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!

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