A Family Day Out To Blackpool
I have to admit that I never really imagined I'd be writing a post about how a trip to Blackpool worked wonders for my soul. I mean, Blackpool can get a bit of a bad rep. For those of you who have never been, it's pretty similar to most British seaside towns - think brightly lit arcades, souvenier shops and hotels that have definitely seen better days. It isn't glamorous, or conventionally pretty, or hip.
And it's almost certainly not the first place that would spring to mind when planning a restorative day out. But I can honestly say that standing on the South Pier on Sunday evening, watching the sun set and the kids laugh, I felt happier and more at peace than I have done in months.
We had piled into the cars mid-afternoon and driven in convoy, playing a game to see who could spot the tower first. It was chilly when we bundled out and the fresh air hit me in a way that it only does when you're near the sea. Our first stop was fish and chips, hot and fried and smothered in salt and vinegar. Eaten on plastic chairs with plastic cutlery, accompanied by a mug of tea and a side of curry sauce. Simple food, cheap food. Nothing special, but just what the doctor ordered.
Obviously no trip to the seaside is complete without a trip to the arcades, and so the land of slot machines and racing games and beeping noises was next on the agenda. The kids were getting more and more excited, and it was a joy to see them laugh and dance and jump around. To see them just be kids.
But of course, seeing them so happy and carefree was also a stark reminder that someone was missing from our little clan, that there was one less head to watch, one less funny face to make us laugh. And just as the sadness started to settle on our shoulders again, we walked outside to find the biggest, brightest rainbow beaming above us.
I have never in my whole entire life seen a rainbow that was so strong and vivid. It was truly breathtaking and felt so purposeful and real. I don't know if that sounds like an odd thing to say, but it's the only way I can describe it. I don't know what I believe about the afterlife, but I am convinced that that rainbow, in all it's gorgeous colourful glory, had something to do with Blossom. It felt like a blessing from her, a sign to encourage us to let go and have fun in the way that she would have.
And so have fun we did. We laughed at the faces that the kids pulled on the rides and gave in to all of their requests for one more go. We dissolved into fits of hysteric giggles as we relived our childhoods on the waltzers (have the waltzers always been that fast?!). We watched the sun start to dip behind the log flume and marvelled as the buildings started to light up, as the pier started to come alive. We ate candy floss and huddled together against the cold, taking in all of the sights and sounds and smells.
I can't quite describe how it felt to look around at my family, the people I love more than anything in the world, and see them enjoying themselves. The past few months have been filled with so much heartache and tragedy and sadness, and it's hard to see that pain take root in the people you care about so much. To watch them laugh and smile again was so special.
This journey is going to be hard for us all, but spending those few hours together by the sea reminded me that we will all get through this together.
And it was together that we all walked backed to the car park, our faces pink from the cold and our hands clutching bags of sugary doughnuts. We spent the journey home making more plans, for days out and trips and our impending holiday, and I felt hopeful for the first time in ages.
So, no, Blackpool might not be the prettiest, most glamorous place on earth. But it has all the qualities you need to help you escape your mind for a little bit. A day at the seaside forced me to forget about being serious and reminded me to have a little bit of fun. And we all need to do that sometimes, don't we?