Monday, 6 August 2012

Getting the Summer Holidays off to a Good Start - Part II

Some time ago I won a Blog Competition - the prize being four tickets for the Tower attractions in Blackpool. As one of those attractions is the Tower Ballroom and my husband and I are keen ballroom dancers, I was really quite stupidly excited about going. My husband also had a plan to meet up with his best friend in the Lake District, where he was taking a walking holiday with his young son. We decided to combine the two trips.

Firstly, we travelled to Blackpool. A couple in our ballroom dance class had recommended a hotel to us. Unfortunately, that hotel was fully booked on the dates we wanted so we opted for a couple of rooms in the Hotel next door. I'm not quite sure what qualified it as a 'Hotel' -  it was a guest house. It wasn't at all what I was expecting but the 'hotelier' was very welcoming and friendly and cooked a very good breakfast!

In contrast to the previous week, there was considerably more need for jumpers than suntan lotion but as most of the things we had planned were indoor, it wasn't a problem.

We got really good use out of our free tickets. The little ones loved the Sea Life centre and my 15 year old daughter gave me the first of many hilarious moments when I paid £1 for a small cup of stinky fish bits that could be fed to the big fish. She pulled on the rubber glove provided with scientific precision then proceeded to dangle the fishy offerings in the tank. The big fish were disappointingly disinterested until out of nowhere came a huge gaping piscean mouth that snatched at the slimy treat and would probably have taken Charis's fingers too had she not jumped with cartoon exaggeration complete with comedy squeal.

Later that day, Dad took the little ones for an ice cream and a play on the beach while Charis and I enjoyed the Tower Dungeons experience. The combination of dark and not knowing quite when the resident actors were going to jump out and shout at you was all quite scary. Charis is a girl of nervous disposition but she held it together well, even when the idea of escaped leeches was suggested and something brushed past your leg in the dark. She held it together well, that is, until the finale of the terror trip which was a ride - Extremis: Drop Ride to Doom. It was a simple row of seats that raised up in the dark then dropped you. At the moment of dropping, bright lights flashed in your face for the obligatory 'ride photo' which added to the shock as the seat fell away from beneath you.

As we were waiting to see our ride photo with the group we had been a part of for the Dungeon tour, there was polite giggling as the unflattering images appeared on the viewing screen. The politeness was forgotten when my poor daughter's face appeared. The room erupted with laughter at the face so contorted with panic and terror as to render it barely human. Charis made it very clear that I was forbidden from purchasing it! Instead, I bought a souvenir mosaic mirror in the shape of a skull from the Gift Shop. It is now hanging in my downstairs loo and has already become something of a talking point.

The next attraction we visited was the Madame Tussauds waxworks. I didn't think the little ones would enjoy it much but Charis really wanted to go and I felt I owed it to her after her humiliation over the ride photo. The little ones did indeed look completely lost and bemused... at first.

The last time I went to Madame Tussauds, the exhibits were behind rope barriers, to be admired from a distance. Not so any more. With the exception of a Brittany Spears doppelganger cavorting on a pole, all the exhibits were interactive. Little Addy soon warmed to the idea of posing with the models, although she had no idea who most of them were. Charis was also very willing to pose for photos, giving me many more of the comedy moments that I love her for.

Addy posing with Hilda Ogden

Charis posing with - "Who are these two?"

Charis just hanging around

We also saw the Tower Circus, played in the Jungle Jim and went to the top of Blackpool Tower. Dylan loved the new glass skywalk at the top of the tower. He lay down on it pointing out all the cars below that looked as tiny as his toy cars.


The one thing that we spectacularly failed to achieve was to dance in the Ballroom. We did make it as far as the balcony to briefly watch the dancers twirling and gliding on the dance floor below us. It has made me even more keen to put on my dancing shoes and join them. My husband and I have a half formed plan to return without the children before our free tickets expire and do exactly that. 

No sooner had my husband got used to ducking to avoid the low ceiling in our 'hotel' bedroom, we were on our way again. Geography has never been one of my strong subjects but I had the idea that Blackpool was not all that far from the Lake District where we had planned to meet up with my husband's best friend. I wasn't entirely wrong. Had we been going to Windermere it would have been a fairly straightforward journey. What I had not been made aware of was the fact that my husband's friend favours a somewhat remote location on the West Coast of Cumbria. The difficult cross country trek and the lack of supermarkets to stock up on essential supplies was all but forgotten as we allowed ourselves to relax and enjoy the spectacular unspoilt scenery.


Our friend was booked into a holiday apartment in Wasdale and our plan was to set up our tent in the small campsite occupied by seasoned walkers and climbers. The weather did not make this easy but we managed. The tent survived the winds and rain thrown at us during the night and provided a cosy, if slightly muddied, shelter.


The following day we were blessed with sunshine. Whilst my husband and his friend satisfied their adventurous natures by climbing one of the peaks that Wasdale is nestled amongst, Charis and I stayed with the kids and played on the lakeside.

The colourful plastic playthings from our  Sussex holiday were replaced here by sticks, stones, pine cones and plant life. The tawdry glitz and glamour of Blackpool was replaced with nature at its most glorious. With the simple addition of the imagination and enthusiasm of children, we had an absolutely wonderful time.


I have loved the hectic start to our summer holidays but I was not at all sad to get back to my own little home and most importantly, my own bed. There certainly is no place like it!

1 comment:

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