Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Fun At The Seaside.

It was a lovely warm 1st of September and with the Bank Holiday over and many kids back at school, I decided to go.....on a road trip. Wooohoooo.

Ok just a one day road trip but hey, still a trip.

I looked at the Google map of England and hadn't a clue where to go. It was 11am already (he typed in a non Jewish way) so it had to be less than 2 hrs drive away as I didn't want to be on the road longer than I was at the destination and it had to be somewhere I'd never been to before.

Southport ! Yes Southport, that seaside jewel of the North West. Well that what it said on its web site anyway. It was on the coast, 80 miles away and the weather forecast suggested it would be slightly warmer than in Leeds. I had a winner.

A couple of hours later, I was on the beach. I think. Oh I was in Southport alright.....I'm just not sure I was on a beach.

I've never seen anything like it. It was a beach, but not as we know it. (I must find a new phrase for that). I mean there was light brown sand and with a bit of digging it could be made into sandcastles and it had donkeys on it so it HAD to be a beach. There was just so much of it.

Normally the order of things is - a strip of sandy beach all fluffy and soft that goes out to meet the water which is much bigger in area and this water goes all the way to the horizon where, depending on your beliefs, it either pours over the edge into some cosmic black hole or else it just goes on till it meets Terra Del Fuego.

Southport beach just goes on till it meets the horizon. Someone told me there was water out there but I donno....I'm still unconvinced. Maybe it all poured over the edge decades ago and there is none left. It's a theory.

Being a beach, there were donkey rides for the kiddies. This is a very strange British tradition and I've never bothered to have an opinion about it. Normally the animals are well looked after and lets face it, they get to walk on a beach all their lives so what's to complain about ? They get regular rest periods and smoke breaks and unless American, the kids aren't exactly heavy either.

They're all given names to make them more appealing to the little ones....look, it worked for Cabbage Patch Dolls so why not donkeys ? This one didn't do so well in the naming stakes.

I do think the owner might be in for a Dreamworks law suit though as his poster donkeys bore more than a passing resemblance to 'DON-KEY' as Shrek would've said if he'd seen it.

Note the price. The ride lasted just 45 seconds and so I think my all day parking for £2.20 was a steal by comparison.

I then wanted to walk out along the pier, at almost 3/4 of a mile, the 2nd longest in the UK. Just before I got to the start of it, I noticed a parked up lifeguard with the easiest job in Britain, nay the world. What was his role ? To protect kids from falling over sandcastles ? I mean...we know there is water somewhere in the far off distance but he'd need to refuel before he got there !

Cars were allowed onto the hard packed beach although they were only there as a car park overspill and it didn't have the same kudos as being on Daytona Beach. Still, they'd lined up neatly and were just begging to be photographed. So I did.

Then it was onwards and upwards onto the pier. I noticed right away that it was in excellent condition and had rails running it length. Tram rails, not hand rails. A unique 100 seater tram ran down the middle of the pier and a return trip cost £2. This was an excellent way for the elderly and unfit to travel the pier but as I'm neither of those, I walked.

No turnaround is needed as when it gets to the end of the pier, it just falls off and everyone dies. No, seriously...most survive. just goes back again without turning. All clever stuff.

And speaking of the end of the pier, this is your reward for that long walk, or quick lazy ride......

Actually before that, there is a modern structure housing old fashioned penny arcade machines which take pre-decimalisation coins. You exchange modern coins for the old ones and off you go - and lose the lot. It's a bit like an airport foreign exchange booth. You hand over your hard earned sterling and get a load of strange money in return but not worth as much ! Talk about teaching kids a lesson.

I've still to find out what the statue is at the pier end but it's all frightfully grand and shiny and I enjoyed it better than the penny arcade machines.

Several miles across the water.....yes the water.......lies Blackpool (noted for fresh air and fun) and on a clear day you can see its tower. Today was a semi clear day but I still need the power of my 200mm lens and a bit of photoshop magic to bring it to you here.

It's a town I have no desire to ever visit again.....once was enough. It's everything I hate about a British seaside town with a "kiss me quick hat" thrown in. Shudder.

Walking back along the pier I took a couple of photos that were a bit different from the norm. First I noticed that all along the length of the pier were name plaques screwed into the wooden decking. Some were company names but most were names of people, presumably dead people, as we have this tradition of having our loved ones immortalised by plaques on park benches and now, it seems, on seaside piers.

The other photo was of this John Voight lookalike who came towards me just as I finished taking the previous shot. He looked interesting from a distance and I hastily adjusted the camera settings to aperture priority for this shot. It was only when I looked at the results that I noticed the flag on his hat and for me, it made the shot.

Near the pier was a funfair, dubiously called Pleasure Land. I say that because I'm not a fan of funfairs either and I only went out of interest to see what rides were on offer. As it happened it was a decent place with many decent rides but it was STILL a funfair and in this day and age, more a curiosity than any land of pleasure.

I wanted to use the opportunity to try taking photos of the moving rides with various camera speed settings and I've found in the past that although a 4,000th/sec will freeze most action to the extent that I might as well take the shot when the ride was stopped......that slow shutter speeds are much more pleasing and show colours and shapes not seen by the naked eye.

Just as I was leaving the complex, I was stopped by two large staff members who asked me what I had been photographing. Thinking it was yet again another case of being accused or suspected of photographing kids for some perverse reasons, I was immediately hacked off. But it turned out their interest was more personal than that and they were just concerned that I might be taking photos to show 'them' in a bad light !

Once assured that my blog post about their lovely, well managed and well run con...I mean funfair, would be positive, they let me down, handed me back my testicles and let me go. Result.

Finally (and yes I realise this post has been as long as the walk to the end of that pier), I was driving home when I saw a horse and trap combo on the other side of the road. Not being pressed for time, I did a u-turn, overtook the pair and lay in wait for them at a layby further along the road. By now the light was fading fast and I've had to use photoshop again to lighten the photo. It was a one shot deal as they passed me so fast and I was slightly annoyed that a couple of cars had managed to be trapped behind them. I wanted them isolated. Maybe another photoshop session will isolate them but for now, here they are.......

Due to the low light I couldn't use a fast shutter speed so it's a bit blurred. I still like it as it's an unusual trap (if that's the correct term) and I'll always remember it as the last photo I took on my Southport trip.

Well as you know, I'll have the memory only as long as I keep the photo.

(by the way, when they were making up the "i before e except after c" rule, what about Alzheimers ? Did they forget about it ?)

Always good to go out with a joke.


Daphne said...

Fascinating, fun and hilarious. The sentence that made me laugh the most was about the tram "it just falls off and everyone dies". (I realise that this could say as much about me as it does about your very funny writing).
As a small child I went to St Anne's-on-Sea near Blackpool. The beach looked like Southport. NO SEA AT ALL. It was a deep disappointment to me.

Jennyta said...

Yep, that's Southport beach for you! Of course, you could have made chez Jennyta the focus of your trip! No beach but a very nice lake and valley which is very photogenic...:)

Debby said...

Man your day beat the hell out of mine!!!!

Lovely pics.

Hmmmm now I want waffles!

rhymeswithplague said...

I am so glad you returned to blogging, and your hiatus seems to have spurred you on to greater heights.

I have never, ever, heard of or seen donkeys on a beach.

That shot of the pier over all that sand makes me sad. Should we chalk it up to global warming?

Your photos are always spectacular, but the one at the funfair (which I think is what we call a carnival) brought back childhood memories of riding on rides that made me queasy. Then, I mean, not now.

And your prose just gets better and better, except that it's Tierra Del Fuego.

Katherine said...

Ah, this was a really terrific day. You are such fun to 'be with'.

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