Hurled upside down – in the name of fun

Flying home to Norwich from Paris recently, I got chatting to a very pleasant young Norfolk mum in the seat beside me. There were plenty of empty seats dotted around the aircraft, so it was unfortunate that she should have ended up crammed against a bulky Bullock for the entire journey.

Flying home to Norwich from Paris recently, I got chatting to a very pleasant young Norfolk mum in the seat beside me. There were plenty of empty seats dotted around the aircraft, so it was unfortunate that she should have ended up crammed against a bulky Bullock for the entire journey.

“I'm so sorry - I would go elsewhere but this is my specified seat,” I told her, as we sipped coffees and repeatedly rubbed elbows.

“I once heard that you must never swap allocated seats on a plane in case it crashes into the water, we all die and the emergency services accidentally mix up our bodies and bury the wrong remains.”

She tittered nervously, took another sip of coffee and glanced down at the sea thousands of feet below us. I nibbled on a dainty shortbread finger and tried to think of something either reassuring - or, at the very least, sane - to say after such absurdly morbid talk.


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During our conversation I learned that she and her husband had just taken their five-year-old daughter to Disneyland Resort Paris as a surprise birthday treat. “We actually told her she was going to Pleasurewood Hills at Corton, and she believed us - though she couldn't work out why we needed to fly there,” my newfound companion explained.

Blimey! No Pleasurewood Hills after all that blessed travelling? I do hope the little lass wasn't too disappointed.

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Woody Bear's bijou home on the edge of an East Anglian cliff and Mickey Mouse's glamorous kingdom on the edge of a European capital city might seem poles apart but we've had some superb days at both attractions. Plus, the theme parks are run by companies based in France.

Apart from the French connection, they also boast their fair share of scary rides, some of which I still haven't dared sample despite a growing confidence in white-knuckle excursions.

Pleasurewood Hills, I hear, is now spending more than £1 million on a spectacular new rollercoaster ride called Wipeout, which is due to open this summer.

As I reported last week, we have recently returned from a thoroughly enjoyable holiday in Disneyland Paris ourselves. Having splashed out on costly theme park passes for three days, it was bizarre - but typical of Bullock family strife (I mean life) - that eight-year-old Gregory should seem more interested in the hotel swimming pool than the massive leisure complexes nearby.

“Can I go in the pool after breakfast? Can I go swimming when we get back?” he kept pestering. I'm convinced we need only travel to some faceless hotel with a pool on the outskirts of Swindon for a 'perfect' family holiday next year. Why bother with one of Europe's biggest attractions when you can have two water flumes and a mock pirate ship?

Queuing is an annoying but unavoidable way of life at theme parks, and Disneyland is no exception. At one stage we waited 23 minutes for a Pinocchio ride that lasted for precisely two minutes and 23 seconds. No word of a lie - or may my nose grow to puppet's proboscis proportions.

Having survived Big Thunder Mountain, the famous runaway train ride, I became rather overconfident by declaring that the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster would be my goal the next day. What a mistake.

With heavy metal music blasting from speakers behind my head, I was rocketed from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds into a tunnel and spun completely upside down by a series of extreme loops and corkscrews.

“Please make this end. Someone, please make this end,” I chanted to myself through gritted teeth, with eyes firmly shut as the high-speed carriage rocked, rolled and flew through the smoky darkness like a bat out of hell.

I still don't know what possessed me to 'Walk This Way' to the terrifying Aerosmith ride, particularly as I'm the same dismal Daddy who refused to take Gregory on the relatively tame Wave Breaker at Pleasurewood Hills a couple of summers ago.

Well, there's something about those flimsy-looking rubber dinghies cascading down a bumpy water-chute that gives me the jitters.

Having finally got to the front of the queue and peered down the giant slide, I turned and pushed my way apologetically back through the waiting crowds like the proverbial big girl's blouse.

It's not the most humiliating climbdown I've come across. One grown-up friend of mine once had to halt the kiddies' spinning teacups mid-ride so she could be allowed off. Oh dear.

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