Really good service should always be rewarded and today, I had the most amazing service from Thames Water. Seriously polite, friendly guys who came out really quickly. I'd expected to be waiting for a couple of weeks, but actually they were here in around 12 hours... and it's a Sunday... and they were apologetic for not getting here more quickly.
They unblocked a drain and flushed all the drains through near the house and then tidied it all up afterwards. They'd also been great at communicating when they'd be arriving too.
Thanks to you Darren and Adam and thank you Thames Water.
We have just had the best couple of days down in Thanet. That's the sticky-out bit of Kent, in case you didn't know. It's lovely there. Ramsgate harbour is very pretty and Broadstairs is a gloriously quaint English seaside town. All the beaches in the area have vast expanses of sand, lovely eateries and some fine ice-cream parlours. Perfect.
What could possibly make a couple of sunny days in Thanet any better?
ONLY THE GRAND RE-OPENING OF DREAMLAND IN MARGATE!!! Just how excited was I? VERY! I remember going to Dreamland as a kid with its big wooden rollercoaster. I had to take Thomas and our friends there. They would surely be STOKED. It's billed as being a retro funfair with 18 vintage rides and has been designed by Wayne Hemingway. Awesome.
We arrived at the car park and were welcomed by half a dozen very enthusiastic employees who told us to find a space and head on in. They missed out the part where you had to pay SEVEN POUNDS to park, but never mind, it'd be worth it.
Off we drifted into Dreamland!
Only two ticket booths were open, so we joined the surprisingly short queue. 'Can I have a family ticket please?' I asked. Apparently this family fun park doesn't do a family ticket. Well, OK, two adults and two children then. No problem. We were handed our tickets. On leaving the ticket booth, we were immediately met by not one but two members of staff. One said we needed to have our tickets scanned and the other said we needed wrist bands. Why didn't the ticket lady give us the wrist bands at least? No idea! OK. So we've got tickets (and had them scanned) and we've now got wrist bands. Let's head in. Oh no. Hold on. Now we need to have our wrist bands checked by someone else. That's FOUR members of staff required to get us into the park - in the space of less than 10 feet. Hmmm... Well, there's high unemployment in the area, so perhaps this is a way of creating four jobs where two would have been easily enough.
Now, we're in the park!
The first thing you see as you enter Dreamland is the brand new wooden rollercoaster. Actuallly it's the old one, that's been renovated.
Looks brand new to me. Brand new and closed. Apparently someone forgot to get a licence for it. Oops.
The big slide next to it is also closed.
Not to worry, there's a huge Ferris wheel we could go on. Hold on a sec, it's moving, but no one seems to be on it. That'll be because it's closed as well.
Right... let's go and eat our sarnies while we decide what to do first.
Now, I don't think I'm particularly prudish, but I remain to be convinced that stationing pole dancers next to the kiddies' swan-shaped picnic benches is entirely appropriate.
I have no doubt that the dancers are very talented and they are clearly very strong and supple. I suppose on the plus-side, at least I won't need to explain the female anatomy to my 10-year-old son. He's now seen more than most gynaecologists.
Seriously though, there's only so much minge a person can cope with whilst one's trying to partake of one's Waitrose luncheon.
This dancer's wearing black leatherette. One of the girls had flesh-coloured pants on. At least, I hope what I saw were flesh-coloured pants...
Directly behind the pole dancers, there's a hoarding. If you peep behind it, assuming you can see anything past the flanges flapping about, you'll notice there's another ride that's not open. The children's caterpillar ride.
Actually, there were SEVEN rides that were shut. The rollercoaster, the big slide next to it, the Ferris wheel, the Caterpillar, the Kiss Me Quick, the mono rail and another one that wasn't complete, so I couldn't quite tell what it was. That left only eleven rides to choose from. Luckily, all the things that cost extra dosh to play were open...
I needed the toilet. Uh oh. Locked. Even the toilets were shut!
I asked an assistant who was by the entrance (and the closed toilets) where I'd find more toilets. She told me that she didn't know and wasn't allowed into the park. Then she asked a male member of staff who was on the park-side if he knew where the toilets were. He just said no and walked away.
So, I had to leave the park and go into an adjoining building that contained more attractions that you had to pay for. But, it had toilets! FOUR cubicles that were for both men and women to share. One cubicle had a note on. 'Out of Order'. Three toilet cubicles then. And no hand dryer.
It was all pretty disappointing, if I'm honest. I'd expected it to be naff, but not quite this... shut. I really really wanted it to be great. Margate needs some help. It's got amazing beaches, but it's seen better days. I'm gutted for Margate that whoever's behind this venture didn't manage to get the park anything close to ready for its 'grand' re-opening.
There were some good things though. Firstly, the dodgems (which you'll struggle to find because they've been hidden behind the big closed rollercoaster) were the fastest I've ever been on. Secondly, the motor bike stunt guys were pretty cool.
And thirdly, actually, there's not a third thing. Not unless seeing Vic Reeves hurtling down the helter skelter counts...
The staff were great (except for the man who didn't know or care where the toilets were). They were all really upbeat and working hard. As were all the entertainers. Such a shame that the management and contractors had let them all down so badly. It's pretty piss poor to open the park when a third of the rides weren't ready. Even worse is that they charged entrants full price to come in and they didn't warn anyone that so much was unavailable. They should have reduced the prices and been honest with their customers. We'd have forgiven them.
Despite all this though, it was a laugh. If you like fun fairs, you'll love this - once they get their act together. It is pretty expensive though. We paid £65.80 for two adults and two children (plus £7 parking).
My advice is to park your car somewhere else and make sure you've been to the loo before you visit the park. They did have a couple of portaloos, but heaven knows what those will be like in the summer!