Riding the Slide at the Arcelormittal Orbit Stratford

The Arcelormittal Orbit was designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond and was erected back in 2012 just in time for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture, 80m high above the Olympic Park and 60% made from recycled steel offers extraordinary 20- mile views of London skyline.

This fantastic piece of art is impressive and moving. It is part of the Olympic legacy that transformed East London. I remember back in 2012 when the Olympics changed the area and the people within it. The Olympic Park is now used every day by visitors from all over; people out cycling or going for walks, families picnicking on the grass, children running around and playing in the many parks and couples out for romantic walks along the canal.

Everytime I see this amazing structure it brings back memories of the unity we shared back in 2012 and how well our olympic teamed performed.

The sculpture is a physical embodiment of the spirit of East London.

A few weeks we visited the Orbit not only for the incredible panoramic views across London but also to ride the world’s tallest and longest slide.

The visit starts at the bottom of the Arcelormittal Orbit where you get to stand directly underneath and look up at the twisting red lattice framed iconic structure. This in itself is a wow moment. 

We took the lift up to the viewing platform where we spent some time looking out across at London’s skyline, pointing out buildings that we recognised. The youngest was pretty impressed with the Olympic Stadium where Westham were playing at home. We knew they had scored when the crowd erupted in a loud cheer.

When you book your tickets you have to hope for a clear day. Unfortunately we had previously visited the orbit on a rainy day and didn’t get to see half of what you can on a clear bright day

There are interactive touch screens on the viewing platform that tell the story of the Orbit and the park and they also give you information on the surrounding area. They tell the story of the Orbit. The polished concave mirrors that are on either side of the platform play with your perspective and turn the horizon on its head.

The level below the viewing platform is where you get to ride the slide.

Kitted out with a helmet and arm protectors you join the queue ready to watch a short video about how to ride the slide. Once inside the mat, you grab the sides of the chute and you push yourself down the slide.

From top to bottom descending 76 meters it takes just 40 seconds.  Reaching up to 15 miles/hr (24 km/hr), the slide loops it’s way around the sculpture 12 times. At times you are in darkness and then you see a flash of daylight where the top of the slide is covered in plastic. Or, in complete darkness if you have your eyes closed for the whole 40 seconds it takes from top to bottom.

The slide ends with a straight drop and before you know it you’re seeing  daylight again

 

You would expect to come out the bottom at speed but you slow right down as you exit.

Once down at the bottom you can go back up to the viewing platform again or if you are us, just to take the steps down.

 

Once finished on the viewing platform, you can take the lift back down the ground level or go down the 455 steps. Yes, we counted them! As you walk down the steel stairs you are treated to the sounds of London echoing around you coming from a specially designed soundscape soundtrack.

My boys give this experience a huge adrenaline pumped thumbs up

There is a height and age limit to the slide, you can find out all of the information on there website.

 

 

 

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Indoor Skydive: A Family Adventure

Ever wondered what it was like to fly?

Flying is a sensation that very few people, especially young children, get to experience. Indoor skydiving gives you a unique feeling of flying. With the use of a vertical wind tunnel you get to make your dream of flying become a reality. It is a safe and fun experience with a highly qualified instructor that teaches you to fly,step by step.

We was very lucky to have been given Family tickets for a flight experience with iFly, which has a centre at Milton Keynes.

Our flight was booked at 12pm but they require you to check in an hour before. We filled out the necessary forms in preparation for the flights, but you if you get to iFly in plenty of time you can fill them out before you fly at the centre.

Everyone in the group was introduced to the flight instructor who gives you 1-1 help in the tunnel. Our instructor was very informative and friendly. We was all briefed about what to expect inside the tunnel, watched an instructional video and then shown the hand signals that would be used for communication inside. We was all then issued our flight jumpsuits, goggles and helmet.

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The younger boys got to choose a helmet that had little teddy bears sticking out of the top. They looked so cute when they were in the tunnel and the little teddy was bobbing about in the wind.

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Once all suited up they were ready to fly

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We made our way to the flight tunnel, which had viewing all around. The vertical wind tunnel can produce 165mph wind speeds. All of the flyers lined up one by one to wait their turn to go into the tunnel and take flight with the instructor.

Before you enter the tunnel, you have to stand at the entrance with your arms stretched above your head and when the instructor gives you a thumbs up you have to lean forward towards him. The instructor then grabs your arms and leads you into the air tunnel safely so that your legs don’t catch on the entrance. Once in the middle, the instructor holds onto you until you get your balance and then he let’s go of you so that you can drift off. Once you have mastered the key flying skills you are able to try more advanced manoeuvres (but this comes with more lessons) You get to experience freefall as you float on a smooth cushion of air.

The aim is to relax and have fun. Stretch out your arms and legs and in Superman Style…Fly!

The whole experience lasts for an hour, with about 5 minutes flying in the tunnel.

We chose to have a High Flight, which was the best part of the experience. With the instructor guidance and support, they boys were flown 3-6 feet up the tunnel. They flew in a rise and fall pattern whilst turning. The High Flight happened for the last 15-20 seconds of their second flight

With no parachute, no jumping and nothing attached to them. I watched my boys fly. They were a little nervous, especially the little one, but that soon disappeared when the adrenaline kicked in.

Their faces say it all. They said that the feeling was unforgettable, they felt light and free.

We give iFly indoor skydiving a big thumbs up
We give iFly indoor skydiving a big thumbs up

The whole experience was definitely one to remember. The instructor was patient, professional and encouraging. My boys didn’t stop smiling for days (and that’s not because the wind in the tunnel had such force that it made it that way). At the end of the experience they were rewarded with a certificate which showed what flying skills they had mastered.

My son won this experience after I entered him into a competition that was run by Coca Cola and blogger Emmys Mummy and Harry Too to uncover an unsung hero. I nominated my son as he was my rock whilst I was having treatment for Cancer and is always putting others first. He is a very determined young boy and deserved a treat. He was my hero and still is.

Thank you for choosing us 🙂

 

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My Personal Experience of Radiotherapy

Back in 2016 I was diagnosed with a rare form of Bowel Cancer, there were only 2 cases of it at the hospital where I was under. My Oncologist explained all the details about the diagnosis but I think I found out more by doing my own research. As a part of my treatment I was offered chemo-radiation, this is a treatment that means I was to have radiotherapy alongside taking chemotherapy tablets.

Radiotherapy is the use of controlled, high – energy radiation. It is offered alongside chemotherapy as it makes the cancerous cells more sensitive to the radiation.

I was told that I would have radiotherapy first to try to shrink the tumour before surgery, as this would make it easier for the surgeon to remove it. My tumor measured at 3 cms and was close to my rectum, sitting on the sphincter muscle – which controlled the movement of the bowel. The tumor was very close to the skin, so close that it could be felt from the outside.

From receiving my diagnosis til the first day of my radiotherapy it took two weeks. Those two weeks were the longest and slowest ever. Just think, You have been told that you have cancer and then you have to wait a few weeks until you can start you r treatment. All I kept thinking was, that it was more time for it to grow and worsen my diagnosis. Within that time I had a colonoscopy, an ultra sound on the local lymph and I had to be measured up to the radiotherapy machine.

Meeting Linac 

A Linear accelerator machine used to treat all parts of the body by delivering high energy beams/electrons to the region of the tumour. It has several built-in safety measures to ensure that it does not deliver a higher dose and is routinely checked by a medical physicist to ensure that it working properly. Everyone has their own personal treatment plan that has been decided by the doctors on how to deliver the prescribed dosage and calculated time that you will be under the machine.

Tattoo for life Before meeting LINAC I had to be measured up in a CT Scanner. This is when i received a tattoo, which was marked on my body by a small pen. This tattoo never fades and is a sign of what you have been through. A mark that will never let you forget. These marks were where the beams would be directed and used to take measurements for the plan of treatment. I was given three little dots on my skin; one above my pelvis, and one either side of my pelvis. The radiographer used red laser beams to measure them up. I laid down on a couch that had a scanner around it. This would be the position that I would be laying in for all of my treatments. I was under the machine for about 3o minutes. I didn’t feel anything, just heard the sound of the machine.

For my treatment I had to have 25 sessions of radiotherapy. That was every day, monday to friday, for five weeks. I had the weekends to rest up.

Before my first radiotherapy appointment I was able to sit down with someone from the radiographer team and discuss what time of the day would suit me for my daily treatments. I was given a leaflet which told me about the process, what to expect and what side effects I could get. I asked for early morning sessions as then it would be easier for me to get some rest before the children came home from school.

As my tumour was in a very sensitive area, I was told to expect some very severe soreness after week 3. A mould was made to place over the skin to protect it. This was made up for me.

I was given my time-table with all the dates and times printed on it and what LINAC I would be on. The hospital had a few.

I had to drink 750ml of water 45 minutes before going in the machine. I had to hold this in my bladder until the session had finished. This was so that I kept my body hydrated and so the scanner could create detailed images of inside my body. When I turned up to my appointment I was told when to drink by the radiographer. This I found easy for the first few weeks, it then started to become harder as the time went on. I was struggling to hold my bladder as the radiotherapy was burning away my insides.

My first session felt like it went on forever. I remember laying in the machine and counting how many times it went round me and guessing in what direction it would take next. I was in the machine for about 15-20 minutes, It took a while to make sure that I was in the correct position so the whole process could take up to 30 minutes.

My family decided between them that I wasn’t to attend my sessions alone, so there was always someone waiting for me outside in the waiting room. Ready to have a normal conversation with or just be there for me.

I remember talking to the machine as it went round me. Telling it how I just wanted more time with my family, how I hoped that It wouldn’t miss a cell and to make sure that they all went. As I laid there I began to think it was answering me back. Listening to me. I remember the sound of it going round and round. I could hear music in the background. I told the machine to be nice to me and I would sing to it. Silly eh! How can a machine listen to you. It felt like it was the only place I could talk about my feelings without being judged or told to stop being silly. I had to lay there as still as I could, which is hard when you have to think about it. You always get an itch somewhere or feel a twitch in your leg.

Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The staff was helpful and friendly and always smiling. The other patients in the waiting room made conversation, even if it was talking about what brand of coffee they were drinking, it was small talk and just what everyone wanted. There was a sense of calm in the oncology department, quiet at times when you needed it. I almost felt like I belonged in there. People around me who I could relate to, who could understand what I was going through. It was as if I could see them walking around with a big question mark hovering over their heads. We all had the same thoughts, thoughts that we didn’t share with close family and friends but what we transmitted through our eyes. Sadness and hope.

I had lost hope in my body, I had lost my way in life. It was like the waiting room was my refuge. I needed to find strength from the people around me, the strangers in the waiting room and from within.

Hours quickly fell into days and the days into weeks. Not long and I had been going for a month. It seemed normal to get up and make my way to the hospital. The oncology department was at the back of the hospital, away from the busy part, almost a different building. It was like we were being hidden away from everyone. Kept to one side away from normality.

Side effects  The side effects were harsh. The last week I laid in bed crying and only got out for the appointments and to got to the toilet. I didn’t want to drink as it burned when i passed urine and walking became impossible with pain. My skin was so sore that it was blistering and peeling. I was given a cream to apply to the area, but that was only because a friend advised me on what to ask for. I was told that my skin would become red like it would do from sunburn, but I didn’t expect it to literally burn away. The only ease i got was when I let air to it and applied the cream. I gave up on wearing underwear and only wore loose clothing. I had to take imodium tablets as it was playing havoc on my bowels. I was so tired all of the time and some days slept for hours. I could be having a conversation one minute and then asleep the next. I welcomed the weekends as it came me respite from the treatment and by sunday evening I was becoming to feel normal again, only to go back to treatment the next morning.

I had to drink as much as I could in order to stay hydrated, I tried to drink at least 2 litres a day.

Long term effects  My bladder became weak and I could no longer hold in my urine, It felt full all of the time making leaving the house hard. I can no longer have children as my tubes have been burned away and I suffer from hot flushes. I have weaker bone structures and have had physio to build it back.

Two months after treatment finished I spent 10 days in hospital due to having an Abscess due to the effects of radiation. I lost all possible feeling to go to the toilet and was in severe pain. This resulted in my operation to remove the tumor forward by Two months.

It’s been 18 months since the last day of radiotherapy and I am now nearly back to full health. I know I can no longer produce eggs to have more children, but I already have three wonderful boys, so that’s not a problem for me. I still suffer from hot flushes but they say that I may be going through my menopause early due to radiotherapy.  I often get tired, but I just remember to take it easy and rest. I drink at least 2 litres of water a day and eat a healthy balanced diet (although I stay away from processed meats and pre prepared meals). It’s hard to look back and reflect. I need  to share my experience, not only for myself but for others too.

 Please feel free to contact me if you want support.
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Bungee Jump Experience – The Ultimate Rush for a Teenager

Bungee Jump – The ultimate energy rush, the perfect gift for any daredevil and thrill seeker.

My eldest son is 15 and buying gifts for him is becoming harder every year, although he is very easily pleased and doesn’t really ask for much. I wouldn’t say that he is a daredevil but he certainly likes to experience the wild side.

Leaping 160 ft from a crane, watching the ground rush towards you at a speed of 60mph, attached to nothing but a bungee cord, isn’t really something that I would fancy doing but for a young teenager it’s certainly a very attractive activity. There are no special skills needed, just courage.

I booked him onto a 160ft jump from a crane that is set up near to the 02, London. This isn’t far for us to travel to and is an ideal spot for some lunch after or just a stroll along the River Thames.

We arrived in good time for him to be fully briefed by one of the experienced instructors, before being kitted up and securely fastened into the bungee cord.

He sat in line and watched the previous jumpers leap to the floor. Getting more nervous as he moved along the chairs, getting closer to his turn.

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and it was a clear blue sky, perfect for us to watch and for him to jump in.

It wasn’t long and it was his turn.

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He was taken up to the top of the crane in cage and once at the top it was seconds before the cage door opened and out he fell, plummeting to the ground only to bounce back up again, dangling by his feet. I half expected to hear him scream, but he was very reserved and held it all back, Or maybe the force of the air in his mouth stopped him from making a sound.

Once he was lowered to the ground he was taken by the shoulders and guided to a mat on the floor where he was taken out of his cord by two instructors.

 

Jak says: “I was pretty nervous, even though I knew that nothing could happen to me I was still anxious about the experience and what to expect. The view from the cage at the top of the crane was amazing, but I didn’t get to look at it for long as I was soon guided over to the edge. I was told to stand still and put my arms directly out in front of me at 90 degree angle. They counted down from 3 and gently pushed me from the edge. I was told not grab anything as I fell from the edge of the cage. As I fell to the floor, it felt like  I was staying still and the ground was moving up towards me, however the feeling of falling was still there. I think the best part of the jump was seeing the 02 upside down. I almost felt like my heart had stopped until the moment I was pulled back up by the cord. It was an experience not to forget. I had a blast and almost wished that it had lasted longer.”

It was the perfect gift for him and I was so proud that he approached the experience with such maturity and gallant.

Jak gives the day a big thumbs up

I booked the bungee jump through Buyagift costing £59, the minimum age of the jumper is 14.

Photos courtesy of Bungee UK

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Luxury Chocolate Workshop with Red Letter Days – Review

*****Warning – this post contains the word ‘chocolate’*****

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A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to a chocolate making and tasting workshop by Red Letter Days at My Chocolate. The event was being held at My Chocolate Shoreditch, London. Although, they do have other venues available in London, Brighton and Manchester.

The workshop was ran by two chocolate connoisseurs, one who did all of the demonstrating and one who was preparing the chocolate and utensils for us chocoholics to use on our chocolate making.

I arrived fashionably late due to travel problems, so when by the time I had arrived they were already 20 minutes into the first part of the evening, which was preparing your very own indulgent chocolate martini. I was greeted at the door and was directed to the sink where I washed my hands first and then shown to a table where a few of the other attendees had already began creating the martinis. I believe that were shown a technique called ‘wagging the tail’ where they used a spoon to drizzle melted chocolate over the martini glass to decorate it before mixing up the chocolate vodka in a shaker.

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It tastes as nice as it looked. Very much like Irish Cream. They were creamy, rich and one could definitely drink one after another. What a treat! Very much-needed after the train journey I had just encountered. The smell of indulgent chocolate wafted around the room

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Whilst we gulped sipped at our chocolate cocktails, we all stood around the demonstration desk and watched how to make our very own oil infused large chocolate button.

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We was guided on how to place the chocolate onto the paper and how to infuse it with flavoured oil.  The chocolatiers made a huge milk chocolate heart decorated with dark chocolate, using the ‘wagging the tail’ technique again and then using the other end of the spoon to create a marble effect. The expert made it look so easy!

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Back to the tables we went, ready to create our own masterpiece. I chose to make a four-leaf clover and infused it with lemongrass oil. The oil is very strong and only a couple of drops is needed to add the taste to the chocolate. It was very hard, but I resisted, not to lick the spoon, as we was going to be using them again to do the marbling

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I chose dark chocolate, as that is my favourite – the darker the better! The marbling wasn’t as easy as it looked. I think my finished button looked a bit like a toddlers drawing rather than an exquisite chocolate, it was definitely authentic and handmade.

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By now, the only evidence of our chocolate vodkas was the empty glasses on the table. They were soon replaced with a glass of prosecco.

Once we had made our chocolate slab, we was ready to move on to the next part of the workshop, Truffle making. Now I have attempted to make truffles at home before as presents for the children’s teachers and they were a nightmare to make, I had cocoa all over me. So, I was looking forward to this part of the workshop to find out where I went wrong.

We was shown how to make them first by the expert chocolatiers and a helper from the other attendees and then we was sent back to our tables. For this part of the workshop we had to get into pairs.

Firstly you mix the chocolate with double cream, stirring it quite rigorously until it starts to set and become thicker – this is your Ganache. Then you place it into a piping bag ready to pipe out little chocolate slugs or wizard hats on the parchment paper. Once all of the ganache has finished, you wait for them harden.

This part of the workshop brought lots of giggles to the table as we quickly became aware that out little chocolate ganache slugs looked more like little emoji poops. Although, It didn’t matter what they looked like at this point as they were soon to be moulded into truffles.

Once we got the hang of how to hold and pipe the bag, it was quite easy.

And once they were all done, our glasses got topped up by the very nice lady at My Chocolate with Yet more prosecco

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The evening was definitely activating our tastes buds – chocolate and booze!

The chocolatiers tutor was what really made the experience enjoyable, she was fun, humorous, interactive and full of chocolate knowledge.

Whilst we waited for the Ganache to set we was treated to a talk about the history of chocolate and how it is made. We also got to taste 90% chocolate. We was tested on our taste bud knowledge of recognising dark or milk chocolate and taught on how to feel and smell the quality of a chocolate. High quality chocolate should smell strongly of chocolate and the texture should not be gritty or waxy.

The sound that your chocolate makes when snapped is a good indication of the quality of it. Good chocolate has a clean, crisp, sharp snap when broken and milk chocolate tends to bend, because it contains more sugar and milk

After our little fun lesson in chocolate it was time to get dirty with the truffle making. On the tables was a selection of topping to decorate our truffles with; honeycomb, cocoa powder, coconut, salt, raspberry swirls, white chocolate swirls and berry dust.

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This was definitely the time to get creative, release the chocolate demon in you and dig in. First we rolled our ganache into a ball, then coated them in some cacao powder and then dipped them into more chocolate. Before they set I added some of the toppings. Some of our ganaches were a little on the small side so I added two together and at the same time pressed in some raspberry dust and salt into the middle as a surprise when bitten into.

We made quite a mess of our table

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But it was most definitely a sign of a good time. I really enjoyed the whole evening. We got to wrap up our chocolate creations in some cellophane and ribbon to take home. My chocolate goodies didn’t last long once I arrived home as they were eaten by all in the house. the chocolates were mouth-watering and tastes as good as they smelled

The whole experience lasts for about 2 1/2 hours . It’s a great gift for someone who loves chocolate or even as a hen party. I may add that we did not prepare the chocolate- temper it, as that process takes a while. We did the decorating and producing of the truffles, buttons and martini.

Currently priced at £98 for two people on Red Letter Days Website

I was invited along for the purpose of this post, no payment has been received

 

 

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