Indiana Jones Pinball

I love pinball.  The lights, the sounds, the graphics – all so exciting.  I can take or leave arcade games (and I don’t even own a single home gaming console), but there’s something irresistible about playing pinball.

It’s just so damn cool!  I mean, The Who didn’t write a song called “Space Invaders Wizard”, did they?

Not that I’m any good at it, oh no.  Tommy I ain’t.  But it’s fun to have a game every now and again.

Sadly, however, pinball machines seem to be disappearing from sight.  My usual silver ball haven – Rhyl – which has several amusement arcades, used to have a handful of pinball tables.  Now I don’t know of any pinball machines in the town, and some of the arcades are shutting down too.

It seems that the lure of the table is no match for their more modern arcade game competitors.  Pinball is going the way of What the Butler Saw machines and Punch and Judy.  Though bizarrely, the penny waterfalls and fruit machines are still in rude health.  Why, I just don’t know.

The Indiana Jones table shown here was photographed five years ago, in the amusement arcade at the end of Llandudno pier.  By 2017, it wasn’t even plugged in, it just stood there like the sort of forgotten relic that Indy would go in search of.

This year, it had disappeared altogether.

A real shame – it was a cool game that had great playability, as well as looking fantastic.  Check out the ball launcher for a start – it’s shaped like Indy’s pistol, and when you fire it, it makes a gunshot sound!

My quest for pinball machines will continue.  I know they’re out there, waiting to be rediscovered.

Ye Olde Kings Head – Mostly Haunted

Ye Olde Kings Head

Chester

Would you dare to stay a night in a 300 year old pub, in one of it’s most haunted bedrooms?  Sound like fun?  I wasn’t 100% convinced, but that’s what Mrs Platinum Al and I decided to do recently.

You’re familiar with Most Haunted, right?  Where Yvette Fielding and her intrepid group of paranormal investigators visit aged buildings to discover what ghostly goings on they can find?  Well Ye Olde Kings Head in Chester, was featured on the programme not too long ago.  We watched the programme and were intrigued by the various strange occurrences the team observed.

So Mrs Platinum Al decided she wanted to stay the night there.  In the room that was supposedly the most active with things that go bump in the night…

Not like that, you smutty lot!

Ye Olde Kings Head is a wonderful looking building in the Tudor style – dark wooden beams highlighting the architecture.  Inside, the pub also has a real Olde Worlde, traditional style with plenty more wooden beams, comfy chairs and an open fire.  It is indeed very charming – you would swear you’re on a film set if you didn’t know better.  There’s also a well stocked bar, live music and a friendly welcome. 

We were staying in Room 1 – supposedly the most active in the paranormal activity stakes.  The room featured an enormous four poster bed and antique looking furniture.  There were yet more old wooden beams visible, these ones a bit lower – OK for any headless spirits.  An excellent spacious bathroom completed the impressive amenities.  All very cosy and not at all spooky, I wasn’t nervous at all.

Now I’m not necessarily a believer in the supernatural.  There’s usually a plausible real world explanation for most weird events.  However I’m not a total nay-sayer either; I’m certainly interested, and if something truly bizarre occurred I’d accept it.  But it would have to be pretty out of this world and happen right in front of my eyes.

After a few drinks and a top notch evening meal, we retired to our room to begin our own paranormal investigations.  With a glass of wine (or two) for Dutch courage, we waited to see if anything would happen.  We closely observed everything in the room to see if any objects had moved.

In true Derek Acorah style, we attempted some “calling out”.  You  know, all that “Is there anybody there?” malarkey.  No, I can’t believe I did that either.  I assured our ghostly hosts – if they were there – that we meant no harm and were only curious if they would like to make contact.

Unfortunately, nothing happened.  No otherworldly voices, no items moving of their own inexplicable accord.

Although just as we were falling asleep, the television switched itself on.

Now that occurrence might be explainable in many ways: a faulty TV for one.  But the fact that the same thing had happened on the Most Haunted episode had us intrigued.  I’m not saying I was convinced, but it was an interesting coincidence.

I then fell asleep in the giant four poster, easily the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.  Happily I slept right the way through; my main concern of this visit was having to go for a wee, in the dark, in the middle of the night.

In the morning we had a great full English breakfast and were ready for a new day.

Our investigation at Ye Olde Kings Head didn’t deliver much in the way of ghostly goings on, but we definitely had a brilliant time.  We were well looked after, with the food and drinks being excellent.  Both the pub and the room we stayed in were really warm with an almost magical ambience.

We’ll definitely visit again, and attempt some further paranormal investigations.  Perhaps it was a little disappointing that we didn’t experience anything strange.  But we both had a relaxing break in a really good pub, and that’s good enough for me.

The website for Ye Olde Kings Head is here.

The Facebook page for Ye Olde Kings Head is here.

Ye Olde Kings Head, 48-50 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RS

Tel: 01244 324855

HawRADen 2015 – BMX Fun Ride

HawRADen BMX Ride

Saturday 24th October 2015

Hawarden, Flintshire

My mate Danny is into BMX.  He gets BMX bike parts, builds the BMX bikes, rides the BMX bikes too.  Proper, old school BMX bikes – Haro, Mongoose, Raleigh – all the vintage legends.  He was into BMX when he was a kid in the 80’s, and a few years ago rediscovered his passion.

Nowadays, in addition to hunting down vintage bike parts to build his dream machines, he also meets up with other enthusiasts for a ride.  Apparently this is what these BMX geezers do: all over the North West, even all over the country, they meet up and go for a ride together.  There’s usually breaks in the ride for refreshments (ie they stop at a pub or two – soft drinks, obviously…). IMG_20151024_130248497_HDR

Dan decided to organise a local gathering for riders, which would take place in and around the home area of Hawarden in Flintshire, North Wales.  This all sounded like good fun to me.  I was invited and decided to tag along.

My only problem was the fact that I don’t own a BMX bike, at least not anymore.  That left me with two options: my mountain bike or my Schwinn low rider.

It had to be the low rider.  The Schwinn is a retro styled bike that looks like a Harley Davidson chopper, but pedal powered.  I figured this bike was my best bet, it has a cool look and was a little different.  Also I decided to kit myself out in heavy metal/biker gear – rock t-shirt, bandanna, mirrored shades.  Not taking the mickey, but I thought I might as well go the whole hog, on my hog.

So off I went, a Happy Shopper Dennis Hopper, to join the ride.

The meet up point was the Fox and Grapes pub in Hawarden village.  Luckily they were a friendly bunch, so although I only knew Dan, I wasn’t left out.  With a few stragglers to round up, we just made the train from Hawarden station up to Buckley.  It was just one stop and a free fare for most of these BMX bandits.

A short ride then up to the Shamrock in Buckley, where the owner, also a BMX aficionado, laid on some food.  Good stuff, great boozer.  More BMXers met up with the original party here and the group grew a few more.

By the time we left the Shamrock on the ride across Buckley, there must have been twenty odd BMX riders (plus one Easy Rider interloper).  The ride was through the streets and finally the first downhill stretch of the day, which was a relief.  It’s hard work without gears, this bike riding malarkey.

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A short break at the Parrot in Drury and we were off again, this time a nice long downhill stretch to Ewloe.  I think a few heads turned as drivers and passers-by clocked the throng of bikers rolling down the road.  One rider got a little too rad and ended up with the only injury of the day – but we all have to pay our dues some time.

The final stop, for me, at any rate – was the Running Hare in Ewloe.  Never my favourite pub, never the less the open space outdoors for bikes and riders was ideal.

Throughout the afternoon, there were stories told and memories recalled of bikes and adventures from our youth.  There was a very positive and fun atmosphere.  It was all very light hearted and I was made to feel welcome, despite not having a BMX bike.

The group then rode on to complete the circuit back at the Fox.  I bailed out and rolled down the hill to home, having enjoyed a great afternoon of nostalgia and banter.  These BMX bike rides are a great idea – here’s to all the Rad Dads and other forty somethings keeping the dream alive.

My Christmas list this year will feature a BMX bike, for the first time since about 1984.

ScreamAcres Zombie Apocalypse

ScreamAcres at GreenAcres Animal Park

Last week I spent a wild evening desperately trying to escape from a horde of zombies.  For fun!

ScreamAcres is a live action event where people can run around being chased by the undead.  By day GreenAcres is a farm park with animals and playgrounds for the family to enjoy.  By night, however, we were launched directly into the midst of a zombie apocalypse – with soldiers losing their grip on a ramshackle shelter and all hell breaking loose.

I found myself first hauled around who knows where in the dark, in the back of an army truck.  Then we were scanned for signs of the contagious virus inside the base by the soldiers.  After this the hazy grip on civilisation was lost, and we were over run with zombies. scream

There followed an adrenaline fuelled race through the dark, trying to avoid the undead.  Lost amongst disorientating smoke and lights, crawling around a maze and navigating various horrific rooms – all the while avoiding the swarming creatures.

I couldn’t help but get sucked into the whole scenario and whole heartedly become an active participant.  It was very easy to be absorbed into the ScreamAcres world, with dozens of actors creating the roles.

Though nerve-racking, I found myself working out how to avoid the zombies like I was right in the middle of an episode of The Walking Dead.  How do I get past this zombie?  Do I make a noise to distract them?  Crazy thoughts such as these became normal in my attempt to escape.

ScreamAcres was a total thrill; a real life role playing game with genuine frights.  It really made me think too, as I tried to work out the best way to survive the adventure.  The experience is extremely well put together, with a large cast all contributing to the scares and action.

Highly recommended – if you dare…!

The ScreamAcres website is here.

GreenAcres Animal Park, Mancot, Deeside, Flintshire

01244 531147

Email: info@screamacres.co.uk

Big Balls

Adventures in Zorbing/Sphereing

Some call it Sphereing.  Some call it Zorbing.  Either way, it’s certainly not a load of old balls.

What this activity involves is being strapped inside a huge inflatable ball, which then rolls down a hill.  Something like being inside a huge hamster ball.   Although it doesn’t take much skill, it’s actually a lot of fun.  It’s like those times as a kid when your mates/local bullies rolled you down a hill in the park inside a dustbin, but more hygienic.  zorb

I tried Zorbing a few years back in Newquay.  The first couple of times were great fun – rolling down a huge hill, wondering if you’ll stop, gazing giddily as the sky rotates around your head.  The third time made my head start to thump.  The fourth time was definitely too much.

So I can definitely recommend at least two runs down the hill inside a sphere.  Crazy fun that will make you laugh out loud!

For those who are interested, there is apparently a reason for the change in name from Zorbing to Sphereing.

When I did my Zorb – sorry, Sphereing experience, the owner told us off for using the “z” word.  The reason, apparently, was because the fun term “Zorbing” had been corrupted by some unscrupulous bounder making the first ever Zorb porn film.  Henceforth, the activity was to be known as Sphereing, and Sphereing only.

I cannot confirm if this is true.  I’ve never Googled “zorb porn”.  I’ll leave that up to you.

Check out some deals on Zorbing/Sphereing on the Treatme website here.

Inside the Zorb

Inside the Zorb

Disclaimer: Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub is not responsible for any injuries you receive whilst participating in any of our featured activities.  You silly so and so.

Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub receives no remuneration/compensation from featured venues.  Unfortunately.

Segway Forest Adventure

Welcome to a new section here at the Virtual Hot Tub, Activities. Here I’ll be writing about activities that I’ve taken part in and – I hope – would be of interest.

Segway

For those who don’t know, a Segway is an electronic transport device. It has two wheels and a central column so that the Segway resembles an upright broomstick. The rider travels around stood on a base, with two wheels that carry the contraption around.

I had the opportunity to ride a Segway at Go Ape in Delamere Forest, Cheshire. The experience, called “Forest Segway”, was a guided tour around the forest in charge of my own machine. segrally-oct-7-t-sm

The session began with a brief safety talk and time learning to ride the Segway. There was a small track to work my way around, learning the basics of control and balance. Slowly I developed a better grasp of the device and grew in confidence.

Next it was time to hit the trail. As part of a group, we started off slowly for the first few minutes till we reached the track and were allowed off the leash. At first, the slower speed meant that it felt as if I would fall off the back; so I over compensated by leaning right over the handlebars. Segway_Bray_Aug2014 91

The Segway started to get really fun as soon as the safety was off and the vehicle could travel faster.   It was immense fun cruising around the forest, making wide arcs round corners and picking up speed along the straight tracks. As we weren’t racing, there were no potentially dangerous collisions amongst the group, no bad vibes at all. It was just about learning to ride the Segway and having fun with the wind in your face.

I enjoy any activity that involves speed and balance, and found the experience of riding the Segway brilliant. They are quite simple to master and very soon I was enjoying riding around. Stopping and starting was quite simple, though not always executed with finesse. There were no issues with safety and everyone had a great time.

Riding a Segway is definitely something I would recommend!

You can read all about the Go Ape Forest Segway Experience here.

Alternatively, check out what my old pals at Treatme.co.uk have on offer here.

Disclaimer: Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub is not responsible for any injuries you receive whilst participating in any of our featured activities.  You silly bastard.

Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub receives no remuneration/compensation from featured venues.  Unfortunately.