Wednesday, 18 April 2012

'Bless the Rain...'

It's raining, which the television currently informs me is a good thing so who am I to complain?

This past weekend we went on a road trip up to Alton Towers. Having frequented Thorpe Park at least once a year for a long time now, this was my first visit to the Northern member of the Merlin family. We set off early having gathered on the Friday evening to map out our strategy... which just kind of brought about the obvious decision to get up ridiculously early on a Saturday morning to get to the park for a full day.

Up at 5am, I showered and woke myself up with the tingly mint shower gel that makes my bits feel special - thanks Original Source! Once Stacey, Me and Jason (who stayed the night and tried out the epic shower gel) were ready, off we set. Stacey was behind the wheel, while Pete drove with Nat and Birthday Boy Chris as his passengers. On the M25, Pete caught up to us and briskly overtook. He zoomed off into the distance, taking the lead in what wasn't really a race, but deep down felt like one to those of us that hate to lose. In Tortoise vs. The Hare fashion though, we won as Peterville stopped on his journey for a rip-off coffee break, while Steacy ploughed on. When we were only a few miles away from the park, the sat-nav told us to turn left down a very narrow country road. It went on for miles and if we had come across any traffic coming the opposite way, we would have been in a bit of trouble. Stacey kept moaning that it must have taken us the wrong way, but eventually we came out the other side and our first view of the grand Alton Towers entrance came when we looked behind us. We had come out from right next to the park's entrance!

We all met up outside the hotel's reception and went in to leave our bags as it was still too early to check in. The friendly northern chap who took our bags then very kindly offered to let us into the park - despite us not having purchased our tickets! We had to walk a couple of miles, but that sure beat having to pay an extra £40 each. The first ride we all got on was Air and it was absolutely awesome! I wish I could fly for real, but that's probably the closest I'll ever come. Other highlights of the day included Oblivion, Nemesis, Sonic Spinball (actually a pretty intense 'coaster) Burger King and TH13TEEN. One attraction that was really different was Hex. Stacey thought nothing of it, but the rest of us thought it was ace. Sitting in a room after watching a story about a cursed log, the whole room starts to move, spinning round so that you actually get the sensation of flipping round to the ceiling. Genius! I'd love to try it after a few drinks!

As the day wore on and the weather deteriorated, we headed back to the hotel at around 4:30pm feeling drained from our early start that morning. Some of us had showers and Wall-E came on the telly to keep us amused. I also got through a little more Hunger Games which I'm still really enjoying.

We then had a nice meal despite what has to be the worst service imaginable. It was pretty entertaining though and as always was funny watch Chris and listen to the words that spilled out of his mouth. We also teased the birthday lad at the fact that he was ordering a burger again, even though we all had BK for luncheon. According to our pal Chris, Pete should have gone over and spoken to the very butch lesbians that came into the bar after dinner as they had something in common.... I suppose if we all did things like that it would be a somewhat friendlier world - although things could become rather segregated.

After a night's sleep broken by Jason's snores we had our buffet breakfast and set off for home. It was a great weekend and was very entertaining sharing a room with my favourite odd couple: Jason and Pete. The song of the weekend was Africa, the 80s hit from Toto. This had been downloaded to Stacey's iPod after Jeffster sang a rendition of it in our current obsession: Chuck.

Stacey has a weird crush on Lester... the one singing. I also got my second ever message from a celebrity on Twitter. Nearly a year to the day that I got a thanks from Mick Foley on the social network, I started following many of the stars of Chuck, only for Mark Christopher Lawrence a.k.a. 'Big Mike' to send me a thank you for following him!

It was back to work on Monday and without my Saturday and Sunday morning lie-ins I was feeling tired and ratty. As soon as 5:30 came though, I was out of there and off we set back on the road again. This time with Alex joining Stacey and me instead of Jason as we travelled to the entertainment mecca that is The O2 Arena for Monday Night Raw! We joined my relatively new friend Dave and his buddies up in the nosebleed seats. Despite the height and distance we were away from the ring, we still had an absolute blast. The show kicked off with a World title match and continued to thoroughly entertain. I joined in with the 'YES! YES! YES!' chants all night for the hero that is Daniel Bryan. I don't think Alex and Stacey were too convinced though...

Other highlights included a 'Fish and Chips' chant and a couple of fans jumping the fence after the show only to get owned by the ring announcer!

Before I go though, I just want to make it known that it doesn't mean "we're alive", it means "I'm alive" which also means I'm Right! Take that Stacey!


Sunday, 1 April 2012

8 Mile (Multiplied by 5)

Three weeks. The amount of time I had to prepare was just three weeks for the biggest endurance challenge of my life so far. In fairness I didn't even really prepare. I spent one Saturday morning cycling laps of the park, and another Saturday mountain biking - not exactly intense training for a 40 mile bike ride for charity.

I made it though, even if my bum is a little sore. I was up early yesterday morning and my Dad picked me and my Mountain bike up and dropped me off at the Hospice from which the cycling marathon was to both start and finish. It was also the Hospice for which the challenge was in aid of raising money for. Three of my colleagues also participated, although I didn't see them again too long after starting as on their road bikes, they were much quicker. The fact that I'm somewhat out of shape can't have too much to do with it.. surely?

There were some pretty steep hills to climb, and by pretty I mean very! Towards the end as I was flagging and starting to feel the effects, I was going so slowly up these hills that it would've been quicker to walk. I did make it though and when I got back to the Hospice, my parents, my sister and Stacey were all there to greet me. I got a certificate given too me (well, a piece of paper claiming to be a certificate) and couldn't wait to just get home. I made the people around me proud and raised some money for a good cause - not a bad way to spend four and half hours of my Saturday. 'I feel like death' I thought to myself at the end, but then I remembered where I was and why I had done it. I felt tired and a little worn out at worst.

The Infection

I also completed this massive challenge while kind of ill. I felt very flu-like all day Thursday with symptoms such as feeling very cold and shivery. Although those symptoms disappeared at some point while I was sleeping on Thursday night, one other rather painful symptom has most unfortunately remained. I won't go in to grim details, but I'm now taking antibiotics and don't think spending so long perched on a bicycle seat could have helped matters...

After what had to have been my earliest Saturday night in years, I awoke feeling as good as new this morning with only a little cheek-ache when I first sit down. That pain has almost completely gone too! 
We went off to Bluewater to do a bit of window-shopping and to see a movie and eat a meal while there. Many of our friends lately have been going on about The Hunger Games which seems to be on the verge of becoming the next big thing in fiction following on from the likes of Potter, Twilight, and The Millennium trilogy. The film was long, but didn't seem it. The story was essentially The Condemned with children in the future, but still very thought provoking. I still wouldn't be surprised to see this kind of reality show in the future. The books have now also been purchased and even though I just watched the film this afternoon, I've already delved straight into the first fifty pages of the first book. So far, I recommend it. 

Anyways, I just felt like writing a few things down here and can't think of anything else interesting enough to jot down here... I'll leave it here for now. Here's to Wrestlemania which is tonight - and which I rather irritatingly have to wait until tomorrow night to watch - and to a much needed four day weekend coming up!