Traveller's tales

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bring me sunshine!

They say, 'See Naples and die', don't they, but if you can drag yourself away from the slot machines and the bingo and all that, try walking along the prom, up towards Bare, going in the direction of Carnforth, and I'll show something to make you change your mind, as the song goes.

Morecambe Bay is expansive, sweeps round in almost a full arc, from Heysham with its twin megaliths: Heysham A and B, past the Lakes away in the distance, with Grange over Sands in the foreground, the machine shops of Vickers in Barrow hardly visible, Walney Island, just off Barrow, and then right round to Carnforth, Wharton and Bare.

As an undergraduate at Lancaster, I spent my second year at Lord Street, upstairs from the Melletts who are still there, though no longer renting rooms to noisy students, coming in from the Sugar House in Lancaster at all hours.

It's hard to imagine it these days, but Morecambe was once hugely popular with holidaymakers, second only to Blackpool - just the place to enjoy a long weekend in an Indian summer in September, which we always did when we were young.

Go into the railway station, just down the road from the stately Midland Hotel - look in the Gents if you're a gent - the number of urinals indicates the resort's popularity - trainloads of happy millworkers from Oldham, Nelson, Brierfield, and Ashton Under Lyne stepping off trains, kids with buckets and spades ready to excavate sections of the beach, Dads with 'Kiss-me-quick hats or the proverbial knotted handkerchief at the ready for the sun, and Mums bringing up the rear, loaded down, a parasol in case it gets too hot, bags crammed with all sorts of stuff, making for the taxi rank to get up to the lodge, as my Gran used to call the guest house where we stayed.

And don't forget Morecambe's namesake either, Eric, immortalised now by a statue of him dancing on one leg, as he sang his song - 'Bring me sunshine through the years, never bring me any tears.'

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