I’ve been needing a trip to Blackpool for a while. My last one was in 2018 and we don’t get to go there currently since Blackpool, Fleetwood Town and Morecambe have all decided that they are too good be in our league.
So a couple of months ago I sought out train tickets, hotel and drinking buddies and it was all good. Although at the time off booking I had no idea that I would be leaving my job of 22 years the day before travel.
So the big day arrived. I was buzzing. I’d walked out of work for the last time the day before with a lot of alcohol and a big smile on my face and now I was ready to party. I’d managed to get a train direct from Birmingham to Blackpool North which was a bonus. All I had to do was leave the station, find the seafront and then head to my hotel. Unfortunately I left the station in the wrong direction, spent a good 15 minutes wandering around aimlessly and then finally stumbling upon the seafront. I thought it was a 20 minute walk to the hotel. No. Wrong, and then wrong some more. Eventually I found a bench and took 10 minutes rest. God knows how I looked as one passer by stopped to ask “you okay pal?” Eventually I continued and the hotel was just 5 more minutes walk away.
I had time to kill so I headed to the North Pier for a wander around the amusement arcade. I know I’m a miserable sod but arcades are shit nowadays. I found an exciting looking Monopoly machine but the prize was paid in tickets. Swap 500 for a lollypop, that kind of shizz. I couldn’t see the traditional horse race machine, which I used to love playing despite always backing horse number 8 because it’s jockey wears white and it gives the biggest prize, and usually comes last. I finally found a machine that caught my eye. I put £1.30 in it and won a bottle of Lilt, which went down an absolute storm.
It was now time to meet Jane and get on the beers. First port of call was Cask And Tap, a nice bar which sold good ale and was dimly lit which I appreciated after having a sore, bright red eye (a bit like Arnie at the end of Terminator) for the past two weeks.
Next up was The Townsman which looked from the outside very much my kind of pub. We walked in and were stunned to find a game of bingo in full flow. I was not expecting this from first impressions. We got drinks and headed to the back of the room.
There was a very jovial atmosphere in the place, helped massively by the group on the next table, who it’s fair to say had been on the sauce for a little while. Two women stood up and sang something when number 50 came out and they gave a big cheer when number 69 dropped a couple of balls later.
There was also a meat raffle. I am aware of these but I have never been present when the winner has been drawn. The excitement levels in the pub rose as this came up. One of the ladies on the next table shouted “come and claim yer meat” as the winner was announced. Shortly afterwards she headed over, gave me a kiss on the cheek and apologised for the drunkeness. That’s one thing you certainly don’t have to apologise to me for. All very amusing. This was the best pub of the night. Such a good time.
We headed across the road to Champy’s Sports Bar. This is wall to wall tv screens, like a Bond villain’s lair, with some boxing gloves and football shirts thrown in. I did note that it needs a Walsall FC shirt, so I’ll take them one of those next time. It was a bit odd in here too. We had a man come and ask if he could sit at our table despite their being lots of empty seats around. We also a had cracking karaoke rendition of Red Light Spells Danger from a lass but a bloke going up behind her, putting his arm around her waist then having a good gyrate mid song was different.
Churchill’s was next. Again more bingo was occurring but a bit more sedate, though this didn’t last long as the loud group from the The Townsman followed us as they had done in the sports bar too. We got chatting to one of the ladies who was an absolute delight. She should have been in Benidorm this weekend but was instead following us around Blackpool pubs. And we were glad they were.
We had a curry then went to Albert’s Ale Microbar. This is a place that you really need to know is there and thankfully Jane did. In the basement of the Albert Hotel. Decked out with a 60’s vibe this is a really cool place. I was excited by the toilet as it had a sliding door, but also one of those things that you see on office doors to show if in use, which I’ve not seen on a loo door before. I switched it to occupied with aplomb and ventured in. The toilet seat was glittery and there was a big poster of Audrey Hepburn to watch over you as you do your business.
The beer was good in here and they also did a egg mayonnaise cob which makes a nice change from the usual cheese and onion or ham and tomato varieties you get round here. I was quickly pulled up on calling it a cob though. It’s a barm round those parts apparently. Oh well, I’m always happy to be part of a game of Spot the Tourist.
Next port of call was Thirsty? A really good micropub with great beer and decked out in cool band pictures. The barmaid was very friendly and sporting a Moomins t-shirt. As a lover of retro t-shirts myself I appreciated this. I think she was the barmaid of the weekend.
Final place of the night was Raikes Hall. We weren’t going here but Jane saw it and remembered it was where she had her wedding reception in 1998 (I provided the best man services that day). So in we went. It was very busy. It must have been 80’s night as were treated to Level 42 and Roachford in quick succession. I made my final toilet visit of the night. I had a bit of trouble with the door but it just needed a good tug. Well we all do every now and again eh?
We finished our drinks, Jane’s partner Lee arrived and gave me a very welcome lift back to the hotel. And I sat on the bed and ate a pack of Bacon Fries. It was a splendid end to an exceptional evening.