I arrived in Blackpool by coach from London on a chilly September afternoon back in 1979. If memory serves me right, there were fifteen of us. Our first stop was the College at Ashfield Road to report to the Overseas Students Coordinator. From there we were put up for a couple of nights at the Marlowe Hotel, at No. 12, Pleasant Street before we could move into our own rented flats.
The Blackpool College of Technology and Art (as it was known then)
For the most part of my two years in Blackpool, I stayed in a flat with a group of friends in Norbreck. Norbreck was in fact in Thornton-Cleveleys north of Blackpool. My self address at the top of all my letters to Apak and Emak back home then would read “No. 22, Norbreck Rd. Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire, FY5 1RP, United Kingdom”.
Staying 10km north of Blackpool town centre meant that we were off and away from where the real actions were. But, what’s nice about Norbreck is that it is close to our college. We guys who stayed here were the only ones who could walk to the college for classes. The others had to take the bus everyday. Some cycled.
Norbreck has been described (perhaps a bit too harshly) as being “probably the windiest place on Earth”. I remember walking to the college on cold, drizzling, winter mornings. I would walk past by the fruit store on Guilford Avenue, the mini post office, and the fish and chips store, all on my right. The Spar convenient store would be on my left hand side before I start to go downhill, passing by rows of quaint, single and double-storey English houses.
During spring and summer the front gardens of these houses offered a feast for the eyes as they are filled with daffodils, roses and numerous other flowers. Somehow, it was the bright yellow daffodils that I always looked forward to and loved the most. For, they are amongst the first to bear flowers when spring comes around. And what refreshing sites they were.
After the rows of houses, Guilford Avenue meets up with Fleetwood Road. From here, I would walk across a large open field followed by an area of thick grassland before finally arriving at the college. The journey would take me 15 minutes in all – 20 minutes during winter, if the harsh winter winds were blowing!
Norbreck boasts a cold, but beautiful beach. When the tide is out you have over a kilometer of flat clean sandy beach to walk to the sea. You can see seagulls swirling above, whilst shells and starfish litter the beach after a storm. The sunset is absolutely stunning. As a budding shutterbug, it was a frequent photographic subject during my "lensemen outings".
The beautiful Norbreck Beach sunset
Ah, yes. Blackpool. The windswept, seaside resort town Blackpool.
But come winter, the storms that thunder in from the Irish Sea are certainly not for the faint hearted to experience.
It holds many good memories.
This is where I spent two years slogging, preparing for my GCE A-Levels as an entry requirement to the university. This is where I got to be exposed to new ideas and concepts. Learnt to know Islam as a way of life.
And many more...Winter sea-storm at Norbreck Beach
Nobreck Castle Hotel back-of-house, as seen from direction of my flat