Here is the view of the front:
The hotel webpage didn't mention this little tid-bit at all. I cannot bring myself to include a link to their website, but I will tell you that they have "Pole Fitness Classes" if you're interested. This is a 'reverse mullet' business principal that college courses neglected to cover. Party in the front and business in the back. Not sure I would want my little girl to attend the 'Fallen Angels' school of dance, but got to give the owner kudos for having a semi-reputable side operation. Notice the bricked up windows alongside the classic architecture. This will become a reoccurring theme. I would guess at one time this building was either an Inn with a livery stable (known as a "Coach Inn") or an old fire brigade station.
We were worried that the hotel room would be loud and had visions of drunken men brawling out on the sidewalk at 2:30 in the morning. I am happy to report that no such instances happened and at 12 o'clock - the town got very quiet. So for a room adjacent to the parking lot and across the street from 'live entertainment' we were pretty happy.
We arrived Friday just after one o'clock and were very happy to be able to check into our suite.
Notice the Monster Truck line up. I am seriously going to blog about their adventures. They go everywhere with us. The room was pretty tight, but nice and clean. We don't spend a whole lot of time in the room anyway, so it was fine with us. We lathered on the sunscreen and hit the beach!
It looked relatively close from the hotel restaurant window, but that did not prepare us for the half a mile walk from the boardwalk (or "promenade" as the English call it) to the actual shoreline. This was the sandiest beach we've been to thus far. It seemed to take an eternity to cross the sand, as though we were crossing the Normandy beaches under fire on D-Day. The tiny rocks were very painful, and the sand seemed to go on forever. The water was very cold, as was the overall temperature, so after a short while the Bean packed his construction equipment up and declared he wanted to go back to the hotel room. He also wanted to go to the 'pavilion'.
This is our catch-all term for any amusement type of activity at the beach. About five or six blocks of the beachfront was devoted to carnival-type attractions. The only frame of reference I have to compare this beachfront extravaganza to is the 'strip' at South Carolina's Myrtle Beach. And the patrons were just as classy. (Smell that? It's sarcasm!) Lots of inappropriate clothing, ridiculous tattoos, shifty-looking carnies and jarring rides. This is my 'I'm gonna need a chiropractic adjustment after this' face (please note that this is a scarf I'm wearing and not a cervical-adjustment pillow, which would have been more appropriate):
Friday was warm during the day, but as the sun went down the evening got chilly! I daftly thought since it was the beach we did not need to pack any warm weather clothes. (Which is surprising, because I always have a piece of fleece or a Bean jacket in the car, but when the Hubs packs the car for a trip he brings in all the items he deems 'unnecessary'. My cache of reusable bags, the jackets, toys, hats...well you get the picture. The stuff I thought was there had been brought into the house while I was gathering supplies for the trip.)
We persevered. We walked the shoreline amusements and went into the main boardwalk of the strip. Whoever owns this place has the hook-up when it comes to those sit and ride machines you find outside of every major grocery store. Barney, Bob the builder, double-decker buses, lorries (semi-trucks) and other characters I did not recognize. This one was my favorite:
Maybe I have a soft spot for Bigfoot because when we lived in St. Louis, I worked just down the road from the home of Bigfoot- the original monster truck. I wonder if Bob Candler knows there is a Brit knock-off of his famous truck.
We wound down our Friday night by playing on the most lucrative invention known to man, besides the frozen daiquiri machine, the illustrious bouncy castle. This pavilion had not one but TWO bouncy castle play areas. For £2 you get twenty minutes in four different bouncy apparatus and the attendant wasn't concerned how long you bounced. Let's just say they were more interested in their next 'smoke' break. I haven't seen or smelled that many green funny clouds since my last Dave Matthews concert. This was £2 well spent. When it comes to bounce houses, the Bean plays hard. We did limp out with a small scuff mark on our head.
Saturday morning wasn't so spectacular. We awoke to fog and light mist. Not enough to dampen our adventures, but a day at the beach was right out. We went directly to the next bouncy castle apparatus for more fun. On the way, however something else peaked our interest: Donkey rides.
I am learning from the Great Yarmouth tourism site that Donkeys are a big deal. I think we paid £2.50 for a donkey ride. It was worth the poundage. Not only did I get to see the little dude ride like a natural (knees in, like if you were riding bare-back), but the Hubs and I got many a giggle out of humming 'been through the desert on an ass with no name'. The attendant led the mule-train down to the shoreline and back. At one moment, I briefly wondered if the fog would swallow them up, but they made it back.
Here is one more of the little dude:
Then off to the bouncy arena. Let the games begin!
The name of the 'Mr. Wobbles' play park was strangely accurate because, due to the foggy weather, the bounce houses kept falling in on themselves. We tore the Bean away from the bounce houses and continued our exploration of the strip. We popped into a craft show and I got the killer scarf previously referenced. I should have bought more. When will I learn?
Just when we thought we may pack it up and drive back to our little corner of the world, Hubs suggested we take a walk down a side street where he thought there may be more shoppes to pop into. This is where we hit pay dirt. This was like an airplane crashing into a caravan of ambulances on their way to the train wreck. I wanted to avert my eyes, but I had to keep them open to absorb all the phantasmal wonders. Gently wafting from a CD store was a recording of British guy crooning "The Gambler". Just let that sink in for a moment. There were 20 somethings to 50 somethings all tatted up with the latest in classy neck tattoo art work. And when I say "latest", I mean no later than 1996. Skulls, mermaids, rainbow unicorns, nekkid ladies, and all the other fantastic skin-art one thinks of when one wakes in the morning, raging gin-hangover-and-all, and says to oneself, "You know what, I'm gonna get me a big ole neck tattoo today! And, you know what, I'm gonna get some 5/8" washers inserted in my ears while I'm at it!" Nothing says "employable" or "upper management material" like gauges in your ears and a topless woman riding a unicorn tattooed on your forearm. But they sure do love them li'l babies they started having when they were 14.
Just across the street was a 'Western World'. Note the rebel flag. I shed a tear and felt like I was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Yes, if Tennessee and Myrtle Beach had a love child that spoke with a British accent, it would be Great Yarmouth. They had howling wolf screen printed tees, huge belt buckles with Elvis and pictures of old western movie stars. I winced a little when I realized that this perpetuated stereotype of Americans is why everyone we meet marvel how we're 'not what (I) expected'. For example, over the Fourth of July weekend, British Telecom celebrated with a marathon of 'Duck Dynasty'. The English seem disappointed that the Hubs does not have a beard that reaches his navel.
In the mist of this bustling euro-trash side street was an old, crumbling, Gothic stone church. They were having a fund raiser to replace the dilapidated roof. All I could think was 'this is a job for Whoopie Goldberg and those zany nuns of Sister Act'.
Always classy, Hubs bought a holographic picture of Jesus with astrological signs in the background. Jesus shifts his pose when you move the picture, which the Hubs seems endlessly delighted by.
Yea, I am pretty sure we will be driving the bus to Hell, so book early and avoid the rush. We will be serving ice water. (On a side note- I've now redirected the Bean to sing "Highway to Bowling" since I came home and had to yell at the ignoramus Hubs for playing AC/DC while the Bean was in the house with him. Do men ever learn or grow up? I don't think so. I'm just glad the two of them occasionally wear pants. When I'm around anyway...)
The one very cool thing about Great Yarmouth is they have an off-shore wind farm. I'd heard the rumor that North Carolina was mulling over whether or not to erect an off-shore wind farm and the general consensus was that it would be an eyesore and a detriment to tourism. I am here to tell you, no, it would not. In fact, it looks rather progressive and neat-o. Furthermore, Great Yarmouth had an education and hands on center to educate the populous about the advantages of off-shore wind farming. The center was called E-on Energy.
Oh my friends, I will be going back to Great Yarmouth. You bet. That ranks on one of the top places I've been so far in England. I will leave you with this final picture of the KFC rip off we spotted just before we headed back home.
And just in case you'd thought I'd lost all hope:
But now, I must concentrate on the Bean's 5th birthday party happening this Saturday.
Until next time, keep it classy.