Alton Towers h2g2 Meet 2001

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On the weekend of 29th and 30th of September 2001, the first h2g2 weekend camping trip to Alton Towers took place. Nine h2g2 researchers descended on the Star Caravan and Camping Park for a two days of fun, thrills, and lots of drink. The attendees were me, Pegasus, The Thinker 1121 (Andi), Wumbeevil, Metal Chicken (MC), Other Person (Phil), Peregrin and Tinkerbell.


One by one the researchers arrive on the campsite. With the Stoke-on-Trent railway out of action due to track maintenance work, many researchers had to get a replacement coach from Staffordshire, and then managed to get a lift from one of the others with a car from there. As most of us arrived late to the campsites, the tents had to be put up in the dark, which was extra tricky for Andy and Weembevil who had never used their tents before.

The rest of the evening was predictably spent in the very nice local pub, Ye Olde Star Inn - apparently dating back to the 16th Century. Having been given the description of Wumbie as 'a Glaswegian bald bloke' by Pegasus, who had gone out for some chips, I managed to insult at least a couple of people by asking if they were called 'Wumbeevil' before finding the right person. Finally located with the right group, I introduced myself and got to know my new friends. The other members of the group, Tinkerbell and Peregrin, and Phil and MC, soon arrived, along with Pegasus, back from the chip shop, and the drink started flowing.

Things progressed very merrily. Much fun was had from Wumbeevil and his toilet photographing obsession (I'm sure the photographic evidence will speak for itself). As it drew close to closing time we started thinking about the walk back to the campsite. Eleven O' Clock came, though, and no last orders bell was sounded. Ten minutes later and the pub was strangely still open. We decided to see if we could get away with another round of drinks, and the barman was happy to serve them - who were we to complain. Half an hour later we were still there, this was a good pub. Twelve O' Clock and the drink was still flowing, this was an excellent pub. And on it went. Aside from us there were only locals in the bar and, being in the middle of nowhere, the single barman threw the licensing laws out of the window. When we finally left it was half past three in the morning. This was a fantastic pub. We walked back to the campsite in the slight drizzle and crawled into our tents, having had a most excellent first night.


As I woke up in the morning the first thing I noticed was that I was in a tent. The second thing I noticed was that it was raining. Quite hard in fact. Sheets of heavy rain were hammering down on my tent, sounding like severe machine-gun fire. Pegasus had woken up early and jumped into her car, but other than that everyone was hiding away in their tents. Wumbie spent some time trying to boil water on a small fire of paraffin blocks, uselessly adding some small twigs to try and make it last longer, before retreating back inside his small tent. It was so wet and miserable outside that it wasn't until nearly midday that we climbed out of our tents, the rain finally ceasing. It didn't look like it was going to be a particularly pleasant weekend. Somehow, after quickly washing and cleaning teeth in the toilet block on the other side of the campsite, we piled into the three cars and headed for the theme park.

Meeting back again inside the park wasn't as easy as you might think it should be, with one carload having to return to the campsite to pick up the 'buy one get second day free' vouchers they had forgotten, and Wumbie having disappeared off on his own to a pub somewhere in the park. The group finally all found each other, and we sat down for a quick coffee and pastry breakfast in a cafe inside the park. Overly cheerful music playing on a loop from hidden speakers nearby soon got on our nerves and, before Peregrin could figure out how he could disconnect the speakers, we left to pick up Wumbie from the pub and explore the theme park.

Led by authoratative Peregrin, who seemed to know the park, we headed off to the log flume. A short queue later we were all sitting in two floating log-shaped capsule on our first ride. A small drop, round a few bends, down a drop in the dark, along a piece of long bendy track, down the big drop and that was the first ride done. A good way to start and we didn't get too wet (to the disappointment of some). The on-ride photos displayed on the television screens revealed that Peregrin and Tinkerbell had managed to snog on the way down the big drop. This was to be a recurrent theme throughout the day.

Another couple of rides, including one wet one - the river rapids, and we headed off to the 'area with the evil rides'. On the way though, Pegasus insisted that we went in the Haunted House, and so we went around on the ride as mechanised monsters of various sorts tried (unsuccessfully) to scare us. The ride was very dull, and the on-ride photos showed us all as entirely disinterested, bar Pegasus who was trying to scare the person in front of her herself and Peregrin who was attempting to stab the animatronic bodies.

Next up were some of the 'white knuckle rides', including the 'swing you upside down with legs dangling in the air' Nemisis rollercoaster and the 'squirt water in your face' Ripsaw. We then jumped on a quick cable car ride to the other side of the park, which stopped suddenly halfway across. 'This ride will soon be resumed' came an announcement, followed by some cheesy music. Luckily the ride started moving again within a minute. Landing in prehistoric 'Ugland', we braved the 21 year old Corkscrew rollercoaster, which felt as though it really had been made by cave men, being as painful as it was rickety. We then walked around for a bit, trying to recover, went on a few extra rides and walked back to the car park as the park started closing. We were tired, but thankfully it had turned into a nice day despite the rain-soaked morning.

A short while after getting back we took a quick trip into the local village to pick up some takeaway food and do a quick supermarket visit for snacks and booze. Pegasus had thoughtfully brought a groundsheet with her so this was laid out in the middle of our camp when we got back to act as a communal eating area. This was very social, and really gave me that camping feeling... I ate my chips, Andi got out her 24-pack of Stella and Tink got out her box of broken biscuits. Oh yes the broken biscuits...

What followed was a big discussion about the proportions of the different types of biscuits in the box, there weren't nearly enough shortbreads, no jammie dodgers at all, lots of ones that were misformed or looked half-nibbled, and by far too many party rings - you know the type that always get left behind at children's birthday parties. In fact there were so many party rings we started to play with them, making a biscuit car with party ring wheels and generally just chucking them around.

Whilst sitting we also had a visit from none other than the only boy in Britain who can do a special 390 on a skateboard, or something like that. One of our neighbours on the campsite, this was a young guy who had come to socially say hello and tell us about his numerous skateboarding skills. Apparently turning pro, the guy generously invited us to a see a competition in Weymouth that was on the next weekend, before turning to chat up Andi, who had foolishly been wearing a baseball cap back to front. We soon retreated to the pub, which disappointingly (and outrageously, we thought at the time) shut at the normal time, and so we trudged back to the campsite and to bed.


We managed to get up at a more normal time on the Sunday, even though it was raining again, not quite as heavily as the day before. Peregrin and Tinkerbell had to leave early in the morning, but the rest of the group was intact and ready for our second day in the park.

We went around the park in the opposite direction to the first day, going on all of the rides we missed the day before, including the vertical drop rollercoaster Oblivion, a seven second 'one drop wonder' - but a pretty impressive drop at that. We were also keen to do on a carousel, but found ourselves excluded by a very 'heightist' height restriction. We also went on Hex, a very bizarre experience indeed.

Aware that we needed to leave the park in time to catch trains home, we slowly headed towards the park exit. There were many distractions en route though, and Wumbie decided he couldn't leave the park without winning a teddy bear (cuddly guy that he is), and getting rid of his english pound coins. It took many attempts at different stalls, with the pressure further being intensified by MC winning a very cute purple dinosaur (not 'Barney' I hasten to add), but he did finally get there, landing a coin on the plate on the 'chuck a coin' stall by bouncing it off the ceiling. No sooner had he won it though he was trying to get rid of it, not wanting to have to take it home on the train with him.

There was just time for a very sickening (especially for me) spin on the Teacups ride before heading out of the park. Taking the monorail to the car park, we said goodbye to the park, and looked in anticipation at the construction of a flying rollercoaster for next year. As we were walking towards the car park though, Andi realised she didn't have her wallet, and so had to re-enter the park to try and find it. Luckily the wallet was found at the teacups ride and nothing was lost.

Arriving back at the campsite we had the depressing job of taking down our tents and attempting to put them back into the bags they came out of, which always seems a complete impossibility. Everything, including Wumbie, was then stuffed into the car as we drove back to the station and said our farewells. It was a great weekend, and we all agreed that next year it will be even better!

Frankie Roberto


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