New Brighton shelter

We hardly have to go any distance today so everyone is relaxed. We mooch about Liverpool and spend ages in The Beatles Shop, which is great. It's like an indie record shop. Come away with some badges, two mugs, a Paul McCartney figurine (we have the other 3 already) and for Tommy, a fab Blue Meanie t-shirt. Then we're off through the Birkenhead Tunnel to look for New Brighton. Every road seems to lead us in the other direction so we give in and go Port Sunlight, a model village of the ideal community type, built by Sir William Hesketh Lever (of Unilever) for his workers. Also the birthplace of Pete Burns. It's nice enough but I'm not really in the mood and the boys definitely aren't interested so I take a few pictures, buy some Sunlight soap and move on. We double back to New Brighton.

Part of the success of this trip is down to complete ignorance about whole swathes of the country. I sit with the map in my lap, and we pick a few places we've heard of or like the name of and off we go. I assume that almost everywhere is grim and industrial so so far I've been pleasantly surprised by the beautiful beaches and the lovely houses around Liverpool. And we're in The Wirral now, which I know is posh. From Brookside. So anyway, all I know about New Brighton is that Martin Parr takes photos there and the funny thing is that the light is amazing. Everything looks like one of his photos – supersaturated colour. But apart from that it's really, really, not nice at all. Just shabby and sort of threatening. Bad vibes, man. And I'm sad but also relieved because sometimes I wonder if I'm just a total sap that likes any old rubbish. To dislike somewhere means I still have some critical faculties. Hooray.

Lifeguard station, Wallasey Beach

The drive round the rest of the coast is great. I can't get over the beaches down here, they go out for miles and miles and miles. Wallasey Beach is has some lovely art deco beach structures, including an art deco Brewsters, and West Kirby beach is the biggest yet. A couple sitting on deckchairs look like the last people on earth. This is really nice, wandering through other people's suburban life.

Pontins Prestatyn Sands

Soon we're in Wales and we cheer as we cross the border. Nothing seems very Welsh. As everyone from Wales seems to bang on constantly about being Welsh I was expecting something more. Dragons or something. Anyway, we get to Pontins Prestatyn Sands just in time to check in. I'm feeling quite nervous about how (or if) this is going to work out. Our chalet is basic to the point of spartan and with an old 60s bathroom. Rising Damp is on telly, which adds to the whole time warp feel, but it's nice and clean and quiet. After settling in we head out for dinner and get to the canteen as they're shutting up. Realise we're not on the Continent now and we have to fit in with good old British hospitality which means lunch from 12-2 and dinner from 6-7.

We find some action in Lunars Bar. In a strange recessive gene thing Tommy, the child of two fairly quiet people is a complete livewire. He heads straight for the stage and Neil and I get a drink in peace. Within an hour he has made the finals of the 5-7 year olds' dancing competition. I feel very proud, and very guilty for trying to turn him into this vanilla uber-child that sits quietly and eats his vegetables. It's the Boden dream all over. Because it's great that he can do all this stuff without batting an eyelid. He is beaten in the final by a 5-year old from Liverpool who can break dance, but he takes it well.

For the rest of the night The Bluecoats do their stuff. They play games and sing The Court of King Caractacus, an old Rolf Harris favourite. Everything is geared around the kids, parental involvement not required. Then the star of the show, Captain Croc comes out and everyone learns his dance. I can see tears before bedtime if we try to get Tommy home but the Bluecoats know what they're doing and the evening ends with a "goodnight children" song and a crocodile march so Tommy leaves without a fuss. It's a promising start.

Next: The Great British Holiday Day 4: Prestatyn-Llandudno

I love the fact that at Pontins you have to have your tea between 6 and 7!

That part of Wales probably doesn't feel very Welsh. Loads of people have moved there from England - mainly to the coastal strip - and a lot of the Welsh language and culture have gone.

See this map:

http://www.bwrdd-yr-iaith.org.uk/download.php/pID=22361.3

Thanks Rich. That's interesting. We did find some Welsh bits but that's in another installment.

I have been loving your websites for sometime now. Your tales and pictures of traveling Britain (and Wales) have been great. As a fan of American roadside culture and deco architecture, its interesting to have you talk of intriguing equivalents in your country.

I'll be sharing your stories with my better half, seeing if I can pique her interest in another trip to the UK.

In a token of appreciation, I share with you my American summer trip...

Neon Poisoning: The Long and Winding Interstate Highways

Neon Poisoning: Assorted Vegas Pictures

Neon Poisoning: Thursday: Back Again, Pinball and Mini-Golf

Neon Poisoning: Last Days of the Vegas Vacation: Retail Therapy At Ceasers

Neon Poisoning: Roadtrip East: The Sun Has Rize... The Sun Has Set...

Another excellent missive, Anne.

I'm afraid I don't have too many Wirral facts, other than both John Peel and Kim Cattrall hail from Heswall (Cattrall was schoolmates with DJ Janice Long).

Thanks Robert - I like your photos. Hope you make it back again.

Will, we went to Tesco's in Heswall. If we'd known about Peelie we could have toasted his memory. They should have a blue plaque or something.

I'm from the wirral. it's a strange old place, on one hand there's the older large houses, nestled in quiet towns like neston and west kirby that at one point were the destination for wealthy families looking to escape liverpool.

then there's a the grim 1960's overspill dumps like ellesmere port where i'm from.

moving from liverpool to the wirral tends to be refered to as 'moving over the water' and is subject to much scorn.

Blimey. Pontin's Prestatyn Sands.

Stayed there when I was 16, with a friend and his parents.

If you see a goth girl called Sarah kicking about, tell her I'm sorry I didn't write back... (men, huh!)

great pics

Awww...I love New Brighton. Though I'm not entirely sure why.

Ben - Ah, 60s overspill dumps, my favourite. Should have gone to Ellesmere Port then ;)

Gordon - I can't imagine Pontins when you're 16. I would have thought 12 is about the limit. Did you like it at the time?

Hello Tag - maybe we just caught NB on a bad day. We were hot and hungry so not in a forgiving mood.

It was OK. My mate was old enough to get drinks bought for him and we hooked up with some 'hot chicks' (a goth, can you believe it!) so yeah, can't have been that bad.

I primarily remember it with a soundtrack of a Bomb the Bass album.

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