We’re home. When not in Aotearoa we have two homes. One is in the northwest of England, the other is the south-western tip of Cornwall. We’ve landed in the north and have already set about exploring all that it has on offer. We’ve also noticed the decline.
We went to Blackpool this week. It’s a city characterised by extensive Victorian investment in the seaside. A double promenade with wide scalloped steps, connecting the path with the sea. In Blackpool you find hotels with six levels and multiple colours, stretching along the shoreline as far as the eye can see. It’s also characterised by its 1980’s investment in amusement parlours, fairground rides on the piers, and lights of all designs strung up along the tramlines and light poles on the promenade, giving life to the annual illuminations festival in the fall. Blackpool hasn’t had much in the way of new investment. There’s a new section of shorefront near central pier and there is some refurbishment going in around the smarter hotels, but for the most part it feels like a place of neglect. But you just need to look beyond the tack and the cheese and you’ll fall in love with it anyway.
The next day we went to Morecambe, just 5 miles from Pete’s home village. Morecambe was also a place of investment in the Victorian era, although never to the scale of Blackpool. It also had a 1980’s heyday before the British discovered package holidays to Spain. Central to Morecambe’s shorefront is a large hole. A walled area with steps leading down into what was once swimming pools and areas for lounging beside the sea. Morecambe Bay is full of sand for most of the day. With a tidal range of up to 10m the water comes a long way in and heads a long way out. They even say the tide runs faster than a galloping horse. A shore-front swimming pool would be handy.
May’s government is tightening the country’s purse strings. Closing libraries, swimming pools and schools. Our closest town of Lancaster has a multitude of vacant shops. It’s a reminder of how incredibly fortunate we are to have weathered the GFC so well in New Zealand.
But we’re loving it all anyway. We’re exploring our surrounds like ants to a benchtop covered in sticky jam. We’ve already seen some of the towns. We’ve also had a glorious day at Coniston Water and have driven through part the Lake District. We’re blown away by how quiet it is in the north, even if it’s tough to find a good job in these parts. Lancashire here we come.