Sunday, September 23, 2007


Too Windy for Rollercoasters
Today we have two trips - down to Brighton, and down to Whitstable. Both trains leave from Victoria, so an organised person would take everything they need for the second trip to the first. Not me, oh no. The train down to Brighton is fairly fast, but there’s plenty of time to eat my messy sandwiches from the Cheese Shop .

Brighton is a town (city?) on the south coast of England, about 45 minutes by fast train. It’s a seaside holiday town, and indeed has grand pavilion buildings used by the royalty on their holidays years ago. We walk down to the beach, which is very stony – funnily you don’t notice this when the weather’s good as the whole beach is covered by tens of thousands of people, but on a mid-week bad-weather day like today, there’s plenty of empty space!

The weather is strange, with dark stormy clouds rolling across with the strong gale blowing onshore, interspersed with bursts of sunshine making the water sparkle.

We walk along the beach to the pier, the end of which houses a smallish amusement park with a rollercoaster and some other rides. We abandoned plans to go to Thorpe Park after finding out it was 32 pounds each! So expensive, and funnily enough in this week’s Private Eye they have a cartoon playing on the scary bit for parents in these big parks not being the ride but the entry fees.

So here we are, but it’s blowing some, this is lean-into-the-wind stuff, and the swell, whilst not impressive by global standards, is crashing on to the beach. We reach the pier, and find you don’t have to pay entry fees any more to go on to it. Good.

Walking along, it looks like lots of the attractions are shut. We pass the arcades and bars, and reach the rides. Rollercoaster is shut. Oh dear. I spot the next best thing in the corner, the Z Booster! To add to the fun, they are not sure if it’s safe to ride in this strong wind, so seek the opinion of the site safety engineer. Gulp!

This is effectively two sets of seats at either end of a long pole, pivoted in the middle.

They make us take our shoes off, and we’re strapped in. I’m feeling distinctly nervous. There are two German teenagers riding it with us, they’re at the other end so have already been loaded and are dangling their feet in the air eighty feet up. The ride starts, first by simply spinning us up to the top. This is enough excitement for me. Then we are spun forwards so that we are facing down, suspended only by the harness. HEEEELLLLLPPP!!

The next couple of minutes pass very quickly, but mostly involve being spun backwards and forwards, and being held at all sorts of awful angles, whilst simultaneously the big pivot throwing us up and down at high speeds. A crowd of schoolchildren had gathered to watch our punishment. When it ends we stagger off, and I notice Thuzar has a funny expression on her face, the kind set by much screaming and intense fear!

Next we tried the ghost train ride, which turned out to be completely naff and unscary. Still, got us out of the rain I suppose. Then back into town via an ice cream, and to the station.

Back in London we check in online for the flight to Calcutta, and I print a P85 form to say I don’t plan on being in the UK much this year. Back to Victoria (groan), and we catch the 16:48 because it’s late, a theme of this trip!!

Down to Chestfield with the ticket I bought earlier, to Whitstable. Of course, I was feeling nervous that they’d check the tickets for the first time ever between Whitstable and Chestfield, about a 3 minutes journey. We made it.

Mum picks us up, and Hedge joins us for dinner. Pops sneaks some sausages off me. We make the half ten train back to London, and tube it home. Time to pack, groan. It takes hours!

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