Monday, 10 December 2012

Nemesis Nick's Portsmouth 2012: Ride Slide Finale

Date: Friday 26 October to Sunday 28 October 2012
Venues: Portsmouth PlayZone, Funland (Hayling Island), Spinnaker Tower, Pyramids Leisure Centre
Who Went: Just me

After my Devon 2012 trip at the end of September, I fancied a weekend in Portsmouth at the end of October for various reasons. I particularly wanted to go to the adult night at Portsmouth PlayZone Friday evening, having last been to an adult night there at the beginning of September 2006. Also I wanted to spend Saturday at nearby Funland, Hayling Island to mark the end of the 2012 coaster season. Sunday was to be a more flexible day; as well as a session of water sliding at Pyramids Leisure Centre, I also hoped to fit in a couple of rides at Clarence Pier (subject to them operating that day), and/or a visit to Spinnaker Tower.

To make the rest of report this easier to read, I've split it into sections. Click the applicable link below to jump to the section you want to read:

Day One - Friday 26 October
Day Two - Saturday 27 October
Day Three - Sunday 28 October

Day One - Friday 26 October
First Great Western, Portsmouth PlayZone

Journey To Portsmouth
The weekend began when I turned up at Bath Spa station for the 9:35 Portsmouth Harbour train. Although it departed Bath a few minutes late, there were no further problems along the way so I enjoyed a relaxing journey from Bath Spa to Fratton. Having reached Fratton at 11:46 I walked to my guest house. When I got there the landlady was out, so I just waited about ten to fifteen minutes until she returned, thereby enabling me to check in.

Friday Afternoon
Around 1:30pm I went to get some lunch. Just down the road from the guest house I found Moggy's Café, so I went there to have a sausage and bacon baguette plus a cup of coffee. After lunch I headed for Southsea sea front. I wasn't aiming to do anything in particular Friday afternoon; I could have visited the D-Day Museum and/or Southsea Castle, but decided not to visit either. Instead I walked at a leisurely pace along the sea front as far as Clarence Pier. I noticed the rides on Clarence Pier but they were closed Friday afternoon; I was hoping they'd be open Sunday. Next I walked into the city centre, where I had a cappuccino coffee at Debenhams café. At 5:15pm I was back in my room, to get ready for the evening.

Evening Meal
Just after 6pm I left the guest house again and went to get a meal. I walked into central Southsea, and although I had a map I got a bit confused finding my way there. At 6:12pm (later than I'd have ideally liked) I was outside The Lord Palmerston (Wetherspoon), and decided to have a meal there. From the menu I quickly chose what I wanted and placed my order. I had pork, leek and chive sausages and mash for main course, followed by Belgian waffle with ice cream for dessert. To drink, I had half a pint of Heineken.

Portsmouth PlayZone Adult Night
Having left the pub just after 7pm I walked to Fratton station whereupon I caught the 19:31 train to Cosham. When I arrived there ten minutes later I had a spot of bother finding my way to Portsmouth PlayZone. I finally found it just after 8pm. A large number of adults were waiting to enter; it just goes to show plenty of other adults besides me enjoy indoor play areas. Due to the long queue it took me a long time to get in. Once admitted the time taken for me to remove my shoes and put my bag in the cloakroom meant I finally took to the play equipment at 8:25pm.

The main play area was designed and installed by Taylor-Made Play Equipment. It has plenty to enjoy including a bumpy slide, Surf Rider blue double drop slide, Red Devil drop slide (with two launch heights), Black Hole tube slide, loads of soft play equipment and a crawl maze (underneath the padded pit).

I began with eight goes on the bumpy slide, followed by eight goes on the blue double drop slide. Next I fearlessly enjoyed the Red Devil drop slide: four goes from the lower beam followed by four goes from the upper beam. After that, I went on all the soft play equipment and crawled through the crawl maze. Around 9:40pm I had a coffee at Café Zone. When I returned to the play equipment about 20 minutes later I had another go on the Red Devil (lower beam) followed by four goes on the Black Hole tube slide. Next I went on all the soft play equipment and through the crawl maze again. I finished off by having as many goes as possible on the Red Devil: three from the lower beam and three from the upper beam.

At 10:40pm the music stopped and an announcement was made stating the session was now over, and everyone had to leave the play equipment. This was to allow people to collect their belongings, get shoes on and be out of the building before 11pm. It was very cold outside when I left the building at 10:52pm. Just after 11pm I had a taxi back from PlayZone to my guest house, and was back in my room just after 11:15pm.

Cumulative summary of slides:

Black Hole
Blue double drop slide
Bumpy slide[1]
Red Devil lower beam
Red Devil upper beam

[1] two goes per lane left to right.

More about Friday evening at Portsmouth PlayZone available here

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Day Two - Saturday 27 October
Funland Hayling Island

Saturday First Thing
I awoke just after 7am. My plan for the day was to visit Funland, Hayling Island. The guest house where I stayed provided room only accommodation, so I went to Moggy's Café (just down the road) for an All Day Breakfast.

Off To Funland
Having left Moggy's Café after 9am I caught a bus to Havant Bus Station, for an onward bus to Hayling Island. I left the bus at Mengham Corner and walked along the sea front to Funland.

Funland, Hayling Island

Morning Coffee
I reached Funland just after 11am, but decided to go into Beachlands Café for a coffee before entering Funland.

Morning Riding
Just before 11:30 I entered Funland and bought a wristband which was valid until 5pm. Once fitted with a wristband, I took to the rides, starting with two goes on the family coaster Woody's Roller Coaster followed by one go on the looping coaster Klondike and two goes on the Super Dragon coaster. Next I enjoyed four goes on Blizzard Falls Log Flume, followed by Break Dancer and Silcock's Speed Flip once each. After a short break from riding I had two hair-raising goes on Drop. My next ride was one go on Flying Saucer, I later found out this was new to Funland this year, and had been obtained second-hand from Paultons Park. Finally I had one go on Klondike followed by two goes on Woody's Roller Coaster.

Lunchtime and After
At 1pm I went to Beachlands Café for a sandwich and mug of coffee. After lunch I went for a walk along the sea front.

Afternoon Riding
I returned to Funland just after 2:30pm and enjoyed plenty more rides, starting with two goes on Blizzard Falls Log Flume, two goes on Super Dragon roller coaster and another two goes on Blizzard Falls Log Flume. The highlight of the afternoon followed this: six goes on Klondike, in various rows. This was followed by my first two goes of the afternoon on Woody's Roller Coaster. After that, I had eight goes on the Helter Skelter. One could argue whether this is a true ride or just a slide, but anyway it was great fun.

Back to the proper rides next: one go on Break Dancer, two goes on Drop and one go on Cannibal Pots (cauldron ride). At long last the Wild River Log Flume (large log flume) was open, so I had one go. I rounded off my day by riding the three coasters again as follows: Woody's Roller Coaster twice, Klondike twice, and finally Super Dragon once.

Cumulative summary of my rides all day:

Blizzard Falls Log Flume
Break Dancer
Cannibal Pots
Flying Saucer
Helter Skelter
Silcock's Speed Flip
Super Dragon
Wild River Log Flume
Woody's Roller Coaster

Saturday Evening

Funland To Havant
Just after 5pm I was at the bus stop outside Funland. Shortly afterwards I caught a bus to Havant Bus Station. Having arrived at 5:25pm I took a short walk around Havant town centre.

Evening Meal
I decided to have my evening meal in Havant, and catch a bus back to Portsmouth later. Around 5:45pm I went to The Parchment Makers (Wetherspoon). I had Roast of the Day (half a chicken) for main course followed by sticky toffee pudding with custard for dessert. In addition I had half a pint of Old Thumper to drink with my meal.

Havant To Portsmouth
After leaving The Parchment Makers at 7:13pm it was just a short walk to Havant Bus Station. There I caught the 19:24 bus to The Hard Interchange Portsmouth, whereupon I had a quick change to another bus which took me to a stop in Albert Road. After that it was just a short walk to where I was staying, and I was back in my room at 8:10pm. I just relaxed there the rest of the evening.

More about Saturday at Funland available here

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Day Three - Sunday 28 October
Spinnaker Tower, Pyramids Leisure Centre, First Great Western

Sunday Morning
I awoke at 7:00, got ready and packed my bags. At 9:00 I left the guest house and went to Moggy's Café for an All Day Breakfast. It was the day of the Great South Run, but I wasn't particularly interested in that, and really wanted to spend the morning water sliding at Pyramids Leisure Centre instead. Nonetheless, in order to allow about an hour to elapse between breakfast and water sliding, I stood at a viewpoint near the start line to watch the elite women and Orange Wave start. Around 10:50 I got Pyramids Leisure Centre only to discover the fun pool wasn't opening until 2pm. This was due to an incident in the pool Saturday which necessitated a 24 hour closure, and not due to the Great South Run. The pool and slides were originally billed to open at 10:00 as normal, despite the run taking place. For now I returned to the spot where I was earlier in time to see the Green Wave (main race) start at 11:00.

Clarence Pier
After the last runner had crossed the start line I walked to Clarence Pier. When I got there I went into Sea Side Fish and Chips for a coffee. I was hoping Clarence Pier rides would be open after midday, in order to ride Skyways for the first time ever (and thus add it to my coaster count), and also re-ride Speedy Coaster (which I had already ridden twice at its previous location Leisureranch Weymouth but this would have been my first go on it at Clarence Pier). After midday I went into the amusement arcade and found out from a member of staff that the rides weren't opening today, and would not now open again until March 2013. Obviously I felt disappointed at not now being able to ride those two coasters, especially as I'd deliberately put on my RCCGB 15th anniversary T-shirt first thing. I left Clarence Pier and walked to Spinnaker Tower.

Spinnaker Tower
Around 12:40 I got to the Spinnaker Tower. Once admitted my picture was taken against a green background before I went up in the lift to View Deck 1. From View Deck 1 the views in all directions were breathtaking. Information boards mention about 50 sights to look for; I looked for some but also found a few others. Of course I was keen enough to step on the glass floor; I walked across it a few times and even sat on it once.

Having had a good look in all directions I went upstairs to View Deck 2. There is no information here as it's the café level. Although I didn't have anything from the café, I looked through the windows in all directions (albeit for considerably less time than View Deck 1). After that I went up to the Crow's Nest. This is the highest point to which visitors can go, and is exposed to the air overhead. I felt it offered a narrower field of view than the two lower levels. I was only on this level briefly before returning to View Deck 2 for the lift back to the ground floor. After leaving the tower I had a Chicken Sub and coffee at Subway before walking to Pyramids Leisure Centre.

Pyramids Leisure Centre
Around 2:30pm I finally reached Pyramids Leisure Centre, and thankfully the fun pool was now open. About twenty minutes later I entered the pool area. To my disappointment the snake flume was closed all afternoon, but the green and blue flumes were running. I enjoyed the green flume and blue flume in sequence eight times over. The green flume was a bit slow for my liking, and on some goes I had to nudge myself on the way down. The blue flume was noticeably faster.

After a few minutes in the fun pool whilst the wave machine was on, I returned to the slides. This time I went down the green flume and blue flume in sequence twelve times over. Sometimes there were a few other bathers in front of me, but towards the end I was the only slider for a few goes. When the slides closed at 5:11pm I returned to the pool. Shortly afterwards the super waves session began. Fifteen minutes of extra large waves, much more fun than the regular wave session I experienced earlier in my visit. When the waves ended I left the pool, even though it remained open (without the slides running) a little longer.

Cumulative summary of slides:

Green flume
Blue flume

Evening Meal
At 6pm I collected my large bag from the guest house where I'd stayed the previous two nights. I was now clearly on borrowed time to go somewhere for a meal and subsequently get to Fratton station for my booked train home at 8:16pm. The best option now was to find somewhere close to Fratton station. Having found out there was a Wetherspoon pub The John Jacques there, I had a taxi from the guest house to The John Jacques.

Once seated I took time choosing a meal. In the end, I chose BBQ Chicken Melt for main course. A drink was included in the price, I chose 1 pint of Tuborg. In addition, I decided to have a pudding: Bramley apple, pear and raspberry crumble.

Journey Home
Having left the pub just before 8pm, it was only a five minute walk around the corner to Fratton station. I arrived there in plenty of time for the 20:16 Cardiff Central train which I had booked to travel home on. The said train departed on time and I had a relaxing journey from Fratton to Bath. I finally reached Bath Spa at 10:31pm.

More about Sunday available here

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Cooked breakfasts at Moggy's Café Southsea Saturday and Sunday morning.
Evening meals at three Wetherspoons pubs: The Lord Palmerston (Southsea), The Parchment Makers (Havant) and The John Jacques (Fratton).
Playing on the big slides and soft play equipment during the adult night at Portsmouth PlayZone Friday evening.
Riding the roller coasters and other rides at Funland, Hayling Island Saturday.
Walking over the glass on Spinnaker Tower view deck 1.
Sliding the green and blue flumes at Pyramids Leisure Centre.
Super Waves at Pyramids Leisure Centre fun pool.

Difficulty finding Portsmouth PlayZone Friday evening close to the start of the adult only session.
Weather dry and sunny but very cold Saturday; cloudy Friday and Sunday.
Clarence Pier rides closed all day Sunday, so I didn't have the chance to ride Skyways and Speedy Coaster.
Snake flume closed at Pyramids Leisure Centre fun pool Sunday afternoon.

Altogether a fun-packed weekend away, during which I enjoyed three roller coasters, two log flumes, five other rides, one helter skelter, one bumpy slide, two drop slides, one dry tube slide and two water slides. The fact that the Friday evening session at PlayZone was just for adults added to the fun of playing on the slides and soft play equipment. It was great to be a child for that night. The turnout for that session was high, it just goes to show there are plenty more adult kids out there besides me who enjoy indoor play areas. Funland was very quiet all day Saturday, which meant the rides were generally walk-on, and hence I was able to get a high ride count. Unfortunately that created a problem for me riding Klondike; sometimes I was the only rider waiting to go on it and had to wait for others to turn up. I generally overcame that problem by approaching Klondike when other people were about to go on it, and thus managed a total of 10 goes on it in one day. It was great to ride the three coasters and other rides there again, plus the ex-Paultons Park ride Flying Saucer. Altogether a coaster crazy day at Funland to round off the 2012 coaster season. Sunday had its ups and downs. Mid-morning it was annoying to discover Pyramids Leisure Centre fun pool was not opening until 2pm. Nonetheless that became a blessing in disguise as I ended up staying in for the super waves session, which I wouldn't have done had I gone water sliding around 11am to 1pm as originally intended. It's a pity Clarence Pier rides were closed all day, which meant I was unable to Skyways or Speedy Coaster, but there's always next year for that. Spinnaker Tower was also worth a visit, for its breathtaking views, as well as walking across the glass floor on View Deck 1.

Interestingly I went down at least one slide of some sort each day:
Friday: Astra slide, Surf Rider blue double drop slide, Red Devil drop slide and Black Hole tube slide at Portsmouth PlayZone.
Saturday: Helter Skelter at Funland, Hayling Island.
Sunday: green and blue flumes at Pyramids Leisure Centre.

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