You might know we've been on holiday. Here's five things from somewhere we visited: Blackpool.
Blackpool Tower is possibly the most famous of the town's many attractions. It stands at 518 feet (158 metres) high and was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. It opened in 1894 and is apparently the 103rd tallest free standing tower in the world. Except it isn't free standing by my definition. It stands set into the entertainment complex below - circus, ballroom, etc - so I don't think it counts. It's Grade I listed, so whatever you think about it, it's important.
Giving the Tower a run for its money in the fame stakes are the annual Illuminations. They are a huge light show that runs along a stretch of coast known as The Golden Mile, but they actually cover nearly six miles. They began in 1879 with the grand total of just eight arc lamps. Promoters called it "artificial sunshine" and attracted in excess of 70,000 visitors. It wasn't until 1912 that anything approaching the modern show was introduced. Then 10,000 bulbs were hung in garlands along and across the road to commemorate the opening of a new stretch of the Promenade. Today "The Lights" are lit for 66 nights each September and October and attract around three and a half million people.
The Comedy Carpet
One of Blackpool's newer attractions, right next to the Tower, is the Comedy Carpet. It's a lot of words, phrases, catchphrases and jokes that refer to more than 1,000 comedians and comedy actors. None of the scripts are attributed to specific acts, although famous names appear around the edge for you to make up your own mind. It contains more than 160,000 granite letters in many different type faces, embedded into concrete. Some are large enough to read from the top of the Tower, others you just have to wander across and find for yourself.
|Not seaside fish and chips! (Black Country Museum)|
You can't go to the seaside without having fish and chips. There must be hundreds of places to buy them in Blackpool, among the newest being the flagship of chip chain Harry Ramsden. (The original Ramsden's flagship in Guiseley, West Yorkshire now belongs to rival chain Wetherby Whaler.) No-one is really sure where fish and chips started but they've been around since the mid 19th century, thanks to the growth of the railway system that allowed fish to be carried well inland before it rotted. It's been popular ever since, and during World War II it was the only hot food takeaway not to be rationed.
|Dodgems on Central Pier|
Many seaside towns have lost a key symbol of their Victorian past - the pier - but Blackpool is lucky enough to still have three. Traditionally the pier was a way to walk out 'into the sea' to take the fresh air away from the town, but these days they tend to be a location for fun fairs, cafes and gypsy palmists.