Earlier this week, I visited Blackpool with my children and my parents. We clambered down barnacle-encrusted steps into the wet suck of sand and little pools of light. We collected a lot of broken shells and hunted for whole ones. It was one of those autumn afternoons where the sunlight is so soft that everything's edges are lost and one thing could slip into another without you noticing.

Later, after a proper chippy tea in a café that had tea dance music playing and plastic chandeliers, we waited for the sun to go down. At first glance, the sea looked like a still slab, but if you watched for long enough it seemed to be teeming with silver insects.

I kept my eyes on the line between sea and sky until it disappeared and both were as dark as each other. Distance was suddenly lost and night was right in front of us. And at our backs the lights had come on.

There have been Illuminations in Blackpool every year since 1879 (except during the two world wars). They shine after dark for sixty-six days. And in what can sometimes seem like a tawdry and dilapidated resort, the lights don't ever lose their magic. I was as excited at seeing them this week as I was at the age my boys are now. We watched the illuminated trams and wandered past the moving tableaux at Bispham Cliffs. With freezing fingers we stuffed candyfloss into our mouths and it transformed into gritty sugar stuck between our teeth.

I think Blackpool must be the only place in the world where people purposely queue to join a traffic jam. Albeit a traffic jam that's lit with thousands of twinkling lights.