When I got on the train from Preston to Blackpool, the first thing I heard was a girl shouting the word “Droonk”.
She was sporting a very large can of something while enthusiastically recounting the first time she got ‘droonk’ (‘drunk’ for everyone playing along at home) to a group of orange-faced girls, who kept getting noticeably more excited about entering “Bluckpewl”, and shouting “Wa’re ‘eeyar’ (‘we’re here’) while swaying.
The only part of England I’d seen up to then was London, and I’d only been there for two days, so upon hearing that my eyes widened, and I thought ‘Wowser, I hope everyone talks like that’. I was not disappointed.
I went to Blackpool because my friend lives there. As a fellow Australian, she was able to fill me in on cultural and linguistic differences pretty easily, and explain that literally very guy who spoke to me, no matter what they actually said, was trying to hit on me (this was especially confusing when one guy confidently approached me, looked at my heels, and said “what’s it like bein’ a strippeh?”. Another told me he was 23 and engaged with a baby on the way, showed me a picture of his fiancé and ‘reassuring’ us by saying “so I’m no’ in’erested”, but continued to pursue us anyway). To combat this, my friend strategically suggested I start loudly declaring that Oasis (the band) sucks, so I did, and suddenly no one wanted to know me.
I was told by a very drunk man that I had a “posh accent from the south” (I guess I do…just keep going south and you’ll get there), ordered a ‘veggie platter’ for dinner and got a deep fried jumble of cheese and potato, got three big cans of beer for five-pounds, said “Oasis sucks” really loudly and got some weird looks, pocketed the third can of beer, threw some shapes in a gay bar, went to the ‘Australian’ bar and listened to house music for five-minutes before whipping out the last beer and laughing our way home in the cold at 6am.
I didn’t actually realise how different the culture would be in the north. Not only didn’t I think about the trip from London to anywhere else, I didn’t consider the change in accent, tone, culture, language, or climate – to me, England was an expanse of green pastures that I was desperate to get to, rather than a mix of all kinds of traditions, foods, and cultures. In hindsight, it seems ridiculous that I didn’t consider any of it.
For starters, it’s soul-destroyingly expensive to get there. The trains were privatised a long time ago, and the people in charge aren’t interested in making local transport affordable, so the costs change depending on how far in advance you decide to book – I had to pay well over $100 for a return ticket to somewhere less than two-hours away.
It’s also damn cold. Do not go up there without a wind/waterproof coat with wooly hat – the wind cuts through you like a thousand tiny daggers ripping in to your epidermis. After 15-minutes walking in that, I got this intense pain around my ears and the top of my jaw – it was an all-consuming pain, and my friend said “do your earholes hurt?”. I thought about it, and yeah, they did. She said no one else in Blackpool seemed to know what that meant, and was kind of excited to know it happened to someone else. The wind is so cold it rushes past your ears, gets trapped, and irritates your inner ear and gives you brain freeze – it’s awful. Only way to get rid of it is to warm up your ears, which is hard when your hands are freezing. If that happens, go inside.
My ears still aren’t right. It’s freezing and the sun sets at 9pm in spring…go figure.
On the last day of my trip, my friend said I should really see the sites and took me to the promenade. Blackpool is actually classified as a seaside town – it was a big deal in the 40s, but now that it’s cheaper to fly from London to Spain than train from London to Blackpool, funds fell away and it’s now a shell of its former existence, but with all the trimmings.
Coral Island is the perfect example – the casino for children.
Of course it’s not called a casino for children, but it absolutely is one.
I watched a 10-year-old girl play on the kiddie slot machines while her father stood behind her. There are machines where kids are invited to turn one-pound coins in to tokens to play with, and then walk around with a bucket to collect their winnings.
We only went on a machine to get tickets, which we traded in for Fun Snaps, and ran around Blackpool throwing them everywhere, giggling as they exploded, and running away. We then headed in to the Truncheon for a half-pint of Jaipur, visited the best Mexican chain restaurant I’ve visited to date, exploded the rest of my Fun Snaps at once, then ran like lightening and only just made my train back to London.
So given that I’ve spent this whole thing taking about how odd my Blackpool experience was, do I actually recommend it?
It might not be the prettiest place in England, but if you’re looking for an authentic northern adventure, this is it.