Last week I took one of my service users to Alton Towers for a day trip. It was a brilliant day out, with good weather and, thanks to a special red wristband we got on every ride without having to queue - a day out made all the better by not having to queue for an hour and a half at a time with the sweaty general public. The last time I went there was about 5 years ago with a friend. My overwhelming memory of that day was said friend and I putting on our cheap Primark ponchos to go on the 'Congo River Rapids' (yes, I know half the fun is getting soaked but I didn't want to walk round all day with a soggy rear!), and when she leant forward to hold on to the handrail her poncho split open down the back. I laughed so hard I nearly weed and tears trickled down my poncho. Prior to that I went with The Husband; we ran straight for 'Nemesis before it got busy, went on four times on the trot and spent the rest of the day feeling sick. I didn't want to take any chances so this time I went fully prepared and chewed a few of the travel sickness tablets I'd bought for The Boychild aka 'Car-sick Kid'.
It worked; despite going on all of the big rides at least once, the contents of my stomach remained in situ. Which is more than can be said for the poor chap with the delicate constitution we saw getting off 'Nemesis'. He flew past us, his face as grey as his jumper and lost his lunch to the floor. One of the ride attendants went straight into Jobsworth mode and repeatedly screamed "MIND THE SICK!! MIIIIIND THE SIIIIIIIIICK!" whilst flamboyantly ushering other ride-goers around the vomit puddle. He must have been properly hardcore though as we saw him 5 minutes later - still grey - queuing up for 'Air'! Hat's off to you fella, hat's off.
What I had forgotten about being at a theme park all day is that special kind of knackeredness you get from repeatedly having your adrenalin levels fly up and down like a jack in the box. By lunchtime I was so exhausted I was getting too weak to brace myself on the rides and just allowed myself to be flung about like a ragdoll. My throat was ravaged by all the screaming I'd done in the morning and could now only emit small croaks of fear. We saved Alton Towers newest ride, 'The Smiler', until last. Probably a good idea as it left me so traumatised that if we'd gone on it first, I'd have had to go for a lie down. It has 14 loops, although it feels like a hundred. After about an hour of being subjected to medieval torture techniques we came to a halt and I sagged with relief. Until I looked to my right and saw a huge sign saying 'Halfway there..'. And nearly cried. I'm sure whoever called it 'The Smiler' did so with a smirk of irony because I certainly wasn't smiling when I disembarked. I was too busy swearing and wondering if I was bleeding from my eyes and ears.
No theme park trip is complete without frittering away a weeks wages in the gift shop on the way out and I spent with the abandon of a woman glad to have survived the previous 6 hours. I slept like a baby that night, and realised one thing - that if I have to take travel sickness pills beforehand and if I'm left feeling like I've completed a marathon at the end of the day - I'm probably getting a bit too old for it all. Maybe it's time to hand the thrill-seeking baton over to The Daughter, and look for more sedate ways of having fun. Who am I trying to kid? I'll still be rollercoastering when I'm 75! And The Daughter? Well, she can either come on too...or hold my dentures for me!