This summer I had a rather unnerving experience, and for some reason I never got round to sharing it on my blog. I refer of course to my adventures with Becky, this time in Alton Towers. No not that sort of adventures! This is a respectable blog, and Becky is a respectable kind of gal!Anyway it might amuse the very bored amongst you.
Our friend Yvette managed to get some free tickets to Alton Towers, but was unable to get time off work, so she offered them to Becky and Becky in turn asked me, so I caught a train to the Frozen North and escaping the sweltering heat of Cheltenham set off for the more clement climes of Derby. OK, so both trains I was on conked out, and th air conditioning failed, so I arrived in Derby hours late, with a rip in the side of my trousers, (notice a recurring theme here?), smelling like a dead dog, and rather tired and stressed.
Becky picked me up form the station, and then she bought me a white t shirt so I would not bake – yes, CJ in white – I know! That’s the end of my goth street cred. Armed with trainers, new socks and an appropriate t shirt I was all set for Alton Towers. I got to meet Dale, Becky’s brother, a great bloke, and to worry Becky by wandering round her parent’s house, which was fun. Oh and she darned my trousers. Becky is sweet!
Anyway, we went to Alton Towers, and boy was she to get her revenge for making her darn my trouser. CJ has never really been one for rides – anything faster than a push bike tends to make me anxious. I get nervous in cars and trains, and am rather scared of heights. Apart from one rather extreme experiment many years ago with a wurlitzer, I have never been on any big fairground ride. Dodgems are my limit. So Becky decided I should.
We qued for a short ride, which I thought looked ok. It was called Oblivion – the name should have given me a hint. We queued the best part of an hour, and when I actually saw the track my legs turned to jelly and I was barely able to not run out the other side! To be honest, if Becky had taken another second putting her handbag in the box thing and returning to her seat I would have fled. If I had realized what was ahead I would have definitely run.
Oblivion is a VERTICAL coaster – it flips you face down, and you fall straight down, vertically, in to a hole in the ground. Here, have a look – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-EA0l9JUsc (contains sound). The video does not begin to show how terrifying it actually is.
Amazingly despite being terrified of heights I managed not to scream. I got off the ride, and was more concerned with the pain in the center of my chest. Maybe this was a muscle strain from the 4G you experience as you plunge from the fall in to the tunnel, or maybe it was my heart complaining – I’m still not sure. I hyperventilated a bit, smoked two cigarettes in quick succession and when Becky asked did I enjoy it could only say”I think so, I’m still alive”. That was how I enjoyed it – I came through the other side in one piece.
Actually my chest just started hurting again just thinking about it, so maybe a strong anxiety reaction, or it really did give me problems! Becky incidentally, seemed to really enjoy it. Next up was AIR, so I led us across the park in what fortunately turned out to be the right direction. (I had mentally memorized the park layout from the top of that terrifying ride while waiting to plummet to my doom!)
I took her by what I thought was the shortest route – straight through a long stretch of parkland and woodland. On the way I started to tell her about strawberry gothic, chinoisserie and 18th century changes in notion of the landscape (I have an MA in it after all), but before I could get on to Repton and Brown I noticed a) she was staring vacantly in to space with that look she normally reserves for me talking about politics and b)was sneezing horribly. Becky suffers really badly from hayfever and I had led her on a forced march through the gardens that made her horribly unwell. I still feel bad about that. Well, fairly bad – after she tried to kill me by taking me on Oblivion not too bad.
At AIR I took the precaution of watching the ride, and realised I would probably die if I went on it. Here’s a video — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mxo5Fi1gYI (Youtube, contains sound)
It was the hottest day of the year, the queue was an hour, and frankly confessing my cowardice Becky decided I could be forgiven and despite really wanting to go on AIR herself she let me off. Instead we did something I’m better at – we ate burgers.
And then it was off to queue another hour for a sort of rapids rafting ride. It was lovely to splash around in water, the element I am most comfortable with, but even so it seemed rather tame. Still it was a nice sedate boat ride, and I did enjoy it. Then I saw what appeared to be a tiny, rather tame roller coaster – Runaway Train – and it really was not very high or frightening looking. I thought it was a kid’s ride, but as I had still not been on a roller coaster I said I’d try it. What a mistake! You go round twice – now I was expecting a gentle fairly slow run, oh no – runaway train is what the name suggests, and I was convinced I would be hurled to my death and the chest pain was troubling me again (and once more as I write this and recall it) I really thought I might die, even though I KNEW the ride was safe – I thought I might just expire from terror.
I swore in ways that would have made Yvette Fielding blush. Yes, really. And those of you who know me know I never normally swear – but my words were deeply disturbing. Becky seemed rather amused by my utter terror. Second time round the track and I was almost beginning to enjoy it, but then it stopped and I went and took a phone call from Richard Felix, who had called me. By the time I had finished talking to him I was no longer in agony, just shaking and terrified.
Stopping only for donuts – why does this woman who never stops eating not weigh more than me? — it’s just not fair — we went on to the log flume. Again it took about an hour to queue – we spent most of the day in queues, while I bored Becky by wittering on – but this one was worth every minute. We got to sit in the front of a bathtub, and go round the track. I LOVED it! I adore boats,and water, though I am a terrible swimmer – well more of a terrible drowner, my father is a superb swimmer but I am not. Still I adore water.
Becky sat in front and shielded me from the worst of it, and when I got scared I just hung on to her. So excited was I she generously agreed to queue up all over again, cos I wanted to do it again! Second time round however something was up. I have since heard from Tom that rides like this have a car called a “drencher”, where you get fantastically wet. We got the drencher. From the very first splash we were soaked to the skin, and the searing heat had finally gone as it was late afternoon, so it was actually a bit chilly! I just could not help laughing at Becky, who was getting absolutely soaked, even though the water came straight over her head and splashed me full in the face, till my shirt and trousers were saturated – and Becky looked like she had been plunged head first in to a lake several times. She stopped to pour water out of her trainers, and some people in the queue applauded as about a pint poured out taking a couple of minutes, I had no idea how much water they could absorb!
I took a photo of Becky soaked to the skin, looking dreadful, but sadly I deleted it cos if I had shown anyone or posted it here she would have KILLED me. And not in a nice Oblivion sort of way either! It was 5.30, and tragically we had to leave without going on Air. Becky was just too wet, and I don’t think my jovial “let’s get you home and out of those wet knickers” helped much. When she got off the monorail for the car park she left a big puddle,and I laughed, but when she asked why I just said it was because we had such a great time. She modestly removed her jeans behind a blanket from her car, and drove home with her blanket skirt on – practical as always! Amusingly she did ask me if it was legal to drive in a blanket. It was an amazing day out, and while Becky will doubtless stop speaking to me for month when she reads this, we had a truly fantastic time. Many thanks to Yvette for the tickets, and to Becky for taking me and showing me that I am not really a big wuss – I’m a colossal wuss!