River Wissey Lovell Fuller


September 2009

Ian tell us about a recent visit to Alton Towers

Two wrinklies visit Alton Towers


Wrinklie (alt. Wrinkly, Crumblie): An old person (who has wrinkled skin) such as Management and me when viewed by the youngsters who use words such as "wrinkly".

Alton Towers Resort: This is an enormous theme park near the village of Alton in Staffordshire. Most people visit for the thrills of the enormous, fast, terrifying rides but there is a great deal more to the place. Set in beautiful, rolling countryside with acres of trees, the park is built around a wonderful old building, bedecked with a multitude of differently shaped towers, which dominates the site. Construction of the building started in 1833 and under Pugin's eagle eye, continued throughout the Victorian era, with the construction of the many towers above enormous state rooms and a massive chapel. An East wing and a West wing were constructed and the gardens were landscaped with many summer houses and follies. Alton Towers, as it was known, was used by the Ministry during the Second World War and then allowed to go to ruin. It has been purchased by the Tussauds Group and is slowly being made safe and restored. Nowadays, the old mansion is surrounded by a multitude of "Big rides", "Games and fun", food and drink outlets, shows, "Magic and young fun" and a great deal of water, much of which is splashed around! From an adult perspective, It is a place where you spend a lot of money to get wet but, from a child's perspective, it is a sometimes terrifying wonderland.


Head Office and I were spending a couple of weeks in the Midlands, "looking after" a fifteen year old granddaughter while our daughter Alyson did Jury Service. On one of the Fridays, a family outing to Alton Towers had been arranged (everybody except our daughter, that is!) and we were invited to go along. It is over 20 years since Deannie and I last took our kids to Alton Towers and we have very fond memories of the cable cars, so we agreed with pleasure. Now, entry to the theme park costs £36 per adult with family tickets costing up to £146 per day so it needs to be thought about beforehand. Now, pay attention because important information is to follow:

If you shop at Tesco and are a Clubcard member, you receive one point for every £1 spent. When you have spent £100, you receive a voucher for £1 to spend in the store or to exchange for air miles. Alternatively, at four times the face value of your Tesco voucher, you can purchase tickets for attractions such as Alton Towers, Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Thorpe Park and other attractions such as a variety of restaurants and beauty treatments. (Deannie and I always turn our vouchers into airmiles and I now have enough miles to send her on a one way trip to Australia. On second thoughts, the air miles are in her name so she may well choose to send me to Australia - one way!)

So, back to business, if you spend £250 in Tesco, you receive a voucher for £2.50 to spend. However, one of these vouchers will buy you £10 worth of entrance to the above attractions and restaurants. So, to obtain admission for our son-in-law and our three adult grandchildren plus one boyfriend (5 people), at an entrance cost of 5 X £36 = £180, our daughter would have required 18 £2.50 vouchers (worth £10 each at the turnstile), for which she would have spent 18 X £250 = £4,500 instore! The good news was that wrinklies were allowed in for half price and Alyson, our daughter, had given us a "Two entries for the price of one" voucher, so Deannie and I effectively got in for £9 each - a deal!

When we arrived, the car parks, monorail to the entrance and entry kiosks were absolutely "heaving" with people and it took about an hour to gain entry to the park. The youngsters, including Son-in-law, rushed off to sample the rides and we settled for a cup of coffee and a look at the map. Having seen some of the rides, all of which seem to cause different parts of your body to fly in different directions simultaneously, and one of which has you lying on your face over a 500ft drop before you are dropped vertically downwards "through" the ground, we decided to take the gentler option and enjoyed a cruise in a small boat equipped with buttons that made cow, sheep, pig and chicken sounds followed by a visit to the animated "Old MacDonald's Farmyard" where all the animals and a tractor were singing the song. I particularly enjoyed the pig; he was obviously thoroughly fed up with the proceedings and was deliberately singing wrong words.

After lunch, we enjoyed an hour's Schadenfreude (pleasure derived from the misfortune of others). One of the water rides, the Flume, takes people for a ride past waterfalls and through a watersplash. As they emerge, congratulating themselves on remaining reasonably dry, they strip off their waterproof clothing and the ladies sort their hair out as the boat gently meanders around a bend where there are two massive shower heads which suddenly and unexpectedly dump on the occupants of the boats. We found all this really amusing and then went for an hour's walk around the ruins of the mansion.

Deannie joins me in hoping that you have all enjoyed the Summer break in spite of the weather.

Best wishes to you all

Ian G. Nisbet

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