Keith Stokes'
2004 UK Trip

Day 9 Saturday April 9

After breakfast I walked down to the shore and took one of the double decker trams to the south end of the promenade, then walked a few blocks to the Blackpool airport to pick up a rental car from Hertz.

This was the most challenging part of my trip. As I sat in the new Peugeot, I thought "they never should have let me have this vehicle."

Although it was a four door, it had very little room, and I had trouble getting into the car. I sat and got used to the right hand side controls with the left hand side stick shift. The short drive to my hotel was miserable. Not just driving on the left, but the reversed controls, narrow streets, one way streets, pedestrians, bicyclists and poor signage. It was a relief to finally get to the hotel, until I paid for parking. The nearby parking was £6.75 for 24 hours (ouch!).

I stopped for lunch at a chippie on the way back to the Winter Gardens. It was the best fish and chips of the trip (and the least expensive), but still not something I would repeat.

John Dallman, Simon Bradshaw, Harry Harrison, Professor Edward Jones
John Dallman, Simon Bradshaw, Harry Harrison & Professor Edward Jones
at panel on Alternate Histories and turning points in history

John Clute and Peter Nicholls
John Clute and Peter Nicholls discuss the 10th anniversary of their Encyclopedia 
of Science Fiction

Roy Gray, Liz Williams
Readings in memory of Peter T. Garratt who passed away a month before the con
Roy Gray, Diedra ?, Liz Williams, Elizabeth ?

I also stopped back at the hotel, planning to quickly settle up for the room since I would leave early the next morning. Phil & Gill bought me a cider and we ended up talking for about 90 minutes. One of my best times in Blackpool, we talked about the similarities and differences between the US and UK. They moved to Blackpool and took over the hotel only 8 weeks before, following an injury that Phil took in a fall at the convenience store they used to own. It turned out that I was the first foreign customer that they have had. I enjoyed getting to know them and Phil gave me directions that made it easy to find the Manchester Airport the next morning.

Phil Reeves
Phil Reeves - Gill wouldn't let me take her picture

The rest of the day was spent at the convention, except for dinner at an Indian Restaurant next to Il Corsaro, Terry's Balti House. It was a little better and less expensive than the night before, but again, not a meal I would try to repeat.


Day 10 Easter Sunday April 11

I was on the road by 7 AM. Traffic was light and the 4-6 lane divided highways were well maintained and well marked. Driving wasn't too bad, though I did tend to gradually drift to the left. The 60 mile drive to the Manchester airport took about an hour.

The flights back were uneventful, though I did appreciate having empty seats next to me on both flights.

MSC comments.

Telephoning home: I bought a Pay Peanuts telephone card at a candy shop on the second day for £5. It was good for 100 minutes to the US and I called my parents several times, pus making a couple of other calls. The card is good for only 90 days. A £10 card would give MUCH more time.

Money: I bought a few pounds in the Chicago airport on my way out of the country. All other cash was obtained at ATMs with no problems. When possible, I used my credit card. I kept a few pounds at the end for next year's trip to Glasgow. Particularly with the current exchange rate, prices were high. I could also see some inflation of the prices in pounds in the last two years. Even some people from New York City complained how expensive everything was.

People: I find the people in the UK very much like those in the US. Unlike France, I never felt like I stood out as a foreigner. In fact, several times people (usually from he UK) stopped me for directions. I heard no negative comments about Americans, though several people voiced concerns about the current US government.

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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

2002 UK Trip     2003 France Trip    Keith's other trips

Copyright 2004-2009 by Keith Stokes