Tuesday, April 26, 2011


That's the polite spelling of what I kept saying on the afternoon last week that Ben and I did the high wire adventure at Center Parcs in France.We were booking to play mini golf (or rather they were, I hate the game and was merely going along to take embarassing photos) and at the same hut there were other activities to book, including segway tours (I so wanted to do that but the minimum age was 12 and Jas is only 9) and the high wire adventure. Ben liked the idea of trying it and as Simon wasn't keen I said I'd go too...and so the next afternoon we turned up to try it out...

Nico, the teacher, quickly had us all kitted out in natty safety hats (with even nattier net under hats) and harnesses and then explained everything, in French, and then everyone got started while Ben and I got the explanation again in English, phew. This meant of course that we were last to go, not a problem, as it meant we were able to watch everyone ahead of us and try to pick up tips.

The principle of the thing was to get around the 10 (or was it 20? I think I've tried to block out some of this experience already) stage course whilst clipped to the safety wire however many metres high in the air and balance on the other wire/wobbly board/rope loop to get between trees, whilst not holding onto the cable that you're clipped to because it's not meant for that.


No problem.

That's what you think from ground level, but get to the platform on the first tree and it suddenly becomes a very different matter.

It was so high.

I should have thought it through really, the experience is called 'high wire' afterall. I'm not scared of heights (or at least I wasn't) but when you stand on that first platform and look down...it's...well...scarey, I really had to concentrate on my breathing in order to calm down.

The first stage was 'just' a tightrope walk...Ben and I had watched everyone do this and bitched mercilessly about the speed (or rather lack of) of some people and debated which was the best way to do it - whilst at the same time having advice shouted at us from Simon on the ground (he sure took some abuse for his 'help'). In the end we both went the same way, standing sideways and sliding feet together, feet apart, together, apart, and so on - whilst clearly hanging on for dear life to the plastic coated cables there for our use.

Stage 1 done, phew.

Stage 2 was a walk in the park - a jointed boardwalk between two trees, with hand cables.

Stage 2 done.

Stage 3 was not so fun. The were two cables high up from which were suspended at intervals green rope U loops, the idea was that you step off the platform onto a rope loop, holding onto the sides of the loop and then step onto the next rope loop until you get to the next tree. Having watched Ben I had a slight advantage and managed to swing each loop to reach the next one so although this stage was stressful it wasn't physically hard.

Stage 3 done.

Stage 4 was possibly the scariest for me. There were what looked like suspended wooden lily pads with thick ropes hanging down to help you swing from pad to pad. So you had to reach off from the tree platform to grab the rope and then swing onto the pad. Terrifying. I've never been especially physical and the thought of stepping off the platform into space and entrusting my body to my puny arms and a rope. Terrifying.

There was a zip wire somewhere before the halfway point, which was fun. But as Ben and I got close to halfway we were debating whether or not to continue, we'd been told that it was at that halfway point when you came down to the ground (bliss, terra firma) before going back up into the trees, then here you could actually opt out. Before we got to the last stage before the ground Ben had pretty much convinced himself to go no further, but when I joined him it was apparent that he'd only not continue if I cried off. So of course I had to go back up again!

The second half was supposedly harder than the first and I guess bits of it were much harder physically (after one stage my arms were so tired I wasn't sure they could get me to the end of the course, and they were bruised from elbow to armpit because I'd dragged them along the cables in my attempt not to fall out of the trees) Then there were the mentally tough ones - at one point I could see two stages ahead what looked like the lily pad stage again, except there were no ropes to swing from pad to pad, you had to jump, with nothing to hold onto but the strap that was connecting you to the safety cable. And there was another tightrope except again there was nothing to hold on to except for hanging black ropes every 1.5 metres - I think Ben and I managed that by clinging (like vines) to the safety cable (the one we'd been told not to hold onto - we didn't care by that point!) Then there were two more zips and we were done, in more ways than one.

It was a blast, would I do it again? Maybe...

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