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Throwback Ron Travels: The Midlands, England

After visiting some of northern England, Paul and I set off  to my aunt’s in Penkridge. This is the first time I’ve ever been with a family after two months of work in Dundee. Luckily, they were also visiting the UK as it is the hometown of my aunt’s partner. We spent a few days there visiting Birmingham, Alton Towers and Tamworth Snowdome which you would all be seeing in this post. The reason why I’m cramming all of them in one post is because I didn’t take enough photos for each destination to suffice a blog post, so hopefully you’ll enjoy this two-day adventure before we go London! brum2 Paul and I went to Birmingham without my family because they had their own appointments. I didn’t really take my camera with me since I knew we were just going to be wandering around the centre. Birmingham feels like any other city in England (only if you’ve been for a day, I’m fairly sure you’ll see more difference if you stay longer) with its old yet grand buildings and a mix of some modern ones. I’m sorry if I can’t say more about Birmingham but I’d make it a goal to visit it again (together with Manchester). I get incredibly disappointed whenever I think back of places I’ve been and can’t seem to find a physical memory of it (photographs and such). brum1

(L) Penkridge train stop; waiting for a train to Birmingham ® Outside the Bullring shopping centre with the famous bull on his 10th birthday

After Birmingham, Paul and I went to meet with my family in Tamworth Snowdome for a chance to feel “winter” even thought it was British summertime. Since I went to Birmingham earlier, I didn’t really prepare my footwear which was horrible! Wet shoes and socks are horrible! So if any of you would go anywhere winter-y, please save yourselves and put on proper boots.

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What NOT To Wear In A Snowdome

My hoodie did give me enough warmth but I’m just so so so so annoyed with my feet that time. Entering the dome wasn’t that hard, I even bragged about it to Paul saying I didn’t get cold. We like to mock each other, him teasing me I won’t survive UK winter and me teasing him he won’t survive Filipino summer. He then laughed at me mockingly (surprise, surprise) because the snowdome had still air. No wind harassing you which is what you’ll experience outdoors during winter (that’s what he said, as for me, I have yet to experience it) so it won’t be as cold. We spent about an hour in The Lodge where it was very child friendly. Snowball fights and amateur tobogganing.

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Not so slopey this slope

We then went to the challenging part where cameras were obviously not allowed. It would’ve been real great with a GoPro but I digress. It was horrifying! I can’t, for the life of me, control a really really fast vehicle. Give me roller coasters anytime and I’ll be up for it but let me drive a toboggan on a 170 metre slope and I’ll cry. We only had a 30-minute session and I only did two “slides”. The first one, I had to observe first, Paul already did one and advised me not to steer too hard since the controls were actually sensitive enough. So I went ahead and slide down, the slope isn’t straight so you obviously have to use the controls or you’ll crash mid-slope. I steered to the right and felt like it wasn’t making any changes so I steered harder and guess what, it went toooooo far right so I veered left to compensate and it only made my toboggan turn over throwing me into the snow. Great. As someone with bad anxiety, embarrassment was the last thing that I wanted. I wanted to cry so bad and just walk down the slope but it was impossible since I probably had a hundred metres left. So I went on my toboggan quickly to avoid further attention and went on. I had the brakes on for the rest of the trip so I made it down with complete limbs. Phew. I didn’t want to go back because it was too much really, I was shaking but knowing it costed money and it would’ve been a waste not to try again, I went back to the top. Paul encouraged me (he was having so much fun, that adrenaline junkie, ugh) to try again after telling him I fell mid-slide and that I should just slowdown and hold on to my brakes the whole time so I won’t have to panic. So second slide, here we go. I managed to steer properly on the slope curve, wooohoooo but I was so fast it probably took me less than 10 seconds to slide down the 170 metre slope. I can see that I was nearing the end line, I lifted my brakes harder and nothing. Nothing happened. I only swerved left and right, and it didn’t slow me down. I was screaming and the staff was giving me the lift-the-brakes sign with an alerted face and I was like “ I AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM” *BOOM*. I crashed. I was half-laughing, half-sobbing as the staff approached me and asked if I was alright. I was too embarrassed to even notice any pains I had and I knew I had to get out of there fast. And so I did. I left the slope, went to babysit my cousin so my aunt can try and they actually had so much fun. I told them, I’d probably survive the Adrenaline Tubing more than the Tobogganing. They have no brakes and you only have to wait to bounce at the end of each slide. All of them then went NOOOO, WE LIKE CONTROOOOLS, which is probably the more sane preference, but I can’t. I prefer letting go while big machines take control of my life (roller coasters, sudden drops, free fall simulations, airplanes, skydiving maybe, bungee jumping maybe) rather than controlling my own (go karts, toboggan, driving lol) and that’s quite weird for someone who’s very controlling with the other aspects in life. Are you like that as well?

We also spent a day in Alton Towers. Opposite to the snowdome, this day was very hot, almost as if I was back in Cebu. Another day of less photos, more action. Alton Towers is one of the biggest theme park in the United Kingdom. The area is so big, you have to take cable rides to transfer from one area to another. See map. They have a total of 36 rides including 8 roller coasters. We weren’t able to ride all of them because you need a day to complete all of them unless you have express pass.

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Theme park entrance

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Hex

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Navigating through the Mutiny Bay area; decided to separate, Team Child-Friendly and Team WeGonScreaaaam

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While we were screaming our heads off, Team Child-Friendly enjoyed a pirate show at Mutiny Bay

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Our first ride, Sonic Spinball, with 4 passengers in each spinball, it’ll speed up, drop and rotate throughout the 30-second ride

We went through so many rides, I didn’t have time to document each. In counterclockwise fashion, we went first in Adventure Land (Spinning Spinball; this ride would’ve been just a fun ride if it weren’t for the rotations which made it quite scary and causing nausea), X-Sector (Oblivion; I love drops so I love this ride | The Smiler; my least favorite, it was very new at that time and the world’s first 14-loop roller coaster, headaches and neck pains were experienced after), Dark Forest (Th13teen; scary but really fun, I love the sudden darkness with the sudden drop | Rita; one of my favorite, you wouldn’t expect a flat ride would give you that drop feeling, it was indeed very fast), through a cable ride, we met up with the others again in Katanga Canyon (Runaway Mine Train; just a kiddy ride to shake off the adrenaline rush), Forbidden Valley (Nemesis Sub-Terra; not a ride, just a bunch of scary antics with aliens | Nemesis; seating but your feet will be dangling, was screaming the whole time, one of the scariest). Forbidden Valley was our last stop as the park was already closing. I wanted to go on The Blade because it’s one of my favorite types of ride but Paul wanted to go Air which was similar to Nemesis but this time, you won’t be sitting at all. Gutted, I was too sick to even continue to any of the rides. I had to sit down and kept myself hydrated (two days later, I had acute bronchitis, thanks to British Bipolar Weather, also, sorry Paul, we’ll ride Air next time?)

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World’s First 14-loop Roller Coaster

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Smiling in front of The Smiler despite the headache

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And this is me, ultimately surrendering to the heat of the UK that I took off my stockings

We went for a couple of games (target-throw-ball to get a funny over sized stuffed toy) before going home and snoring loudly. To London next!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jWsfLICFgo?list=PLkCVzvCZAhLlllDh8trlzVEqZGFuxCmjY]

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