Mask Exempt?

I was at Alton Towers last week again. Yeah I know I love that place. Thursday was spent with friends and was a great time. We did the usual way of queueing for all the rides and enjoyed the conversation (and the Yorkshire pudding wraps).

We only managed about seven rides as it was really busy. Most of the day the queues were above 1 hour for most of the rides although the Smiler did get up to 110 minutes at one point.

That night I spent the evening in the hotel. Just me alone. I was in room 101. I will never go in a room so close to reception ever again. Whilst I accepted that there would be noise from the patio until about 11:15 when they turned the heaters off I didn’t then expect a member of staff to rearrange the furniture in the upstairs lounge at 3am.

Anyone who knows the TV programme Room 101 will shudder at the thought of staying in it. It’s the room into which you put all the bad things of society.

The lake in the middle is quite nice though. I had a view over this from my room (as opposed to every previous visit where I’ve had a view of carparks).

In all honesty though – I’ve never had a great experience at the Alton Towers hotels. If I were reviewing the stay as a whole I’d say the hotels are a bit of a cop out. The so called themed decor in some of the rooms is minimal – mine was simply a border, carpet and light fittings. Very little extra was done to make it an explorer room – and above and beyond what a standard Holiday Inn does there’s not much for kids to do at night. You need to entertain them yourselves.

Now I know I didn’t pay extra for a luxury room – this time it’s only the basic room – but still… I will say though that it’s very comfortable compared to a Travel Lodge or Holiday Inn room.

Breakfast the next day was at 7:30 ready for me to walk up to the park gates.

I was one of the first up there at about quarter to nine, and at just after nine o’clock they let us into the park. With no early ride time at the moment due to social distancing everyone is getting let in at 9. This gave me plenty of time to collect my Platinum pass!

Unbelievably on day two I hardly took any photos! Then again, I’ve got more than enough photos of rides from different angles and it certainly wasn’t great light for photos with a typical British grey sky sitting above.

I’m a bit miffed by some of the current Fastpass lines too, whilst Smiler, Oblivion, Rita and Th13teen have decent queue jump facilities; the batching points for Nemesis, and most specifically Galactica are far too early down the queue line and after you’re batched you still have 5 minutes of queue time ahead for Nemesis, and 15-20 minutes of queue time ahead. Hardly Fastpass – considering it’s a £105 upgrade!

This September is my next trip and I’ll be doing it the normal way then. No fast-pass. The park tends to quieten down in September, plus whilst fastpass has its benefits for maximum ride I do find I lose a lot of the experience of the place as I feel like I need to maximise my pass. When I do it the slow way I’ll sit in for dinner rather than grabbing it on the fly.

So I’ll say farewell to Alton Towers until September.

Well so much for that

Not many countries or areas still have fords, but if you don’t know what one is it’s a place where a road crosses a river without a bridge, so all vehicles have to pass through the water.

Usually there’s a depth marker adjacent so drivers can make a safe judgement as to what their vehicle is capable of when it comes to fording.

Most cars will safely ford 8″; and guidelines say you should never ford a depth of more than half way up your wheel because you risk floating.

Last weekend we went to Rufford. It’s a beautiful country park in Nottinghamshire; part of the ancient Sherwood Forest; and adjacent to the mill entrance is Rufford Ford. Killer of Mercedes and BMW cars. The water was at about 12″ – a figure considered impassable for most cars.

I don’t know what it is with BMW, but their designers insist on putting the air intake right behind the grille (our Jag is the same, hence me refusing to drive through anything deeper than a puddle); but unlike me who knows the limits of my vehicle – BMW drivers don’t seem to understand this.

This was the second BMW killed that day.

Last Sunday there were three blue BMW’s in a row at one point, all dead, all fatally dead with hydrolocked engines. The drivers don’t understand that the bang you hear as the wheels lock up is the con-rods snapping or the crank shearing in two.

Usually it needs a full engine rebuild with at least two new pistons required. More often than not it will cause major damage to the block and require a whole new long block (essentially a new engine). With diesels it is usually even worse as the compression inside the pistons is so much higher (often double).

A fair crowd usually watch the ford.

Last week a blue M5 went through the ford and cut out just as it got to the end. The video is on YouTube and you hear the bang as the engine kills a piston. An £85000 car; and he killed the largest mechanical component because of his stupidity.

When we returned from our walk around the park his car was still there being attended to by the AA. The AA guy told him quite plainly that he needed a new engine. It was a 3 litre diesel and it wasn’t running on all cylinders – you could hear the broken con-rods spinning on the crank.

First the guy thought he’d be able to limp it home – the AA guy told him that wouldn’t be able to happen as sensors would cut it out every time he put a load on the engine; and then he discussed claiming on the insurance – even the AA guy told him that you can’t claim on insurance when you took an avoidable risk.

Your BMW is fucked. You fucked it because you were either an idiot, or showing off. Either way a rebuilt engine is gonna cost you £10000, or a brand new one £35000.

The rest of the trip was glorious though.

The bluebells are fully out in the woods. I love bluebells!

Alton Towers the second

I pre-booked this back in August before all the craziness started with the plan of having another trip to my second home.

When we went to level 3 I was really anxious about going, after all it said avoid unnecessary travel; however I’d paid for my add-ons and was set to lose money, so I thought with the right amount of caution, and a good social distancing and masking regime it would be satisfactory.

Alton Towers is really beautiful in the Autumn, and it certainly is one of my favourite times of year.

Sadly Nemesis is closed for long term repairs and Th13teen didn’t open at all, and we did have a temporary closure on Galactica at one point; but I managed Smiler twice, Rita twice, Galactica twice, Wicker Man twice, Oblivion & Spinball once each, Enterprise, and The Blade once each.

It wasn’t massively busy, and rain at about noon certainly cleared the lightweights out.

Alton Towers… Again!

You’d think I was addicted to the place, but Gaz and I traveled there again yesterday for the day.

We managed to ride 17 coasters including 5 rides on Smiler, 4 on Wicker Man, 3 on Nemesis, 2 on Galactica and 1 on each of Th13teen, Oblivion and RITA; plus the obligatory ride on Duel.

We missed out Spinball and Runaway Mine Train on this occasion.

Amazingly we did over 22,000 steps each – contributed to by the fact we didn’t use the monorail this time.

A bloody hefty weekend!

Again a hefty weekend. It all started on Thursday when I did my talk for the Astronomy Club. It was called “Take it to the bridge” and was all about movie and game fictional space craft and if their technology could work.

Friday was a long day of fixed wire electrical testing. A seven board job with poor paperwork so I had to do a major investigation.

The journey home was a two hour slog due to major traffic problems across the county after a fatal accident at junction 34 to 35 on the M1.

The planned Rock the 80’s rehearsal for that night didn’t happen as you can probably guess.

Saturday was Hannah’s auntie’s 70th down in Oxford.

I wore white jeans. Then I remembered why I don’t often wear white jeans! Mucky arse!

After arriving home at after 9pm and going to bed later than planned I had to get up the following morning for the Strangefish rehearsal. 7:30am on a Sunday is quite painful…

Arriving in Bury for 10 we spent most of the day running through the new songs, plus we introduced three additional faces to the band – a couple who will be joining us onstage in July, plus Jake our sound engineer who will be sorting us out!

It was a hot sweaty day. We ate cake. We rehearsed. We went home.

Back to the Towers

Another trip to Alton Towers yesterday. A brilliant day, although the weather didn’t hold very well and broke as rain in the afternoon.

Queues were much shorter than the ones in March when we were here last.

My birthday present from Mike and Endora was spent on a season photo pass hence me not taking many pictures.

Oxford

The Oxford trip was yesterday; meeting up with Dr Allan Chapman to go and the Radcliffe Observatory and then to the Museum of the History of Science.

After a bouncy journey down we arrived at the university. The Observatory was first on our itinerary.

Then on to Oxford town centre, and firstly a lunch in Wetherspoons. I don’t really like Wetherspoons. The owner was a massive Brexit supporter and I don’t agree with his ideas, but it’s where the masses wanted to go so we followed; leaving a little message to the next occupier of our table.

The experience was spoiled when a group of families, obviously Eastern European came in, surrounded one table and then proceeded to try and envelop surrounding tables even though the pub was very busy and others were sat at them. It’s horrible manners, and it fuels the flames of racism when foreigners behave like this; especially in these Brexit intolerant times – but we should also remember that the English overseas are also massive dicks.

After a visit to the small continental market opposite to try and find Dutch pancakes (I failed) and ending up having a vegan Bakewell (which was very nice) we headed up to the museum.

I have to say though, that my beard was tidier than the ones on the statues outside.

Allan met us just after two o’clock and took us around as a personal guide. The upper gallery was closed briefly so we could enjoy the tour.

When we finally came out of the hottest museum in history, we decided to take Allan for a cheeky pint in the pub across the road to kill the time until our taxi pickup.

Turns out we sat at the table Morse sits at loads in the BBC series.

The taxi met us at 4:30 and we headed off home.

My reward on arriving home… My parcel had arrived with my new trousers – they’re so shiny!