It's been an incredibly long time since I've posted. I know. I've been slack. More to the point, I've been sick. In one terrific way or another, just plain sick. Medical scares, colds that last for 8 weeks and throw in a bit of allergies and I'd suggest you buy stock in pharmaceuticals or at the very least, tissue product producers. Wow, but I digress.
During this great time of plague and sickness, we have managed a few trips. Mostly we are saving up for the familial blow-out this summer. I have been tons of wonderful places and as our time here comes, slowly, to a close, we're plotting out our bucket list of places we need to go before we leave the UK.
I've been waiting to go on an adventure worthy of recording for posterity. Here in the realm of endless possibility, where could we go where the Bean would lose his mind? Where could we possibly take him to surpass the DAF museum? LegoLand? Centre Parcs?
The answer my friends.....Diggerland. Yes, if you know anything about the Bean, you know this was a dream come true. My nightmare involved visions of a shady kind of place where you pay some creepy grandpa to let your child sit on his lap and operate the machinery, surrounded by carnie-type folks in neck tattoos and too little clothing, in some farmer's back 40. Two out of three isn't bad. We were surrounded by carnie-looking people with neck tattoos and questionable clothing, but they paid their admission, too.
We drove two or so hours to Kent. Emphasis on the 'or so' bit.
When I talk to my Brit mates about car travel, I hear a groan and then they lament about two whole hours in the car to get somewhere. This seems absurd to us USA folk who, if we want to see the beach badly enough, will jump into our auto and drive 17 hours to the shore. Piece of cake. We have interstates. Long, beautiful, stretches of interstate. When you ask Google for driving directions it politely offers a reasonable time you should expect to be in the car to reach your destination. So if Google USA says it will take 3 hours to get from point A to point B, depending on the driver's lead foot, you will arrive at your destination in roughly 3 hours as expected. Not here. Google will tell you the journey from your front drive to Diggerland in Kent should take two hours. The reality is, given the 735 roundabouts (some in shapes as mystifying as crop circles) and 14 little High Streets winding you through villages made for horse and carriage passage, you should arrive at your destination between two to four hours. Plan your fluids.
Diggerland. Ah, not really knowing exactly what to expect we planned ahead. Changes of clothing for Bean, an old towel, some markers and paper and a tablet, rain coats, hats, water, first aid kit, and three days food and water.
Behold! The glory of GGERLAND!!! Oops, I mean DIGGERLAND!
|You had one job....|
We'd knew what to sort of expect, but wow. This place is pretty freakin' awesome! We ordered our tickets online to avoid the massive wait, only to find a single family ahead of us. Very promising, very promising indeed. We never had more than a five minute wait.
Yes, that is my 7 (soon to be 8) year old operating the machine by himself. Yes, that would be a full-sized JCB excavator. Yes, I know who's going to dig the footers and swimming pool for the new house. Anyone need a hole dug or trench trenched? I've got your Bean.
I have to admit, he was a natural. He operated those machines like a boss. He also drove bobcats, skid steers and wheeled-dumpers. The only time we got to help out was when he couldn't reach the gas pedal or was vertically restricted.
I was really surprised when I noticed the park was mostly operated by teenage......girls. There were a few surly lads, but, for the most part, the ladies ran the show. Yep. The were driving or instructing. The other thing that made me happy was the number of girls there with their Dads, and ladies of all ages, jumping in those machines and moving earth. Sisters are doing it for themselves! It made my little feminist heart proud.
Here's the vid of him as he learned on the mini excavator.
Yea. That's pretty badass.
Then we moved on to the mid-sized excavator.
He cuts a pretty good swath with a bucket. I was amazed at the level of skill he acquired in such a short amount of time.
We had lunch at the little onsite cafe. Pretty tasty and not exceptionally overpriced. I was just a bit saddened when I learned about their strict separation of picnickers (hiss!) and cafe patrons.
As all good things must come to an end, we passed through the obligatory gift shop as we left. It is the only time we left without a toy. This was simply because he already had one of whatever they had to offer. Not sure if I should be happy or quietly sad at this fact, but I will think of it as an investment in his future since he's demonstrated already that he has some skills to pay the bills.
I don't think it's an option if we go back - it's a when we go back. It certainly was fun. Here's a sad little concrete deer.
|Couldn't you get a smaller one?|
The castle is from the 12th century and pretty treacherous to climb. Let's just say it would take some mad skills to drink mead all day/night and then navigate the narrow and steep stairwells around the tower. We climbed all 240 plus stairs and were rewarded with awesome views. The maintained areas were still a bit treacherous and my getaway-sticks were a bit wobbly when we reached the gift shop.
We did not stroll through either the Guildhall Museum or the Huguenot Museum, but we felt pretty good hitting two attractions in a single day!
Rochester Cathedral is right below the castle and is absolutely stunning, either viewed from the Castle Tower or up-close!
We managed to find ourselves at home by early evening. Next time I'll bring the right charger for the GoPro and I can post more vids.We've recently discovered how to edit our thousands of videos, so get ready for Bean's YouTube channel. Heh heh heh.
|Vincent Frankenstein feels at home.|
I am also very happy to report that we made it home from Kent in two hours -just an half and hour longer than Google Maps predicted. A happy day indeed.