All The Fun Of The Fair

So here we are on the last Sunday of the 6 weeks hols, 2 days left before I find out that I have mis-spelt the name on the kids iron-on tags or I’ve forgotten some essential part of their uniform for their first day back. It feels like ages since they were at school, but it also feels like the summer has flown by. And although I will miss our lazy breakfasts, the old routine will be welcomed with open arms. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed spending some quality time with my little cherubs, but 6 weeks with 3 children is expensive and tiring! I found myself suffering with a degree of OCD when it came to child-friendly activities, I have literally not been able to pass a craft event leaflet or kids activities booklet without stuffing it in my handbag. It’s not that I relish these events much, I like to see my children happy obviously, but with my (reluctant about anything) 8-year-old son and (energetic with a short attention span) 5-year-old twins, I need to have plans set in place in order to survive school holidays! So, when last weekend the Havering Show came to our local park I had it firmly penned on the calendar in black ink!

As country fairs go, it’s not a bad event and as it is advertised with free entry it is definitely worth a look. However, my kids have a talent for turning any free event into an overdraft busting experience quite easily. There was a free circus tent which was a nice treat, free because they were circus students! I didn’t even realise there was such a thing as circus college, but we got to see their abilities so far. To be fair, they were quite good, very brave trapeze artists in skimpy costumes and a ringmaster with a booming voice to wake you up between acts. However, it was the knife throwing duo that were the most difficult to watch mainly because they couldn’t do it! A very nervous looking assistant stood against a wooden wall with a manic smile on her face while the knife thrower didn’t throw the knives hard enough, so they kept bouncing off the assistant to the amused gasps of the audience. It can’t be a good act to ‘study’ and it felt particularly awkward when they finished and we all half-heartedly clapped them as the assistant checked herself for stab wounds.

In the centre of the park they had erected an arena for acts to perform for us. There was a stunt motorbike act who was jaw-droppingly mental and the overkeen medieval tournament players who treated us to a ‘jousting’ competition where they clearly tried NOT to knock each other off. They were entertaining enough but really need to be told that they are not actually from the medieval age with their over use of ‘hazzars’ and ‘fair maidens’. There were other tents dotted about the fair such as the horticultural tent where local allotments competed to sell their marrows to the general public or the ‘craft and sweet’ tent which has an unhealthy amount of fudge on sale. There is also a little homage to Glastonbury with Havering’s very own music stage showcasing a bizarre line-up of has-beens and wannabe music acts. Although Suzi Quatro did rock the field quite impressively, even if she has now progressed to elasticated leather trousers.

The outskirts of the field were predictably covered in fairground rides courtesy of the nearest traveller population. My kids had been desperate to go on the rides as soon as they saw them being erected while we were at the swimming pool a week earlier. As we checked out the rides on offer, weighing up which ones look less like death traps, I noticed that all of the rides were priced between £3-5 per child, bargain! My daughter thrust her purse in my hand as if reading my mind suggesting she paid for her own rides to help me out. Massively touched I looked in her purse to find 15p, bless, I thanked her anyway and thanks to our grandparent chaperones were able to allow the kids 3 rides each. As most of the rides are the inside of a lorry trailer there isn’t much to them, so as the twins did a fourth round of their ‘funhouse’, I decided to take eldest son on one of the scarier rides as an extra treat. I had seen The Twister earlier in the day and had been transported back to my teenage years, hurtling around it with my friends to the sounds of ‘On A Ragga Tip’ and as I wasn’t prepared to revisit my 99 flake on this occasion I decided to drag my eldest son on The Sizzler instead. Back in my teenage years, The Sizzler was a bit too tame for me and my mates so I thought it would be a good choice for us. We happily jumped into our seats without having watched the previous ride so was unaware of what was in store for us. For those not experienced in The Sizzler, the ride basically consists of 2 people seated in a car with the heavier person on the outside, the car is on the end of an arm and when it starts moving you are flung from side to side as the cars race back and forth in diagonal directions. I don’t remember it being particularly fast and it was always over so quickly, but not today, for me and my son were in for a bit of a shock. It started off at a fairly normal pace and with a smidge of g-force my son was pushed against me as we flew about, still able to wave at our family members. But then it picked up the pace… A LOT! Suddenly, I felt like I was in the space simulator scene from James Bond. I was unable to check on son as the g-force had disabled all ability of speech apart from the odd slurred groan which was emitting from our mouths. As our car was flung in the direction of the cabin which housed the ride operator, with great effort I craned my neck to see if perhaps he was slumped against the controls to explain our sudden speed, but he was fine, sat upright displaying his toothless grin. The delighted screams of the passengers had now transformed into horrified shouts as the ride seemed like it was never going to end. Thankfully, it eventually started to slow down and I knew the torture was almost over. I felt too dizzy to feel nauseous and as I tried to untie mine and my sons limbs from each other my green coloured son looked at me and told me that he had loved it. I made some weird noise in reply as I gazed at the other weary parents on the neighbouring cars, the Dad next to us was rubbing his temples trying to re-engage his brain. With our wobbly legs we rejoined our group, where the twins had completed their allocated rides with much less stress and we were more than ready to head home.

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