Monday, 14 December 2009

...empty promises

It was one of those empty promises you make, not ever expecting to have to follow through.

"OOOh, can we go on the big wheel?" she said, one day last summer. 'Sure' we said, driving past, thinking about what I was going to make for dinner, and now, fast-forward six months and they hadn't taken the blasted thing away, as I'd always hoped they would.

My wee folk had pestered us about it, on and off since the summer, each time, I had a reason ready, we were in a hurry, it was closed, it was too busy...

Last night we were down in Belfast at the Christmas Market, which I have to admit, is getting to be quite interesting, tho' not a patch on Salzburg, but that's a tale for another day.

And there it stood in all of it's floodlit spectacularity.

It was a monster I hoped I would never have to face. All of my favourite things rolled into one tiny swinging capsule. Suspended at height above unsuspecting onlookers.

If you're guessing I'm afraid of heights, you are right. You get extra points if you spotted the claustraphobia.

Add on the peril factor. Plus the multiplicative nature of my brain and all of a sudden I'm imagining that the structural engineer must surely be nuts if the thinks those bolts are going to hold my little family safely, 20 stories in the air. No way. I wonder did they check the structure today? That attendant looks a little tired, I wonder if he's the 'safety guy'?. How do they get you down if you have a heart attack. At this point we're in the queue.

My little, bigger, daughter, who really, REALLY wants to go on the 'wheel' wants to hold my hand! Oh dear. Back out now before it's too late. My Brother is with us. Not much phases him. I take comfort from that and reason with myself that thousands of folks have shuffled through here, had a 'go' on the wheel and safely shuffled off again, completely safe.

Wait a minute!!! Thousands of folks have shuffled through here, had a 'go' on the wheel and safely shuffled off again, completely safe. Oh no! surely it's 'due' a breakdown!!! think of all the wear and tear those thousands of folks have inflicted, why didn't we go last summer when it was still fairly new, in prime condition, instead of waiting for a damp, cold, night in the Belfast gloom.

A light went off in my face. A millisecond later I was glad i resisted the urge to throw myself bodily under the walkway ramp, when I realised it was just an attendant taking a photo of our 'big' moment as we boarded the swinging gondola.

The voice in the back of my head screamed GET OFF NOW. My five year old looked up and smiled, delighted at the thrill ahead.

The attendant closed the door.


I will spare you all the liquid details and move quickly to the point where I'm on my feet, in a swinging gondola, 50 feet in the air, gasping for breath, fist jammed into the emergency stop button! Thinking "NO! I DON"T WANT IT TO STOP! I WANT IT TO GO DOWN!"

Three little pairs of eyes agog, mouths open. DH shaking his head, eyes rolling up in amused incredulity. Brother actually rocking with mirth.

Littlest daughter was the first to speak. "Close your eyes mummy, and hold my hand."

I did as I was told, one finger still on the emergency button.

The attendant opened the doors, out I shot into the night like some crazed vampire escaping the dawning sun.

The ride went on without me. I regained enough composure to take some pics for your viewing pleasure but this morning I still feel quite ill. LOL. I have reached that stage in life where i now know my limits and I will never, voluntarily, cross them again!


  1. Poor Claire

    I know what you must have felt.
    My husband felt the same when we were in Sixflags.
    And this was only a small one.
    He was screaming to my sons and me to hold on and don't look done.
    He was under his coat with his eyes closed.
    We thought he was joking!
    The poor man was so scared!!
    I do hope you recover very soon!
    Poor you.

    Hugs Holly.

  2. Amen, sister !! I feel your pain. I haven't ridden on one of those demon machines since I was 10. It was a mini-wheel - no more than 10 feet high I'm sure - at a kid's carnival that came through town. Scared me senseless. I threatened to throw up and they stopped it immediately and booted me off. I'm guessing they had experience with little barfers. Never, never again. Be firm - just say no !! I support you !!

  3. I understand your panic and get a real sense of how you must have felt....but I love to ride those big tall things!! I'm the kinda gal that does the bridge climb...or climbs to the top of the Eiffel Tower....the view is spectacular!!

    But, I get how panicked you were and are....and hope you've managed to catch your breath and lose the queasiness now Claire.
    Hugs, Michey xxx

  4. I'm with you Claire! No closed in towering rides for me either!

    I remember going on one when I was 8 months pregnant and when we got to the top and it stopped to let people on at the bottom - it was shaking back and forth - and I thought what in the world am I doing this for?!?! (same visions of the screws working themselves out of the framing!) There's no shame in not going on a carnival ride!! LOL!!

  5. Awh Claire - how I feel for you. They have one of those dratted things in Swansea and although I have been brave and asked if my little one wants to go on, to my relief he has said no every year.

    Hope you are recovered and big hugs to you for even attempting the infernal wheel.

    Emma xx

  6. Claire I always knew we were kindered spirits! I too am terrified of Ferris Wheels. Give me a rollercoaster any day of the week! I wont get on the wheels anymore... after a very similar experience with the huge one at Disney California. On the last trip the little ones went up with Daddy.

  7. Oh, Claire, I do feel your pain. I've had my share of horror stories connected to so-called fun rides, and I get the shivers if I even drive by a place where I can see them.

    Plenty of people who can get on those rides with a big smile on their face, and have it intact when the ride is over, would never be brave enough to start their own business and send it out into the world to take flight. Bravery comes in many forms.

  8. I'm right there on the ground with you, Claire, though I could never relate my previous experiences in such hilarious detail as you have here -- thank you for sharing this story today. It went well with my morning coffee! I usually was able to "fake" my way through & lived to get off, but the worst was the Palm Springs Tramway in Palm Springs, CA, where you get climb into a glass-enclosed gondola suspened on a cable & it takes you up the side of the mountain (swinging all the way)!!! My slightly large MIL passed out near the top but we were so jam packed in it that she couldn't really fall. A kind gentleman behind her & my hubby held her up! The operator jokingly scolded her, "Don't you ever do that again" because it scared him profusely! I'm not really sure how else he thought she was going to get down the mountain, but thankfully our return to solid ground was uneventful! Trust me, the view of the rugged snow-covered mountain terrain is "lovely" through the huge glass "Christmas ornament" dangling from a cable! We took friends 2-3 times & I "never" enjoyed it once!!! LOL!!!

  9. Yay, you are in one piece though. I do not do fair rides with the oldest! Funny story though and beautiful pictures.

  10. Claire, you are much braver than I am, even to get on one of the dreaded rides! Definite panic attack fuel!
    I am always amazed at the number of people who wait in a long line to get on a ride and then get back in line to do it again! But loved your charming story. My DH even read it! You have such a wonderful way with words and your photos are fabulous! Rest up and have a good week!

  11. when I was 12, I hopped across the suspended bridge in Vancouver, BC. I figured, years later, that the Ferris Wheel would be a mild yawn. By the time we got to the top, I was white knuckled and trembling! I was fully aware of my hopping at 12, yet terrified 20 yrs later- what happened?! To this day, I have avoided those big wheels! I do plan to conquer my fear one day, just not today - chuckle.
    Oh, and I agree with Lola :-D

  12. LOL it was so worth you trying and so worth it for reading your account - thanks for sharing and good on you for giving it a go!

  13. You are much braver than I - I don't think I could have even set foot on it. Hope you've recovered ok! I loved the photos, too!

  14. I'm not a fan of the giant Ferris Wheel either! Yuck!! Glad you made it down and off the ride in one piece though. Thanks for the spectacular photos and great story Claire!

  15. Ohhhh I am so right there with you on this....not one of my favorites. And I honestly can't remember the last time I was on a Ferris wheel...Which is probably a good thing.

    Is that the Opera House in Belfast?

  16. Your feet are on the ground! Don't ever say 'yes', 'maybe', 'we'll see', 'I'll think about it' to your wee ones if that subject ever comes up again. Just say no, not me, no sireeeeee!!!
    Funny how all the commenters referred to their own fears of 'big wheels' high in the sky or ten feet high.
    the pics are awesome.

  17. Claire, so sorry to hear about your nightmare trip on the Belfast Eye, but thanks for the lovely Christmas trip "home". I take it you're not up for Carrick-a-Rede in the near future, then?

  18. Gorgeous pictures, Claire.

    I nearly got sick thinking about being on that ride with you. I went on a ferris wheel once, with the emphasis on "once." And I begged the man to let me off over and over again each time we spun by, and he just kept looking at me like I was nuts or he didn't hear me. It was a nightmare! Perhaps he was evil. All I know is I will never do that again. I don't have claustrophobia, but heights scare me and I get very motion sick. Ugh. I just hope your brother had the good sense not to rock the pod!


  19. What a dreadful experience! I remember when as a little girl I joyfully persuaded my Mum to take me on the big wheel.
    Bearing in mind that she put her fear firmly behind her for the sake of my enjoyment, I also remember her hanging on to the terrified little girl trying to hop off when the wheel stopped to let other passengers on and off! If I was terrified, I wonder how she must have felt having allowed herself to be persuaded in the first place - considering that she's always been scared of heights?! We do great things for our children, don't we?

  20. OMGosh, Claire - I totally know your panic! Thanks for the hilariously written post - you totally made me smile!

    I am similarly afraid of heights, combined with a touch of claustrophobia. One time we were at this huge waterpark and DH wanted to ride the scariest waterslide I've ever seen. We waited in line for 1.5 hours, the last 45 minutes of which were on these rickety wooden stairs getting to the top of the slide. By the time we got to the top, I was dizzy and just about ready to faint with sheer panic. I just HAD to get off - except there wasn't an exit. The only way down was down the slide! ACK! I still feel sick just thinking about it, and that was several years ago!

    I've also been on a carnival ride where I got horribly claustrophobic while the ride was going, and I don't know how the ride engineer knew (I must have looked positively crazed because there weren't any panic buttons to press!), but the ride was immediately stopped
    and the attendant was right there to escort me off the ride in no time flat. To this day, I'm so grateful that engineer was paying attention! LOL

  21. While I empathize with your horror, Claire, I marvel at your writing ability and think you should consider writing a book. You have a wonderful way with words and such a poignant love for your family that comes shining through in the turn of a phrase. I look forward to ordering my autographed copy of Claire's Waltzingmouse Musings one day...

  22. What a thoroughly entertaining post- I felt every bit of your pain! Ditto the person who said you should take up writing- and stay off those things!

  23. Love your made me laugh! I'm sure it wasn't so funny at the time, but the memory of it might be.:)
    Love your photos, they are stunning!

  24. Not only are you talented with your art, you are one heck of a writer! I LOVED reading every word of this tale and chuckled through it. Love your writing style and hug that little sweetie for say "close your eyes and hold my hand". What a sweet heart! Thanks for sharing this story and the pictures. The ride looks awesome! Best, Curt

  25. I didn't actually get into the pod that would have taken me up into the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. The doors opened, I saw how crowded it looked w/2 people in a space they thought fit 5. I handed my camera to my husband & said "I'm not getting in there."
    Got my money back for my ticket.

  26. I really do feel for you Claire. Been there, done that and ruined the teeshirt! To make things worse (if that could be possible), I've found the older I get the more fearful I become. And on that happy note, I'll wish you and yours a truly Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2010.

    Marion, UK

  27. Oh Claire! I, too, understand! I'm so thankful that you survived, and were able to tell us all about it (a cleansing act, I hope) and the other photos (on the ground!) are just delightful!



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