May 24 2013 Latest news:
Friday, June 29, 2012
Ah, the Royal Norfolk Show. A sun-soaked day out, filled with great food, spectacular entertainment and a deserved sense of pride in everything that’s wonderful about our fine county.
For most people, stroking some sheep, supping a pint and watching the daredevil parachute displays will be plenty enough to send them home happy after a day well spent.
But there is another breed lurking among those heaving crowds – those who crave adrenaline, excitement and a desire to be the centre of attention.
To investigate how well served those adventurous folk are, I was dispatched to scour the showground for Thursday morning thrills.
And there were plenty available, ranging from off-road 4x4 driving, paint-ball ranges and an RAF Tornado simulator taking its pilots on low-flying operations over enemy territory.
But one challenge this year towered above all the others.
The Reverse Bungee is a terrifying contraption which features a capsule suspended on rubber bungees, stretched to ground level where its victims are strapped in before being flung into the air.
It is the first time the attraction, run by Derbyshire firm Eventive Funtime, has been brought to the Royal Norfolk Show, and its every launch drew a crowd of spectators.
Visible from across the showground, its two giant gantries are the fixing points for a metal globe containing two seats – meaning I could not take up this challenge alone.
In my hurried search for a co-pilot, the first unfortunate I found to share the ride was plucky EDP photographer Antony Kelly, who reluctantly agreed to take part after much cajoling and a woefully inadequate description of the ordeal ahead.
On arrival, our charming host strapped us into the capsule with reassuring quips like: “Don’t be scared, only a couple of people have ever fallen out.”
And then, without any further warning whatsoever, we were catapulted skywards with a gravitational force of almost 5G.
The initial sensation of exhilaration was replaced by concern for where my breakfast might end up as I left my stomach 45m in the air, spinning uncontrollably at the zenith of our ascent before plummeting to earth again.
I am certain there would have been an excellent view of the show-day crowds from that height, if only my poor brain could process which way up the horizon should have been.
As the elasticated torture subsided, the ride left me and my ashen-faced colleague dangling like damaged conkers after a decisive blow, and almost as concussed.
Still shaking from the experience, I found my way to a 24ft climbing wall offering a speed challenge for those nimble enough to scale the summit.
This sounded like an excellent opportunity to further boost the adrenaline count, so I whipped on a safety harness and leapt to the task with Spiderman-like athleticism.
If I’m honest, the tiny finger-tip grips were barely capable of supporting a body filled with a few too many show-time donuts. And yet I managed the climb in what I felt was a respectable 27.6 seconds, compared to the best adult time of the day clocked at 17.2 seconds.
Mark Jolly, of Great Yarmouth-based firm Leisure Climbing, told me: “Last year, a 15-year-old did it in 5.4 seconds.”
And then, sensing my wilting pride in my own meagre achievement, he sensitively added: “It is harder for the adults, because they have more weight.
“The kids just fly up there.”