Monday, 10 September 2012

RCCGB Folly Farm 2012

Date: Saturday 11 August 2012
Venue: Folly Farm near Kilgetty
Who Went: Me and a large number of other RCCGB members, including Andy Hine, Alan Chilvers, Brian Smith, Dave Perry, Lucy Cosnett, Mary and James, Planenut, Ryan Hackett.

DISCLAIMER: The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of everyone who attended. It's a small sample of attendees; mainly those I spoke to and/or rode with at Folly Farm. I sincerely apologise to anyone I've not listed.

N.B. Any use of "today" or "Saturday" in this report means Saturday 11 August 2012. Any use of "Friday" means Friday 10 August 2012.

Rationale For Trip
An add-on to RCCGB Mega-Glow-Mania 2012. After the Club's visit to Oakwood Theme Park on Friday 10 August, it was only logical to spend Saturday 11 August at nearby Folly Farm. Many RCCGB members who attended Oakwood on Friday also attended Folly Farm on Saturday. In addition a few members who didn't attend Oakwood on Friday for whatever reason still managed to attend Folly Farm as if it was a standalone Club trip. Having attended Oakwood on Friday, I was equally determined to attend Folly Farm Saturday. The itinerary was less formal than Friday: (i) the daytime was free for everyone to enjoy the Park amenities at their leisure, (ii) after closing time the day would culminate in an exclusive fair session in the Vintage Funfair, plus a basket meal in the café.

Saturday First Thing
Saturday morning did not require such an early start as Friday. Having awoke at 7:00am I had breakfast at the normal time of 8:00am consisting of a bowl of cornflakes, glass of orange juice, full traditional breakfast, four triangles of toast and a cafetiere of coffee. Being as I wasn't likely to be going on rides during the morning, I was eager to try a full traditional breakfast (2 fried eggs, 2 rashers of bacon, 1 sausage, baked beans, mushrooms, 1 hash brown) today. Furthermore I was able to enjoy my breakfast at a more leisurely pace than Friday morning.

Getting To Folly Farm
Unlike Oakwood on Friday, I was able to get to Folly Farm by bus. I left my hotel at 9:17am and walked to the bus stops the other side of town. There I caught the 9:40 Haverfordwest bus which stopped right outside Folly Farm.

Welcome To Folly Farm
I reached Folly Farm at 10:13. According to the trip letter, we were officially due to enter as a group at 11:00am. However Folly Farm was already open, and the general public were being admitted. Immediately I showed the receptionist my trip letter, badge and RCCGB membership card, explained that I was on the trip and was allowed in straightaway. Thus I must have been the first RCCGB member booked on this trip to be admitted to Folly Farm.

Normal Opening Time
I began by exploring Folly Farm. Firstly I walked past the big wheel and through the area where the outdoor play facilities (pirate ship, sandpit, etc.) are located. After a while I entered the building which houses the Vintage Funfair rides. Whilst inside I walked around the funfair, and was surprised to see so many rides. Just before 11:00am I met Nev by Carousel Woods play area. He returned my camera to me, which I'd accidentally left by Megafobia during the dark ERS at Oakwood Friday evening. I told him I'd already explored the Vintage Funfair. He pointed out that I'd need to buy tokens if I wanted to go on the rides during the day.

Carousel Woods
A wooden indoor play area, which adults are allowed to play on. It includes the following facilities:
4-lane Astra slide
Four tube slides
Log ramps and bridges
Multi-level towers; inter-floor access is by ladders and/or climbing / dropping through holes

I played in Carousel Woods from approximately 11:15am to 12:15pm. In that time I went down the four Astra slide lanes four times each and all the tube slides four times each. I covered all parts of the play area including going up and down through the holes between levels in the towers. The tallest tower situated near the front of the play area has three wooden "proper" upper floors (first, second, third) above the ground floor, one ladder linking the first and second floors and another ladder linking the second and third floors. In addition, each of the said floors has a hole in it. I went through the hole in the third floor, through the holes in two intermediate levels, through the second floor, through two more intermediate levels, through the first floor and through more intermediate levels to the ground floor, and vice versa. My only problem was where to put my rucksack. I tended to put it somewhere on the play structure and move it from time to time depending where I was. There really ought to be lockers nearby for you to put luggage in.

The Zoo
Around 12:20pm I began exploring the zoo, starting with the giraffe and zebra enclosure in the Motobo Hills (African Reserve) section. Other animals in the Motobo Hills area included red river hog and ostrich. Next I saw the following other areas of the zoo:
Folly Forests (life in the trees): Eastern Bongo, Red Ruffed Lemur.
Coping With Extremes (desert heat): Emu, Bactrian camel (which has 2 humps), Meerkat.

I met a few other members including Nev and Alan Chilvers by the emu enclosure. Shortly afterwards I met a few more members including Ryan Hackett and Dave Perry. Evidently other members besides me were interested in seeing the zoo. We posed together for a few group shots.

Mid Afternoon Snack
Around 2:15pm I felt hungry, so went to Carousel Café for a light snack. I just wanted a baguette and a cup of coffee, but it actually worked out cheaper to have those as a £5.25 Baguette Meal (which also included a packet of crisps that I didn't really want) than buying a separate baguette and cup of coffee! For now I only ate the baguette and drank the coffee; I put the crisps in my rucksack for later.

Nev and a few other members were also having lunch now, so I sat by them. Unexpectedly I also met Lucy Cosnett who wasn't at Oakwood the day before. I spoke to the others, particularly Lucy who I didn't have chance to meet at Oakwood.

The Zoo (Continued)
I returned to the zoo to see the animals I hadn't seen earlier. Areas I saw this time, and examples of animals within each one, are listed below.
Pembrokeshire Patagonia: Alpaca.
Coping With Extremes (desert heat): African Spurred Tortoise plus information about various deserts of the world.
Okawango Delta (wetlands of Africa): Sacred Ibis, White Stork.
Folly Amazonia (the mighty Amazon): Ocelot, Capybara.
Coping With Extremes (cold climate): Reindeer.
Folly Forests (life in the trees): Orange Winged Amazon Parrot.

I walked up the path in the corner of the zoo where it says "More animals this way". Although a dead end, some of what is listed above (e.g. Folly Amazonia, Okawango Delta, reindeer) was up that path.

Dotted around the zoo are a few Zoolympics challenges and I tried some of them as I walked around the zoo.

Get your dancing shoes on
Dance like a crane by following the four steps. I tried this once through only; I ought to have put my rucksack on the ground and done the four steps several times.

Hang on a minute
Hang from a wooden frame like a lemur. I tried, but could only hang on a few seconds.

Reach your potential
See if you can reach as far as a swan. According to the information board, the Trumpeter Swan has a wingspan of 2.5 metres. I tried reaching my arms out as wide as I could. Unfortunately I didn't make a note of how far I managed to reach but it was nowhere near 2.5 metres!

Coffee Time
At 4:15pm I was by the café called Coffee Shop, and fancied a cup of coffee. Several different types of coffee were available from the machine. Being as they were all the same price I decided to have a cappuccino. Several other RCCGB members including Nev were sitting at one of the outside tables, so I sat with them to drink my cappuccino, and talk to them.

Helter Skelter
At this point I fancied a go on the helter skelter. The fare was one 50p token, which got me just one go. In order to completely cover my arms to prevent friction burns (I only had a t-shirt on), I was provided with a fleece top to wear whilst going down the slide. This is the first place I've ever been to that's forced sliders to do that. Once at the top I enjoyed one go down the spiral slide, my first go on a helter skelter anywhere for this year.

Folly Interactive
I thought this would be a hands-on science centre like At-Bristol or Techniquest Cardiff Bay, but it's not. There are more animals in here. Being as it was late in the day I took a rapid walk through here. The animals I really paid attention to here were the blue and gold Macaw and the guinea pig. I noticed the sign about the guinea pig stating "I'm not a pig and I don't come from Guinea!". Whilst I already knew that I was surprised to learn that guinea pigs are considered a tasty delicacy in Peru.

Carousel Woods
To end normal opening time, I had another session on the Carousel Woods indoor play area. From 4:55pm to 5:27pm I played on all parts of the frame, including going up the ramps and ladders, and up and down the towers through the holes in the various levels. Also I went down every tube slide twice each, and all four Astra slide lanes twice each.

Exclusive Fair Session
Folly Farm closed to the public at 5:30pm. However for us it was the beginning of the best part of the day, our Exclusive Fair Session. Members waited by the Wurlitzer Organ until an attendant told us all was ready.

At 5:46pm all was ready for us to begin riding. The Club was split into two groups, A and B. I was in the same group as Dave Perry, Ryan and Planenut. The plan was to run two rides at once (rides 1 and 2 for explanation purposes), with group A on ride 1 and group B on ride 2, then swap over to have group B on ride 1 and group A on ride 2. We began by taking turns to ride 1950s Caterpillar Ride and 1937 Coronation Speedway.

1950s Caterpillar Ride
The last time I went on a ride like this was Mulan during the Summer Bash 2008 at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach. This goes round and round, and due to undulations in the track, it also gives up and down motion. Part way through the ride, the canopy is put over the riders, so the ride resembles a caterpillar racing around the track. Near the end the canopy is removed. I sat with Planenut in seat number 16.

1937 Coronation Speedway
Cars and motorbikes fixed to a circular wooden undulating track. Planenut sat on motor bike WC1, and I sat next to him on motor bike WE3. The ride went round and round, up and down.

For the next two rides, the groups took turns to ride Rock n' Roll Waltzer and Jets.

Rock n' Roll Waltzer
Self-explanatory, this is a typical fairground waltzer. Each waltzer has a rock star's face and signature on the back. Planenut, Dave Perry and I rode together on waltzer number 3 (Tom Jones).

Mini jet planes at the ends of arms which radiate from a central hub. When the ride started the planes all went around in a circle, and rose upwards shortly afterwards. However they didn't all go high simultaneously. A third of the planes reached full height, a third went to a midrange height and the remainder (mine being one of them) stayed relatively low. As the ride progressed each plane had a turn at each height; thus after a while my plane went to the midrange height, and eventually to the full height. Finally all planes returned to their stationary height before the ride slowed and stopped.

1938 Dodgem Track
Another common funfair ride, the dodgems aka bumper cars. The group arrangement did not apply here. Instead the cars were filled on a first-come first-served basis. There were just a few members (I was one of them) who couldn't be accommodated.

At the end of that run, everyone who had just ridden the dodgems left the ride. A second run was held for those like me who missed out first time around. The majority of the cars were still empty, and they were filled with members who had already ridden, on a first-come first-served basis. Thus many members were lucky enough to get two goes on the dodgems. Now I'm not too keen on dodgems at the best of times, but I was determined to give it a go during this EFS. I tried my best at driving my car around the track, but at certain times got into difficulty steering it. One member who was watching this time around said "Come on Nick" as I was struggling to steer the car the way I wanted it to go. Thankfully I managed to get going again, but after the ride ended I reminded him I can't drive and therefore that almost certainly explains why I'm not very good with dodgems at funfairs.

Evening Meal
Around 6:40pm it was time for dinner at the café. The meals were served in plastic baskets, hence why this was called a basket meal. When booking we were asked to specify whether we wanted fish and chips, sausage and chips or veggie burger and chips. That doesn't necessarily mean everyone stuck with their original choices whilst being served. I was one of the last to get served, and had what I'd originally specified: fish and chips. They had a few sausages spare, so they let me have one with my fish and chips. A fizzy drink was also included, I chose cola. I sat next to Ryan whilst eating my meal. After I'd finished eating I sat next to Lucy Cosnett and spoke to her about the reasons for my choice of Gong Show act at the 2012 Blackpool Bash earlier this year.

At 7:11pm Nev said something along the lines of "Now you've all eaten, it's time for another spin on the rides". Normally I wouldn't go on rides immediately after eating, but this time I decided to return to riding anyway. My thought was that the rides here would be suitable for riding immediately after eating, unlike rides such as Disko, swinging pirate ship or Freak Out type rides. We split into the two groups we formed at the start, and took turns to ride the 1936 Lakin Swirl and Chair-o-Plane.

1936 Lakin Swirl
Also called the Super Swirl or Lakin Skid, this has waltzer style ride cars with small wheels beneath them. Each car is attached by a pivot to a triangle protruding from the spinning central unit. That results in a rather unusual ride experience; a car rotates as far as it can go in one direction before suddenly being thrown sharply back in the opposite direction. Ryan and I were on car number 4, he controlled the brake.

Basically a carousel with chairs hanging from chains. As the ride spins the chairs are forced outwards on an angle. A gentle, pleasurable ride, that's all I really need to say about this.

Folly Farm's Famous Gallopers
Traditional galloping horses, no further explanation needed. The group arrangement no longer applied as we all got on here simultaneously. I sat on the horse Hugo. Ryan was on the horse next to me, he asked if I was going to sing "Giddy Up". Therefore whilst the ride was in motion I sang most of Brave Prince. Mind you, there was no point wanting my horse Hugo to giddy up, as the horses all gallop around at a fixed pace. They can't overtake each other unlike the Steeplechase horses or Grand National trains at Blackpool.

1950s Cyclone Twist
To round off, a ride that should be familiar to everyone. This 1950s model obviously looks a bit primitive compared to the more modern ones you tend to see these days (which most of us have are likely to have ridden somewhere, generally called Twister these days). Once again the whole Club queued for this one ride, and the majority of us including me got on the first run. I sat in car number 3 during the first run. Being as I'd been on this sort of thing plenty of times before elsewhere, I knew what to expect. Just as I expected, this 1950s model gave a ride experience more or less the same as more modern models. Great fun, I still think the Cyclone is one of my favourite non-coaster rides.

Afterwards a second run was held primarily for those who'd missed out first time around. The remaining seats were filled with members who had already ridden this first time, on a first-come first-served basis. I was lucky enough to get back on for the second run, this time I sat in car number 4.

Sadly that was the end of our ride session. It's a pity there wasn't time for the Cake Walk.

Drinking Time
Finally the bar was opened so we could each buy ourselves one drink and have a final chat together before we all left Folly Farm around 8:30pm.

Summary of my day in order of activity

Carousel Woods (about one hour)
The Zoo
Mid Afternoon Snack at Carousel Café
The Zoo (continued)
Coffee Time
Helter Skelter 1 go
Folly Interactive
Carousel Woods (about half an hour)

Exclusive Fair Session
1950s Caterpillar Ride 1
1937 Coronation Speedway 1
Rock n' Roll Waltzer 1
Jets 1
1938 Dodgem Track 1

Basket Meal

1936 Lakin Swirl 1
Chair-o-Plane 1
Folly Farm's Famous Gallopers 1
1950s Cyclone Twist 2

Drink at bar before leaving

Alphabetic Summary Table of EFS Rides

1950s Caterpillar Ride
1937 Coronation Speedway
1950s Cyclone Twist
1938 Dodgem Track
Folly Farm's Famous Gallopers
1936 Lakin Swirl
Rock n' Roll Waltzer

Rest Of Saturday
Our day at Folly Farm was now over, and it was time for everyone to head back to where they were staying. Mary and James, who were staying in Saundersfoot, kindly gave me a lift all the way to The Myrtle House Hotel in Tenby where I was staying. When we got there I continued talking them for about ten minutes before saying my final goodbye and leaving the car. I was back in my room just after 9pm, and relaxed there the rest of the evening.


Playing on Carousel Woods indoor play structure late morning and late afternoon.
Evening Exclusive Fair Session on the Vintage Funfair rides.
Evening basket meal in the café.
Meeting Nev, Ryan, Dave Perry, Planenut and others for the second day running; plus Lucy Cosnett who wasn't at Oakwood on Friday.

Insufficient time for more rides during the EFS.

Summing Up
Altogether a worthwhile extension to Mega-Glow-Mania at Oakwood. This visit to Folly Farm was undeniably tame compared to Friday at Oakwood, but it was still a great day. I felt it was more relaxed compared to Oakwood. During the day I particularly enjoyed playing on Carousel Woods indoor play structure for about an hour late morning and half an hour late afternoon, as well as one go on the helter skelter. In addition I spent more time than I expected exploring the zoo; it was quite interesting reading the background information about the various animals. What a pity there wasn't time to see the farm section, but there's always another year for that. Best of all was after 5:30pm: a few vintage rides, a basket meal, more vintage rides and a final bar drink before leaving. It was great seeing many members who were at Oakwood on Friday again today, plus Lucy Cosnett who wasn't at Oakwood. Thank you very much Nev for arranging today at Folly Farm, and also to Mary and James for kindly giving me a lift right back to my hotel front door in Tenby.

Reluctantly I won't be attending either day of Loopathon this year. Presumably therefore my next RCCGB trip will be the Blackpool Bash 2013.

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