Monday, 11 April 2011

YO! Sushi and Go Ape

It was Lucy's 25th birthday at the weekend and we had a bit of an action packed weekend to celebrate! The plan was that on Friday night there would be a meal and then on Saturday a big group of us would be going to "Go Ape" (more on that in a bit).

We headed into Bristol and Lucy decided that she wanted to have sushi (in YO! Sushi) and I couldn't have been more delighted with this. I'd never had sushi before and as such I was dying to try it, but it turned out to be even better than I expected, namely because we walked in the door and I was greeted by:

The food goes round and round!!!

Okay so if you know anything about me, then you will have guessed that my face lit up like a Christmas tree at the site of all these conveyor belts going round, it was like food meets technology - LOVE IT! As for the actual food itself well I threw myself in and tried loads of new things, namely raw tuna, raw salmon, squid, some sort of crab and lots of other stuff and I pretty much loved it all! Every now and then I also found this guy on the conveyor belt:
Freshness bear cat!


I thought it was a bear and kept calling it such, but after closer inspection I agree it is a cat! But back to the food, everyone else had some of the hot dishes, but I decided to just have the cold dishes this time and I'll try those next time, in fact there was so much choice with the cold dishes that I had stuff queueing up:

I couldn't eat fast enough!

After we were all full of food we headed across town to a certain pub which sold Cherry Beer. Lucy loved the stuff, but Carys wasn't so keen on it and I tried some of hers and I had to agree, it wasn't for me either. I thought it tasted like literally beer and cherryade combined and cheap cherryade at that, but Lucy likes it and it's her birthday (and I'm not the one drinking it!) so my thoughts about it are irrelevant!

Cherry beer

Talking of Lucy, I think it's about time I threw in a picture of the birthday girl looking very snazzy (although the shoes look very uncomfortable!):

Birthday girl

After the cherry beer we decided to head back home (it wasn't even midnight, we're getting old!) and we put on the DVD I got her, "Panda! Go! Panda!":

Yes it was as weird as it looks...

It's made by Hayao Miyazaki in 1972 (pre Studio Ghibli) and... it's not quite what we expected. For starters the giant panda has a MEXICAN accent and this was a source of much amusement for the next 24 hours! We didn't quite watch the end of it as we were all tired/went to sleep as tomorrow was going to be a big day!

The next day we were going to "Go Ape" and it is literally described as a tree-top adventure. You're put in a harness so you can go round a course navigating it via the trees, but after the initial training you're left completely on your own to get on with it at your own pace.

We went to the one in "The Forest of Dean" which meant that the quickest way to get there was to go across the bridge into Wales (costing us £5.70 per car!) and then literally 5 minutes later we're back in England again... crazy huh? We could have gone right the way over the top and down again, but it would have taken at least 20 minutes longer and an extra 30 miles of travelling.

Carrie and her warpaint

Waiting to start

As mentioned above you get some training first which involved the instructors making sure that your harnesses are on correctly and then a quick demonstration of how to use your gear. The key motto was "Stay attached" and all our harnesses had two safety lines. As you were switching from stage to stage, you did this one line at a time so you would always have one line attached and even this is only for a second as you move/reconnect the other line. In fact in lots of place (usually when ascending) there would be an additional hook that you attach as well so you would have three connections to something!

Adam and Phil on the first part of training

Amazingly I managed to actually mess up the very first part of that training and didn't have my pulley correctly attached to the wire (much to everyones amusement!) although learnt from that mistake and there weren't any actual problems whilst on the course and we got started on that pretty quickly.

It wasn't until I was 3/4 across that I even noticed the HAND RAILS - D'OH!

It wasn't long after we'd started that we came across a section where you needed to swing into a net (and grab it to climb up) and I admit that at first I found this a bit daunting. It's just everything you know tells you NOT to jump out into mid air and yet you need to do just that (and trust in your equipment!), but after a moments hesitation I did it and it was much easier than I expected. In fact almost straight away we had much bigger zip line (and then later even bigger ones and larger net drop as well), but once this initial one had been conquered the rest were pretty straightforwrd.

Do I really want to do this? (hell yes!)

Andy filmed it as he went down the zip-line!

Carys about to start the next section of the course

At a few places you could choose which route to take with different difficulty levels and within 2-3 stages they'd end backup at the same place so ultimately it didn't matter which way you went. One of these choices involved crossing on riding stirrups:

Evil footholds!

I started to do this one (extreme difficulty), but I immediately ran into problems finding the footholds and quickly decided that although I probably could do it, it was going to take a while and I'd probably be exhausted by the other side, so instead (with a little help from Andy pulling me back!) I went the other way instead and did the "moderate difficulty" section instead until we met back up. It turned out that path wasn't that much easier though! :) Although at one point near the end we had a choice where we could do either "Difficult" or "Exterme"... nice... :) We all did extreme though as unlike all the other choices it was quite a bit longer (and we'd obviously got the hang of it by now as none of us struggled on it!)

Carrie making her way across part of the course

I thought this one looked the worst, but it actually turned out to be the easiest!

It's a long way up!

Somewhere in the middle of the course was a mini zip-line to another tree which was both cool and bizarre... and caused me a problem because my zip-line twisted round and I was heading very fast straight towards a (padded) tree whilst going backwards... :) Still no broken bones so it must have been okay! :)

Mini zip-line to another tree!

The final part of the course is a huge 180m zip-line back to the ground and WOW that was quite a rush! I felt sorry for my poor pulley as you could just hear it getting louder and louder (and I imagine it was getting rather hot too!). I admit my landing wasn't very dignified either (a large object accelerating down a wire and smacking into the ground results in woodchips all over the place!), but I know it must have looked worse than it actually was!

I survived!

It turns out we took 3 hours to do the course, although this will have partly been because our group was quite big so we held ourselves up, but it didn't feel like that long at all!

It was a totally fantastic day out and we had great weather and I would totally recommend it to anyone!!

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