In my diary from two weeks ago I wrote that my coaster trips were over for the year. This was absolutely correct at the time, and indeed for a full seventy-two hours after. Plans only began to change when a friend brought the Nottingham Goose Fair to my attention; once George confirmed that he'd like to go too the die was cast. The net result was my fourth trip to East Midlands Airport in as many months, a slightly frightening statistic when you consider that the wonderful people at Ryanair do not offer a frequent flyer programme. On the positive side, however, my violated all the usual rules for the aforementioned airline by being less than fifteen miles away from my actual destination.
My first impressions of the fair were that of scale; the rides and associated paraphernalia actually covered more ground than the Hamburger Summerdom. Needless to say the rides here were not on the scale of those seen in Germany, but they made up for that with quantity; the photo across shows slightly over half the ground. It was interesting to see several attractions which frequently visit Dublin, including Superbowl (Collins), Drop Zone (Wallis), and Frisbee (Collins).
Our first ride of the day was on James Mellors' Magic Mouse (#374), a standard Reverchon model. This one was being run at full capacity, making it quite a sight to behold; it is rare indeed to see seven separate moving cars on a coaster. Abie Danter's Wild Mouse (#375) was also being run to capacity, albeit with fewer cars, this being the shortened version of the Reverchon design that can be transported on two fewer trailers. The third and final coaster was Tsunami (#376), one of just two Pinfari XP56 coasters to be built. Given that the manufacturer has since gone out of business one can safely assume that there will be no more. This is in some ways a pity, as the design is for the most part pretty good; the only problem is the second half of the course is a bit on the slow side.
It was beginning to get dark, making it imperative to ride the Giant Wheel before photo taking became impossible. This ride gave the London Eye a run for its money in sheer slowness; we got three full revolutions for our money, but these took almost a quarter of an hour to achieve. On the plus side, however, that does make life easier for the intrepid if slightly inept photographer. The final tally for the day after editing was twenty-nine pictures, and I'm not going to admit how many I started with!
The journey back to the front of the fair took us past the Wild River Rapids, which we could not resist trying out. The whole idea of a portable water ride seems a little misplaced to me, but then where I come from the only major fair is in January, when the weather isn't really suitable for anything cold. The ride itself was surprisingly good fun; it is effectively a combination of the spinning raft ride, a generic rapids, and a splash (which has been designed, fortunately, to not get the riders very wet).
We followed this up with a ride on Big Ben, a Soriani-built tower ride. I very much wanted to ride this, being one of the very few rides to gain a single star rating at Coaster Kingdom. What could possibly be so bad about it? Having now been a passenger, I'm pleased to say I disagree with the reviewer. The upward launch on Big Ben was moderately decent, and certainly no worse than some of the weaker S&S towers I've done. There may have been an inordinately long wait at the top for the downward launch, but when it finally came it managed to take me completely by surprise. It's not a five star ride by any means, but I'd still happily give it three.
We spent a lot of time looking around the fair and watching different rides, but with the cost of each ticket (and the Sterling/Euro difference) elected to try nothing else. We finished up the night with a second trip around the Giant Wheel in order to get some night time photographs; a rather expensive failed experiment! Hopefully my next camera will be slightly better in low light conditions; even in full manual mode it produced some rather disappointing images.
George and Andy dropped me back to the Airport and about ninety minutes later I was on a flight taking me back to Dublin. My season is now really over; I'm not going to another fair in two weeks time! I promise!