually see the sun on this weekend.

As the sun disappeared behind the clouds on the horizon, I headed back to the hotel, and watched a bit of snooker before getting ready for the night. The indian opened at 6PM and the free bar at the hotel was from 8PM until 11PM, so there was plenty of time to get the food knocked back and walk back. I went for the chicken madras. Normally, I’d go for the vindaloo, but following my colonic escapades earlier in the day, I thought it would be best to go for something a bit milder than my normal vindaloo.

It takes a lot for me to say this, but it was, quite honestly, one of the best indians I have ever been to in my entire life, and trust me, I’ve been to planty of them. The staff were friendly, the food was delicious, and I have no idea what they do with the naan bread, but it was beyond perfection. We had already made plans for the next nights meal, we were going back there.

We arrived back at the hotel with plenty of time before the free bar opened. there was a “pub” section tacked on to the end of the hotel, with the most important feature of any pub – namely a pool table. At 50p a game, it wasn’t cheap, but nothing is these days. They could have reduced the price of the game bay saving on the electricity costs of the lighting they used…

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Forgive the blurriness of the camera photo I’ve used here, but it shows the fact they’d used a full-strength studio light to (partially) light the table. It was like playing pool while staring into the heart of the sun. chere Chris was stood, you couldn’t actually see the other end of the table, it was too dark. the last match ended with Chris doing an absolutely spectacular pot on the red, sneaking it cheekily into the middle pocket. A wave of pride ran over his face, and he looked at me with one of those “What do you think of that?” faces.

“You’re yellows”, was my factually accurate reply. The black went down, and I won 2-0. Ho ho, and indeed, ho.

Off we went to enjoy the free bar, and enjoy we did. Now, we had a choice, go and see the “entertainment” in the main room, or just sit in the quiet bar area and have a good conversation with whoever didn’t want to be deafened by the music. The bar area was our place of choice, along with Colin and Lynne. According to all other reports, we made the right choice.

By far, the funniest part of the night, for me anyway, was while I was in the toilets, having a piss… some guy comes in, lets out an belter of a fart… without even thinking, I shouted “I’ll name that tune in one…” It’s not often I make myself laugh, but that was one of the moments I could have given myself a round of applause.

There was a moment of panic near the end when it emerged that because we didn’t show up for the dinner, we weren’t guaranteed a seat at breakfast. Oh, my GOD. Plans of going to bed, then getting up for a bowl of cornies and some hotel toast were thrown in to DISARRAY. What were we going to do? Well, we stayed up longer, I hammered the spiced rum and cokes, and Chris knocked back the…. *wretch*…. advocaat. Eventually, we crawled back to the hotel room, I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. But… Would we be able to attend breakfast? Stay tuned for day two…

Offline for a few days

As some of you may/may not know, I’m going to be off the interwebs for most of the weekend, so I won’t be able to manually add comments to the site. Well, technically, I can, but I’m going to be far too busy (hopefully) having a good time. Therefore, if your comment falls into the moderation queue, it won’t be on here for a couple of days, more than likely Sunday. Nowt personal, I still value all comments / emails.

Music from the Thomas Cook advert

Wow, starting as I mean to go on, eh? This is my hundredth blog post so far this year… or at least it feels like it. anyway, this is a very quick update, mainly for my own benefit, but the music on the current Thomas Cook advert, with its wispy guitars, is “The Sea”, by Morcheeba.

I know it from something else, or at least I know that guitar riff. I probably have it on CD somewhere, I’ve bought a load of chillout albums over the years.