Thursday, October 24, 2013

A is for Accrington

Watching my very pregnant friend at her baby shower last weekend got me to thinking how much things have changed in our lives over the past few years. It doesn't seem long since we were both footloose single women, and now, here she is, married and about to have her first, and here I am, settled in a grown-up person's house with my very own OB.

One thought led to another and then, as brains do, mine suddenly reminded me of what I thought was a very romantic project that said friend did with her then fiance while they were engaged. They set themselves a task of organising a series of days out to places beginning with each letter of the alphabet, in alphabetical order. Every so often, a series of snaps would appear on Facebook - my friends looking happy in Haworth, looking carefree in Keswick, looking windswept pretty much everywhere.

What a great idea, I thought. So now I'm pinching it!

For a long time now, I've been marvelling at the number of Facebook pictures I see of friends out and about with their families practically every weekend, at museums, nature parks, theme parks - pretty much everywhere really. Our lives seem mundane and sedentary in comparison.  I've made a bit of an effort recently to get out more but, without incentive, good intentions often peter out.  So, I've created myself an incentive - an A-Z Tour of OB-friendly locations.  We're on it!

Right now, I expect you're thinking, "Sounds great, but  . . . Accrington?  Really?!"

I'll admit that this first venture was rather hastily organised, and then re-organised at the last minute. Honestly, with so many great places beginning with 'A' available (Ambleside? Arundel Castle? Ascot?!), I wouldn't say that Accrington (of Accrington Stanley fame) would have been my first choice, and, if I'm honest, it's a bit of a cheat anyway as we didn't quite go to Accrington itself, but the wonderfully-named village of Oswaldtwistle close by.

The reason for the haste is that my parents are staying with us next week, and we are due to go to Blackpool again to take in the illuminations (or 'special lights' as OB calls them).  Blackpool is such an obvious choice for 'B' that I was desperate to get an 'A' in before then.  If not, I would either have to think of another 'B' or go to Blackpool yet again, and twice in one year is enough even for me.

I made a plan for a quite different 'A' location, but it entirely depended on the weather being reasonable as it was all outdoors.  When today dawned damp, cold and foggy I knew we weren't onto a winner.  So, the revised plan was to head on over to Oswaldtwistle Mills for a spot of light, early Christmas shopping, a run around in the play centre there, and whatever else we could find.

It was a modest ambition, but actually we had a very pleasant time. I have been once before, years ago, so I chose the 'set off in the general direction and look out for the brown signs' method of finding the place which only resulted in one detour, but involved plenty of enjoyable driving across moor-top roads. Of course, once we set off, the fog lifted, the clouds parted and the sun made a rare autumn appearance which caused me a moment's regret that I changed plans, but it soon faded.

OB really enjoyed himself in the play centre (£2.95 for unlimited time) and would happily have stayed longer if I hadn't dragged him away to the shopping zone.  I managed to purchase a couple of Christmas stocking fillers and have a rather pleasant coffee, and we enjoyed ourselves on the outdoor play area.
OB apologises to the ducks for the lack of bread!

There are clearly a lot of other attractions that I presume were closed because it's off-season / not the weekend.  There are duckponds where feeding is encouraged, but the kiosk that sells the duck food was closed and I hadn't brought bread (makes a mental note to always bring bread). There is also an aviary and place where they let you hold birds and touch them, but there were no birds there today. OB had a great time running all over the (closed) crazy golf course, and kicking around in the outdoor sand pit (makes a mental note to plan ahead for unexpected sand play opportunities). And, best of all, nobody wet their pants.

So, that's 'A' done, and 'B' is already sorted, but if anyone has any suggestions for 'C' I'll be happy to hear them!

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