Hotel

We're just back from a very special weekend at The Midland Hotel in Morecambe (for 10 years of happily non-married bliss). It was smashing, The restoration by Urban Splash with help from Friends of the Midland has come up lovely.

The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

The building, designed by Oliver Hill, is just extraordinary. It looks great from every angle, inside and out. The way it's designed to curve along the bay gives everything a beautiful line. The artwork, by Eric Gill and Marion Dorn adds a bit of colour and the rest is mostly left to breathe.

A room in The Midland Hotel

The rooms, which had been gutted years ago, are modern and really comfortable. It's nice that they have some references to the original, like the seahorse motif in the shower.

Seahorse drain

Being Midland superfans, we bought the book (The Midland Hotel: Morecambe's White Hope) and sat comparing old and new. After befriending the manager, she gave us a tour of the Eric Gill room which has a huge hand-carved map of the north west of England on one wall. This used to be on the other wall of this room and was moved lock, stock and barrel. Yikes.

Eric Gill's map of the north-west of England

The building was closed for 12 years, went through a series of different owners and frankly it's a miracle that any of this has survived. It's a complete triumph. More photos in this Flickr set and in The Midland Hotel Flickr pool. They've got an offer on at the moment, two nights for the price of one so get yourself down (or up) there for a seaside treat.

More from Morecambe later in the week.

Sandy love

We're off to Bournemouth next week, squeezing in the last holiday of the season. I've been there once years ago and remember it was very clean and full of language students. Apart from that I don't know that bit of the coast at all. We'll be 44 miles away from West Bay which was where Reggie Perrin stripped off and ran into the sea. As that's my favourite TV programme of all time ever there's a chance for a personal pilgrimage. Other than that what's good to do?

Grand Pier, Weston-super-Mare

I was very sad to see Weston-super-Mare's Grand Pier going up in flames this morning. We were there in April and it was lovely. Just goes to show you how fragile these things are, they disappear so easily and never seem to get the protection they deserve.

On our seaside jaunts I've come to love the first glimpse of a new pier. Long, short, sparkly, tatty, classy, tacky. They all serve the same function but are so different. Southport and Great Yarmouth are bold and brassy.

Funland, Southport

Llandudno and Cromer are more genteel.

Cromer Pier

Southwold, with Tim Hunkin's Under The Pier Show is good enough for the Prime Minister, but too middle class for me. Cleethorpes' is stubby and Burnham-on-Sea's, the shortest in the UK, is barely there at all.

The shortest pier in the UK at Burnham-on-Sea

Fans of the nation's pierage can join like-minded souls in the National Piers Society, founded in 1979 by John Betjeman and the Piers of Britain Flickr group.

Oyster Shell/2-Ball Screwball

I like it when you go somewhere and find a great hand-painted sign,

Take away food sold here

then another

Fresh donuts

suggesting that one (most probably) talented yet unsung signwriter

Buttered scone

has global dominance, albeit in a very small geographic area.

Ice cold slush

I mean, look at the frosting on that lettering. That is ice cold.

Danny at Weston-super-Mare

Well, we had a smashing time in Somerset despite a bit of bother at the start. The car broke down in Carlisle and we had to get towed back to Glasgow. After scrambling about for a hire car on a Saturday (harder than you think in this day and age) we were off back down the road. Everything else went swimmingly. The weather was great most days and we went to lots of lovely places. I was trying to find one picture that sums it up so here's Danny on the enormous beach at Weston-super-Mare with its impressive pier in the background. I've added what seems like loads of photos onto Flickr with more to come throughout the week. Until then, commiserations to everyone else going back to work tomorrow.

Time for a Holiday. Found on the BFI's youtube channel, this great short film from 1957 shows Blackpool in its element. There's the wonder of the Pleasure Beach, a supergay diving competition, a freak show, and a wonderful hand-painted sign sequence round about the 4-minute mark. All with a jazzy soundtrack. It was made by Oscar-winning cinematographer David Watkin (who sounds like quite a character) for British Transport Films.

Sunset ices

Anyone heading to Morecambe this weekend for the swinging Tutti Frutti 1950s seaside festival look out for the uber-stylish Sunset Ices ice cream van with its wonderful "Everyday is like sundae" slogan. Morrissey did write that about Morecambe after all. This is the brainchild of Kate Drummond who made such a lovely job of the Midland Hotel website and introduced the Knitted Village to Nothing To See Here. By way of return, after reading about the Top Hat - an ice cream delicacy peculiar to Rothesay (an ice cream cone with a snowball on top) on Nothing To See Here, she has introduced it to Morecambe as the Snowball Topper. As well as great ice cream she's got a little art gallery going in the back. If you're down that way do drop by and say hello. She'll be on the prom every weekend from Friday to Sunday.

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