For what seemed like most of my childhood my family went to St. Anne’s on holiday each year. We’d walk up and down the prom, play the pitch and putt, ride on the wee railway with the tiny Class 52 diesel pulling the open carriages. We’d go to Fairhaven Park and drive the boats around the lake, play frisbee by the windmill at Lytham, and at night we’d go to Blackpool and play in the Pleasure Beach and waste money on the machines in Coral Island.
One year I got sick, so sick that my mum called a doctor who said I had scarlatina, or scarlet fever. I remember waking up and feeling rubbish about 10 or 11 at night and to take my mind off it my dad put some clothes on me and took me over to the pier to play in the amusements. It was still twilight on a warm summer’s night and I thought it was amazing that I was up and playing the machines with all the adults.
Last week we went back as a family for the first time in maybe 25 years, only this time I had my wife and son with me. My mum and dad, my brother and his pregnant wife, and my 95 year old grandma, four generations.
We walked along the coast past the windmill, and I got burnt to a crisp in the sunshine. The lake in Fairhaven Park was closed and off limits because of a red algae infestation. Blackpool was a sad shadow of it’s former self and an older, scientific eye could easily see we were being fleeced by the grab machines and 2p waterfalls in Coral Island as the smell of terrible hot dogs filled our noses. St. Anne’s pier looked like it hadn’t seen any maintenance at all in those 25 years, the arcade machines had broken screens and controllers and the “New Crazy Golf” was, well, not exactly crazy and devoid of players.
But you know what? It was awesome just being there.