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If youíve read any of the other opinions about this meet up event, then youíll probably know that I went along. You might even know that I went with Mortimus, but if youíre reading still, I expect that you want to know more (perhaps the title intrigued you ;) and you want to know about it from my perspective.
Mortimus (whom for sake of argument I will call Phil from now on) and I walked off nemesis and up the slope towards the photo booth. I say walked, but for me it was more of a stagger or a swerving motion, so it was understandable if I didnít know that we had arrived at the meet as the others were standing there waiting for us to dismount as it were. Added to the fact that I donít bother wearing glasses for my short sight except whilst driving caused me to continue my stagger until I was within range. Fortunately Iím not anywhere near Mr Magooís level which is why I donít bother with the glasses (that and the fact that if I continually wore them then my eyesight would deteriorate more rapidly).
As to the question of why I was staggering you probably have to rewind 4 hours to about 7am when I was forced to rise and drink coffee and eat a bacon sandwich (cheers Phil) and then leave in order to arrive at Alton towers for 9.01 am (Phil was quite impressed by that, I tried to remain nonchalant).
Anyway in short order I was presented to Trampus (Sarah), Howiemon (Dave), Deano76 (Dean), CheekyChicken (Mel), Shufflebum (Rachel), CareBear (Clare), her husband BestBit (Andrew), they all were either a very sorry looking bunch of people or generally nice people to know and unfortunately since Iím writing this (and it is late) Iíll have to not let you make up your own mind but tell you that it was the latter and only Dean and Rachel looked even vaguely worse for wear due to excesses the night before. Dean was fast recovering, having found Nemesis to be a great cure for a Hangover, where as Rachel was worsening with a headache until she located some extortionately priced anadin.
So we were now having a meet. What was it like? Well its like meeting some new friends that you sort of know, but donít. Some of them you might have seen pictures of, but invariably they never look like that. I honestly think that Phil and I are rare exceptions to this rule, perhaps the attendees can either confirm or deny that for me? The good thing about this meet is that it was at a great location (oh and the weather wasnít too bad either). We got to go on some really great rides and whilst we were queuing we could get to know each other.
So we were trying to organise meeting all of these people, and we were trying to meet up with Chris, with Sarah doing all the leg work (i.e. phoning and answering etc) with us following. We arranged to meet at Air and had already found out that it was rather out of action (must be what you get for having a new ride). Anyway after a while we gave up and headed off to another ride, on the way we found him: Angelus (Chris) sitting looking none too comfortable (actually having a mild asthma attack).
So we went off to the next nearest ride, which just so happens to ripsaw. This is a ride that I really canít decide whether I love or hate, although Iím veering towards the later. It swings you about, holds you upside down and tries to catch you in these menacing water jets. I had decided that I didnít do getting wet as I knew that I had to drive later and being the "hoopy frood" that I am, I knew where my towel was - it was at home!
Next was blade, which quite frankly is a little tame, its like an oversized swing in the shape of a boat. The only sensation you get from it is a vague dip causing you to feel like your stomach is trying to move out, add in the feeling of wind rushing through your hair and the certainty that you arenít strapped in properly and youíve got it. So this was a great ride simply because I could laugh at Phil being sh1t scared and swearing like a trooper.
Other additions were TallTone (Tony) and his wife Suzanne (whom I believe was not a Ciao member, or at least not revealed as one), whom we kept on meeting and having to split up from since they had booked several virtual queue tickets (like we all did for air).
After all those exciting rides we went on some tamer ones - Runaway mine train - torture for Dean as it went a second time round, leaving him getting a double dose of cramped space + vertigo - do you have claustrophobia now too Deano?
And I think we squeezed in the ghost train ride - picture to follow soon. Either before or after air. To be honest I donít really remember the schedule of events as we were having such a good time.
Ok so Iím pretty sure that Air was just before lunch, as we combine our virtual ticket time (11:10 - 12:10) with Tony and his wifeís time (12:05-13:05) so that we could go together. Air is great, but it doesnít have the thrills of speed and exhilaration of the nemesis, instead its quite relaxing (if you like roller coasters anyway) the feeling of flying is just on the edge and you can get closer if you use your imagination (which Dave really did to the cost of Sarah next to him!)
So air gave us an appetite and as we headed towards X Sector (home of Oblivion) we stopped off at the golden arches and sat outside and consumed a hearty lunch.
Late comers were Peppersinclaire (Ben) and Katie (also a non ciao member I believe), they joined us at some point in X Sector, just as we got there I think.
The final additions (by my memory anyway) were Cazz (Maya) and Friends only one of whomís name I can remember as Noah, I could guess at some others but there isnít any point as none of them are as interesting (or sad) enough to be Ciao members.
Once in X Sector we began a long queue for the Black Hole at which the first sign of rain of the day started to appear. Somehow it seemed to randomly occur that Rachel and I were in the same "car" and Rachel took the back seat, hence the title, and her question of "Have you been between a womanís legs before?" Which I realise now is a silly question because everyone can answer yes, apart from aliens (think childbirth). For another unknown reason I could think of anything to say apart from to decline to answer. Anyway its one way to bond at a ciao meet, but I think Phil and Chris fared better, under perhaps more trying circumstances (read either of their ops for more details).
Having survived the black hole (all except Chris) we continued on to the next ride, The Enterprise, which Rachel wisely avoided. But I went on regardless, Iíd ridden it before and enjoyed it. But this time something wasnít quite right, it did make me feel sick, perhaps Iím getting old - but that comes later ;). After that I wasnít sure I wanted to meet Submission, but being in a group has a way of sweeping you along if you arenít strong enough to resist the currents. Submission just isnít that great a ride, it just turns you upside down and spins you around, much like ripsaw, but not as effective. And everytime I was hanging upside down from just my thighs because my upper body isnít tall enough to be stopped by the shoulder harness. Not good for me.
So time had come for those vertigo sufferers to really meet their match - Oblivion. I was annoyed to see that they still had the annoying TV screens in the first covered bit that you queue up in. Oblivion is exactly as it was last time I fell down it (because it isnít really a ride, more of a fall), but it still manages to inspire fear, trepidation and get a scream out of me as it drops me into the hole. It isnít that Iím afraid of the falling, its just that motion is so intense that I let out involuntary screams. But I met it with open eyes and would have gladly done it again, if it wasnít for the fact that the queue was so long.
Instead some clever chap suggested that alcohol would be a wise antidote to the after effects of near free-fall. So off to the courtyard inn, the only alcohol serving establishment on the park, but given this it wasnít too bad, and the smells coming from the barbecue were quite nice. Once inside we found seats and refreshment (unfortunately I was driving so diet coke was it for me) and conversation began in earnest.
Following this the group headed off towards the log flume for some wet fun, and so wrapped up in conversation that I almost didnít realise that Iíd entered first bit of the queue, fortunately I managed to escape and proceeded to sit out this ride with Ben and Katie, we looked around and after having seen Ben win a garfield for Katie, I felt I should spend some on a game. So I stepped up to this rather cocky guy who claimed he could guess either your weight, age or birth month with in 2 units (no Iím not quite sure what justifies it either), and asked him to tell me my age. He must have known something because he tried to dissuade me and his hangers on tried to get me to ask for my weight, but I was a little confident and found some money and placed it in his palm. He looked me up and down and then wrote on a small piece of card so that I couldnít see, he showed it to hanger on number 1. "31" she exclaimed in mock surprise, I quickly realised they were looking for a reaction and turned on the poker face (shame I havenít got one really). He showed it to the others, but I canít remember what they said. Then he showed it to me, still fairly confident he was, "18" he proclaimed.
"26" I smirked. I offered to prove my age but he declined, he knew who the fool was now. I claimed my prize. A cute blue dolphin of dubious quality (as all the prizes were) I returned to Ben and Katie, who were equally as shocked having watched the affair. Only then did I realise that Iíd just paid 2 quid for this less than impressive stuffed toy. Now however I realise that it was well worth it just to wipe the smirk off the cocky git. After that we returned to a spot where we could wait for the others, although it seemed to take a while, it was worth it to see them all return in various states of soaked. Poor Mel, is all I can say. Tonyís wife Suzanne joined us in looking round the shop whilst the others went for another soaking on the River Rapids. We observed the phenomenon of the "Child is stronger than Adult Man", where I showed my cynical side and decided that it was a fix. Tony returned looking very wet indeed. I just hope I didnít scratch your glasses in cleaning them for you? Unfortunately at this point time had caught up with us and Phil and I had to leave to go to another Benís birthday (Itsthetaxman), which went very well indeed. But who should we meet on Wood street in Liverpool, but BlurBubble visiting and accompanied by a man friend whoís name I instantly forgot, but quite frankly it isnít relevant except to note that he is a true native Liverpudlian (how dare you call him a scally Phil!, scouser maybe!) and that ended the day perfectly.
I would be remiss if I didnít tell you more of my impressions of the people I met, I know if theyíre anything like me, they like to know what others think, note all of these people are fantastic, and if I say anything you donít like then Iím sorry, I was only trying to be funny. <gulp> on with the show:
Trampus - Sarah is a born organiser and true gem. And looks nothing like her photograph. Howiemon - Dave is a strange bloke I didnít get to talk to much, but hearing them both lapse into "yokel mode" will live with me for quite a while, and I couldnít go with out mentioning Barney now could I? But what strikes me most is what an odd couple you make. "Dave, whereís my ticket" "Erm, it should be here somewhere" Much like the Passport on top of the piano debarcle. CheekyChicken - Mel, looks short when standing next to Dean, but then donít we all? Mel is a true treasure because sheís not afraid to make her language more descriptive with cunning use of colourful vernacular. If only I could swear as confidently as Mel, but then that is the key to Mel - she is very confident. Deano76 - Dean, the towering brute is actually a big softy, with vertigo I might add - not that he let it stop him, or was that Mel? If Mel looks short when next to Dean, then Dean is quiet when next to Mel. Draw your own conclusions :D. Fact - Dean appears to like Douglas (from the Lurpak ad) almost as much as Andrew. CareBear - Claire looks only a little like her photo, in that you canít see what she looks like. In the flesh is I think the shortest of the ladies who attended. (But that I think I was the shortest bloke so it canít be a bad thing ) She is happily married (in the new stage at two years) to: BestBit - Andrew, who unfortunately reminded me of Steve Davis, but heís actually a nice chap and far more erm dare I say it, interesting :> Shufflebum - Rachel looks very much like her picture except that she is in colour, or she was after some medicine. She actually looks younger in the flesh, and talk of her father giving her a lift and plying her with alcohol the night before added to that image, but her profile says that sheís 29 and married, but she didnít bring him along. Angelus - Chris is another decent chap, who apparently was a professional football player until he got injured, which makes me very jealous because he is probably 20 times better than me. TallTone - Tony is the true giant, but he manages to deflect it by constantly wearing a big grin. Iíd hate to see him when his angry. Suzanne is a lovely woman and I think they are well suited (despite the height difference) and I expect they have some nice kids that they had abanoned (not literally) for the day. Peppersinclaire - looks nothing like his photo (as the photo is horizontally squashed) as he had a cool hat. He had quite a sense of humour, and at least he and Katie could laugh at their nightmare journey. Katie is only 19 apparently and has just recently passed her test, I would recommend that they either find a better roadmap or that she learn that motorways are not as scary as they look. (Perhaps Iím biased as I drive them daily) Cazz - Maya has a name that you (or at least I) couldnít remember for the life of me even though it was so different after Iíd been introduced. Apart from that I didnít get to speak with her much, (to my memory at least) She does however look very much like her photo. Her friends were unfortunately unmemorable, but I would have expected them to compete for memory space with these other spectacular people Iíd already met.
A final mention for BlurBubble who is a little star, and probably quite vicious with her stick. She has an infectious laugh. As in her photo, BB has great shocking pink hair (it was probably that which Phil saw first)