Phil's Winter Break !

It's been a long time dear reader since I put pen to paper but The Vultures' winter break deserves a few words from the Bard of Swindon.  
Whenever The Vultures get together the reason is usually Partay and the results are usually messy, bizarre and just straightforward lunacy.  Glad to report we didn't disappoint on any front! The whole idea of the weekend was to have a break and celebrate the winter birthday boys and having never been to Centre Parcs before, I was as excited as a 62 year old kid could be.

As soon as we found our chalet in the middle of a forest surrounded by all forms of wildlife we were pretty sure the accommodation would be fine, having said all forms of wildlife you have to realise that this is Longleat and just over the fence are some pretty extreme animals, so what could go wrong eh?   We soon found Rog and Chris and started what would be a 2 hour + lunch waited on by the lovely Ruth who refused to believe that the pussycats she was serving were bikers. Lunch over we had a little explore and this is where the bizarre comes in. Now I don't know about you but the words 'outdoor' 'swimming' and '-2 degrees' don't usually go together, but before our eyes there were crowds of people swimming and hurtling down this tropical paradise's rapids.  They all seemed quite normal and, given that this was one of the delights we were going to sample on Saturday, I couldn't quite work out which parallel universe I was inhabiting.  
The rest of the day was spent mooching and we ended up in a bar waiting for our restaurant to prepare the other diners for the entrance of The Vultures.  The waitresses had probably met people like us before but I'm not sure they ever encountered a Simon. Still they took it all in good heart even though the 'messy' part came into play it was a great, rowdy, burger filled evening.   
So far, so good, but now Saturday is upon us and, given what we witnessed before, I can't believe we were packing our towels and trunks and preparing for our descent down the icy rapids.  I say packing our towels, packing a set of skis and ice skates would have been more appropriate but who am I to be odd one out.  We arrived there, all firing nervous jokes at each other but the bottle was beginning to go if I'm honest.  This is after Phil the previous day took the plunge, well, a slight exaggeration, dipped his toe (more of which later) and ran back to the changing rooms.  Hey ho, in for a penny and in we went. 
The first part is indoors and the water was pleasantly warm, lulling me into a false sense of security I thought.  So, out we go and the pool has steam rising from it like a giant sauna and its like swimming in your bath - excellent. Now down to the business of the day, over the little wall we go and down we go, and I have to report it's the second best thing I've done with my clothes off!  So much so, we went round and round again.  Hurtling down a rapid with loads of strangers, I kid you not, girls in bikinis in -2, there was certainly somewhere to hang your coat at the end of the run.  
A very slight downer on the whole day was Phil, who had managed to psych himself up to go down the rapids only to break a toe in the process.  This really is a new high/low for The Vultures, broken bikes, broken tents and the odd broken marriage but a broken bone is aPiigyback first, unless you know different.  Heroic Mike took him to hospital amid rumblings of lawsuits but the only crime committed was the ballet shoe Phil appeared to be wearing when he came back from major surgery. 
If there's any compo going, Jen will be putting in a claim for a broken nail on the rapids, now that's serious injury!   Suitably knackered, bashed and bruised we headed off for lunch and to prepare for the main event, Partyyyyyy!  When we arrived, it seemed to be in full swing, but the fun was just about to begin.  Bearing in mind dear reader that we are hard, roughty toughly bikers, we descended into a game of 'pass the parcel' which on the outside looked harmless enough but I certainly don't remember when I was an 8 year old having such exotic prizes. Did nipple daisies or KY jelly even exist in 1958, if it did, I was blissfully unaware.  Rog won a rather dashing shower cap and I still want to know what Chris was going to do with those latex gloves.  The best prize went to Keith who won a pair of headphones and we all suggested he listened to his music with them immediately.  Talking of music, Simon, I'm sorry to say, won't be the DJ again!  He must be the only person in this country to know the words to Bugsy Malone songs and frankly, the only one who cares!  I used the word descended a few sentences ago, well this is where it should be. The night was brightened up by Bob and Keith creaming up.  For those of a nervous disposition, look away now because you really don't want an image of a cream goatee and a creamed bald head.  Blond doesn't suit either of them.  Julie made the mistake of getting out some rubber sucker guns and the only surprise is that we all left with the same amount of eyes that we arrived with.
Phil made his entrance on crutches and was quite rightly the butt of all the jokes for the rest of the evening.  A great night and given the redesigning of the patio windows into some cream mural of Si's face, I'm amazed that next morning the place was back to it's pristine self.   Sunday was goodbye for some but we decided to stay for another round of torture down the rapids and some serious chillin'. Bob and Julie came round to ours and we put the world to rights over some sausages and baked potatoes.  

So, as usual, what have we learnt:-  
It is possible to avoid hypothermia by swimming outside.
Simon can cohabit with wildlife and not shoot anything that moves.
John throws a mean snowball, as the people in the back of our bus can testify!
The Vultures know how to party!  

Thanks to Bob & Julie for the organising, food etc, thanks to everyone for the best of days - Tel n' Jen.