Wednesday, 21 July 2010

By the seaside

Everybody has a list of things they want to do before they die. For some, it might be a bungee jump. Others might want to take a trip on the Orient Express. Me?
I wanted to go to Blackpool.

I have vowed to be more interesting and do more things. I’ve become stuck in an incredibly lazy rut of never doing anything on weekends. This is fine every so often but not every single weekend going. First on my list of The Girl Does Interesting Things was Blackpool.

Or more specifically, a certain place within Blackpool.

I love a bit of theme park/funfair action. I think it comes from growing up in Hull and the appearance of Hull Fair every year. I love the rides baby. I will jump on any chance to go to Alton Towers (still haven’t been since the new ride 13 opened, I want to go right now please) and I seriously just cannot get enough of the thrills. And we all know what Blackpool Pleasure Beach has?

The ultimate, the mack-daddy of rollercoasters, The Big One. (Or to give it it’s corporate title The Pepsi Max Big One).

It’s the first thing you see when you step off the train and the first thing you hear is the wisps of people’s screams as they plummet to their death down the initial 205 feet drop. I nearly had apoplexy when I saw this, I needed to go on it. Immediately.

However. I am well-versed in the ways of theme parks and the thing to do is not to go on the biggest and bestest straight away. What would be the point? Everything would be dull in comparison. You must warm up. You must go on a mini rollercoaster first.

Luckily the Pleasure Beach has everything you could want in the way of rollercoasters and more. It has ridiculously old wooden ones, it has ones that don’t have tracks, it has ones that spin you round a loop, it has ones that I still do not understand how they got past health and safety. There is so much there. And more.

And here is where it smacks Alton Towers into oblivion (YES. I totally did a theme park based pun there.) To get your chance to go on one of these rides involves a wait time of at most about half an hour. Yes I’m serious. Hardly. Any. Queues. Maybe we went on a ridiculously slow Saturday in the middle of July, maybe it gets worse, but I still don’t think it would compare to the hell on earth that is Alton Towers every day of the week. I have never been to Alton Towers during the school holidays. I’ve never even been on a Saturday. And yet still I have become used to upwards of an hour queuing time for rides that last less than a minute. NO MORE! I have seen the light. The Pleasure Beach is the way forward.

Ok. It’s not quite as slick as your bigger theme park. And when I say “not quite as slick” I mean really not quite as slick. It’s all a little faded and a little outdated and in some parts, just plain random. I’m sure it all made sense when it first opened. Even the Pepsi Max Big One is looking a little grubby – although this could be because it’s 16 years old. How has it taken me this long to go on it?! – although in comparison to the Wild Mouse ride that was built in 1958 it’s somewhat gleaming.

The thing is if you took away the tatty bits or even spruced them up then it would lose all of its charm, the slightly tattiness of it is what makes it so brilliant. I genuinely don’t mean that as a criticism, I genuinely love this place, I just cannot get over how great it is (and don’t get me started on the fact that it costs a fraction of the price to get in to Alton Towers) and cannot believe I haven’t been before. I need to go back there. Really soon. There were so many of the rollercoasters we didn’t go on (mainly because we were supposed to be there early doors and didn’t get there until lunchtime while people dithered about whether or not it was going to rain.)

And let’s not forget that Blackpool has a beach people. So many people get blasĂ© about the sea when they’ve grown up with it or lived near it. I don’t understand this, the beach is still a massive source of amazement for me. I freakin’ love it and want to run down immediately and bury my toes in the sand and get over-excited at the waves. Unfortunately the stupid tide was in and there wasn’t really any beach for me to play on but we did sit on the steps (on a front that must have been very recently renovated, it’s marvellous, well down Blackpool City Council or whoever it was that paid for it) and I admired the sparkliness of the sea.

I wanted to go to the Tower but it was really far away and rollercoastering takes it out of you. Next time though...

In short. Blackpool’s brilliant. Yes, fine, it’s not the most upmarket of places and yes, fine maybe it’s a bit of a hellhole on a night out (I counted approximately 12 billion stag and hen parties) but the Pleasure Beach? You have to go. You just have to. No excuses.

I think it’s clear that...
PS If you go on Valhalla. You will get soaked. And I mean to. the. bone. No exceptions. Make this the last ride you go on so you can go and sit on the front and dry off. Seriously. You get wet. Maybe take your make-up off before you go on it as well.

PPS And the Big One. Oh. My. God. Go on it. Now. Get your shoes on and just go.


  1. You wouldn't get me on there for love nor money! I'm ok with heights, its the plummeting/spinning around/upside downing I don't like, so I don't think the pleasure beach is the place for me lol.

  2. Ahhh Blackpool. One of my favourite places. If it was warm, I'd go there more often.

    Only ever been on the Big One once and, much as I loved rollercoasters, I probably wouldn't do it again. Terrified the crap outta me. (Not literally, I should add.)

  3. Oooh Blackpool Pleasure Beach..haven't been there since Mim was a baby and she's 18 now, I remember it vividly though because the ghost train broke down while We were on it and I spent about 40 mins sat in a revolving flourescent tunnel (it was like free drugs).
    But yes you're right I really need to go there this summer sometime.
    Em xx

  4. Ha ha! I live a couple of miles from Blackpool and I don't know if you went to the shops too, but there is a vastly improved shopping centre, which when I first walked into it I thought I had landed in another town, it is rather good! There is a new Massive library planned, which I think will be good also! Did you go in the fun house at the pleasure beach, I am not sure if it is still there, as is the fact so often when you live in a certain area, you don't tend to explore it the way people do who don't live there! In the funhouse there used to be the hall of mirrors and the laughing clown, which used to render me in stitches each time I saw him/it! Another time yo get to blackpool you must try to go to Funny Girls if you haven't already, it is supposed to be very entertaining, although, again I a local have not seen this! You have made me want to explore what is on my own doorstep! Love to you. Ps. I am now seeming to George like a Shakespearian tragedy, Lady MacBeth or the like, wandering aimlessly about the house wailing and a wringing my hands over loss of poor bereft Mutt. Perhaps, I am mad, but I am so missing that little white doglet! xxx

  5. Hhhmmmmmm.... I'm sorry to say this but I'm really not a fan of fair ground etc. I hope you're not too disappointed ;-)
    I went to a few theme parks when I was younger, but now it just feels like my heart is going to stop beating if I go on one of those - the fear of having a heart attack is not a good one!!!
    Glad you had a good time though! And Blackpool, well I've never been there myself, but it's nice to hear nice things about it!

  6. It's been bloody years since I last went to Blackpool. I went with a dear friend and we stayed the night in some crumby B&B, but had loads of fun nonetheless. If you ever stay over, you must go to Funny Girls for your evenings entertainment(if it's still there), what a fab place that was, We had tonnes and tonnes of fun there.
    Is that Camel Race still at the entrance to the Pleasure Beach - That was such a laugh.
    I'm a bit of a whimp when it comes to Rollercoasters I'm afraid - I haven't got a head (or stomach) for heights.
    Sounds like you had a fab time :0)

  7. You're a crazy woman - you wouldn't get me on one of those things no matter what!

  8. That sheer drop on the big one looks terrifying! I've never been to blackpool but you certainly are selling it to me. I like the fact it is not like every other bloody Madame Tussards style place. It is nice to have something a bit different. Glad to hear you are also getting active and doing stuff - always a way to make you feel good! I'm sitting here in my pjs thinking about having a shower in a mo...I think I agree with you - the summer could go pretty fast. It is weird though. I am alone and the idea of it freaks me out a little - if I don't meet anyone my own age - but at the same time I feel strangely calm. The settings are nice, the weather is good, the employers friendly...I have the internet and I've left my man trouble behind somewhat... it ain't all that bad really! xxx

  9. I haven't been for a couple of decades but if I recall it adds an extra frisson of excitement to a rollercoaster when you suspect that it hasn't been regularly maintained for many years and just might plummet you to your death if you're unlucky.

    The Blackpool of your photos actually looks a lot more classy that I remember tit. I wonder if the hen and stag nights have all moved to Europe and left Blackpool behind. The front used to be full of stalls selling hilarious blow up sex dolls and explicit tshirts. Looks pretty smart now!

  10. I am sending round men in white coats to have you sectioned. We went to Blackpool last year and the whole family - even the teenage ones declared it the biggest s*ithole EVER! Even the youngest teenager - who sees no danger and has no fear claimed you wouldnt get him on any of the rides at the Pleasure Beach as they looked as if they were not maintained at all.

  11. PS The Freud's just bloody weird. I have never met a man who has baffled me so much. I don't think he has a heart. Prob best we parted...still I was beginning to get to that 'falling for you' stage so having to compartmentalise it all now. He did have some great plus points - shame he had such awful ones too... alas! xxx

  12. I went to Blackpool years ago, I have to confess I didn't enjoy it at all but we had great fun at the Pleasure Beach.

    Victoria x

  13. Golly, I clearly REALLY want to go! It looks like you all had fun and I'm glad the weather did you proud. I love the idea of a non-corporate themepark

  14. Loved this post, no you wouldn't get me up there!
    Hugs Suex

  15. i'm scared of rides but now following you i do hope that's ok xx

  16. The big one really is a great ride which had been there a long time, I can remember going on it at least 12 years ago and its still one of the most intense rides in Europe!


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