Sunday, 18 October 2015

Zip-slidin' Away...

... as Paul Simon sort of sang many years ago.  The song wasn't actually in my head this weekend until now - what was generally in my head, particularly on Friday, was "Whoooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!"  No, it wasn't due to a spectacularly good visit from one of my gentleman friends (though I have had such incidents...) but rather a visit to Zipworld, in beautiful North Wales.

Unlike a lady (and occasionally, I am very unlike a lady, as some of you will know!) I will own up to reaching yet another birthday on Friday.  My original plan was to go white-water rafting, also in North Wales, but sadly it was cancelled due to lack of bookings on Wednesday.  However, all was not lost when I got a birthday offer from a couple of friends to go on Europe's longest (and the world's fastest) zip-slide, Velocity.

So, Friday saw us heading off on the lovely A55 coastal road to Bethseda, where Zipworld is based.  There is rough, hewn beauty in those steely mountains, and although the slate-grey clouded sky mirrored the cast of the mountains, luckily there was no rain and, more importantly, no wind.

We arrived well in time at the venue, based alongside a working quarry.   Looking around at the surrounding heights, gigantic tipper trucks were made the size of ants as they crawled up the chiseled roads on the mountain-sides.  It was quite breath-taking.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales.

There was time for a bit of a rest and cup of hot tea after the long drive, and I took the opportunity to have a look around the little Zipworld site, which was surprisingly busy.  One viewpoint showed a sapphire-blue lake, its iridescent colour a startling contract to the iron-grey land surrounding it.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales.

There was suddenly a heavy buzzing noise,and I looked up to see two red-clad figures go hurtling on past on the zip-wire, over the lake.  I was pretty buzzing myself with excitement that I'd be doing that shortly.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales.

First. however, came the call to 'suit-up'.  This involves putting on a red nylon boiler suit and being strapped into a 'flying harness'.  Overall, I'd say I definitely prefer the look of my red latex catsuit, but I don't think they'd let me fly in that....

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales - not my latex catsuit!

Once we were all suitably strapped in (think red canvas bondage-gear style), we were shepherded out to the first of the two rides.  This was the smaller 'Little Zipper', to give a taster of the forth-coming main event.  The instructor asked who was going first - my hand was up like a flash.  As the ride is completed in head-first, it is a bit of a fumble to get ready and into position (and I've been in a few of those in my time...) before being let loose down the zip-wire.  It was a quick but brilliant ride over a section of the blue lake, and at around 40mph took just thirty seconds or less to finish.  The feeling of skimming over treetops as the ground dipped away beneath you was fantastic, and it's hard to know where to look as you want to take it all in. I was already whooping with joy as I landed at the other side.  Superb.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales - Little Zipper.

After the group completed the course, we clambered into the bright red Tonka toy-styled lorry for the long trek up the mountainside.  It turned into a fun-fair ride on its own, such were the gradients and roughness of the road (I've only ever seen bigger potholes in Manchester city centre...), but the views were amazing as the lorry climbed ever skyward.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales.

During the long climb, there was a useful commentary on the origins of the quarry, and it was interesting to learn that the deep blue of the lake is all natural - the result of the water running off the slate hills.


Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales.

The truck finally lurched to a stop, and we climbed out, 1500 feet up the mountain, to be faced with the view down that long zip-wire, back to the blue lake.  It was a staggering view.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales - Big Zipper.

This time I didn't want to be first, as I was enjoying the view.  Watching others get strapped onto the zip-wire and let loose down the long line was fun, too.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales - Big Zipper.

Eventually it was my turn, and was strapped into position on the zip-wire.  There was even more fumbling around this time as extra weight was added onto me and straps were tightened accordingly.  This was all done as you were pointing head-first down the deep quarry - so not really for those who don't like heights.

The countdown began - 3-2-1, and I was off.  It really was like flying, but at speeds of nearly 100mph the cold air was quite stinging, and the rushing wind meant I couldn't hear anything but the roar in my ears.  However, it didn't matter - the ride was truly exhilarating as I plummeted down across the lake,  the vast expanse of the quarry flying past hundreds of feet beneath me, and whizzed past the Zipworld offices to finally slow down to be caught at the end.  It was all over in a minute, but was a spectacular sensory experience.  Bloody amazing.  I wanted to have another go, straight away.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales - Big Zipper, from the bottom.

It certainly made a very special day and one I won't forget.  I was buzzing with joy all the way home.

Dexi Delite - Zipworld, North Wales.

On Saturday I headed into Manchester to run some errands, and, as always, found myself ensconced in one of my favourite refreshment haunts - Bon Bon.  I was presented with a little gift of some fantastic dairy-free spiced Day Of The Dead chocolate skulls as a birthday gift.

Dexi Delite - birthday treats from Bon Bon, Manchester.

They were so spicily fabulous I ended up buying another two boxes to take home and enjoy that evening.  The Hallowe'en/Día de Muertos theme continued later that evening, actually, with a little trip out to a graveyard for some pre-Halloween photos in my new Día de Muertos mask and gothic lace dress.  It was a bit chilly, and very dark, so the little impromptu shoot was rather hurried.  Nevertheless, I managed to get a couple of decent ones done, so one, slightly early, is this week's Picture Of The Week.

With autumn now showing its colours as it turns towards winter, it is time again for Party Season, and I've already got a few things coming up that I'm very excited about.  There should be lots to write about in the coming weeks!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

A Stirling Time In London

Oooh, I'm getting a bit late with this post.  Some of the more eagle-eyed of you will have spotted this week's Picture Of The Week on my website - taken at Rubber Cult in London last weekend.  I do usually try and get a blog post up as soon as possible, but day-to-day busy-ness has just got in the way.  So, a few days late, but...

...well, the trip started, as usual, with a Friday visit to Ess & Emm to meet friends.  Also, as usual, it turned into a rather late night, but that meant a late Saturday morning lie-in which tied-in very nicely with getting ready for the night out in London.  I decided to wear my long transparent latex gown and latex stockings.

Rubber Cult starts early - at 8.00pm this time, but it wasn't until 9.30pm that we arrived - mainly thanks to an accident at Kings Cross in London which meant traffic was a bit worse than usual.  We all cursed a little whilst sat in the slow-moving traffic queues.  Looking back, it was a premonition of what was to follow later...

Anyway, despite the early start Rubber Cult had a decent turnout.  As always, there were plenty of friends to chat with, fabulous girls to see clad in shimmering skin-tight latex and a very inclusive atmosphere.  I even managed to meet a very lovely couple all the way from the Emerald Isle - 'Hi' to you both!

There was a very good show from Libidex, with some rather sexy ladies modelling the latex outfits, and at one point again I got roped in to having photographs taken in the Photo-Booth with a group that I had just met.  It was a great night, despite a slightly annoying headache developing - which I later found out was probably due to my quickly-fitted head-dress.  Oh well.

Dexi Delite - Rubber Cult, London

By 2.00am it was time to head back to Warwickshire, and we began the trip home.

Now, some you may recall my rather ill-fated trip to Birmingham for the Deviance fetish club - or should I say the horrendous maze out the city that night.  Well, shortly after leaving Rubber Cult we found our way back to the A501 to make out way to A40.  A warning sign flashed at the side of the road - 'Marylebone Flyover closed - diversion in place'.  As traffic was moving freely (and our principal navigator had totally crashed out in the back of the car thanks to an over-indulgence on Leffe beer) there was a group decision to carry on and see what lay ahead.

The three lanes of traffic edged past Madame Tussards heading westbound, becoming slower and slower - thanks to the three lanes being filtered down to just one.  Eventually we passed the start of the Flyover - bunches of cars with flashing orange lights and chaps in high-visibility vests strolled around on the flyover looking important but doing nothing.  We eventually arrived at the roundabout under the flyover, following the diversion signs.  "Which way?" asked our driver.  We made a decision - straight on, hoping that it would lead back to the A40.  We trundled off on the exit road, which suddenly took a turn north.  ten minutes later, and heading towards somewhere called Kensal Rise we realised that our choice was wrong.

This, of course, is London, so a simple U-Turn isn't always possible, but eventually we headed back the way we had come to find our way back to the roundabout.  Eventually we found it again, whizzing around the roundabout trying to find an exit that looked more promising.  We scooted off on our chosen route, realising within a few hundred yards we were back on the road to Kensal Rise.  The driver swore - just a little - and we headed back to the roundabout again.

This time, we took the roundabout a little more slowly - with only three exits (one for Kensal Rise, one for heading back eastwards on the A501 and a third unmarked one), we chose the route less-travelled - only to find this was the route most travelled by everyone trying to find the A40.  We got stuck behind a taxi, one of its rear lights blinking dimly like an annoying twitch.  At least we found the diversion signs, though - first leading right, then left, then left... seeing a near-empty road heading left but in the general direction we wanted to be "the A40 is that way," announced the driver we sped away from the queue.. only to find ourselves back where we had just left the roundabout.  We joined the queue again, only this time about fifty cars back from where we had been a few minutes earlier, and decided no more pre-emptive short cuts were in order.

Eventually we found a tempting short-cut through the traffic-laden streets.  "Try that way," suggested the non-comatose one of the back-seat travellers.  Just before turning we realised it was the street that led back to the roundabout, so we felt we were now making the right progress and decisions by staying, like hunted wildebeests, in the herd.  We reached a T-junction - diversion to the right.  We took it and followed the road... up to the point were we hit another T-junction with no signs.  We choose left, and within five minutes found ourselves back in the queue just after where the original roundabout was.  Our latex-clad driver was now beginning to sweat, droplets of frustration beading on his forehead, and I don't think it was just down to the snug fit of his latex outfit.

We finally reached the first T-junction.  Before us, with a baleful twitching rear light, was the taxi that we had followed earlier.  "That's not a good sign..." I thought.  Ignoring the diversion sign to turn right, the taxi chose left - we followed, thanks to some strange idea that he might 1) know where he was going, and 2) be trying to go the same way we were.  It was a bad idea - in a few minutes we found ourselves back in the same queue yet again.  That blinking rear light winked mischievously and mockingly at us.  We started to see cars attempting u-turns in narrow streets to try and escape the carnage of the maze, adding to the chaos.  We followed the taxi again, this time heading for the right-turn diversion sign, then followed him right again, chasing that goading rear light down a few quieter streets.  A diversion sign loomed ahead.  "This is it," cried the driver, with a sigh of relief.

No, this wasn't it - the diversion led back to were we had joined the queue an hour earlier.  Yes, we had trawled those congested streets for an hour - it was now 3.00am.  We began to take turns at random, seeking our own way out the gridlock.  We left the route chosen by the taxi, finding a route that seemed to head away from the melee.  "Look for signs to show were we are going," said the driver, his hands clutching at the steering wheel like a drowning man clutching a life buoy.  "There's a sign ahead," I shouted, trying to see the writing through the trees that lined the road.  The sign became clear as we got closer...

We were back on the road to Kensal Rise, just off that original bloody roundabout.

We decided now to wake our slumbering navigator.  "Kensal Rise - fuck, don't go that way, go back," he slurred.  We reached the devil's roundabout again with it's three taunting exits.  I think we drove around it twice before he made decision.  "That way," he shouted.  "No!" we shouted back, knowing that way led back into the diversionless no-way-out maze that we had attempted getting out of for an hour.  We circled the roundabout again, seeing other vehicles struggling to make a decision.  We made one - eventually.  Kensal Rise it was.

We finally got onto the M40 at 3.45am, and it was nearly 5.00am when I crawled, shattered, into my bed.  I think we left the driver in the car - his hands welded in fear, stress and tiredness on the steering wheel and whimpering a sad, pathetic sob as he tried to control his breathing.

So, a sterling time at Rubber Cult, indeed.  After that, it all went a bit, er, well, tits up...

Dexi Delite - Rubber Cult, London
  ...and like that Birmingham trip, the journey home would have nearly broken Stirling Moss and Jenks.  I just survived, too.