Friday, 30 November 2012

The Reel, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The other day I mentioned the Reel ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and it opened the floodgates to emails asking for photos of it.

And would you believe I only have one and arguably not the best shot of the ride that I could have taken...

Even worse - I took it on colour negative film around 1976 or 77 and I can't find the negatives from that film! I very rarely threw negatives away, but this film must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and either got lost or I threw it, believing I had removed the negatives from the D+P folder.

So no large version I'm afraid.

To make up for this, here's a link to a wonderful article about the Reel on Gary Radice's web site The Magic Eye. It is well worth a read!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Monorail, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Rumours that the Monorail has run its last trip around the Pleasure Beach are reaching my ears.

The Monorail opened in 1966 and was 11 years old when this photograph was taken in 1977. Having seen film and TV images of the sleek, fast monorails at Disney parks in America the appearance of this train - which appeared to have been designed using Lego bricks and which crawled round the track - was an initial let-down.

There were a couple of trains and the rather strange design was made even more striking when they were joined later by a sleek futuristic tube of a train which was what everyone had been expecting in the first place.

The one disadvantage of the more modern monorail train was that it was enclosed. Whilst this certainly kept visitors dry on wet days, with the doors shut the atmosphere soon got rather stuffy inside. The doors were highly sprung to keep them closed and keeping the door open with your foot to allow a bit of fresh air in soon meant an aching foot...

Blackpool almost caught "monorail fever". There was a scheme reported in the local paper to replace the trams with a monorail service along the Promenade. Thankfully the trams remain!

The ride was a staple favourite though with older visitors and young mothers as there were no height restrictions so young children could ride. A highlight came when the train entered the old Fun House at the back and ran the full width of the building before leaving to pass over the maze and on into the southern half of the park.

Change on a park of this kind is inevitable if the park is to survive. The Monorail will join other rides remembered with rosy tints - the Virginia Reel and the Log Flume.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Party at Garstang Golf Club

Last weekend the band were out at Garstang Golf Club to play at a birthday party. It was a big affair, formal dress and a sit down buffet for guests.

There were lots of people there too. We are there at the back of the dance floor, honest!

Once we got going it didn't take long before the dance floor filled up and we stuck mainly to our tried and tested dance stuff. Though there was time and chance to throw in a version of Billy J Kramer's From a Window from the 60s and the Bellamy Brothers' disco hit, Let Your Love Flow.

The big crowd pleasers gained their usual increased roars of applause. They include Elvis's It's Now Or Never and Burning Love, The Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Loving Feeling and Take That's The Flood - which no one expects two old geezers like us to attempt full stop, never mind attempt to ramp up on the original by adding drama and a blistering guitar solo towards the end. Lifted? Yes we were! Thanks to the hosts for booking us and to the audience for their support and for spending the night dancing!

Monday, 12 November 2012

2012 Reading Part 7

Phew! Another eight books have passed in front of my eyes from cover to cover, end to end, first word to last!

I saw this one on an Amazon listing whilst looking to see whether there was another Matthew Shardlake book in the offing from C.J. Sansum. Sadly not... But this whiz through the life of Henry VIII, although it did feel like too much of a whiz, was quite entertaining.

The first book went through electronically on the Kindle, but this next one was one I spied in a jumble sale and snapped up for a matter of a few pence. Not many on the Kindle format for that sort of price purely because they have belonged already to someone else. Sigh... I bought the first three Adrian Mole books when they were new but I've only just come to realise I still have a few to read! Must keep an eye open for more jumble sales...

Remember when you were young enough to believe that a night watchman would be petrified of ghost trains clanking through his deserted goods yard? No... me neither! But who cares? Ju acts grown up - well no actually the two boys throw a strop because George has thrown a strop and sneak off for an adventure on their own. (Apologies to any four year old readers to whom this comes as a spoiler...) The baddies have gone to the horrendous expense of having a whole swinging wall built inside a railway tunnel - you have to invest to make the most of a heist business!

I'm not sure how many times I read the Famous Five series as a kid, but this was only my second reading of the final Harry Potter book and I found loads of bits that my brain missed on the first pass and I actually liked the book much better on this reading! JK, please forgive me but I'm waiting for the price of your new adult book to come down a bit before it graces my Kindle!

Anyone who reads this blog regularly may remember that we found a book sale in the aircraft museum in Norfolk a few weeks ago and one of the books that came from that was a follow up to Mary Stewart's wonderful Merlin/Arthurian trilogy. I decided I was going to re-read that trilogy before reading the follow-up and this is the first of the three dealing with Merlin as a boy and young man up to the disguising of Uther Pendragon to bring about the conception of Arthur.

The second of Larry Niven's Ringworld books, this also came from a jumble sale ages ago but had remained unread as I realised I was missing the first in this particular trilogy. The third book is standing by to be read and is one that I have never read before. The first two I read as a young adult.

Probably my favourite of the western outlaw-cum-lawman Sudden. This is set in the gold town of Deadwood and has Wild Bill Hickok as a character (though not Calamity Jane). There's never any mistaking who the villains are in Oliver Strange's series and they're the usual mean hombres, callous and almost all without a single redeeming feature!

Dennis Wheatley's series about Gregory Sallust has a couple of stand-alone novels, one of which is set in an imagined defeated Britain under German rule post World War II. The best of the Sallust books to my mind are from book 3 onwards, with the character as a spy working in Germany during the war. Why Wheatley didn't just invent a new character is a question many must have asked. The book came out of the attic along with others in the series. Ages since I read them, probably 35-40 years, but they require a certain stamina to get past the detailed background history that is generally presented as a sort of series of mutually admiring dialogues between two people!

Mostly re-reads then for this seventh instalment of the year, but no less entertaining for that.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Barlow Institute, Edgeworth

Last night Creeping Bentgrass were on stage at the Barlow Institute in Edgeworth near Bolton.

It was an exciting ride over the Lancashire moors to get there but we came to a signpost for the institute eventually, which sent us straight past it - it wasn't so much a signpost as a "you are here"...

We ended up asking for directions in the nearby pub.
"Why? What's happening there?" asked one of the small group of locals at the bar.
"Nothing unless we get there..." I said, "We're the band...!"

But we found it and had a great night! We hadn't had a gig through October and so were a little on edge which meant we were on top form and even brand new songs came out as though we had been doing them for years.

The night was a charity night organised by the Friends of Turton Tower. I think they had a good time!

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