WARREN HAYDEN: The ups and downs of rides in the rain

Blackgang Chine theme park
Blackgang Chine theme park

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The forecast for the south coast wasn’t looking the best, with heavy cloud and not one ray of sunshine breaking through.

But the good news was that the weather app on my phone wasn’t predicting any rain. Good because a proper family day was planned, so at least we’d stay dry.

It started at the Hovertravel terminal at Southsea where we needed tickets for four adults and two children.

My dad and mum, my daughters’ grandparents, were taking us to the Isle of Wight for the day.

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve visited this beautiful island during my 32 years as a citizen of planet Earth, but it is a destination I always enjoy and really should make the effort to go there more.

My girls enjoyed the smooth crossing to Ryde and it was there that we jumped on a bus to take us to the southern tip of the island where we’d visit the UK’s oldest theme park, Blackgang Chine.

My dad has talked about how he visited the place as a youngster and spoke about it fondly. So I was looking forward to seeing it for myself.

Two buses got us there, the number nine to Newport followed by the number six and at the entrance to Blackgang Chine we were welcomed by a giant fibreglass smuggler whose legs you have to go beneath to get to the park. This made a great photo opportunity.

The first attraction we stumbled on was called Restricted Area Five which contained life-sized moving dinosaurs and included the mighty T-Rex, apparently the biggest in the country.

Five-year-old Alyssa’s face was a picture when the ground shook and the T-Rex roared. She stood close to me just in case it turned out to be real.

Discombobulated is a word I’ve never used in almost five years of writing this column, but it’s the only one I can think of to describe the Crooked House at Blackgang Chine.

It’s described as the ‘craziest house in England where everything is not quite as it appears’ and it certainly lives up to that description. I won’t spoil it for you but it is certainly worth a visit if you are there.

We moved on to some of the other attractions, including Cowboy Town where you get to walk through the double doors of the saloon and Fantasyland where you meet the Weather Wizard, who sadly didn’t conjure up sunshine. It was shortly after that the heavy rain began.

Yes, the weather prediction was wrong. But we didn’t let that stop us, especially as my girls were most excited about a ride named Cliffhanger. There is something even more thrilling about being on a rollercoaster in the pouring rain and we all loved it.

On the bus back to the hovercraft we reflected on a great day and we all agreed that we can’t wait to return.