Especially with fish and chips in your hands.
OK, that’s the romance thoroughly pricked, but taste that fresh flesh in crispy batter, covered in salt, vinegar and ketchup! It’s a treat in the warm evening air.
We really were lucky with the weather on our midweek trip to England’s best-known seaside resort last month, it was, well, not ‘taps aff’ but certainly ‘no coats’ and ‘shorts on’ throughout. The excess jackets were left behind at our accommodation.
The four-star Imperial Hotel, a grand 19th-century structure, became the venue of choice for gala occasions – Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria were regular guests, while mayors from all over the UK celebrated the foundation laying of the Tower here. It was especially renowned for Hydropathy, spa treatments to alleviate gout and the like.
Today’s health club was closed during our visit due to structural work that will hopefully by finished by January 2022 but that didn’t put a damper on things – it’s not like fresh air and exercise wasn’t on the doorstep, with the hotel perched just off the famed promenade.
Our standard double room offered all the usual facilities, from top telly to spotless bathroom and free WiFi, with the double bed one of the comfiest I’ve come across. If it wasn’t for the lure of the excellent brekkie I’d have lain there a lot longer.
Dinner, too, was rather wonderful at the Imperial. We dined there on our second night – sorry, chip-loving pigeons – and enjoyed starters of goats’ cheese panna cotta and duck liver parfait, followed by honey and soy-glazed gammon, and roast chicken breast all with delectable veggies or posh chips. For afters, we plumped for Imperial Spotted Dick with orange creme Anglaise and candied orange, and dark chocolate cremeux with passion fruit, almond soil and a chocolate pencil. Everything was a feast for eyes and tastebuds alike, served up by the Imperial’s superb staff.
As a kid, a coach trip to Blackpool saw us take in Louis Tussaud’s wax museum, with the most magical exhibit being Superman fighting the Cyclops. The fabulous foes aren’t in the successor Madame Tussaud’s, on the Golden Mile, but that’s fine because the standard of models is so much better overall. Claudia and Tess from Strictly, Ant & Dec, Doctor Who, the cast of Corrie… all are unnervingly real. The most surprising exception is the Queen, and while I understand that Her Maj likely wouldn’t pop in to pose, as do a lot of subjects, it’s not like there aren’t one or two images out there.
Still, Tussaud’s is pretty much unmissable. The qualifier vanishes for Blackpool Tower Eye, which simply has to be visited. Sitting atop the famous ballroom – closed during our visit – the structure is accessed via a speedy lift, reached after a trip to the 4D cinema and its short film on the history of the Tower. Watch your step, ‘cos it gets wet… The only downer on our visit was the chaotic organisation – or lack of; the Covid checks in the queue were fine, but once through the doors there was no one explaining visiting procedures, as we were herded from queue to queue while being deafened by an annoying music soundtrack which would be better used for information.
Once you’re at the top of the Tower, though – and this took a while as one of the lifts was out of order and, well, Covid – you forget the hassle. The views up and down the coast are breathtaking, and if you’re very good with heights, you can walk across the glass Skywalk - the old ‘Walk of Faith’ name was retired, funnily enough.
Talking of ‘funny’, the Comedy Carpet artwork – tiles containing hilarious quotes from stage, TV and film – laid out in front of the Tower will cheer up any day, but we didn’t linger, having somewhere new to us to see. A mile or so away from the sea front there’s Stanley Park, 390 acres of gorgeous greenery which is regularly voted the UK’s best park. It includes a fabulous Art Deco Cafe and Italian Garden, but we were there to loom over Blackpool Model Village.
The sort of thing Michael Portillo is forever coming across, I’ve never seen a model village, and this didn’t disappoint. The magical, miniature community features thatched cottages, school, cricket match, even a Scottish castle - it’s a bit off the beaten tourist track, but kids of all sizes will love it.
Also popular with all ages are the piers – Central, South and North (‘birthplace of Sooty!’) with their fairground attractions, souvenir booths and ‘kiss me quick’ photo backgrounds… OK, it’s not Monte Carlo, but I’ve been there, and they have titchy trains too. Blackpool is good, honest British fun – and who doesn’t need fun after the last year? We’ve already booked an October return for the world famous Illuminations.
Stay at the Imperial Hotel for three nights or more and save up to 30 per cent off dinner, bed and breakfast, or bed and breakfast alone. https://www.imperialhotelblackpool.co.uk
Save £9 by booking adult tickets for Blackpool Tower Eye and Madame Tussaud’s together, £27 at https://www.theblackpooltower.com/tickets-passes/
Entry to Stanley Park is free, Blackpool Model Village is £7.50 adult entry, family £23, see http://blackpoolmodelvillage.com/
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