Sunday, 27 June 2004

Round and round she goes.....

Modern technology has made great strides forward. This is more than can be said for Doctor Pam and me as we inched our way round the Hoppings Quagmire, but I couldn't help reflecting on how much worse things would have been in the past.

There'd been a lot of rain, but I never felt that I was in danger of having the mud cascade over the tops of my walking boots.

The difference clearly lies in the tools and materials available to local councils to deal with this kind of unfortunate weather. In the past, the Council would have used straw and sawdust to soak up the excess water. Not terribly effective, but sawdust you could get from sawmills and there's always loads of straw about.

Now, however, there's no shortage of wood chipping machines. Every council has them for use in the parks and gardens. And when the heavens opened this time, they were able to chip as much wood chip as they needed. The more it rained, the more they chipped.

Very effective. We were often walking in a thick film of mud, but it was floating on a good foundation of woodchip.

We had a good time walking in the mud-slicks, but the punters hadn't turned out in the numbers really necessary to provide the genuine Hoppings experience. For a Friday night Hoppings, this was quite quiet.

But that didn't stop us going round several times, taking in a good coffee (proper coffee stalls - another innovation!) and some rather fine donuts. We passed on the liquorice whips (7 for £1) and the stall selling "flumps" (only 80p) - mainly because neither of us knows what a flump is.

Yes, we could have asked, but when Doctor Pam asked if the bottles of Coke were cold, she got a "Yes, love". And they weren't. Serves her right. Horrible stuff.

After waiting 20 years to come to the Hoppings, I guess Doctor Pam really needed to go on one of the rides. But she doesn't like going upside down, being spun round or being shaken about. Doesn't leave much, really.

So it was, as the rides and shows were closing down for lack of patronage, she decided she'd go on the traditional Merry-Go-Round; all gaily painted horses going sedately up and down to the sounds of a calliope.

"I'll go and find a horse with my name on it," she said, "and if there isn't one, I'll look for the next most suitable."

As the ride powered up and the horses came towards me, I strained my eyes for sight of her horse's name as she turned the corner. And there it was! And the tune changed, then, too!

Doctor Pam galloped past on a horse named Bimbo, while the calliope played God Save the Queen.

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