The only animals we have seen over the last few days have been gaudily-painted plastic and fibreglass ones.
No vegetables have passed my lips in four days. I have eaten so much fried junk that if I don’t have a salad soon I will die of chip poisoning. And I could have bought a second-hand car with what I’ve spent.
Abandoning the poultry and dogs to the mercy of Mr E, Gamford, the Young Master and the Young Mistress and I made the pilgrimage to witness the illuminations in Blackpool. No disrespect to the ’Pool or its very imaginative tourist board, but those discerning travellers who seek ‘top end’ experiences should steer clear.
If, for example, you are discerning (ie. rich) and holiday in Scotland you can bodyswerve schlepping around with the plebs, and instead be helicoptered in, for example, through misty glens and majestic lochs to Inverlochy Castle, a Relais et Chateaux hotel just above Fort William. Merely through having a French name, it reeks of exclusivity and class. And at £624 for dinner, bed and breakfast, you would expect exclusivity and class.
Indeed, almost anywhere in the UK, you can country-house-hotel it, and miss the gaudier sights and experiences.
Not so with Blackpool. The Travelodge is about as posh as it gets. Blackpool is as big and brash as one of those large lay-dees in a spotty swimsuit on the old saucy postcards – what you see is what you get. Bright lights, plenty of plastic, and plates and plates of fast food.
As a precaution, we popped a Fortnum & Mason hamper (note: like French hotel chain names, ampersands also reek of exclusivity and class) into the boot of the Rolls along with our steamer trunk as a precaution.
Once Gamford had hitched up a petrol bowser (to ensure our fuel supplies in a foreign country), and pulled on his string-backed driving gloves, we were ready for the off. As the staff stood in a line outside Shoogly Towers to cheerily wave us off, we set off on our merry way to Englandshire.
Actually, that is not what happened. I think I might have been watching too much Downton. Mr E gave us a lift to the station where we slummed it cattle class, as we always do, on train tickets booked with a Family Railcard three months in advance.
No Relais et Chateaux for us. We stayed in a caravan on a ‘holiday park’ on the outskirts of Blackpool, where everything you wanted to get to (swimming pool, cafe, ‘showbar’) was off a central arcade. If you have ever tried to drag young children through a seaside arcade with its flashing lights, pumping dance music and boxes with those limp-wristed cranes in them which always fail to get a proper grip on the giant Smurf your youngest child desires you to win at all costs, you will totally feel my pain and frustration.
However, we did it. We schlepped here and there from dawn ‘til dusk. We were fleeced by pirates on dry land at every turn – admissions, passes for this and that, photos of us having fun ... the Tower, the Tower ballroom and its magical Wurlitzer, the illuminations, the tatty piers, Coral Island (where we met the real pirate, Cap’n Jack Sparrow, oh yes indeedy. And did you know when he’s in Blackpool, he fits in by using a broad Lancashire accent?), the trams, the Pleasure Beach, the endless burgers and fish ‘n’ chips.
Already they want to go back next year. I will have to get in training by walking 20 miles a day, eating salad for four weeks until departure and save like a demon in order to ensure I am Blackpool-ready. Bring it on.