The Bloke’s cousin turned 21 this week and we were invited to her birthday party last weekend… in Blackpool.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to the Vegas of the North, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. We visited many times during my childhood years – on a clear day it was possible to see the famous tower in the far distance from my home and we had a yearly outing to the Illuminations, where my sisters and I would be in competition to win the coveted 20p for being the first person to spot the tower on the way. Of course, my mum felt guilty about giving just one of us money and so we would inevitably each get the money, but it remains as one of my happiest memories.
We decided to make an extended trip of it and so booked a room at a hotel and added Blackpool Zoo and a wander along the main strip to the itinerary. I’ve never been to that particular zoo before, but it was a nice way to spend the morning. It’s certainly in need of a serious cash injection and a bit of TLC, but the animals were quite happily pottering round doing their animal thing and The Bloke (as always) adopted his inner David Bailey and took a bajillion photos. I did my best to avoid the kids and not outwardly roll my eyes at the people referring to the capybaras as ‘a donkey’ while standing in front of a sign which explains what capybaras are. I’m admittedly an asshole when I go to a zoo – kids banging on the glass of enclosures or screaming at penguins who are minding their own business irritate me to the point where I have to walk away before I start glaring at the parents.
We drove to the pier and, thanks to the kind person who pointed out what seemed like the last parking space in the whole of Blackpool, managed to park up next to the big arcades and main strip. We walked along to the beach and while The Bloke took photographs of every seagull flying overhead, I sat down and took in the sea air. It isn’t often that we see the coastline – Birmingham’s nearest beach is Weston Super Mare which is at least a two hour drive – and I love how the air changes and smells. We walked along the main pier and sat at the end overlooking the sea in the glorious sunshine and ate handmade fudge. As you do.
On the way back to the car I introduced The Bloke to the arcades – we wasted a lot of money on the horse racing game (I still can’t believe that he has made it to 50 without actually playing this game before) and I was stalked by an elderly woman when I was on the 2p machines, and then won a whole bunch of tickets that could be redeemed at a nearby counter for a prize. I had an fantasy image of reinacting the scene from Deadpool where they get a crappy ring after playing in the arcade, but the number of tickets we had didn’t even cover a tube of sweets, so we gave them to a kid instead.
That evening we got a taxi to the venue and greeted The Bloke’s family, all of whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding 18 months ago. In comparison to my entire family of 7, his family is massive, and some I was meeting for the first time. They’re an awesome group of people – fun, hilarious, incredibly warm and welcoming – and I always have a blast whenever I’m around them. I first met The Birthday girl when she was 14 and over the years I’ve seen her grow (mainly over Facebook, to be fair) from a smiley and funny teenager into an intelligent and articulate young woman who has just gained her degree and is planning on becoming a teacher. It was nice to see her in her element as she walked round socialising with all the guests. There was an amazing cake, an enormous buffet big enough to feed hundreds of people (I thought I would be super helpful and eat lots of it so they wouldn’t have to take it back home) and a DJ, and we spent the evening having a laugh and catching up.
We drove home quite early the next day, and successfully managed to make it all the way back to Birmingham without hearing a single spoiler about the Eurovision final that had taken place on the same night as the party. Normally we have our own little party while we watch it, getting in some snacky treats and laughing at the predictable voting tactics, so we did that on the Sunday afternoon instead. I felt sorry for our entry as he ended up in last place, but let’s face it – a fully resurrected and reformed Beatles with a few additional members of One Direction thrown in wouldn’t have done much better in the current political climate.
A fabulous weekend, which we want to do again sooner rather than later.
Incidentally, The Bloke and I had the same competition about who could spot the Tower first. I won. Here’s my 20p. Yes, I made him give me the 20p. And gloated. A lot.
What about you guys? What have you been up to over the last few weeks?
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