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Thorpe Park!

So after all the fun that we had on Saturday (I say we, but I reckon she would have happily excluded the trip to Westfield), Sinéad and I headed out to Thorpe Park for the day. Given that we had 2for1 tickets, we reckoned it was a good way to spend our day.

It started stupidly early, because we wanted to get to the park when it opened, as we figured the queues would be shortest. After a relatively uneventful trip, we actually ended up in the park before 10am, as it opened delightfully early, and began our day of roller coasters and adrenaline.

The last time I was in a theme park was about ten years ago, on a school trip. For my sister, it was even longer. Eleven years ago our uncle took us to Alton Towers, but at the time she was too small to go on the biggest rides. Now she’s a lot taller, but Ireland has no theme parks, so roller coasters are an experience which she had sadly been denied for her first twenty years of life.

We soon put paid to that problem. Starting off with Saw, we worked our way around the park, doing the biggest rides we could find. The queue for saw was non-existent, colossus was only twenty minutes and after about ten minutes we managed Rush as well. Going around to the other side of the park, the advertised queue time for Swarm was only thirty minutes, so we decided to go in there next.
It was the longest thirty minutes of my life (aka, it was about fifty five minutes). The queue was deceptively long, and snaked around invisibly. At one point we turned a corner, thinking we were almost there, only to reveal about four hundred people standing patiently waiting their turn. Still, the morning was young, and we got there eventually. Even better, we got to sit in the front row, so the thrills were stupidly visible.
While the queue was very long, for a while we did get to stand underneath a net which caught things which had fallen out of people’s pockets, which was entertaining. The first net we saw was liberally sprinkled with tins of Vaseline, pairs of glasses, a Thorpe park programme, someone’s house keys, and a wallet. The second net had a hat, two shoes, many, many more pairs of glasses, and a few more sets of keys.
Weirdly, though, when we came back later, the shoes were still there. We couldn’t actually tell if they were a pair. I didn’t think they were, but Sinéad was a little more willing to believe only one person was stupid enough to lose their shoes.
You have to wonder, though, if you lose things like that, essential things like your wallet or shoes, when and how do you get them back? Do you have to wait for the ride to close at seven, and some poor net-retrieval person gets them? Did those shoes only land there today? Do they get a lot of shoes?
Judging by the quantity of stuff on the net, and the signs everywhere which said to contact a staff member to retrieve your lost property, evidently lots of stuff falls from pockets. They must have some sort of system for giving it back.

After Swarm, we had only two of the five biggest coasters left. Stealth, which accelerates from 0-80km in 2.3 seconds, was phenomenally good. And Nemesis: Inferno was also a twisting, turning rush of adrenaline which was over only too soon.

After lunch, we went to check out some of the rides which weren’t full roller coasters. Taking in zodiac, samurai, detonator and vortex, we were almost finished the ‘extreme thrills’ listed on the map. The last one we needed was slammer.
But, here’s the weird thing: we walked around that park four or five times, and couldn’t find it. We checked a map, and checked what rides it was near, and wandered around aimlessly for ages too. Tidal Wave was closed, which was a pity, because I would have liked to have done that.

Besides the incredible disappearing slammer, I had a magnificent time. We also, towards the end of the day, went back on swarm (backwards this time) (and with a mercifully shorter queue!) and on colossus again.
Being only two people gave us a lot more freedom to skip forward in queues. There were a few rides where groups didn’t want to split, and we were ushered forward to fill some empty seats. I definitely recommend going as a smaller group!

There was a lot of queuing, which we had expected, and we had to entertain ourselves somehow, so we spent a substantial amount of time people-watching, and eavesdropping on others’ conversations. We met a large variety of people, from the very friendly-seeming Colossus family (guess which queue we were in with them…!) to the incredibly annoying stealth teenagers, the yolo-swag twelve year olds at nemesis and the ADD child (who kicked me!!!) at zodiac.
It gave us plenty to talk about, though, and then when we recognised people in other queues, we felt a sort of camaraderie with them, and tracked their progress through the queue. Except for ADD child. He was my least favourite, so when his dad said they had to leave the queue for vortex, I practically cheered. Sinéad just giggled.

The only water ride we went on was Loggers Leap – we wanted to do all the water ones together, but the queue for storm surge was ridiculous, tidal wave was closed, and I was too tired and cranky to walk to the other ones.

Then on the way home, I had neglected to check that the trains were actually running, so I was outsmarted by a rail replacement bus service.
Nonetheless, we were home before ten, and ready to collapse with it. I thoroughly enjoyed my day, and my weekend, although it wasn’t cheap. Thorpe Park was definitely a good day out. I’d recommend going early to beat the queues, and people-watching to keep yourself entertained in the longer ones. Big groups will always have to wait longer than twos or threes. Also, if you’re afraid of heights, there is no point in you going to Thorpe park, as you will have zero fun.

But if, like me, you’re an adrenaline junkie, it’s certainly a very entertaining (albeit tiring) way to spend the last day of the summer holidays.

One last point which is pretty important – Staines railway station is outside the oyster zones. If you’re travelling from London, you’ll need to buy a ticket which will get you to Staines, as you cannot touch off the oyster.
Thorpe park’s website is here, and their full ride list is here.

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In Review

2013 is the first year since 1987 to have four different digits.

The above fact is there in case you don’t like retrospective posts, so that there’s still something to keep you entertained. =)

I did a lot of things in 2012.

In January, I went back to work in Dunnes, not in the same department as before, but I stayed there for three months, and enjoyed it immensely, even though I hate retail. Having a job has always been an important part of who I am, especially in Dunnes. I also laughed at Alex, Sinéad and a variety of other friends who had to sit exams, whereas I had done mine in December of 2011.

In February, I started the second half of my masters, which meant that I was back in college in Maynooth, but only two days a week.Image

In March, my sister came home and announced she’s marrying her boyfriend next year. So that’s cool.

In April, I turned 22, and my contract in Dunnes expired. I also competed in the IABCB National Band Championships with the Lucan Concert Band. We won our section, too!

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In May, I sat my masters exams. They were no joke, I’m telling you!

In June, my sisters and I went to see the Olympic torch in St Stephen’s Green, which was a once in a lifetime experience. Sinéad, on the other hand, tried to faint. She knows how to make the most of an afternoon. I also spent the majority of June in the Postgrad common room working on my thesis.

July was much the same, as I continued to work on my thesis, which was finished and handed in on the 27th July. It’s beautiful. I’m telling you. So beautiful. It’s purple, too. Other things happened in July, less interesting and far less happy things. While finishing my thesis was tough, the satisfaction of handing it in and finishing my masters was enormous. On the other hand, Alex moved away and if you know me, you’ll know how bad a month July was for me.

In August, I started an internship in Round Hall, a publishing house in Dublin. It was probably the best thing I’ve done all year – it gave me an idea of what I actually want to do in the future. Now I know that I want to work in publishing, which makes things a lot easier than this time last year, where I was thinking I wanted to be a solicitor, and sat FE1s, but failed them. 

In September, my exam results came out, and after some arguments with my head of department, I was eventually awarded a first class honours masters in International Business Law. Alex also graduated in September, so I was incredibly proud of him.

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As all my friends went back to college in September, I began to get a little bit jealous, having realised that finishing my masters meant I wasn’t going back to college.

In October, I started playing with the chamber group of the Liffey Valley Orchestra. Alex turned 25, and entirely refuses to acknowledge it. He tried to convince my 3 year old cousin that he was 19 this week. I also went to a conference held by the Society of Publishers in Ireland, where I was told about a Studentship for a PhD. I resolved to apply for it.

At the very end of the month, I graduated from Maynooth for the second time.

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In November, Alex and I attended an awards ceremony where he was presented with a medal for coming top of his class this year (the third year in a row). I was proud of him them, and I still am now.

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(I look incredibly small in this photo. I swear I’m actually taller than that.)

I also went to see Muse in concert with my sisters. They were fabulous, as always.

November was also the deadline for the application of the aforementioned PhD. On the day it was due, I was still missing a reference, which caused much panic, but I got in in eventually. Lastly in November, I was invited to interview for that PhD. I went to London for the weekend and visited my brother and sister-in-law for the weekend, and panicked wildly about succeeding in interview, but apparently I didn’t do too badly.

This month, December, I was offered the PhD. I accepted, and will be moving to London in five days. I also passed my driving test. I played approximately a billion Christmas concerts. I dropped my clarinet, which was quite upsetting, and I have yet to get it fixed. Christmas was quiet and relaxed and now, at the end of the year, I’m chilling out and watching TV with Alex, and planning on spending a quiet New Year’s Eve, making the most of the time I have with him before I move away.

I really enjoyed this year, although there were some terribly low points. I wasn’t best pleased that Alex moved to Limerick, so I retaliated by moving to London. 

No, I kid. Living away from him isn’t ideal, but I’m beyond excited at the idea of starting this PhD. I’m thrilled that I’ve achieved so much this year, and I’m hoping 2013 will be just as successful as 2012 was.

If you’re reading this, I wish you a Happy New Year and I hope that 2013 bring everything you wish for.

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