Showing posts with label Lego. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lego. Show all posts

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Legoland Day 4 - Don't Panic!

While walking down the stairs for breakfast we passed two policemen standing outside one of the hotel doors ... <Sorry, can't publish the rest of this paragraph because there's probably an ongoing investigation. Shame, but there you have it. Come back to this page in a couple of years and maybe I'll update it once the court case has been concluded.>

Windsor Castle - but is it real or made of lego?
N wanted to chill in the hotel room a bit longer than yesterday (which I think we were all very happy about) so we watched TV until about 10:45. We set out to meet M at around 11am, and mosied on up to the castle to find a bunch of bystanders standing around the intersection. Spurred on by the thought that we might see the Queen or the odd prince mincing by we hung back with video camera at the ready but were rather disappointed to see nothing but two dozen furry black-hatted guards marching regimentally round the bend and off down the straight road, punctuated at front and back by a more modern looking soldier holding an automatic weapon. Would have been more efficient if they'd just given an automatic weapon to each of the tall black furry-hatted guards and then the front and back dudes could have had the day off. But then again maybe the tall black furry-hatted dudes are merely decorative and not trained in modern anti-terrorism urban warfare techniques.

Anyway, we eventually got on the bus to LL for Day two and even N remarked how funny it was that the other people on the bus were all excited but as it was second day in a row for us it was pretty much run of the mill. We declined to partake in the 'Le-go-land! Le-go-land!' chant the Welsh chap behind us had instigated and and instead chose to exchange glances and roll our eyes a bit at such 'Newbie-ish' behaviour, unlike us hardened Lego veterans.

The Easter Island Heads, but are they real or made of lego?
Today was a much more chilled out situation than yesterday. There seemed much less pressure to get everything done and we knew the drill, our expectations were re-balanced and we were aware that we might have to wait for some rides and that was just the way it was. By standing in long lines we were missing out on other things going on around in the park, but if we didn't stand in any long lines we would also miss out on things in the park. It was a Catch 22.

While having an ice cream break I spotted an electronic sign outside the Pirate Water Slide saying only 35 minute wait, so we jumped in the queue, just behind another hundred people who had received similar notifications on the grape vine, Q-Bots, or apps.

So what ensued was, for me, an hour long wait in a long snake-shaped queue, while N played on the kids' climbing frame within eye-shot nearby and making new friends. 

While standing in line I took time to take stock of my situation. Having no smart phone allowed me a moment to ponder my position in this great fairground of life called the universe. Where am I? (Legoland) What am I doing here? (Waiting in a queue for the Pirates Water Slide) What do I want from life? (To go on a Pirates Water Slide) How far am I from my goal? (About 250 people) Am I being creative enough? (If you can call standing in a line creative, then yes) How do I compare to my contemporaries? (Taller, skinnier, whiter, not staring at a smart phone, less kids, less bags) How do I get from where I am now to where I want to be? (By shuffling along) How do I become more sociable? (By striking up conversation with the couple in front of me who are shoving their backpacks in my face or the family behind who tried to subtly squeeze in front of me at the last bend) Is N happy? (Seems so).

At last I reached the front of the line but N was nowhere to be seen. What should I do? Go on the ride by myself? That would be a major bummer for N. "Sorry kid, couldn't find you and didn't want to hold up the line so just went on it myself. Hope you don't mind." Fortunately he re-appeared just in time and we mingled with Q-Botters, six of whom pushed on in front of us, which seemed a little unfair. But hey, whatcha gonna do? I felt kind of sorry for them anyway, having paid so much extra and in the end still having to wait. 

We walked across a big slow-spinning rubber wheel, assisted by a staff member, and climbed into our own 4-seat water-toboggan, N in front and me behind. Once the toboggan moved away from the wheel and joined the single lane waterway, we were off (at a water-snail's space). We were both prepared to get absolutely soaked and my thoughts went back to the huge automated dryers outside the ride you could put £2 in to dry off. But actually, due to most of the waterside pirate-themed water gun-yielding mannequins not working, we didn't get squirted as much as anticipated. I was actually glad of this. All I wanted was to get through this ride and out the other end a) without injury and b) without tears (mine or N's).

At last the bit we were most looking forward to arrived, and we found ourselves being cranked up the huge hill. The anticipation was great, intense, and reminded me why I never went on roller coasters anymore.

Flashback : The last rollercoaster I went on was a really cheap, ramshackle one at Strathclyde Park when I was a kid. It didn't have all the fold-down, padded shoulder safety harnesses they have nowadays - just a metal bar across your lap. There was this curve where your speed should have resulted in some centrifugal force to push you into your seat, and stop you from falling inwards, but for some reason the thing went round the curve really slowly and I was leaning half out of my seat which was at a 60 degree angle thinking, "This can't be very safe."

So we crested the hill and over we went down the other side, too fast for comfort, but I just relinquished control to the ride and made my body limp - another coping mechanism to deal with panic I'd discovered while riding the waltzers when I was an even younger kid back in the shows in my home town. Damn, this is bringing back so many memories. Those waltzers were nuts. I recall gripping onto them and screaming, terrified that I had no control and couldn't stop and get off. I had no buttons for the speed or the brakes and just had to sit there. The panic rising within me was intolerable. But then I realised if I just relaxed and went limp - there was no point in getting worked up about things as I wasn't in control anyway - the panic just drifted away.

Applicable to life? Perhaps.

I applied the same method here and worked straight away. Had no way to explain it to N. Hopefully I'll remember to mention it to him later. Maybe take him on the Waltzers.

So we crested the hill and shot down the other side, completely unaware that a camera would take our photo at the critical moment, and splashed into the pool at the bottom with howls of laughter. The relief that we were still alive rushed in, we waved to M, and went round the bend where the ride finished up.

We'd survived.

Been thinking about things and here are some of the skills that a ten year old at Legoland may incidentally develop other than shameless capitalism and instant 'Want-Buy-Get' gratification:

Balancing priorities
Decision making
Delayed gratification
Making new friends
Arguing your case
Healthy (or not) diet
Building (Lego)
Following detailed instructions
Showing gratitude
What to do if separated.
Problem-solving skills
Dealing with disappointment
Understanding (one's own) (emotional and physical) tiredness.
Panic coping mechanisms

While standing in the line at the Big Shop at the end of the day I looked around at people's faces again and decided that the staff members were in a better frame of mind today. Despite the weather being worse, people were chirpier. And when I looked at the expressions of the parents I couldn't help but be overcome by the love they had for their kids, and how this manifested itself by the sacrifices they made. They come here and go through all the rigmarole for the same reason as me. To make their kids happy. Didn't matter the colour of their skin, their gender, their religion, the size or shapes of their bodies, the language they spoke. The thing that united all the people there, was the love for their children.

Legoland = thumbs up.

Me in a hat - or am I made of lego?

Friday, 13 April 2018

13 - Lego & Beer

(Day 13- Saturday)

I hate to say it, but I slept a hundred times better in that guest house in Arashiyama than three in the bed at this hotel last night. My son punched me in the mouth and kicked me twice in the bits and this morning will no doubt pretend he knows nothing about it.

Taken in Shimbashi, Tokyo.
Today we've come from Machida up the Odakyu line to change via Yoyogi Uehara and Shimbashi to Odaiba to the Lego Discovery Centre. 
This way to the Tokyo Teleport Station
I wasn't kidding
There's a bigger Lego Land in Nagoya, but due to it seeming a bit expensive and us not having much time there, we opted for the smaller Lego Discovery Centre in Odaiba. Our kid loved it and we spent five long hours there surrounded by hundreds of hyper children and pale, tired parents, not to mention billions of lego bricks.

The beautiful Tokyo skyline at night, but look closer
Tokyo Tower
The best part I think that both my son and I liked was the automobile creation area, where you designed your vehicle and tested it on various ramps and races against other kids' (and Dads') creations. We spent ages there and made a few pals from many different countries.
A Lego Dragon
The second best thing was the 4D short Lego movie theatre. 3D glasses, fans in the ceiling to blow air at you, water splashing on you at appropriate moments - it was quite an experience! But I have to confess, after five hours of lego I was ready to never buy, play with or think about lego ever again.

A Lego Star Wars Death Star - just 86,300 yen! (£570.09)
In the evening I'd arranged to meet another long standing friend of mine from our 'Ripped' days in a bar called the Warrior Celt, in Ueno, which is hidden away upstairs amid the packed in shops and services of every description in the depths of downtown Tokyo. Depths is a good word for it, because you can really feel the pressure from the sheer density of bars, restaurants, pachinko parlours, karaoke bars, American clothes shops, convenience stores all crammed four high into tiny spaces beneath railway tracks.

The Warrior Celt, while serving good Guinness, is a smoking zone, which I hadn't been used to for many years since coming back to the UK, and when we arrived a group of about a dozen people from all over the world were involved in some kind of vociferous drinking game which in the small space made it very hard to talk, so we removed ourselves to a Brewdog in Roppongi. On the way to which we were propositioned by a guy who wanted to take us to a Strip Bar, which is something I wrote into my first novel 'Tokyomares'. I tried not to freak out too much though as just because I write about something (I rationalised while a little drunk) it doesn't mean it can't still happen in real life.

Once we finally found the Brew Dog we sat at one end of the bar and drank exorbitantly priced "British Pints" and caught up on the past six years, while down the bar I saw about five guys all sitting alone, on their cell phones, right next to each other. Among other things we discussed aquaponics (the growth of fruit and vegetables in water instead of soil) and much much more, which I have absolutely no memory of now whatsoever.

TVs on trains. But I see my conveyor belt ramen train carriage idea hasn't caught on yet
Navigating the Tokyo train and subway system is hard enough for the sober Japanese person from out of town, let alone the drunk foreigner on holiday, but I had a feeling I'd be all night once I got onto the circular Yamanote line and headed for my old favourite station - Shinjuku (which I have much experience navigating while drunk). There I switched onto the Odakyu line and headed south, thinking whatever drunk gaijin think about on the second last train home.

Read Day 14.