Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Lost Paragraph - thinner.

Two blogs back, in my entry entitled Blank Canvass, after the subheading The Path at the End of the Clearing, a rogue word stood all alone except for the company being provided to it by an attached full stop. The word was out of place, a misfit that didn't belong. It destroyed the aesthetics of my well formatted piece, and shattered the flow. The word in question was: thinner. 

The 'thinner' was even in itallics just like above, and was most likely due to the fact that the canvas for writing in on this site sometimes doesn't like itallics and non-itallics used in the same paragraph. As a result, there was in fact a paragraph missing. Thinner wasn't a rogue word at all, but more a survivor, with the rest of its family condemned to some dark, dank depths of cyberspace; lost forever. I've therefore decided to attempt to recreate that paragraph, although admittedly these things never come out reading as well a second time. I take the Stephen King approach to writing in that I feel it flows best when you let it just spill out onto the page, without planning ahead so much. The lost paragraph actually concerned Stephen King oddly enough (aren't I just great at leading you into something?), as it was about how I had finished his Dark Tower series after 4 years.

The Lost Paragraph... at the end of the clearing.

I did it! After four long years, I finally reached Stephen King's Dark Tower. I took my time and paced myself with the seven books, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the journey. It's amazing to think of just how far I've come in my own life since I started the quest to find that tower with Roland and the cast of characters that he encountered along the way. Without trying to give away any spoilers - as I fully recommend that all of you out there read these fantastic books - I'll say that the ending was tremendous and indeed for lack of a better term: very clever. In fact King gives you a choice. You can reach the tower after seven long novels and leave it at that, or you can choose to carry on past the author's note and discover what lies behind that door if you're that selfish kind of person. I left it at the front door, content with the adventure that's always more fun that the reward... for all of 9 hours while at work (I'm a weaker man than my good buddy John Tresadern who wasn't pulled back for four or five months apparently). I then read on, entering the tower and being awestruck by the ending that only seemed so obvious, yet was extremely unpredictable at the exact same time. It was the author's note that I found most intriguing though, as Stephen King advised the reader to leave the story at the door and to not press on any further, as life never ends in one place, life just goes on. He's right and it's something I'm still learning myself. I had two goals for this year that I set myself last winter and I've attained both of those now and guess what? There was no fade to black and no end credits. I had my new full time job, and had moved out with Stacey and here we are... carrying on. 

Carrying On

Well, that was something like what the missing paragraph was originally. Only the original, lost paragraph ended with thinner, so I guess it might not have been anything like that afterall. The word thinner would have been used to describe time, as time is speeding past at a rapid rate at the moment, and feels thinner, which is a reference to the Dark Tower, as time is described as feeling often thinner in the Gunslinger's world. 
While I'm here in blog mode though, I will quickly discuss the nostalgia that I felt yesterday as Stacey and me took the young sister of mine out for the day and essentially stepped back into the childhood (for Stacey and me, non-existence would  be more apt for my sister) days of the 90s. We took my sister out for her first ever Burger King, and her kid's meal came with a Simpsons toy (the alien, I believe he was called Kang, but haven't visited the Treehouse of Horror in a while so can't remember off the top of my head). Following this, we went to the cinema to see The Lion King which is seeing a brief rerelease at the cinema. I still love that film today in my adult years, and it was great to introduce it to my sister who'd never seen it before on the big screen. Then, after the film, we headed to my favourite place of Autumn/Winter to get me feeling that early Christmas spirit: Notcutts garden centre. It was a risky call deciding to head there as there might not have been any Christmas stuff out yet, in which case it would have been just a boring garden centre, but our fears were soon put to rest when we saw this sign:

Nothing gets me pumped up and excited for Christmas than the Christmas shop at Notcutts, as I visited Santa there and chose tree decorations every year as a kid! I even walked out on this particular visit with a bottle of Advent Ale - thanks Stacey.

Anywho, I'm going to leave this blog here for now, as a dinner is needed and Stacey's in Strictly-viewing mode! And on we carry on, because time's moving along, and growing thinner.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Two weeks ago I'd already been back a day, back home from the most magical land in the whole of Europe. Home from Disneyland Paris. Two weeks ago I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, and to an extent I still am; for although we were only there for 3 days / 2 nights, Disneyland is like a drug, it's a different way of life. I want to go back.

Simply put, if you haven't been to Disneyland before, I highly recommend it. I personally can't wait to go back, or possibly even jet off to DisneyWorld in Florida. You're cut off pretty much completely from the skull-drudgery of the real world in Mickey Mouse's kingdom; it's a happy place through and through.

Just over two weeks before going, we found out that by complete coincidence, Stacey's cousins Kirsty and Gemma were heading to Disneyland at the same time as us. In fact, they were heading out on the very same train, and heading home on the very same train home. It was a pleasant surprise and made the trip extra fun to have a bigger group to wander round the parks with. The more was most certainly the merrier, especially as Kirsty had been before and could guide us round.

So up we got on the Monday morning of the 19th September. Stacey and me got showered, packed the last of our bits and bobs needed - toothbrushes and the like - and off we set. We hopped on the train to Ashford, where we boarded the Eurostar. I'd never been on the Eurostar before,  and we were surprised at just how quickly you emerge from the tunnel into France. It only took 30-40 minutes from our Ashford departure to travel to the other side of the Channel. The majority of the journey then takes place through the French countryside. The only downside to travelling to Disneyland is that no coach is seemingly free from screaming brats, as we were stuck in carriages with such kids both ways, as were Kirsty and Gemma. I personally just kept my head down and buried in my Kindle. What is great though, is that once we reached our destination of Disneyland, you hop of the Eurostar and drop your luggage off in the station. You then get to go straight into the parks, and at the end of the day, after having already experienced some thrills, when we finally went to check into our hotel, we found our suitcase waiting for us in our room.

Our hotel by the way was awesome. We stayed in Disney's New York Hotel, which was themed on... a New York Hotel! It was massive, and was just like leaving France, including a New York style bar.

On that first day, we all went straight to the Disney Studios Park, as this was the smaller of the two parks at Disney in Paris and we essentially had a half a day after travelling. We began with the Armageddon simulator, which featured some very real flames. Following this we went on our first rollercoaster: Aerosmith's Rock'n'Rollercoaster! Imagine Stealth and Thorpe Park, but inside in the dark, with a full length roller coaster track (the ride lasts a good few minutes as opposed to Stealth's 3 seconds) while having the music of Aerosmith being blasted out. There's not much I can say other than that it was the best damn rollercoaster I've ever been on. Other fun rides that day included a ride based on Finding Nemo: Crush's Coaster, simulating spinning through the EAC, and the Toy Story themed RC's car ride.

On our first night, the four of us went out and wound up eating and drinking cocktails at Planet Hollywood. We whittled the night away and retired all feeling very tired to our hotels; Kirsty and Gemma residing in the Santa Fe hotel.

Day two and we rose early to grab our breakfast (New York style bacon baby!) and head to the parks! Being guests of the Disney hotels, we had early access to the parks, and got to go in at 8am French time. We headed straight for the Disneyland Park, and were blown away by our first sight of the iconic castle. We then saw Mickey being driven down the street. Once again we headed for the biggest, baddest ride first, getting our first go on the legendary Space Mountain (Mission 2 in France apparently). Space Mountain was another in-the-dark coaster and was so much fun. Also, because kids are all at school in mid-September, and littler kids who are there at that time can't go on the big rides, there was no queue. Same for the Aerosmith coaster, we could just wander straight on! We wound up riding Space Mountain about 12 times over the course of the next couple of days, and on one of these trips to the mountain out of the atmosphere, Stacey's mobile in her handbag accidentally dialled mine, and when we got back I received the message that began with the countdown and was followed by the screams of us being launched into the stratosphere. Another cool ride nearby was Buzz Lightyear's Star Command, a ride in which you have a gun, and have to shoot the targets, trying to get the highest score possible as you go round. Again, we went on this countless times while there!

During our days there, we went on all the rides that we could, from the bizarre It's a Small World (which Stacey was strangely entranced by and enticed back to), to the ride that inspired a massive film franchise: Pirates of the Caribbean. Characters walk around all day long, and both parks feature a parade at different points in the day; the Disneyland Park featuring the huge one at 5pm. We also got to eat at Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet, although it wasn't quite as cool in real life as it was in Toy Story. Oh, and I should also mention that we spent a small fortune! Everything was expensive, and we spent hundreds just to eat... well, and on a baseball style jacket for Stacey who was a silly-head and didn't pack any warm clothing.

On our final day in Disneyland, we checked out of our swanky New York lifestyle first thing (leaving our bags there, to be picked up at the train station before boarding the Eurostar at the day's end). We headed straight back into the parks, and rode on all of our favourite rides again and again, having experienced it all in the first two days. Three days really is enough to take it all in, and the days knacker you out, yet I still want to go straight back. In the queue for Crush's coaster, which we decided to ride twice on that third and final day, funny things happened to us. The first time, we were stood behind some French celebrity. We have no idea who he was, but the French were all trying to not look like they were pointing and staring at him, and then one girl asked to have her picture taken with him. Then, I looked over and saw the guy watching himself on some French chatshow on his iPhone, as if he was trying to let us know that yes, he was someone important. The second tome we queued for that ride that day, this guy of about 18/19 kept trying to talk to us. He was there with his parents and obviously thought he'd make some friends. We were polite and didn't mind, but it got rather too much when he kept butting in to our conversations. Then, when on the ride, we stopped. On this ride I'll point out that cars of 4 seats go around at a time, so the girls and me had one to ourselves, with our new friend and his parents being on the one ahead. Now, we stopped, and weren't moving at all, strapped in. Then an announcement was helpfully called out through the PA system in French. We waited for several minutes pinned in when someone entered through a door, and the thought of an awe wielding maniac coming in did cross my mind. It was just some Disney staff though, and they told us it was going to be OK... and left us there. In the meantime, we'd been talking about the weird guy in the queue, and had been a little mean in making fun of him... well, he was parked just round the bend with his parents, and in the end, we were released from our car and had to walk out of the ride as it had completely broken down. Great! We just walked quickly.

Our time at Disney was just about up and over, and it was a sad time. Usually when heading home from a holiday you get that feeling of 'well I've had a good time, but it's always nice to get home'; unfortunately that feeling never came with Disney. It truly was the best couple of days, and once again, I highly recommend it! We took the train back to England, and then another train home.

As Stacey and me had the rest of the week off, we rested and recuperated on Thursday, and spent a grand old day at Leeds Castle (not in, or anywhere near Leeds) on the Friday. It's now been a couple of weeks, and things are getting easier, but in the future, I feel that I need to be weaned off of Disney, as I'm sure Stacey would agree. Nothing else compares.