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Normally I have the post setup party photo – featuring Sue, wine, beer and sammich. Unfortunately due to weather it was postponed, so this is the pre packing up photo on the Sunday.

Sue and I grabbed the chance of three days away… what we had hoped for was some fair weather and to be able to do a bit of cycling up and down the prom at Blackpool. What we actually got was a wet and windy weekend in Lytham.

We were able to get away on the Thursday, so a couple of weeks earlier I’d had a look round for a site near Lytham. I’d checked out the Caravan Club and Camping & Caravan Club’s offerings and instead plumped for a commercial site “Eastham Hall” near Lytham. I knew the area reasonably well as for a number of years I worked at BAE Systems, Warton which was only a couple of miles away as the crow flies…. or in this case as Eurofighter flies (I can’t get used to calling it the Typhoon… it will always be “EFA” or Eurofighter to me)

Thursday 14th

The drive from Manchester was uneventful… and we arrived just after 12:15. A bit of a hiatus on the last few miles… I wanted to come off the M55 at Junction 3 and drive through Wrea Green, but Mr GPS was having none of it and wanted me to come off at the following junction… why the heck do I listen to it? A bit of dodgy single track country road later… and we arrived.

Eastham Hall is primarily a holiday home and seasonal pitch site, but they do have 50 or so touring pitches and the location is ideal for visiting anywhere on the Fylde coast. The site while we were there was quiet and the grounds well maintained, the facilities in the toilet block were a little dated but clean. There was a notice cautioning that at busy times there could be a lack of hot water and to please use the other facilities block.

The arrival afternoon we never plan anything… except to have cold beer, chilled wine and a hot and cold running sammich immediately after setting up. Although at this point it wasn’t raining, it was blowing enough to ground the pigeons – mind you they were that fat we were unsure if they could actually fly anyway. Sue insisted that the new wind break we had bought a few weeks ago be deployed. Any thoughts of firing up the Cadac to produce charcoal out of something dead for an evening meal had been blown wildly away.

Wind break deployment is listed as a blue job…. with the pink job being to hold various bits while pegs were driven home and string was tensioned…. its a bit like putting an awning up, but with the pink job for that being classified as “offering guidance and constructive criticism…. when not needed” It actually went quite well. By now the humidity had reached 101% and it was falling in liquid form, hence no post setup picture of the lovely Sue holding the latest in wine delivery systems… or my sammich.

Friday 15th

Friday morning started much the same at Thursday had ended…. windy and wet. We decided a little trip into Lytham window shopping was the main attraction for the morning, the rain had abated a little into that really fine stuff that is not worth putting your umbrella up for but still makes you wet. There are a couple of car parks in Lytham, either the Station car park or the short stay car park… which is good for up to four hours. While driving down Clifton Street towards the market square Sue spotted the “ye old traditional sweet shop”…. unfortunately I can’t remember what it was called, but it is in the same row of shops as the library, near the bus stop. We parked in the short stay and managed to get almost to the sweetshop when the heavens opened. We took refuge under the roof of “Tavernors of Lytham – Est 1942″ and discovered one of those shops where it would seem you could buy everything and anything… from a floor rug and a casual shirt to a backpack and a hiking compass. As the rain eased again, we made the short dash past the library to the next shop veranda and finally to the sweetshop, where a stock of cough candy, coltsfoot rock and soft wine gums (for Sue) was obtained.

We made our way back down the rows of shops passing Tavernors of Lytham – Est 1942 again just as the rain intensity increased yet again… shelter and coffee were in order. I had spotted a Cafe Nero on the other side of the road… while contemplating the Cafe Nero option… which is usually OK but it’s a chain at the end of the day and you don’t usually get any surprises…. and that was the problem, you don’t usually get any surprises. We were actually stood in front of a sign on the pavement that said surprisingly “Fancy That! – an ice-cream and patisserie emporium” so all for giving local businesses our support, we went in.

Mid morning coffee… or tea in Sue’s case.

Now I don’t normally look at reviews for places, but while I was writing this, I wanted to check the details… and came across some reviews for “Fancy That!” I was a little surprised by the reviews as all of them I came across were negative… I even checked a couple of other review sites and found similar postings.

All I can tell you is what Sue and I found. As even the seagulls had decided walking was a better option in the current weather, it was quiet and there was only one other couple in the shop. The shop itself was clean and bright. I ordered a latte and Sue an Earl Grey tea. The gentleman that took our order cautioned that the coffee would be strong as they used two shots… not a problem as I normally like the  spoon to suffer some form of metal fatigue in my coffee due to its strength. Our order arrived promptly and was hot. The coffee was not that strong, I would just class it as a ‘run of the mill’ coffee, maybe a bit too over foamed on the milk, but nothing really that I would complain about, it was like many other similar establishments and Sue’s Earl Grey tea was fine. Try it and make your own mind up. Some reviews can be found at Fancy That on Urbanspoon

Fortified with hot beverages, we continued walking up Clifton Street. About 12 years ago for a wedding anniversary I had bought Sue a full set of Wusthof chefs knives from C E Atkinson’s – a rather fine cookware shop and you never know… there might be something that you never knew your kitchen needed and now can’t do without, hidden in the recesses of some dark shelf. I managed to escape lightly…. we bought a sheet of baking teflon although I did umm and ahh over a rather trendy bright red pasta machine.

One thing I did notice about Lytham is that all the shops are still shops and are open. I only saw two shops that were not occupied and were for-sale or rent. When you consider some of our high streets now with every other shop closed, it was so nice to walk down a street that was still vibrant and had lots of shoppers hurrying about between shops laden down with bags. Well done to the people of Lytham!

We wandered out and back through the market square and on to the sea front. The rain had stopped and we wandered along the sea front. It had brightened up a little, but that is about it. It was still that flat grey sky and looking out across the estuary, Southport kept appearing and disappearing in its own cloud of rain.  Normally for June, you would expect the car parks to be full… or at least have more than two cars in them and there to be plenty of people wandering up and down the prom. It would seem we were the only people who were braving the elements.

We walked back past the RNLI station and the boat club buildings but by the time we had got level with Station Street, even we had decided that you can only take so much sea air being forced up your nostrils. We headed inland and back onto Clifton Street.

The weather is what we Lancastrians call “bracing”

At the junction of Binister Street and Clifton Street (opposite  Tavernors of Lytham – Est 1942) is Kevin Bakery, a purveyor of hand-made pies of all description. As we approached… it was obvious from the smell…. that famed northern cry “meat pies have come”  Two minutes later and one fine, hot steak pie safely stowed, we headed back to the car to take our pie back to the caravan for a spot of lunch.

A few weeks earlier we had driven to Preston and visited Riversway Leisure and bought the wind break and a few other things…. I’d also picked up a hitch cover, and never really paid much attention to the size. When we had got home I’d opened up the hitch cover and it was huge… I mean really big…. in fact I think it could have been used as a trunk snood by an elephant. So we had planned to take it back and exchange it for a smaller one. The only fly in the ointment was I couldn’t find the receipt. I have to say the young chap at Riversway Leisure was great… no receipt, no problem – he could give us a credit note or deduct the amount off anything else. Needless to say we found plenty of things in the shop that we just absolutely had to have… but limiting them to what we actually needed was tricky…. so a set of wine glasses (for the ladies) and a peg puller (for me) and some pink (for the loo) was all we came away with.

Again the weather put paid to any chance of Cadac creativity and I managed to rustle up pork medallions with a tomato and herb crust, pan-fried new potatoes and chorizo, sweetcorn and asparagus. I don’t know about Two Hairy Bikers…. but One Hairy Caravanner might be writing his own cook book!

Saturday 16th

After an evening of wet and windy we woke up to more wet and windy. We had originally planned to spend the day cycling into Blackpool and along the prom. A few years ago, one of the day trips in the aircraft was to fly to Blackpool, and walk from the airport down the prom to north pier and on the way back stop at Harry Ramsdens for lunch and we thought it would be nice to cycle it and stop off for lunch. However, as the birds still seemed to be walking everywhere, getting the bikes out was called off. Instead we decided to drive along the front up to Fleetwood. As a boy, Cleveleys was always the destination for the family holiday and somewhere I have an old black and white photo taken on a box brownie of me aged four or five and granddad with golf clubs on the pitch and put in Anchorsholme Park… it must have been around 1965… the only thing that had changed is now its in technicolor. For most of the drive we were being told this was the route of the Olympic torch. I hope the weather improves or the Fylde coast will hold the record for the torch being blown out the most number of times. We parked up in Fleetwood opposite the North Euston Hotel.

Heysham power station through the rain… this was about as good as it got.

We could see as far as Heysham power station and occasionally through the rain we could just make out the wind turbines and hills of the Isle of Man. On the drive back, we passed the Tower and the preparations were well under way for Elton John’s open air concert that was scheduled for that evening. At least it had stopped raining and the sky was brightening up… although it was still (caution – another Lancastrian saying coming up…) “a bit breezy on the prom”

Saturday night I/we wimped out and went back into Lytham…. to the award winning “Lytham Fish & Chips” on Station Rd…. well you can’t go to Blackpool and not have Fish & Chips can you… it’s tradition.

Sunday 17th

Would you believe it, during the night it stopped blowing and we woke up to bright sunshine. At least we would not be packing up in the rain, but hey come on…. you could have done this 24 hours earlier! The birds were still walking but I put this down to the fact they were blinded by the strong light and a little confused. All too soon we were packed up and ready to roll. What should have been a couple of days cycling in the sunshine just ended up being wet and windy in Lytham. Oh well…. how long to the next one?

Thanks for reading

S