Venue: Folly Farm
Who Went: Me and a large number of other RCCGB members, including Andy and Christine Hine, Alan Hunt, Big Stevie B, Kelly Cameron, Mark and Margo Lewis, Planenut, Ryan Hackett, Wendy Adams Evans.
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.
Rationale for TripA pre-Oakwood add-on to RCCGB Mega-GLOW-Mania 2016, a visit to Folly Farm near Kilgetty. The itinerary was the same as 2015 and previous years: (i) the daytime was free for everyone to enjoy the Park amenities at their leisure, (ii) after closing time the day culminated in an exclusive fair session in the Vintage Funfair, including a basket meal in the Funfair Restaurant. For the purposes of Mega-GLOW-Mania 2016, you could think of this visit to Folly Farm as the starter, and the Saturday visit to Oakwood as the main course.
N.B. Any use of "today" or "Friday" hereafter in this report means Friday 12 August 2016. Any use of "Saturday" means Saturday 13 August 2016.
Friday First ThingHaving awoke at 7:30 I had breakfast at 8:40 consisting of a choice of cereal (I had cornflakes), a glass of orange juice, a full Welsh breakfast (1 fried egg, 1 hash brown, 1 sausage, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 grilled tomato halves, baked beans, chopped mushrooms), four triangles of toast and a carafe of coffee. That certainly filled me up for the morning!
Welcome to Folly FarmSince I was staying in Begelly for the first time, I walked all the way from my hotel to Folly Farm. The walk, which was mostly uphill, took me about ten minutes. I reached Folly Farm approximately 10:30. According to the trip letter, we were officially due to enter as a group at 11:00. However Folly Farm was already open, and the general public were being admitted, so I joined one of the admissions queues. I was asked if I was on my own; I answered I was for now, but other members booked on the trip would gradually arrive during the day. Anyway I was admitted without further difficulty. I asked if I was the first member booked on the trip to arrive, the receptionist said I was.
Normal Opening Time
FollywoodI began the day in the Follywood area across the road. To get there I had to walk through The Jolly Barn and subway. When I got to Follywood, the land train was scheduled to have its first run of the day at 11:00. Rather than stand and wait for the driver to start letting visitors on, I went into another Follywood attraction, Percy's Piggery.
Percy's PiggeryThis Follywood attraction is home to various breeds of pigs. These included Welsh Pig, Saddleback Pig and Mangalitza Pig. Pens extend outside both sides of the building, so that the pigs can go into those external pens. Thus one can see the pigs from outside the building as well as inside, depending on where the pigs are at a given time.
To see the rest of Follywood one needs to go for a ride on the Land Train. By the time I got back to its departure point, the first train of the day had already gone. Evidently it must have left before 11:00. Nonetheless other people were waiting there, and thankfully It wasn't long before it was back to provide the next run.
Land TrainThe train set off along a track, and passed various animals along the way. Unlike the last couple of years, the train didn't stop at the far end to let riders off to walk along a nature trail. No explanation was given, and I didn't bother asking. The return route was slightly different to the outward route, thereby taking riders past even more animals.
The Jolly BarnBack in the main part of the Park, I entered the Jolly Barn. There I headed straight towards the sign showing drawings of farm animals, with the question "Can you draw the animals?" Visitors are allowed to draw the animals on the large chalk board beneath that sign. Having drawn a pig in 2014 and a sheep in 2015, I tried drawing the rabbit this time, and my attempt was quite impressive. I named my drawing Rupert the Rabbit. I took a photo of my finished drawing and asked someone to photograph me pointing to it. Shortly afterwards Mark and Margo Lewis appeared, and they were impressed by my rabbit drawing. This was my first sighting of other RCCGB members booked on the trip.
Morning CoffeeAt this point I felt like a coffee, so I went to nearby Cwtch Café, where I had a much-needed cappuccino.
The ZooWithout further ado I headed for the zoo. Unlike previous years, this time I began with the Bactrian camels (which have two humps each). Next I walked up the path in the corner of the zoo where it says "More animals this way". Along this path there is information about deserts around the world, and the next animal I saw was African spurred tortoise. Further on I saw the entrance to the new-for-2016 Kifaru Reserve rhino enclosure. This is an extension to the park, which wasn't there during the Club's August 2015 visit. I walked all the way around the circular path surrounding the rhino enclosure. There is also a building, with a sunken area for the rhino to go inside. In the part of the building open to visitors, there is a mural showing the sizes of various species of rhino. Having left the rhino enclosure, other animals I spotted included Red River Hog, Cusimanse and Reindeer. Back in the main part of the zoo, I met Mark and Margo Lewis again, followed by Big Stevie B, Kelly Cameron and various other RCCGB members. I stopped and spoke to them for a few minutes.
LunchAt this point I felt like a light snack. I went to nearby Carousel Café, where I had filled deli bread and a cup of coffee. That's all I wanted after my big breakfast earlier.
The Zoo (continued)After lunch I returned the zoo to see the rest of the animals, starting with the giraffe enclosure in the Motobo Hills (African Reserve) section. Next I saw the Penguin Coast area, including the underwater view of the penguins. Afterwards I saw the Pride of Pembrokeshire lion enclosure, which first opened in 2014. This is surrounded by a high fence, with another secondary fence outside it. I went inside the building in which information about the lion enclosure is displayed. Also inside that building is a large window through which visitors can see and photograph the lions without being obscured by the fence wire. Having left the building I walked around the outside of the lion enclosure and saw another outdoor window through which visitors have an unobstructed view of the lions. One of the last parts of the zoo I saw was the African Aviary, home to African crowned crane, African speckled pigeon and various other birds.
Ice Cream TimeHaving left the zoo for the final time, I saw an ice cream kiosk, so took the opportunity to have a whippy ice cream. The sun was now out again, and it remained sunny there rest of the afternoon.
Afternoon CoffeeVery soon after finishing my ice cream, I wandered towards Cwtch Café. When I got there I bought myself an Americano. Since a few other RCCGB members were sitting at one of the outdoor tables, I sat with them whist drinking my coffee.
Folly InteractiveLate afternoon I went into Folly Interactive, home to various parrots. A dolphin and fish mural is also on display there, I had my picture taken beside it. Whilst inside Folly Interactive, I met Nev and Christine for the first time this trip and also Mark and Margo Lewis again.
The Jolly BarnAfterwards I briefly went into The Jolly Barn, which is home to various farm animals. Whilst in there I saw various ponies and a mural comparing the heights of various horses and ponies in hands. Unsurprisingly my rabbit, which I had drawn during the morning, was no longer on the chalk board.
Carousel WoodsA wooden indoor play structure, 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 log ramps and/or climbing / dropping through holes
I played in Carousel Woods for nearly an hour; from shortly after 16:30 until just before closing time of 17:30. I began by sliding all four Astra slide lanes once each. Thereafter I covered all parts of the play area including the bridges, going up and down through the holes between levels in the towers, sliding all the tube slides at least twice each and all four Astra slide lanes twice more apiece.
The tallest tower situated near the front of the play area has three wooden "proper" upper floors (first, second, third) above the ground floor. Each of the said floors has a hole in it, which one can pass through upwards or downwards. In addition a 2-stage log ramp at the edge of the tower links the first floor to the second floor, and another 2-stage log ramp at the edge of the tower links the second floor to the third floor. I went up the ramps at least twice, up through the holes once and down through the holes once. Going downwards through the holes, 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.
Summary of my sliding in orderStart of session: Astra slide all 4 lanes left to right (as seen from the top) once each
Tube slide near front 2
Spiral tube slide at back 2
Dark green tube slide from top of front tower 2
Straight yellow tube slide near back 2
Astra slide all 4 lanes left to right (as seen from the top) once each
Spiral tube slide at back 2
To round off my session: Astra slide all 4 lanes left to right (as seen from the top) once each
Altogether a fun way to spend the final hour of normal opening time. My only problem was where to put my rucksack and trainers. Just before I began playing I found an alcove near the structure to leave them, and checked them from time to time during my hour on Carousel Woods. There really ought to be lockers nearby for you to put luggage in.
Exclusive Fair SessionFolly Farm closed to the public at 17:30. However for us it was the beginning of the best part of the day, our Exclusive Fair Session (EFS). Just before the EFS began, I put on my RCCGB Fun Night T-shirt (which I originally had printed back in March for the Friday Fun Night of the Blackpool Bash 2016) and fluorescent pink sports shorts. Having changed, I found a few other RCCGB members waiting by the Wurlitzer Organ, but Nev and several others weren't there. Confusion arose as to where everyone else was. Eventually I found Nev and several others outside the main entrance to the Vintage Funfair. Everyone then headed towards the 1950s Caterpillar Ride and 1937 Coronation Speedway. Along the way several others noticed my black RCCGB Fun Night T-shirt (with fluorescent pink lettering) and fluorescent pink shorts, however some felt what I was wearing would be more appropriate for the dark ERS on Megafobia Saturday evening.
Around 17:45 the Club was, at last, ready to begin the evening EFS. The Club split into two groups, A and B. The plan was to run two rides simultaneously (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 the 1950s Caterpillar Ride and 1937 Coronation Speedway.
1950s Caterpillar RideThis 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 in seat 8. A fun start to the EFS.
1937 Coronation SpeedwayAlso called Royal Coronation Speedway, this has horses, cars and motorbikes fixed to a circular wooden undulating track. I sat on bike RDL7. The ride went round and round, up and down.
For the next two rides, the groups took turns to ride the Jets and Rock n' Roll Waltzer.
JetsMini jet planes at the ends of arms which radiate from a central hub. The operator said I would have to move the lever one way to go up and the other way to go down. When the ride started the planes all went around in a circle. Shortly afterwards I was able to lift my plane with the lever. The extent to which I could raise my plane with the lever varied during the course of the ride; after a while I was able to raise it to the full height. Finally all planes returned to their stationary height before the ride slowed and stopped.
Rock n' Roll WaltzerSelf-explanatory, this is a typical fairground waltzer. Each waltzer has a rock star's face and signature on the back. I rode in waltzer number 3, bearing Tom Jones on the back.
Ghost TrainThis has several individual ride cars, which resemble railway engines, running on a track. The group arrangement did not apply here. Instead members entered and left this ride one by one as trains became available. The train I travelled in followed the track through a spooky enclosure. After one lap I left the train.
1938 Dodgem TrackAnother 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. I managed to be accommodated on the first run. Although I'm not too keen on dodgems at the best of times, I was determined to give it a go. I tried my best at driving my car around the track, but at certain times got into difficulty steering it.
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. Those like me who had already ridden the dodgems were told to proceed to the next ride, 1936 Lakin Swirl.
1936 Lakin SwirlAlso 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. I sat in car 4 with Mark Lewis.
Evening MealIt was now time for dinner at the Funfair Restaurant. When booking we were asked to specify whether we wanted fish and chips, sausage and chips or pasta Bolognese. That didn't necessarily mean everyone stuck with their original choices whilst being served. I had what I'd originally specified: fish and chips. A fizzy drink was also included, I chose Sprite. At the end of the meal Nev outlined forthcoming trips.
Around 19:15 everyone returned to riding. Normally I wouldn't go on rides immediately after eating, but this time I wanted to return to riding anyway. Thankfully even the spinning rides at Folly Farm are reasonably suitable for riding immediately after eating, unlike rides such as Disko, swinging pirate ship or Freak Out type rides. Those who had ridden 1936 Lakin Swirl just before dinner rode Chair-o-Plane next, whereas the rest rode 1936 Lakin Swirl next.
Chair-o-PlaneMy first ride after dinner. This is 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. When the ride ended it took several revolutions to slow down and stop.
1936 Lakin SwirlAs I left Chair-o-Plane, I was directed to the 1936 Lakin Swirl. I was confused as I had already ridden it before dinner, but anyway, I got on. This time I sat in car 1 with James.
Folly Farm's Famous GallopersTraditional galloping horses, no further explanation needed. The group arrangement did not apply here as, to the best of my knowledge, everyone was accommodated simultaneously. I sat on the horse named John.
1950s Cyclone TwistEveryone should be familiar with this ride. This 1950s model obviously looks a bit primitive compared to the more modern ones you tend to see these days (which most of us are likely to have ridden somewhere, generally called Twister nowadays). The group arrangement did not apply here, but most members including me got on the first run. I sat with Ryan 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 had 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 seat number 4 with Planenut.
Brooklyn CakewalkJust like the RCCGB visits to Folly Farm in 2013, 2014 and 2015, the final ride of the evening was the Brooklyn Cakewalk. Finishing the day with this ride seems to have become a tradition now. Members had to be admitted to it one by one with a short gap between each. I was among the first few to approach it and thus get on it. During my first go I successfully walked the whole circuit without touching the rails. There was a strange sensation whilst walking along the moving platform. Perhaps the hardest part was stepping from the first moving platform to the stationary landing at the far end and on to the second moving platform to return to entrance / exit end. Just as riders entered the ride one by one, they left it one by one.
By the time I had completed my first go, most other members were queuing for Brooklyn Cakewalk, so I joined the back of the queue and had a second go. After that the queue was shorter, and I felt like another go, so I queued again for a third go. Much to my surprise, I ended up having a total of six goes on Brooklyn Cakewalk, all without holding the rails. Once I had completed my sixth go the ride was closed, thereby marking the end of the EFS.
Summary of my day in order of activity
The Jolly Barn (rabbit drawing)
Cappuccino at Cwtch Café
Lunch at Carousel Café
The Zoo (continued)
Afternoon Coffee at Cwtch Café
The Jolly Barn (ponies)
Carousel Woods (almost one hour)
Exclusive Fair Session
1950s Caterpillar Ride 1
1937 Coronation Speedway 1
Rock 'n' Roll Waltzer 1
Ghost Train 1
1938 Dodgem Track 1
1936 Lakin Swirl 1
Evening meal at Funfair Restaurant
1936 Lakin Swirl 1
Folly Farm's Famous Gallopers 1
1950s Cyclone Twist 2
Brooklyn Cakewalk 6
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 FridayWhen the EFS ended at 20:05, the day was over and we all had to return to the car park. The sky was overcast again when everyone left the funfair building, but it was still dry. Since I was staying in Begelly, I didn't bother asking to get a lift there. Instead, at 20:13 I began walking back to Begelly. Just a short way beyond Folly Farm, Alan Hunt spotted me and gave me a lift to Manian Lodge. I relaxed in my room the rest of the evening.
HighlightsLand train ride shortly after I arrived in the morning.
Playing on Carousel Woods indoor play structure late afternoon.
Evening Exclusive Fair Session on the Vintage Funfair rides.
Evening meal in the Funfair Restaurant.
Meeting Nev, Mark and Margo Lewis, Planenut, Wendy Adams Evans and other members again.
LowlightsHaving to leave my rucksack and trainers in an alcove near Carousel Woods whilst playing on the structure due to lack of lockers.
Confusion as to where everyone was at the start of the EFS.
Summing UpAltogether a worthwhile appetiser to Mega-GLOW-Mania at Oakwood. It's always great seeing new attractions at Folly Farm; this time I liked visiting the new-for-2016 Kifaru Reserve rhino enclosure for the first time. I particularly enjoyed playing on Carousel Woods indoor play structure for nearly an hour late afternoon. Best of all was the EFS after 17:30: a few vintage rides, a meal, and more vintage rides ending with the Brooklyn Cakewalk. Wearing my self-designed black RCCGB Fun Night T-shirt and fluorescent pink shorts just for that part of the day added to the fun of the EFS. Furthermore it was great meeting Nev, Mark and Margo Lewis, Planenut, Wendy Adams Evans and other members again. Basically the visit to Folly Farm can be summed up as a leisurely day around the farm, zoo and other attractions, culminating in a spin on the vintage rides early evening, as a warm-up to Oakwood the day after. It's a pity the sky was overcast all morning and much of the afternoon. At least it was sunny for a couple of hours late afternoon, and it was dry all day. Many thanks to Andy Hine for arranging this trip, including EFS, to Folly Farm; I hope it continues as part of Mega-GLOW-Mania next year and beyond. Thanks also to the ride staff for operating the rides and caterers for providing the meal after closing time, and to Alan Hunt for giving me a lift back to my hotel in the evening.