Wednesday, 29 August 2012

L is for Leaving the kids at home this time!

Recently, we spent a couple of days in Blackpool with the children, taking advantage of family tickets to the Tower Attractions that I won in a blog competition. We had a fantastic time but my husband and I were disappointed that we did not get to dance in the Tower Ballroom. For our "L" Alphabet Date, we decided to Leave the Kids at Home, return to Blackpool and dance.

One of the advantages of having older children from my first marriage is that there are always willing babysitters for the little ones. They very generously agreed to care for their young siblings for two days to give my husband and I a chance for a night away.

We booked a room in a conveniently located Travelodge, packed our bags and set off.

I always find it hard to leave my little ones but as we began to put some distance between ourselves and home, I started to relax and realised how much I desperately needed this time to recharge my batteries.

As we arrived in Blackpool, it was exactly the sort of day that made you not want to be at the seaside. We struggled to keep our umbrella from turning inside out and a steady stream of rain water collected on said umbrella trickled down my back. Far from being discouraged, I was grateful that such inclement weather would mean that we would not have the sort of bank holiday crowds you might expect to contend with when the sun graces us with its warmth and brightness.

We took cover in a shopping centre, got ourselves a giant cup of coffee and made a plan. It was a good plan. A plan that involved my husband checking into the hotel and braving the weather again to get our luggage from the car whilst I went shopping.

I had a lovely time shopping, unencumbered by my usual buggy and with no one else to worry about other than myself. I bought a few things including a gorgeous new handbag and the time flew by. I was just starting to think about meeting back up with my husband when I spotted him buying shoelaces (for his as yet unworn, very shiny dancing shoes).

We went back to the (somewhat seedy) hotel room and after the sort spontaneous adult time that never happens when you have children with you, we got ready to go dancing.

I love the Tower Ballroom. It is so unnecessarily flamboyant and indulgent. We spent a lot of time watching people dancing (including two marvellously camp men dancing together with massive 'ballroom' smiles) and whenever there was a dance that we could join in with, we danced.

Usually, we dance to contemporary music and a few golden oldie recordings. It was very different dancing to the live music played on the famous Mighty Wurlitzer that rises magnificently from beneath the stage.

When the session ended, we headed back to our room for a lazy read of the newspaper.

My husband has gone a bit crazy recently with his fitness. It started with a bike ride from Chester to London and now he has entered himself for a Triathlon. In order not to interrupt his scientifically devised training schedule, he wanted to go for a run along the seafront. Foolishly I offered to go with him. I think I might have really enjoyed it had it not been for the fact that I had just bashed the bottom of my foot on a protruding corner of the skirting board in the hotel room whilst practising my cha cha cha without shoes on. I hobbled along in quite a bit of discomfort but all things considered, it wasn't too shabby an effort.

Trying to find an elegant, vegetarian eatery within walking (hobbling) distance proved too difficult so we opted for a curry (which was not a patch on our favourite Indian restaurant which happens to be right on our doorstep).

After dinner entertainment included throwing a pounds worth of tuppences each at one of those infuriatingly tantalising coin drop arcade machines on the pier. It was very nostalgic for me of family holidays at Butlins where, as a kid, I'd happily occupy myself for hours with a bag of loose change. We wasted the last of our copper on a machine called The Love Machine (which reminded me that this was our L Alphabet Date!). We both got down to our last 2p at exactly the same moment and ceremoniously dropped our coins into the Love Machine. The sliding platform received our offering, gave us a glimmer of hope that the precariously balanced fortune might cascade noisily as impressive winnings. The platform slid, the prize shifted by a fraction of a millimetre. No jackpot moment!

We returned to our hotel room and let's just say that we danced to the tune of an altogether different Mighty Wurlitzer!

The following day after a big Wetherspoon veggie breakfast (scary how many people were downing pints so early in the day) we headed back to the Ballroom. We stayed right until the very last dance and there were times when our whirling around the beautiful dance floor felt glorious. We made the promise to return every year, with the hope that our repertoire and skill will steadily improve. We cemented the promise by buying a souvenir Ballroom mug (with free cup of coffee!) If I'm honest, it is probably one of the ugliest mugs I've ever seen but it will always remind me of a magical couple of days away with my husband and hopefully inspire me to work hard on my dancing in time for next year's trip.

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