Friday, March 20, 2009

Forward two, back one

Regular readers of the blog should be able to decipher today's heading when I tell you we went to Ribchester with Michael navigating.

It is a drive of about 26 miles towards Lancaster through pretty rural countryside. We went there to take a look at a Roman Museum and some ruins. Known in the time of the Romans as Bremetenacvm Veteranorvm, this area was first settled around the 3rd or 4th century AD. Some of the artefacts uncovered during the archaelogical excavations of the fort are so significant that they are now housed in the British Museum in London.

The museum houses artfacts of the military life in anciet Rome more than anything as well as parts of ceremonial and religious plinths and altars. While it is a small museum, it is well laid out and chronicled. The effigy of the Roman soldier clothed primarily in recovered articles is of particular note and a full head mask that would have been used for ceremonial purposes is just exquisite. While the one on display here is a copy, the original is in London and we were told by the curator that it is even more stunning.

After we had seen all there was to see of the Roman Museum and the remaining ruins, we went to the Ribchester Arms Hotel for lunch. Set right on the roadside and just across from a running brook, it was marvelous to sit outside and bask in the sheltered sun. Although it was almost 2:30 pm, they serve meals all day so we were able to get a wonderful lunch.
We shared an oven heated camembert with crudites (carrot, cucumber, celery sticks and toast)
½ Roast Goosnargh Duck with a Plum Sauce (Michael)
Pan fried chicken breast stuffed with Brie and served with a creamy apricot sauce (Maria)

The mains were served with fresh veges - new potatoes, grated carrot (hot), fresh peas, broccoli and boiled cabbage (ya just gotta love the English!)
Couldn't even think about a sweet, but the coffee was great.

And despite what many time (in his childhood) visitor to Blackpool feels about the place, there is a certain appeal in the tacky glitz of this seaside resort. In fact, it makes a nice change from the stunning old villages and towns with their spectacular architecture!

If I said the names Ripleys, Funworld, Tussards, Pleasure Beach you could mistaken for believing that we had landed in some sideshow alley or theme park. But no, these are permanent structures along the foreshore promenade in Blackpool. This road that travels adjacent to the coast along the entire Blackpool seafront reminds me in many ways of Hervey Bay. All the development is aimed firmly at the visitor who could not want for much along its length.

The authorities are spending a vast amount of money doing road and beautification works along the Promenade. The Promenade is set up with the infrastructure needed during the brightest

season of the year in Blackpool - Illuminations, held for a month over September and October. Lining the streets are all sorts of shapes and characters that are lit - many resemble 1960's themes. It goes for miles and miles (remember we are in the UK where they use imperial measures!)
Having said that, the 'sideshow alley' that is the Promenade shares the million dollar views with some of the tiredest looking hotels that I have ever seen. Reminiscent (and probably built in) the 1960's and 1970's there are a significant number of them that are in desperate need of a facelift - for many, just a coat of paint would work wonders. Facades that were once grand invitations to enter have long since been closed in with boxy, windowed additions designed no doubt to offer some solace from the sea spray and the cool winter days while still offering their diners a view. It is like you have stepped back in some wierd time warp. And this feeling is enhanced when you see the quaint double decker trams trundle on by!

And yet, there are plenty of people around, so the community has done and is doing something right. Tony tells us that by far the busiest time in the year for local accommodation houses is during Illuminations. Even busier than their summer season! And the sunsets are spectacular most of the year - including today.

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