Keith Stokes'
2004 UK Trip

Day 8 Friday April 9

I'm not a breakfast eater, but decided to try the Full English Breakfast that came with my room. I did tell them to hold the baked beans but had bacon, sausage, egg, toast and fried tomato. It turned out that I had been the only guest in the hotel that night, though the rest of the weekend they would be full. The first guests arrived while I was having breakfast.

Then out to see Blackpool. I have only found one person from the US who admitted to having heard of Blackpool. That one had seen it in the 1995 movie Funny Bones, staring  Peter Chelsom, Oliver Platt & Jerry Lewis. Blackpool is the largest tourist destination in the UK, but is rarely visited by foreigners. A blue collar shore resort that developed in the 19th century, it reminds me of many New Jersey shore communities.

Instead of a boardwalk, there is a promenade that extends several miles along the shore, much of that area filled with arcades, snack shops, shows, bars and other amusements. There are three piers and a 110 year old tower inspired by the Eiffel Tour. There are 3,500 hotels and guest houses in Blackpool.

Blackpool Tower
518 foot Blackpool Tower

Central Pier

South Pier - the roller coaster is at Pleasure Beach on the other side of the pier

I spent the morning exploring. Visited the sincere but disappointing Sea-Life Centre, walked to the end of the Central Pier and stepped in and out of several arcades. I would have loved this community when I was 10 years old, and for different reasons, maybe when I was 20, but it doesn't have much to offer me at age 50.

Short lane bowling in one of the arcades

The Sea-Life Centre
The Sea-Life Centre  with street market in foreground

Not finding anyplace interesting for lunch, I stopped at the food court in the Marks & Spencer across from the Winter Gardens and bought some very good fresh cookies and milk for lunch, making it to the convention in time for opening ceremonies at 1 PM.

The rest of my day was spent at convention programming and the bar at the convention, except for a so-so diner at one of the best reviewed restaurants in town, the nearby Il Corsaro. The Il Corsaro decor reminded me of the kitsch of many of the Italian chain restaurants in the US. The food was OK, but nothing special and calamari appetizer, chicken cacciatore, garlic bread and one glass of house wine ran £26 with tip ($47).

Compared to the US conventions I normally attend: the programing and dealers room were similar, the art show was tiny and I really missed the parties. The convention had two cash bars and there was a lot more alcohol being consumed at programing (panels, readings, presentations) than I normally see. From my stand point, this convention was better organized than the previous Eastercon I attended.

opening ceremonies at the British National Science Fiction Convention
Setting up for opening ceremonies at the British National Science Fiction Convention
many more photos from the convention are at MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive

It was odd being almost invisible at the convention. After 20 years and 150 conventions, I spend much of the time with friends. I met only 3 people at the convention whom I already knew. I could have made more contacts by volunteering to help at the convention, but with a rather short time at the con, decided not to go that route.

 Il Corsaro - everyone was seated at the sofas in the front for several minutes before
they were moved to their tables

Going back to the hotel late at night, the streets of Blackpool were filled with young people visiting the bars and discos, with the 18 year old girls wearing mini skirts and no jackets despite the cold temperature. The overall crowd was rather rough, but not enough to make me uncomfortable. 

Back at the hotel, things were quiet inside, but high school soccer teams from around Europe were staying in nearby hotels and some of the kids played in the street for most of the night.

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Day 1 - London    Day 1 - London    Day 3 - London  Day 4 - Oxford
Day 5 - Salisbury & Stonehenge  Day 6 - London    Day 7 - London & Blackpool
Day 8 - Blackpool    Day 9 & 10 - Blackpool

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Copyright 2004-2009 by Keith Stokes