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.”

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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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An Amazing Experience for my Young Animal Enthusiast at Colchester Zoo

It was my sons 1oth birthday and I wanted to get him something a little different, as I was strolling through the internet I came across an animal experience at Colchester Zoo. This would be perfect for him as he absolutely loves animals and is always talking about becoming a zoologist when he is older.

The Zoo academy introduces children from the age of 10 – 15 to what it is like to work with animals. It gives them a behind the scenes experience with a few of the animals from the zoo. With expert tuition from the keepers, the children get to meet some incredible animals and enjoy a ‘hands on’ lesson that they will treasure forever!

The experience includes: 2 hours with the animals and keepers, a whole day entry into the Zoo and a souvenir pack which includes a certificate.

The programme is designed to introduce children to a broad range of keeper skills. The Cadets go behind the scenes and learn how to carry out health checks, train animals, complete water tests, design enrichment and more! From the coatis and owls to our tortoises and stingrays.

It was a morning experience starting at 10am which meant that we would have the rest of the day walking around the zoo with the family after he had finished being a Zoo Cadet.

It was a lovely hot day and we was all very excited especially the birthday boy. I got to go along with him as he had to have an adult with him and what was even better was that he was the only child booked onto the experience so he had 1-1 time with the animals and keepers.

We was introduced to the keeper who would be showing Joseph around for the first half of the experience. And was walked on over to the first part of the behind the scenes to prepare some enrichment for the Parrots.

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He was shown what to do and then Joseph began making some of his own. He wrapped up the food in paper, then he hid the paper inside some card and then wrapped it all up again in an egg carton. Enrichment teaches the Parrots to forage for their food and challenges them

Meet Gizmo, Isn’t he a cutie! He loved the attention he was getting from us and went absolutely mad when we walked away, when we turned back to face him he whistled at us.

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After we said our goodbyes to Gizmo, Joseph was introduced to A ring-tailed Coati, a medium-sized mammal that is from the Racoon family. He was an excitable little fellow and was keen to come see who was visiting her in her home. The keeper placed a lead onto the Coati and asked Joseph if he wanted to take her for her daily walk. Obviously, he said yes. It was like walking a dog.

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The keeper kept some treats for her in her pocket and when she was behaving on the walk, she was given some. The Coati was very much like a dog and was well-behaved.

After the Coati had her walk we said goodbye again to Gizmo, as we was passing and was led on over to the bird of prey where Joseph was introduced to some Owls. He was told that the barn owl needed to be weighed and that would be his job. They keep a diary of how much the birds weigh so that they feed them the correct amount of food.

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Joseph had to keep his hand still as the owl was perched onto the glove on his hand.The owl got a little fluttery as he was adjusting himself and managed to scratch Joseph with his talons. This didn’t faze Joseph, he was just more determined to walk along with the owl.

Once in the weighing shed, he placed the owl onto the scales and using small weights he had to balance out the weight.

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If a bird is under weight then it will have little energy to fly

Once the weighing was done, Joseph walked along with the owl through the wild display area where we met the next zoo keeper that would show us around on the rest of the behind the scenes experience.

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He had a smile constantly on his face throughout the whole morning, he was so happy. It was lovely to see him doing something that he totally loves. He looked so at home and comfortable with the animals.

We was taken into the butterfly enclosure and again behind the scenes to see the cocoons of some butterflies and to release them into the enclosure

He was very careful as he carried the butterfly gently within his hands to let it go through the hatch

After he had released a few butterflies we made our way over to see the Tortoise. As we have a pet tortoise at home he was very excited to get close to a much bigger one.

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He wasn’t allowed to pick him up but he did get to stroke him.

The whole time he was walking along with the zoo keeper he was told information about the animals. Joseph was full of facts and told the keepers a thing or two too. He knows a lot about animals and is always watching videos, documentaries and reading books about wildlife, animals and nature.

I didn’t even know that he knew as much as he did. He amazed me. I was so proud of him.

The next place we went was behind the scenes with a creepy crawlies. I’d say they were mini beasts but they wasn’t quite mini, they were huge!

I even had a little stroke of the hissing cockroach, they are so smooth.

Did you know that cockroaches are cleaner than humans? They are always washing themselves I’ll remember that next time I see one whilst abroad lol

The last part of the Zoo Academy was to test the water for bacteria and animal poo in the stingray enclosure.

With glasses and gloves on he was ready to do the experiment

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Using a syringe he sucked up some of the water that had been collected from the stingray pool and he squeezed it out into a tub where he added in some drops from a bottle that would check the N02 and PH levels

 

Once he had checked the levels it was then on to the last job and that was to feed the stingray. He sat on the edge of the pool and lent over with a big rod and handed over the food to stingray that swam past

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It was an experience that he will not forget in a while. A truly memorable day

His words “It was amazing!” He wants to work with animals even more so now.

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The staff was friendly and the whole experience was very well organised.

 

 

 

 

 

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Young Driver Experience – A day to Remember

Could you imagine learning to drive before the age of 17?

At Young Driver, a center that gives children from the age of 10 an opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience driving with a qualified instructor. Children can learn to drive at one of the 60 UK centers where they are taught in a specially designed training area. The training area includes; sharp bends, mini round-about, parking spaces, traffic lights, and junctions.

Young Driver follow the Driving Standards Agency curriculum, which means that what 10 – 17s learn at YOUNG DRIVER is exactly the same as they will learn on the road at 17. The children are given a Drive Diary to record their progress and this is one of the most important parts of the programme – moving forward is the aim!

Their personalised Drive Diary charts individual progress and current level of driving and is completed by the instructor after each driving session. The instructor talks them through it and explains where they could do with some more help or whether they can progress to the next step. The Drive Diary can be given over to their driving instructor when they begin their official lessons at the age of 17 and the instructor will then know what their experience level is.

 

My son, who is 14 years old, was lucky enough to be invited along to the Bluewater Center to experience for himself what it is like to drive a car. The center itself, is situated within the blue car park at Bluewater shopping center. There is a section of car park outside that is specifically designed for a  beginners’ zone, that has a full road system with traffic signs, road markings, junctions and parking zones. In this way it encourages responsible driving.

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As soon as we had arrived, he was called up by his instructor and taken along to the car that he would be driving. Before he could turn the key he underwent a safety check and was taught how to use the mirrors, signal and when to manoeuvre. He had full control over the steering wheel and pedals, however the instructor had pedals that would over power his if an accident were to happen. He started off slowly, to get used to the feel of the steering and clutch. Not long on the road and he was soon snaking in-between cones and maneuvering the car into a figure of eight in the parking lot. Whilst, he was driving he was continuously given advise and constructive criticism from the instructor. He spent 60 minutes out on the road, building up his confidence and learning some important skills of control and responsibility. He now knows how to drive safely and properly, putting him leaps and bounds ahead of other 17 year olds.

His instructor was fantastic, professional and made him feel safe at all times.

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Since his experience, he has become more road aware and is definitely more confident and prepared for when he can hit the road.

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We made a video of his experience

My son certainly left with a big smile on his face and is now eager to get behind the wheel.

I would highly recommend the experience for any young child who wants to get ahead of their peers and become a much safer driver. A very valuable and worthwhile experience.

30 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £34.95

60 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £64.95

To find out more about the experience or to make a booking, head on over to their website www.youngdriver.com

We was given this experience for the purpose of this review.

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First flight abroard: family time

Are you experienced Family fliers?

Do you dread flying for the first time with your children?

Well we are the latter! Last week was our first time flying to another country as a family.

I had flown before with my eldest boy when he was 4 and last summer he flew out to Amsterdam with his agency to do some acting on stage but my two youngest have never flown before. I booked the holiday during the half term to Malta, a country that I have many contacts with and have visited a few times myself prior to having children. We were going to be travelling with Nanny and staying at my brothers apartment over there, we had an early morning flight all booked and the boys were very excited in travelling to another country via an Aeroplane.

The week prior to our departure I couldn’t sleep, I kept having nightmares and thinking if the worst outcomes that could happen to us whilst travelling

  • Being turned away because our passports had the wrong information on
  • Our names weren’t down on the roster for flying
  • Losing one of the children at the airport
  • The plane coming into bother whilst in transit
  • Not having a smooth flight and experiencing some turbulence

With hardly any sleep and over tired the day arrived for us to travel to Luton airport to depart for our first holiday abroad. I was so worried that an accident that may happen, I just had to keep telling myself that people fly all over the world every second of the day and the possibility of our plane come into some difficulties were very slim.

I had packed all the luggage with our clothes but I also had to think about what would keep the children entertained on the flight there

  • All phones and tablets fully charged with chargers in the suit case
  • Magazines and books to read
  • Colouring and drawing pencils
  • Favourite teddy bear or toy
  • Bottle of water
  • Any school homework that was given out
  • A pack of playing cards
Reading his magazine
Reading his magazine

I had also ensured that they was dressed in comfortable clothing like track suits, trainers and t-shirts. I didn’t want the children to be uncomfortable for the three hours that we was travelling, sitting down in a small tight space in clothing that would make them fidget and make them irritable.

We had all discussed prior to our flight about what to expect during flying and how they thought an aeroplane works. Joseph said that they he was a bit scared the aeroplane would drop from the sky as he doesn’t understand how it could fly with all the people in it. Oliver wanted the plane to do a loop de loop and Jak said he didn’t like it when his went pop.

As our flight was at 7:00 Am, we left our house at 4 aiming to arrive at the Airport for 5:00. I ridiculously thought that the boys would sleep in the car on the way to the airport but how wrong was I? They were overly excited and hyped up with adrenaline, looking forward to their little adventure they were about to embark on. By the time we had checked in and in the queue ready to board the plane the boys were going mental with excitement, I could just about control them from flying up in the air by themselves. They were winding other passengers up by being slightly too loud and running around their legs, I was really not looking forward to the flight. We found our seats and made our selves comfortable, as the seatbelt light went on and the plane began to move into position, the picture on my boys faces were priceless, they were ecstatic! Their eyes were lit up and alive with excitement, their facial expression with a constant smiled etched on and their little bodies shaking with anticipation.

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about to move
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At the window seat
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Getting bumpy
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about to board the plane

They took plenty of photos of their first experience, not of each other but of the view from the window seat

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Their excitement didn’t wear off until probably on the flight home, where none of the boys were too interested in sitting by the window and all they wanted to do was sleep.

 

Their first flight will always be a very special memory for all of us.

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Our first pose in Malta, still very excited!

Here’s to our next flight abroad, It wasn’t too bad after all! 🙂

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Experiencing a new culture #newthings

It’s our last week of being involved with CSMA Newthings bloggers challenge. We have really enjoyed trying out new things as a family especially our trip into London to visit film locations of Harry Potter. Spending time together and enjoying each others company has been a big part of this challenge. As my boys grow up I have noticed that they are doing more and more individually and as Jak is now 12 he has been enjoying his new-found independence and going out with his friends instead of wanting to spend his spare time with us. So having set days where we get to spend time together and enjoy experiencing new things has been a delight. This week challenge was to experience a new culture, although i would have loved to embark on a once in a life time trip to India to teach the children about their culture  it just wasn’t possible so we brought India to our little livingroom in Greater London instead. We visited a restaurant where we ordered some food from the counter to take away. The aroma coming from the shop was tantalizing and was definitely exciting our senses. My tummy was rumbling at the sight of all the lovely colourful food to choose from. We ordered Naan Bread, chappatis, tandoori roti and chicken curry, Joseph chose them all. I like to invite the children into choosing their food as they then seem to be more enthusiastic in wanting to taste it. We watched the chef cook make up the naan from the dough bread and then he placed it into a cylindrical clay oven, called a Tandoor. DSC_0195 Once we arrived the boys draped some material over their shoulders just like the Indian dress. We researched on the internet about traditional clothing and found out that it varies from region to region depending on ethnicity, geography, climate and cultural traditions. A sarong is a traditional garment in India for men and a sari for women.The material used is colourful and can be patterned.

While the boys were waiting for their food they did a puzzle of a traditional hindu family eating their dinner, it was this picture that we tried to reenact in our own living room.

 

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I served up our food on a tray and placed it on the floor, using our fingers we used the naan and chappatis to dip into the chicken curry. The boys loved it and soon all of the food was gone!

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Once we was full up we watched an indian music video on Youtube, the boys danced around the living room just like they were on the video. Indian songs mostly come from Indian films .

After a few minutes of dancing we all sat down and I attempted at doing some Henna on the boys feet. Henna is a paste made out of crushed leaves and twigs of a henna plant. When the paste has been applied to skin and left for a few hours, it leaves an orange stain on it (which fades away after 7 days). Mehndi is a long-standing tradition stemming from ancient cultures and is originally used on the palms of the hands. Henna serves as a symbol of good luck, health and sensuality.

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We didn’t cover the foot as the boys have school, so we only tried a little tattoo. It was quite easy to use but the boys found it ticklish and wouldn’t sit still lol.

We really enjoyed finding finding about a new culture, the children especially enjoyed the hennna tattoo. They now have something to show their friends of our cultural night in.

Have you tried a new culture this week?

Thank you to CSMA for inviting us along on the NewThings challenge, I hope you have all enjoyed reading about all the new things that we as a family have had fun doing.

FAMILY

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Wakeboarding Experience

Last week whilst we was holidaying at Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire the boys experienced life on the lakes by trying out a bit of wake boarding.

Wakeboarding has been developed from combining a selection of techniques from water skiing, snowboarding and surfing, it involves riding a wakeboard which looks pretty much like a cross between surfboard and skateboard with shoes attached over the water. The rider is usually towed behind a motorboat but on the lakes they also use a cable system.

A short walk from where our caravan was, walking past three other lakes, there was the Wake Lake where Jak and Joseph both had 30 minutes each out on the wakeboard on the lake. first they were kitted out with a wetsuit that was in their size then they made there way to the jetty where the cable was, here they were both given a helmet and buoyancy jacket to put on. Jak went first to show Joseph what to do, he was given a wakeboard where he had to place his feet into the shoes that was attached to it and then given some points on how to get started once in the water. They were told to hold onto the bar, that was attached to the cable above, with straight arms, they were to keep there arms straight at all times. They were told to bend their knees and bring their bottoms towards their heels, once moving in the water they were told to slightly straighten out their legs and bring the handle to the left handside which will then move the wakeboard from a horizontal position to a vertical one.

 

All kitted up
All kitted up

 

About to give it a go
About to give it a go
In the water
In the water

 

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Josephs turn
Position how you start
Starting Position
He's Wakeboarding
He’s Wakeboarding

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Once you have mastered the basics then there are lots of tricks and jumps you can do but the boys aren’t quite there yet!

Jak managed to get all the way to the back of the lake in one hit without falling into the water, he looked like a little pro! He shouted out ‘Happy Birthday’ really loudly out in the middle of the lake (as it was his birthday)

Joseph found it hard to turn the wakeboard so he kept it infront of him in a horizontal position, he found the lake quite cold bless him and he wanted to get out before his session was up but that didn’t stop him from enjoying himself and wanting to go back the next day to give it a go again.

The boys loved their wakeboarding experience, jak said it was awesome and really wants to do it again. I was told by the instructor at the lakes that they do wakeboarding at Victoria dock in London Docklands which isn’t far from us so maybe he will get his wish 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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