And so off we toddled to Chessington World of Adventures which, due to a slight miscalculation on our part was packed out with squealing children as a result of it being half term. I mean, seriously, if you're not a parent how the hell are you supposed to know this? They should put up warning signs or something. On top of that, as we entered the park and I surveyed the white-knuckle delights awaiting us I suddenly remembered that I HATE THEME PARK RIDES.
How much do I hate theme park rides, you ask? Well, put it this way: a couple of us skipped off to the log flume (or Dragon Falls as Chessington call it, as if it weren't terrifying enough already) early to get on it before a massive queue formed, and when our boat arrived I stepped in it and then straight out of it before carrying on through the exit. The boys were less than impressed, but on the plus side I did then wander back and flirt with the girl on the gate.
Having wimped out on a ride that basically little girls will merrily line up for over and over again, I obviously wasn't too interested in going on things like Rameses Revenge, Vampire, Dragon's Fury, or Kobra (seriously, what evil genius names these things?!), although I derived much pleasure from watching the boys go on them (Skip's screams on Kobra were utterly brilliant and I genuinely felt like I experienced the ride vicariously through his incessant shrieking).
By about midday the boys were really looking at me like I should man up and go on something, so I said "oh, I'll definitely go on Black Buccaneer - there's a ride like that at Thorpe Park called Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride and I used to LOVE that."
When I was about 18 I worked at a play scheme for kids under the age of 10 - basically a two week thing in the middle of the summer holidays where parents could dump their kids on us so they could have some time off. The final friday of the play scheme was always a trip to Thorpe Park, which the kids obviously loved and the parents obviously hated because it meant they were just days away from having to take responsibility for their offspring again. During one trip to Thorpe Park I basically made my group of kids go on Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride about 10 times by telling them it was pretty much the only ride they were all tall enough to go on.
I had a thrilling time.
Turns out that I really should've paid more attention to the fact that the name Black Buccaneer sounds just a little bit more hardcore than Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride. As the queue snaked closer and closer to the ride I could feel a slight tightening effect of the scrotum that I really should've taken more notice of. Anyway, before I knew it I was settling in to the big fake pirate ship and eyeing up potential escape routes. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to act on these thoughts as by the time I decided that, yes, I think I will stand up and get off, the bars descended.
I found the following video on youtube to give you an idea of my ordeal. And to be quite honest there's no way I could've taken a video of this because my hands were clamped to the bars and my eyes were squeezed tightly shut.
Suffice to say when the torture was finally over I staggered away as quickly as I could.
To make matters worse, I was then manhandled back to the log flume where the boys surrounded me to prevent escape and sat me in the back of the boat (there was some discussion about making me go in the middle - and at one point, terrifyingly, at the FRONT - so they could keep an eye on me, but I pleaded to be allowed to go at the back so I couldn't see the horrors awaiting me). Despite having Skip wedged so close up against my gentlemanly region - something he's threatened me with several times before - I was actually quite grateful for his presence. I literally grabbed his arms (he probably still has bruises) and buried my face against his shoulder.
Here's another video I found on youtube.
If you watch right up until the end you'll see that to add insult to injury the last thing that happens on the ride is that you get pissed on by an elephant. Charming.
Anyway, it wasn't all doom and gloom. I thoroughly enjoyed the sedate monorail that takes you on a tour of the park from above and lets you see some of the animals (honking seals, gorillas, and two thoroughly bored looking lions), and I had a brilliant time on the dodgems with Skip; we identified a sweet looking mumsy lady and just kept smashing into her relentlessly. I also had a delightful chai latte in Cafe Nero, and the ferris wheel - sorry, Peeking Heights - was lovely, even if it was a bit chilly at the top.
All in all, then, it was a brilliant day. Next time, though, I'm suggesting we go to a nice stately home or a museum where the most troubling thing I'll be faced with is having to choose between the chocolate cake or the victoria cream sponge in the cafe.