Monday, April 23, 2007

Dedication, and a pair of coconuts, is all you need.

On Monday as part of the St. Georges Day celebrations in London a record attempt was made at the world's largest coconut orchestra. Yep, as daft as it sounds but when you realise it is organised by the people of Spamalot, the Monty Python stage adaptation, it sort of makes sense. If you're one of the cynics who thinks the record was made up for the event, you're wrong; apparently over 1,000 people set the record in New York.

So it was a short walk after work and I was there in time to register and collect my musical instruments.

Two guys were having difficulty stopping the inflatable foot from blowing away. Its unlikely that this'll be a permanent attraction in the square.


The crowd was already gathering, to help get them into the swing of things the screen was showing old comedy clips from the nearby British Film Archives.

Some people had come dressed for the occasion, or perhaps they were just lost.

Even before the record attempt, the coconuts were being put to good use and in a very Monty Python way too. Whenever horses or camels were on screen we'd all provide the sound effects.

This is the cast of Spamalot who taught us the basics of coconut playing. It went along the lines of "grab the left nut in the left hand, the right nut in the right hand and bang them together. Just not too hard". We also learnt various horse pacing from trot through canter to gallop.

Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam were there to show their support. Ken Livingstone (not part of the Monty Python crew but just as funny sometimes) was only there for the photo opportunity then left.

After a rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" it was confirmed by the people at Guiness that we had sat a world record. Papers the next day had inflated the figure by 25% so I'm unsure how they counted it; through registration forms I'd think.

To round the events off there was then an evening showing of Monty Python's Holy Grail with sound effects provided by the new record holders of course!

Certainly a different event for the square but a fun one nonetheless, and I can finally say that I'm in the Guiness Book of Records, if not in name.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hayling Island

Day 2 in the club weekend and its off to another small park on the coast, this time Hayling Island.

The big coaster here is the Klondike Gold Mine, which they bought from Drayton Manor. I remember this ride as having no leg room and being a bit rough. It hadn't changed.

The park also bought the drop tower from the Trocadero Centre in London.

Before the park let us in to ride, those that were interested were allowed to ascend the tower.

We rode the coaster for around half an hour.

My knees fortunately survived this encounter.

Then we went onto the drop ride, which was pretty cool.

The brakes brought the ride to a stop much quicker than I ever remember them doing in London. A good thing!!

After that we pretty much had free reign over the park and went on pretty much everything.


Considering the flume was very slow moving, it was very wet on the drop. I didn't ride it.

The dodgem formation team display their new work - random chaos!

Tip, leaning back on a wooden helter skelter isn't the best idea.

The cauldron (tea pot) ride was quite popular for those who liked being dizzy.

This is the park manager's pet hobby, the restoration of a real F1 race car. Apparently you have to be able to exit the car in under 5 seconds to be able to drive it. I don't think I could get an arm out in that time.

Possibly the largest bin liners in the world. I'm contemplating getting some if only to confuse our local bin men.

It's only a small park but its superbly run and the manager has an obvious passion for his park. The park was really popular so he's obviously doing the right thing. This weekend was a complete eye opener having seen the state that Rhyl was in the week before.

Portsmouth

Midway between the 2 parks the club was visiting is the city of Portsmouth, famous for it's maritime history and the sleep over location for myself.

It was still early evening so I took a walk to the local pier where I knew another coaster could be found.

Skyways was a fun ride and similar to the kind of coasters I appear able to build in RCT without them killing the riders. Simple hills and lots of downward spirals. The ride was actually pretty good, and ran better than it looked.

The rest of the park consisted of the normal fairground type attractions. Rather cheekily a nearby sign advertised a new indoor coaster. It was one of the simulator types.

I don't think much of Portsmouth beach!

This is the Spinnaker tower, built to celebrate the Millennium but was finished two years later. Actually I take that back; its still not finished. The external elevator, which would be good to ride wasn't there, never has been, and probably never will be.

This part of Portsmouth has loads of development work going on and actually looks really good with an impressive shopping and dining complex on the waterfront.

Lets go up there!

Views from the top were, as expected, pretty impressive with nice views of the mainland coast and the Isle of Wight.

The viewing platform has a glass floor for those who have no fear of heights. Looks quite good!!

Portsmouth, yesterday.

A view down the centre of the stairway. Fortunately we only had to ascend no more than 2 floors of this, a very quick and smooth elevator took us the rest of the way.

Weird pyramid venting systems not built by the Egyptians.

Churches often have collections for the church roof fund, this is what happens when you don't donate.

Paulton's Park

4 hours travel from the Tiesto gig and I was at Paulton's Park near Southampton for a club event there. I'd already missed the morning fun and I was pretty tired so took the day fairley sedately.

The park is actually really nice and rather surprisingly was pretty busy with lots of families enjoying the nice weather. No unruly kids to be seen, I guess they were all up at Thorpe Park or down the beach, which made experience even better.


New to the park this year is a rethemed crazy golf. The first I'd come across with rough, made from astroturf. I came equal first. We never did have our rematch.

They have a gyspy themed walkthrough, probably the only one in the world........except for Romania perhaps.

The park benefits from loads of open space and shady places, which you don't always get elsewhere.

The big attraction in the park and the main reason for going was the new coaster, Cobra. Its a really cool ride even without the castle theming that I've seen on a similar ride in Germany.

Lots of time was spent in the Hedge Maze and if you didn't cheat by going through the holes in the hedges, was actually quite a challenge to get through. I made it out first.

The other coasters are of the kiddy kind

and yes I did ride them.

Paulton's isn't a massive park but that's part of its charm. It feels like a family run park not a corporate run money grabbing monster, that we usually go to. The park was immaculate and benefited from a very friendly workforce. It deserves to do well.

Tiesto @ Alexandra Palace

My brother had managed to get me a couple of tickets to arguably the biggest trance event of the year in the country this year. Tiesto is currently taking his current album "Elements of Life" on a year long world wide tour and this was his only English gig.

The event got off to a bad start with the slowest queue line in the world. I've been to a lot of theme parks but even their queues weren't as bad as this. It took a little over two hours to finally be let in and by the time I'd offloaded my bag Tiesto had already half an hour into his 6 hour set.

But the bad start to the proceedings was quickly forgotten by what was an absolutely blinding night. He played a brilliant set mixing up his earlier anthems and the new album tracks but also played lots of great old tunes. Hearing "Ayla" and Binary Finary's "1999" brought back really happy memories of my holiday to Ibiza, and he even managed to play a remix of Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams", a track that has to be around 20 years old.

The event had a theme of the 4-elements; fire, earth, air and water with backdrops reflecting the theme. Pyrotechnics helped move the theme along, we had flamethrowers in the fire set, cloud guns as part of air etc. There was no water sprays though, or maybe they missed me! Some of the movie playing behind him was a bit too arty for me and having seen what can be done with a screen at Fatboy Slim's gig a while ago I was a little disappointed with the theatrics but a minor complaint on a spectacular production.

Included in the set was his reworking of the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and I think that for me was the track of the night. The visuals flashed up pirate messages and pirate imagery before I'd even recognised the track being played, and when the anthem kicked in everyone was going mental and I was drumming along to the music.

The event was excellent, and I'm not just saying that because my brother works there. The place has had a bad rep in the past for poor acoustics but there was none of that here, and it shows that if you put the right system in properly it can sound amazing.

Needless to say after 6 hours of pretty much solid dancing (surprised I managed it) I was pretty much wrecked but having been up for over 24 hours I now had to find my way off to Southampton for a club day.

I was so impressed with this show that I've started looking into where else he is playing as I want to go again. I've never smiled so much in one night!!! Oh, and I bought the album on the way back.

Bro! Thanks a bunch for getting the tickets. Without you being in the right place I wouldn't have been able to experience this.


Here are the pics. I'm not going to explain them.