Friday, 12 April 2013

(Not) Puttin' On The Ritz

The road to Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions.  Well, my 'intentions' this week were to get my Blog update done last Sunday before a busy week enjoying myself in Altrincham.  As you can guess, that didn't happen as planned.  Oh well, 'they' also say "Better late than never," so that will have to do.

Last Saturday, intending to enjoy the first true bit of sunshine this Spring, I headed over to the north-west coast to visit the beautiful Midland Hotel at Morecambe.

Dexi - The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
 The hotel itself was originally built in 1933, and it's beautiful clear lines can only be from the art-deco era.  It was restored to its true glory in 2008.  It's been on my list of 'to-do' things for some time, and it was a recent positive comment by friends who had lunched there last year made up my mind to make it sooner rather than later. 

I decided to dress appropriately for the venue, so high-heels, seamed stockings and retro dress were the order of the day.  I arrived in the town mid-morning, and a quick stroll around the seafront before heading over to the Midland for lunch.  Morecambe, like many of our seaside towns and resorts has suffered massively since the availability of the cheap package holiday abroad, and the town itself still seems to be struggling to come to terms with where its future lies.  It certainly hasn't gone the route of cheap kiss-me-quick hats and garishness of Blackpool, but also does not have the cosmopolitan air of Brighton.  It appears to be a little stuck with what it's next move should be.  Maybe, perhaps, The Midland could be pointing the way forward.

Dexi - The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
I was luckily enough to be the first customer of the day in the lovely sea-view bar, complete still with a truly fabulous art-deco interior to match the stunning lines of the hotel itself.  Tucked away at the rear of the bar, but away from the sea-view, were the delightful 'snugs' - again, all in keeping with the theme of the hotel.  Complementing the time-warp experience was the music - Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby and host of other 1930's and 1940's stars providing the perfect soundtrack. 

Dexi - The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
I ordered a fantastic 'tapas' snack, and, though it was only lunch, a cocktail, as the occasion seemed to warrant it.  I decided to choose the sea-view instead of the 'snug' however, as the clear air gave truly outstanding views over Morecambe Bay to the snow-covered hills and mountains of the southern Lake District.  With Billie Holiday and the cocktail soothing my soul and my mouth-watering lunch before me, I was just thinking that it couldn't get any better when.... didn't.  The door to the Bar opened, and in came the next of the Bar's customers.  Kagools, jeans, 'trainers', t-shirts.  The loud foursome sat close by, and soon enough poor Ms. Holiday began to fade into the background.  The door opened again, and next group shuffled in, followed by another group, each a little more casually-dressed and unkempt than the last.  And so it continued until the Bar was full and the rustle of cheap nylon jackets grew and grew, and the voices and songs of a past that the Hotel was trying to recreate disappeared.  If I'm honest, I despaired a little at the intrusion of the impolite, dressed-down and don't-care attitude of modern living - suddenly The Midland, sadly, seemed to be the right place in a wrong time.  Now, I am very aware that those comments may just sound a little, well, 'snobby'.  I don't mean them to be - in fact, I'm very much (and proud) to be a working-class working girl, as those who have visited me will know.  Yes, I can be crude and rude, but certainly also appreciate that there are times and occasions where more decorum (and a beautiful dress, stockings and heels) is required - and I just thought that The Midland was such a place and deserves better.  And maybe, just maybe, Morecambe deserves better, too.  A quick tour around the town after lunch revealed more treasures - streets of well-kept 1930's houses and lovely art-deco public buildings.  Yes, there are parts certainly that need tidying up, but the promise, however faint, is there.  Let's face it, Morecambe can not rival Brighton (with it's proximity to London), but maybe it could try and offer something different to both Brighton and Blackpool.  Perhaps an attempt to recreate some of the glamour of the past along its lovely sea-front, and use the theme of The Midland to establish a standard for the rest of the town to match?  I have commented previously on some cities that seem eager to sell their history to anyone willing to put thirty pieces of silver into the Council purse, but maybe Morecambe could embrace it's past instead, and use it as a template for a better future.  The massive interest in the summer 1940's/1950's events (including the colossal Goodwood Revival and Twinwood Festival, of course) shows that there are lots of people out there who would relish a glimpse and taste, no matter how rose-tinted, into a glamorous, slightly decadent, and definitely well-dressed past.  There are lots of superb big bands keeping the magic of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman alive, torch singers keeping the flickering light of Billie Holiday burning and truly fabulous burlesque acts to provide some gloriously sexy midnight entertainment too, all of which could help with attracting the retro crowds to the resort.  No kagools, jeans or trainers allowed, of course.  Who knows, perhaps the glamour of the seaside holiday could return. 

Sunday brought a little more retro-themed fun.  This time, it was south towards Nantwich, who were hosting a Retro Revival event at the lovely 1950's Civic Hall.

Dexi - The Civic Hall, Nantwich
This time, it was heels, stockings and my vintage 1940's suit, to match the event.  For a small fee it was, I have to say, a truly lovely day.  Along with some real bargains in the market itself, there was also entertainment from live bands and a DJ playing classics from the 30's, 40's and 50's.  I decided to treat myself to a well-preserved vintage navy blue suit, complete with flared skirt that will be perfect for flashing my stocking tops, no doubt, and a couple of vintage hats.  With the imminent return of the 1940's seasonal events, it's a good time to be 'stocking' up on some necessities!

Dexi - Retro Revival Festival, Nantwich
I am hoping that the sunny and slightly warmer weather holds out, as I have plans for an outdoor photo-shoot this weekend, with the aim of providing more lovely pictures for my Picture Of The Week.  I'll let you know how I get on!

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