During the first week of my leave at the end of August, Chickpea and I had a day out in Morecambe. It's been a long time since I last visited: in fact, I think I was still primary school age so that's more than 30 years ago. My family holidayed almost every year in nearby Blackpool with its tower, piers and bright lights. My Dad's sister and her family, however, preferred Morecambe so, one summer, we joined them. We stayed in a caravan near the railway line and the highlight of the holiday (and the only thing I clearly remember) was planting an apple pip under the trees at the back of the caravan and wondering if it would grow. My only other memory is that everything shut at 5pm and there was absolutely nothing to do. So, Morecambe, are you going to redeem yourself?
Morecambe is, unsurprisingly, situated on Morecambe Bay and lies a few miles south of Arnside which I wrote about back in April. The Bay has the largest expanse of mudflats in the UK and is notorious for its quicksands and fast tides. When we arrived the tide was just starting to go out though I think this pebbly beach is uncovered even at high tide.
The first thing we noticed were all the bird sculptures which are part of the Tern Project of artwork all along the promenade. These cormorants are part of 'Rock Islands'.
More cormorants stand on the railings along the stone jetty. This one looks out north across the Bay with the towns and hills of Cumbria curving all along the horizon.
This 'funny' joke was part of the Tongue Twisters section.
At the end of the jetty is a small disused lighthouse which dates from 1855 and a building which is now a cafe.
Back along the prom, we came across a flock of unidentified birds all of which had shiny heads: it was impossible to resist stroking them, they were so tactile.
Nearby, lapwings were flying over the play area.
However, the sculpture we'd really come all this way to see is this one of Eric Morecambe. When I was younger the Morecambe and Wise show was one of my family's favourite programmes. Who can forget the famous breakfast sketch? And how many of you did the skippy thing that the lovely Eric is doing here to 'Bring me sunshine' during the end credits? I couldn't find a decent video of them performing that song so here's one of them singing Positive Thinking instead. Lovely, lovely memories, and my Dad still wiggles his glasses up and down and puts them on skew-whiff like Eric did.
And did we take photos of each other doing the pose? Of course we did :)
The other thing we came to see was the Art Deco Midland Hotel which reopened in 2008 after being fully restored.
There's a history of the hotel and pictures of it in its heyday on the Friends site.
We should have taken longer to have a proper nosy around but were so hungry we just headed straight to the Rotunda Bar for tea and sandwiches. We did get to admire the architecture of the room and the view of the sea while we ate though.
After lunch we headed back out for a walk. At the north end of the promenade, the pebbly beach gives way to golden sand. You'd have expected this beach to have been a lot busier given it was the middle of the school holidays and a lovely sunny day, but everywhere was very quiet.
We came across quite a few boats which had seen better days. Not much use for sailing but great for photos.
Luckily some were in better condition, though this boat wasn't going anywhere as the tide had gone out by this point, leaving it stranded on the mud flats. As the water recedes, you can see why people might be tempted to walk across the sands to the far shore.
However, beware, there are all kinds of danger, some hidden and some very obvious. There is an official Queen's Guide to the Sands, Cedric Robinson, who has been leading groups of people across the sands for 50 years. He uses 'brobs' or laurel branches to mark out the route. You can read a recent newspaper article about him here.
Back at our starting point on the pebble beach, I had a last look around to see what I could uncover and to choose a few treasures to bring home. At the start of the day I'd said to Chickpea that my aim was to find one of those elusive heart-shaped stones.
Well, it was clearly my lucky day as I uncovered this little pink heart along with some sea glass and a few shells.
So, did Morecambe redeem itself? I so want to say yes but, in truth, although efforts are being made to revive the town, it has a long way to go. It's such a shame really as this part of the coast is truly stunning with those wide open views. Having said that, we did enjoy our day and could have spent more time investigating the Tern Project sculptures, walking along the coast or simply sitting on the beach and taking in the views. Maybe Morecambe has something after all.