I smell the salty sea. I hear seagulls crying and the distant voices of excited children. Opening my eyes, I stay laying in the cloud like bed. At the half open window, the breeze moves the netted curtain back and forth as if it’s breathing. There is a waft of frying bacon.
I have eggs, bacon and toast then set off from the bed and breakfast. All day I walk around Blackpool. The morning is a little dull; heavy clouds fight with the sun, the sea waves over the dark sand of the beach. There is a handful of people about; dog walkers, families, old couples, a mini bus of school children.
I walk on the promenade. Going past all the shops selling tourist things; postcards, sticks of rock, magnets and beach toys. The cafes where breakfast is in full swing and their windows are dripping condensation. The arcades and casinos with their doors shut, locked until lunchtime. Ice cream stands, sweet treat stalls and fast food vans at every few steps trying to tempted me.
I walk on the piers. The damp wooden planks creaking underneath me. The sea crashing below trying to erode the iron supports away. The benches with their green iron frames awaiting weary bodies. The rusting memory plaques of people long gone who once loved this spot.
Just opening fairground game stalls with harsh looking aged men hanging up cheaply made soft toys. A closed beach shop, a closed arcade, a closed cafe and music hall. Near the end of the pier is a small collection of children’s theme park rides still hidden their covers. All these places will open in the afternoon when they make the better business.
Here, yet more food stalls; a white trailer selling burgers and hot dogs, a drinks bar, a sweet stand. There pink and blue candy floss swing in bags and giant ‘dummy’ suckers on red ribbon necklaces dangle next to them. In trays lay pick ‘a’ mix sweets, boxes of chocolate and fudge, mint hum bugs in jars with labels saying ‘A gift for you from Blackpool.’ Sticks of rock in all sizes stand out with their brightly coloured strips.
I buy a few sticks of rock and go to the end of the pier. I unwrap one and stand looking out to sea, sucking on the minty sweet. The waves are far out, blending with the grey sky. There are no boats or people in the water. Birds hover looking for fish. I think about being out there, surrounded by the waves.
Finishing the stick of rock, I walk back and go down a sand covered boat slipway. It sinks into the beach. I walk across the drying sand, noticing old bits of things the sea has left behind; seaweed, sticks, food wraps, drink cans, plastic bags, dead crabs, broken shells.
Close by, sad looking donkeys huddle together, their little bells chiming, their hoof prints deep in the sand. A middle aged woman in a high visible jacket gives the donkeys buckets of water and hay.
I walk pass them. The woman looks over her shoulder, sees I’m not a customer and ignores me. She pats one of the donkeys’ shoulders, muttering something to it.
I get off the beach via a long staircase which takes me back to the far side of promenade. I turn and look back. Over everything the Blackpool tower rises; a monster of iron.
It starts to drizzle. I feel the specks of rain on my face and hands. There’s only open space here, so I walk for the nearest buildings but the arcade isn’t open yet and the fish and chip shop has no seating inside.
Further on is a cafe but it’s closed, a few shops then a restaurant but going in would mean having to buy something. I cross the road and go into the shelter of rows and rows of buildings that are either eating places, shops, arcades and casinos. The rain gets heavier, the sky gets darker, I weave in and out of these places.
I realise I’m going in the direction of my B&B. I pause by a food van and get a greasy burger and a can of coke. I put them in my pockets and hurry back to my room. The front door is open, nobody at the small welcome desk. There is noise from deeper inside; a vacuum cleaner, distant voices.
In my room, I drag a chair to the window, open it and sit there. I eat the cool burger. Not enjoying it but it solves my hunger. I drink some of coke then leave the rest. I get changed out of the wet clothes and into something drier and warmer. I go back to sitting by the window. The rain is really coming down now. It sweeps across in sheets, pounding over everything.
I take another stick of rock and suck on it to get the bad tasting burger out of my mouth. I carry on watching the rain and I think about the people out there, the donkeys on the beach, the distant and constant sea.