7th August 1999
We got a fairly early night’s sleep and managed to get a good rest for the following day’s events. After we’d sorted ourselves out, we made our way over to Bounce for the morning’s ERS only to find Paddy and Peter had come to bring us bad news. All the electricity in a several mile radius of the park had been cut off’ leaving us ERS-less. But all was not lost! The park has a generator that runs the children’s area’ so Paddy opened the Kiddies fun house for us to “play” in. Where do I start? This turned into a riot! There were padded toys flying everywhere! The staff were not amused. After an hour of mayhem we made our way back to the tent to sort out the bits and bobs ready for the meal. Oakwood put on an excellent buffet, with more than enough food to go around. Liz arranged a collection for the evening’s BBQ, and as loads of people had bought extra drinks and food and were willing to share it, there was more than enough for everyone.
Free time in the park followed until 22:30, when it was time for our ERS. First off, Bounce, the Huss Shot ‘n’ Drop tower. It’s a great fun ride, but not anywhere near as powerful as the S&S versions. Everyone enjoyed themselves and with Paddy on the controls we enjoyed numerous “E-Stops” at the top of the tower. At 23:30 it was off to Megafobia.
Towards the end of the session, Paddy announced that if he got at least two naked riders he’d extend the ERS. On this announcement, seven blokes stripped off on the station platform and boarded the train. Everyone was speechless; we couldn’t believe they’d done it. Paddy had another one up his sleeve. As the train rolled out of the station, Paddy hit the E-stop to give the girls a good view of the blokes. They had a train to themselves for a few rides, and most of them seemed happy riding in the buff.
I wasn’t one of those who were brave enough to camp out in the Welsh countryside, on what must have been one of the wettest nights last summer. I only live about an hour’s drive from the park, so I slept in my nice warm bed instead. I still had a great time and a day of “firsts”: first time in the kiddies fun house; first time on a Skycoaster (having never plucked up courage – or the cash – before) which is something I hope to repeat at every opportunity; first time in the Crystal Maze and quite a few others as the day drew on.
The highlight (for me) had to be the midnight riding on ‘Fobia – even though I kept my clothes on! – and of course the wonderful hospitality of the McNamara’s. Staying in the park late to run ‘Fobia for us after the morning’s disruptions was definitely “beyond the call of duty” – and much appreciated.
Liz, Mick and Crystal Fryer-Kelsey
It took us nine hours to drive to Oakwood. Though tired, we nonetheless headed into the park as soon as our tents were pitched. Crystal liked the Bounce and Mick loved Megafobia. After the evening fireworks we headed back to camp, in the rain. It had been raining heavily and our tents were quite wet, inside and out! Some campers were partying late into the night.
James set off a huge firework at 07:00 to wake those still sleeping – and it worked. We had woken up early and said “Never again,” having spent the night in cold wet conditions. However, by the time we had shared a brew-up with Rob and walked to the Bounce for the ERS, the night didn’t seem quite so bad and the sun was shining. (Ed: the rain stopped at around midnight, and The Kelsey’s tents were the only ones with leaks!)
After the day’s riding, it was back to base camp for more partying by some people and a windy night in the tents. We made a resolution that for future camping we’ll have a bigger tent and softer mattresses. Although we had never camped before as a family, we had a great time even despite the rain and the wind.
Sunday dawned fairly bright, so we packed our tents and went back into the park for a couple of hours’ riding before the long drive home. Mick headed for Megafobia and Crystal for the Bounce. (Mick and Crystal enjoyed the Bounce so much that when we went to BPB the following week they didn’t bother to join the long queue for the Playstation!)
Before the first camping trip to Oakwood, a few of us had done a private trip to the park where we camped on Paddy McNamara’s farm. It was a great weekend, and I knew we had to open this up to the entire Club. Paddy wasn’t that keen on having everyone down on his farm, so he suggested we use a field at the park instead. The rest is history.
The “Oakwood Overnighter” has become one of our most popular trips, and definitely one of the most enjoyable. It has also grown considerably over the years, as you can see from the more recent Oakwood trips.
With the park being such a long way from most people, just visiting it in one day seemed like an awful waste of energy. Staying within the park seemed to be the obvious solution to this. Some of those attending still don’t camp, which is fine, but more do each year, including those who didn’t early on.
For many years this trip was organised by Liz Hall and myself. Due to personal commitments, Liz now takes more of a back seat.
This trip was also the start of “naked riding,” something started by an amazing event reported on in issue 32 of First Drop.