Blackpool Model Village

We spend the night at Forton Services and have breakfast overlooking the M6. It’s the first time we’ve stayed at a Travelodge and not mentioned Alan Partridge. Head back to Blackpool because we spotted signs for a model village on the way out last night. Gotta love a model village. Tommy isn’t too impressed but Neil and I like it. It’s a beautiful day so we buy Tommy a kite and roam around Stanley Park for hours. I’ve never heard of this place but it’s lovely – huge, with an athletics track, boating pond, bandstand, Italian gardens and the usual parky stuff. It also has a big art deco café (real art deco with some cod art deco over the top) so we fill up on coffee and cakes.

Lakeside Miniature Railway

Next stop Southport where we’d been before but on a miserable gusty day. Today it is gorgeous. We stop at Rotten Row on the way in to see what’s happening. There's a tiny train – big enough to ride, but so small you have to straddle it like a horse. Neil and Tommy go to see some radio-controlled car races while I feed Danny and read Brian Eno's A Year With Swollen Appendices. I never get time to read usually, so this is great, and Brian Eno is such a good person to have on the journey - a sort of sensible genius. We head for the pier, past another model village then we get on the Lakeside Miniature Railway which is the sort where four (smallish) people can get into each carriage. I am rapidly losing all sense of scale. We ride from Funland to Pleasureland, which is nice.

Antony Gormley's Another Place

It’s evening now and we head for Crosby for Antony Gormley’s Another Place. It's one of the loveliest things I've ever seen. That’s enough for one day so we carry on to Liverpool. I love the drive through the outskirts and in along Stanley Dock. It's full of huge industrial structures that are quite grand. While Neil is out looking for the hotel Tommy & I talk about the Beatles. We all love The Beatles.

We spend the night in the city centre and attempt a family meal in Ask but Danny is restless and Tommy is jumping about like a chimp so we get pizza and take it back to the hotel. I feel vaguely defeated, seeing other families in there with kids (older than ours, admittedly) who can behave themselves. Lately I've been having a quiet mid-30s crisis, trying to reconcile what I am with what I want and what I have to accept I'll never be. It's peppered with depressing epiphanies and the day ends with another when I realise that I am not a hip young gunslinger, I am a sitting in a Travelodge drinking wine out of a toothmug.

Next: The Great British Holiday Day 2: Liverpool-Prestatyn

Ah, Southport, place of my upbringing.

Southport facts:

Hausmann supposedly modelled the boulevards of Paris after Lord Street under instruction from Napolean III.
Local legend has it that Napolean spent some of his exile incognito in the Prince of Wales Hotel. Both of these 'facts' are apparently unknown in France.

Beneath the base of the Pier and underneath Neville Street are the remains of old Southport. The old town was built over when the man-made lake was built and the seafront was pushed out another half-mile or so.

The Swingin Sixties Norman Wisdom movie 'What's good for the Goose' was filmed in Southport. Norman drives past my old house at one point.

Southport was one the inspirations for the Morrisey song 'Everyday is like Sunday'. The original sleeve artwork for the single was to feature Southport pier and the unearthly flat and sea-less beach beneath it.

Dan Dare and Eagle comic started in Southport. Eagle editor and founder Marcus Maurice was Vicar of St. John's, Birkdale and the Eagle emblem was based on his church lectern. Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson drew the strip in a tin hut next to a bakery in Churchtown.

The sewer beneath Lord Street is big enough to drive a double decker bus through it.

Ha! I just read the part about the toothmug, hilarious!

Will, that's a truly spectacular list of Southport facts. Thank you.

Your site just keeps getting better. I used to pop by for cool links and great pictures, but now I turn up for the tales of your journeys, both actual and existential. The last paragraph is hilarious, Will is right, but it is also so apposite that I'm thinking of putting it on a T-shirt! The image of wine in a tooth brush cup has stayed with me all day.

Thanks Mike, I am glad to hear that as I worry that I'm putting everyone off with my wittering. It's cheaper than therapy though.

there's nothing wrong with wine in a toothmug...we did that one time when the kids were small...aaah good times - and isn't 'another place' at Crosby just amazing...I loved them..such a beautiful place nestled alongside all the industrial landscape

Aaah...I love your travel log. It's sounds like a lovely family trip. And I agree with the comments on the wine / mug. Happiness in simple things. Actually this has already inspired me to make my next holiday a similar 'road trip'. What a great idea to take your time and stop at places. I'm very much looking forward to the next installment.

Anne - Promised you a parcel some time ago so apologies for not sending it sooner (excuses excuses but I've not been overly well over the last couple of weeks) anyway to try and help cure your mid life crisis I'll send it on Monday. You may not be a hip young gunslinger but you do what you do very very very well indeed - I Like is an inspiration which helps me teeter on this side of sanity - so thanks and love and stuff. Simon

Simon - sorry to hear you've not been well. Hope you're making a speedy recovery. Thanks for your kind words. It's lovely to hear that you enjoy it. That's what encourages me to write!

Here's a Stereolab video with the statue, for the quite fitting song Iron man: http://homepage.mac.com/onsuper8/ironman.html

Thanks David - lovely wee film.

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