Saturday, 13 December 2014

Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Other Nonsense.

I know you're all dying to hear about the rest of our trip to Lancashire.  Well, you are about to be rewarded for your patience.  I'm afraid it's just more coin operated rides really though!

September 16th 2011

I didn't sleep well at the hotel at all.  I kept waking up covered in sweat and clinging to the duvet, dreaming about David and his "friend" (a character from the Call of the Wild TV series) sitting on the communal bed in Grottsville and making lists of the women passing by the house.  In the end, I shouted at them as they walked across a car park discussing which of the women was most attractive.  That was what woke me up for the final time.

My hair was in a terrible state.  Mum agreed to comb it for me because I just didn't want to have that horrible job...but I still got upset when I saw her hiding a handfull of hair behind her back.  Why was I losing it like this?  Maybe because I'd started using that darn dry hair shampoo again?

For once in our lives, we decided to splash out and buy the hotel breakfast.  Well, considering the price we paid, I think I'd have rather done the usual and gone out early in the morning to buy my own cereal and milk.  There is no way on Earth that THIS was worth what they were charging...


We drove through Morecambe and looked at the seabirds on the beach from the car.  Unfortunately, the tide wasn't right to do any proper bird watching so poor Mum missed out again (just like she had done on our previous trip to Morecambe many years before!)

Our first stop was Fleetwood, which was the real reason for this trip.  I had been chatting to Lee Stefani, owner of Harbour Lights Amusements, on Facebook and found out that he still had quite a few of the old kiddie rides I remembered from my childhood at the arcade.

One of my childhood favourites at Fleetwood was Gabinella, a 1960s elephant ride which I believe may have been made by Mills Novelty Co.


While she has obviously had a makeover in more recent years, there was no mistaking that cheerful, chubby face!



Having been too shy to introduce myself, I was greatly embarrassed when Lee recognised me while I was taking photographs of Gabinella and started chatting.  He was absolutely lovely though, demonstrated some of his old amusement machines free of charge, and spoke a lot about the old days before Fleetwood Pier burnt down.

The nicest surprise of all though was when he pulled out two old Edwin Hall rides which I believed had already been sold.  It turned out that he had pulled the auctions specifically as a result of me contacting him about the history behind the machines and was now hoping to restore them for his own arcade.

These photographs show myself riding upon the rides in 1999, but they had obviously been in Fleetwood much, much longer than that.  In fact, I have since found out that the very first ever Edwin Hall ride was a Muffin the Mule that was sold to the Stefani family in 1953.  While there is no evidence to prove as such, it's possible that this Muffin was the very one.  Muffin looks quite plain compared to the early Edwin Hall rides I've seen, however I suppose a prototype may well have been different to the finished product.  "Elisa" (not his original name obviously!) was the only wooden Edwin Hall lion I ever saw in my lifetime, another 1950s model.


The rides no longer worked, of course (the main reason that Lee was selling them), but I was still able to take some nice pictures.

We talked for a long time about the old amusement machines that used to be on Fleetwood Pier and Harbour Lights Amusements and Lee showed me some pictures of the pier as I remembered it as a child.  He said I was welcome to go digging in his storage cupboard because he had even more of the old rides I remembered in there (Edwin Hall's Silver and RAF Helicopter for certain).  I thought he was joking at the time and laughed.  It was only later that I realised he'd meant it.  Ugh, another wasted opportunity.  I wonder what brilliant old machines were behind that door?!

I also wished I'd got a photograph of myself with him for the website but again, I was too shy to ask.  Why do I always stand back even when people are trying their best to be kind to me?

I took a couple of other pictures of the old machines at the arcade but there were just so many!  I wish I could have photographed them all!


Then we went a little way up the road to the Ferry Cafe (also owned by the Stefani family) where Lee told me another of my favourite old rides was now located.

All aboard the Saucy Fru!


Saucy Fru is another 1950s Edwin Hall ride.  This particular version probably dates from around 1956.  She would have originally been named "Saucy Sue" but was renamed after Lee's wife Fru (Francesca) by Fru's dad when Fru was just a little girl.

I love the detail in Edwin Hall rides of this era.  The love and craftsmanship that went into hand making each one is obvious.  Edwin designed all his own rides and was apparently a boat enthusiast, spending many hours in his later life oil painting ships upon raging waves.  While most kiddie rides of the time were still using the same boring old rocking motion, Hall's boat rides emulate the feeling of "bobbing on the waves".


The seagull up on the ship's mast is just the cutest little thing!



It makes me sad that this is probably the very last 'Saucy Sue' in existence when this was such a popular machine back in the 1950s.  It just shows how times change, everything's disposable and nobody cares to look after the past.

A man in the cafe asked me why I was filming the boat.  Was it for a college project?  I explained to him about my website and how I felt it was important to keep a record of our recent history as it was quickly disappearing.  He looked at me as if I was mad.  This just proves my point. People don't care about things until they're gone and it's too late.  Sadly, most people don't care even then.

We travelled on to Cleveleys after that and had a nice wander around the shops.  I got a G3.5 Star Song reduced to £2.99 in B&M Bargains, and spent ages browsing the charity shops (nothing of interest unfortunately). In fact, there were so many charity shops there that I didn't leave time to have a proper look around Mason's Amusements.  I was still a bit apprehensive about taking photographs and films without prior permission at that point anyway and chickened out of even photographing the 1970s Whittaker Bros. Red Devils ride I saw there in case I was told off by a member of staff who was standing near to the ride!  Funny really, as now (three years later) I actually chat to that same member of staff via Facebook...and he would have been totally okay with my taking my pictures (and probably quite interested in my kiddie ride website to boot!)

We did drive to Blackpool after that but my parents were too tired to get out of the car and walk around (and I wasn't allowed to do so on my own, of course!), so we had to make our way back to the hotel early.

We went to McDonalds late that night for fries.  A kind woman gave us her parking ticket...with almost two hours to spare on it.  Who wants to park at McDonalds for two hours?!  Despite being told that we wanted the fries separately, the idiot server put them in the same bag as David's meat.  "They're wrapped though," he said.  Maybe they were, but they stank of chicken.  Not to worry, he just went and got me another portion and ate my originals as well as his own (and his chicken meal!)

September 17th 2011

Gosh, was it time to come home already?  Today we were supposed to be walking along the seafront at Morecambe and then driving back via Southport.  I really wanted to get my picture taken with the Eric Morecambe statue, having messed up my pose by lifting the wrong leg when I was eight and been annoyed with the picture ever since!  However, it was POURING with rain and there were cyclists all around the statue.  I was determined though.  There was nowhere to park so David dropped Mum and I near to the statue and we had to stand in the rain for quite a while before the crowds around the statue finally dispersed.

It was worth it to me though.  At last I got that much desired mirror image photo!


Just then, David drove along and hollered at us to hurry up as a traffic warden was watching him crawling around the streets.  This caused us to jump into the car far faster than we would have normally done...and David drove of before Mum had even had time to get her left leg in the car!  She screamed loudly and, although she was not badly injured, refused to get out of the car after that.  So David ended up paying to park the car anyway and walking along the seafront with me.  Not that there's much of a seafront left at Morecambe.  What a sad, sad place with all the shops and arcades boarded up and the decaying Polo Tower standing as a last forlorn reminder of Frontier Land.  There were some 1990s RG Mitchell rides outside the one remaining amusement arcade there but nothing exciting enough to be worth sharing to this blog really.

We went back to Cleveleys after that.  I was not going home without both photographing and filming that Red Devils ride at Mason's Amusements!

Nobody told me off for doing so, of course.  I'm not sure why I'd thought they were any more likely to there than at any of the other arcades.  Probably because Mason's still is a clean, bright, modern looking arcade and I have had bad experiences with the nicely kept arcades in the past.  (Apparently you are plotting to steal something if you take a photograph!)




I also photographed this repainted OMC Noddy ride.


I'm almost certain that a Noddy ride painted like this had been sold on eBay a couple of weeks prior to our visit to Cleveleys.  Poor Mason's if they had just bought it though and somebody had already broken a headlight!

It was so wet and miserable that David and I stopped and sheltered on the way back to the car, hoping that the driving rain would ease off a bit.  Apparently we waited too long.  Mum rang us to ask where we were...even though we were in full view of the car!

And that was it for our trip really.  We drove along Blackpool seafront so that I could have one last glimpse at Brownie, and David offered me the chance to return to St Anne's Pier to see if the Whittaker/RG Mitchell carousel had been fixed yet.  I turned down the chance though because I knew it was getting late and I still wanted to go to Southport yet.

So imagine my dismay when I realised that we weren't going to Southport anyway!  David had completely forgotten about it!  Unfortunately, I didn't realise we were on the wrong road until we had long passed the turning so there was no way we could go back.  What a waste.

It was a horrible drive back.  Mum and I had nothing to eat and I went dizzy from hunger.  David had two Cornish Pasties, but still didn't offer anything to us, of course.  Oh well, I did see this very pretty double rainbow while we were stopped at the service station anyway.


Strangely enough, it looks like a regular rainbow in this picture, but I promise that it WAS a double rainbow when seen in real life!

When we finally got home, Mum and I felt so ill that we had to rest for a while before I got filled pasta for us for dinner.  I just got it on the table when David (who had gone to Tesco, fully refreshed from his pasties) rang up to ask Mum what kind of muffins she wanted him to get.  So our food got cold.  Great.

The second series of Friendship is Magic started and I wasn't the slightest bit interested.  Rather sad that something that had once been so important to me had been destroyed by the bronies.  Now all I could think about was how much aggro and hate mail it was going to cause.

September 18th 2011

Back in Woodberry, back to the same old routine.  I didn't leave the house.

David finally came downstairs at 4pm and announced that he was going to the storage depot.  I helped him to carry some heavy boxes down the stairs and out to the car but didn't get offered the chance to even accompany him there.  So those few steps down the front path were the extent of my fresh air for the day.

I relisted 112 items on eBay and helped Mum to list 12 new things.  Then she told me off for "delaying her dinner" (even though she was the one who'd refused to do it until David had gone out because she "didn't want to be disturbed by his arguments").

I did force myself to watch Friendship is Magic, just to try and keep up with what was going on in the show and what all the crazy hate mail was about.  It was so boring though that I was relieved when it ended!  I was disappointed that Discord didn't have a Canadian voice actor, especially as Hasbro didn't even seem to be plugging the celebrity status of John De Lancie particularly.  In my mind, it's always better to have somebody who specialises in voice overs because on screen actors usually don't have the same effect when it comes to using voice alone.

I wore a dress for once (usually I only allowed myself that pleasure when I was out for the day!) because I was feeling low about my hair and wanted to feel pretty.  Mum made sure I was too self conscious to feel pretty though, having two separate digs at my clothes.  "That neckline is far too low!" and "There's hardly anything of your dress!"  For God's sake, don't worry, I absolutely hate it now.  Thank you for making me feel bad even when I didn't feel particularly ugly for once!

September 19th 2011

I got up at 7am to go to the post office and collect my latest dress.  Yes, the one that Mr "I Love You...Unless I Can Find Something Better" had bought for me had finally arrived.  It was far too low cut and I have never worn it.  Pity because it's a designer dress and worth far more than anything I can afford myself!  Perhaps I should sell it and buy something I am happy to wear...but somehow I can't force myself to do that.

I scanned another half album of photographs but didn't do much else.  I was sinking about my thinning hair again.  I tried extremely hard not to think about it but my scalp wouldn't stop itching.  I ended up resorting to using the Betnovate again...I'm sure that stuff did more harm than good.  I worked on my ride website a bit and pondered over who the "N Company" (a company that made rides with the letter 'N' hidden somewhere in their paintwork) might be.  Mum suddenly jumped up and said "I bet it was the Nicholas Fountain Company!"  Uh...who?  Don't worry, she didn't know either.  It was just something that popped into her head!

That night we went to Grottsville (11pm!  No wonder I always felt ill and tired!) while David went to Tesco.  I photographed my plush Keypers and Care Bears collections to sell.  I would clear the house of toys if it was the last thing I did!

September 20th 2011

Didn't leave the house again.  What a way to waste a life.

My hair was disturbing me again.  For goodness sake, this was getting to be a vicious circle.  Don't leave house because you're self conscious about your hair, get stressed about hair because you don't have anything to set your mind to in the house...repeat process!  It was horribly greasy but I was too scared to wash or spray it (well, it's obvious what part of the problem was then, isn't it?)  I couldn't find any way to cover the back of my head now.  Nonsense, I know it's a lot thinner now and I still don't have any big bald patches showing!  I guess it was because I let it get dirty and greasy.  It's not going to cover as much if it's all stuck together now, is it?  My scalp was sore and itching and I hated the "empty" feeling if I scratched my head, feeling so little hair when my lovely thick tresses used to be.

Mum got cross if I said anything though as she had a stomach ache and my stress made it worse.  So I tried to keep calm and quiet for her sake.

I scanned another album of photos for her and stressed that the violent bronies might come to Ponycon and find me.  (One easy answer to that, Desirée - just don't go!)

David came in late again, took his computer in the bathroom to listen to the radio and then went straight to Grottsville to sleep.  It was a lonely old life really.


And so ends another exciting five days in my life.  Only 2am today!  If only I could keep this up, I might have caught up by the end of 2015!

Best wishes,
Desirée  xxx

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