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In A Zorb, No one Can Hear You Scream

August 4, 2013

Somewhere in Northern Ireland, probably in a small office with an orange plastic chair, a water cooler where the water bottle ran out last March and a constantly boiling kettle (they do like their cups of tea) is someone I admire greatly.  Someone with optimism and vision and the ability to really see the absolute best in what they have.  However, they may have the slight tendency to indulge in a spot of hyperbole.  Harsh?  I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Below is a picture of Port Stewart Crescent:


On the Discover Northern Ireland website it is described as having  “recently been refurbished in a style similar to that of the Epcott Centre in Florida”.

Let’s just check that…


Yep, they’re right – the similarity is almost uncanny.

That said, Port Stewart Crescent is worth a trip in its own right (if you’re already in the area). It is a very genteel pleasure beach.  It has a sandy bit for digging in and a watery bit with a turtle in the middle for climbing on and a climbing frame shaped like a boat on which you can pretend to be a pirate if you’re 3 or the father of a 3 year old.

In the summer, however, things get a bit more racy.  There are spinning tea cups for the adrenalin junkies,


It’s what I want to be when I grow up

and 2 bouncy castles and, to complete the joy, zorbs.  These are large plastic balls that people get zipped into, air pumped in and then the whole thing pushed onto the water.  For about ten minutes.  Which seems to be around 9 minutes and 30 seconds longer than is fun.  (You can see them in the first photo above – they’re the green and red things on the lake in the middle.)

I think the idea is to stay upright for as long as possible.  It didn’t work for one particular chap we saw.  He was a cocky teenager with very sweet looking parents and had decided that zorbing was his thing.  Full of brio and flair, he was duly zipped in, rolled onto the water, and was left to his own devices.  He started to run.  He fell over.  He got up and ran again.  He fell over.  He lay there for a little while (he didn’t look very fit).  He clambered up.  He immediately fell over.  He lay there for a bit longer, bobbing gently on the water.   He started to look a bit sick.  He got up again, managed a run of, oh, 3 seconds.  He fell over.

He lay there for even longer.  By this time he was very pale.  He was sweating profusely and seemed a little bit annoyed. He kept smacking the side of the zorb which had the sole result of making him bob up and down even faster.  After a little while he summoned up what I can only believe were his final reserves of strength and sinew and, staggering to his feet, drove his little hamster wheel towards his parents.  Getting as close as he possibly could he threw himself with full force against the side of the ball and screamed through the plastic “GET ME OUT OF HERE”.

His parents didn’t move.  They smiled and nodded and watched him slump into a sickly little pool at the bottom of ball, bobbing softly until his time was up.

Maybe they didn’t hear. The sound was muffled, and they did look elderly.  I’d like to think, however, that this was revenge.  That they’d had enough of his grumps, grunts and teenage huffs.  They’d put up with long nights waiting to see if he’d come home within his curfew, worried themselves sick when he was late with no apologies or explanations in the morning and had to endure their lily of the valley air fresheners losing the battle with eau de boy’s trainer.  That those couple of minutes were, for them, a dose of delicious Schadenfreude that was just too exquisite to resist.

I’d like to think that.  So I will.

  1. Len permalink

    Where were zorbs when we had teenagers?!! Great blog. H & H


  2. Was Living Down Under permalink

    They had those in Sydney and my then five year old wanted to try it. I managed to convince her to try the trampoline bungy thing instead. I just had visions of her getting into the ball and wanting out immediately. And at $10 for 5 minutes I figured I’d hedge my bets and spend my money elsewhere!

    Sounds like a lovely holiday!


  3. Ah, but you’ve taught me a new word. I’ve seen those things, but I didn’t know what they were called.


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