The birthday meal was reasonably sedate - at least compared to the previous two years. Present wise I got two bottles of perfume and a CD from Paul, another Glee CD from Katie, Jamie's Great Britain cook book from Paul's mum along with two DVDs (Black Swan and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), a Mars Attacks anniversary trading card book (awesome) and Freaks on DVD off Noel, a new jewellery box off my mum and David, and some bits and bobs off Lisa - a pretty picture frame, some bath roses and some temporary tattoos that turn your hands into monsters.
The main reason for going to Derby is it's the easiest place to get to Alton Towers from, considering I live in Birmingham and Vicky lives in Swindon, and we met at uni. I've been back a couple of times since I left for various reasons, but the new Westfield Centre is still really confusing. It's odd going back and looking at all the students: they all look so young. We stayed in the new Jurys Inn, which was much too posh for the likes of us. ;)
On the Friday we got the bus to Alton Towers (£12 return) as we had 2-for-1 vouchers, which is just as well considering it's now £45 to get in. I finally got to go on Rita, which was actually working for once (eventually - everything broke down at least once), as well as the new Th13teen (brilliant) and Nemesis Sub-Terra (hilarious and terrifying in equal measures - I shan't ruin it). Unfortunately, I am probably never going on Air again because I was terrified. As we were queuing up, one of the seats in loading bay 6 seemed to be having problems with the neck brace, and even though we decided not to go in that bay (and the trains swap tracks when they return in any event), we of course ended up in it nonetheless, and to make matters worse I was in the seat which had the problem. It worked fine when I was in it, but I think the paranoia that it had already been non-functioning didn't help matters; when the seats pulled back into "flying position" I felt oddly unsecured (I was expecting the brace to be tighter somehow, so slipping forwards was unnerving) and thus spent the entire ride clinging on mercilessly with my eyes closed. Whenever I opened them again we seemed to be over concrete or trees. I remember thinking, "If this breaks, I am actually going to die." and going "upside down" was a relief because it meant I was being pushed back against the seat rather than forwards against the brace.
So yeah. I probably won't be going on that again. Maybe; it'll probably be a few years until I get back anyway. Air seems to be a love/hate thing with most people; I don't think it feels as much like flying as Nemesis does. Nemesis feels more free, I suppose because of the leg-dangling. We went on Nemesis last, and immediately after Air, which calmed me down considerably from the adrenaline-fuelled terror. I'm sure it must be weird to call a rollercoaster relaxing, but for some reason I find it really zen. :P
Oh, also it was the beginning of their "Scarefest", so there were awesome Halloween decorations everywhere. One of Vicky's school friends works at the park and offered to get us free passes to the scare mazes, but the place is so big we kept getting lost and didn't have time. Also, we both decided we weren't in the mood for things to jump out at us - after Nemesis Sub-Terra and my experience on Air, we'd had enough frights for one day. :P
On Saturday I met up with commoncomitatus, who had bought me some Nightmare Before Christmas baubles (which will match the ones I got a couple of years ago, yay!), the Noel Fielding artwork book, and a sentimental fridge magnet. I had taken some leftover cake for her, but then managed to leave it in the hotel room, so instead I bought her some cake in a nearby coffee shop to make up for it. We had lunch in Revolution (om nom) and then subsequently got ID'ed trying to buy a teapot of cocktail (I kid you not) - the waiter was appropriately contrite about it, as apparently they're just really strict and he knew we were old enough because the younger people tend to kick off, whereas we were just like "...seriously?" then paid and left. We ended up buying a pitcher of Woo Woo at Wetherspoons instead. :P
Had a bit of a wander about, one last drink at Walkabout where we got accosted by a bloke watching the footie, then parted ways at the bus station. On the walk to the train station a random bloke attempted to be clever/insulting/something by asking, "Excuse me, are you sisters with... her?" The "her" in question was the carrier bag containing my birthday presents off Eni. It was basically like he lost track of the comment halfway through and had to improvise. Really weird. I said, "Er, no?" (I mean, what do you say to that?) and he apologised and wandered off with his mates. WTF? In retrospect I wish I'd come back with some kind of witty retort, but I can't even think of anything appropriate. Only in Derby, I swear.
It was a really enjoyable couple of days. The views from the hotel were amazing as we were on the sixth floor, and on the way back from Alton Towers there was an amazing deep pink sunset by the train station - and again on the way to the station. For some reason Derby produces really astonishingly coloured sunsets; I remembered why I spent most of my final year pointing my camera out of my window. :)
On Sunday, we went to my mum's for a roast duck dinner, and so Paul could help David move a freezer upstairs. Quite a pleasant evening.
Actually, I was going to include the events of this week in this entry, but as it will have to be friends-only I think I'll post them separately. This is long enough already.