by Lee Gillett
So it's Good Friday morning, and you wish you had booked that weekend away after all! Quite fancied a log cabin in Thetford forest (www.centreparks.co.uk), but it being Easter, they are all pre-booked by weekend woodsmen keen to sharpen up their Archery skills - or should that be their golf skills? Either way, there is no room in the forest for this merry man!
So what does a good net-user do when there is no time to lose and you need to actually do something? Use the net of course! - test the hype perhaps? OK let's try it - www.lastminute.com - by golly is does actually work! I scored a night in one of London's poshest hotels, The Grosvenor House on Park Lane no less, including a family ticket to the Dome (normally costing around £57 in itself) for the all in price of £179 ! Saddle up the horses Mable - we are on our way!
"The Horses" actually turned out to be good old Railtrack - seemd a much better idea that trying to hit the centre of Londinium in the old gas guzzler - and much less stressfull to. And so it proved to be, with travel time to Kings Cross a mere 66 mins and the Hotel being only a short taxi ride from there. I think we sometimes forget how well placed Ely is for rail travel, with trains to London running once an hour.
Ye Grosvenor was actually a bit of a disappointment for a few reasons you wouldn't expect, and for a few you would. I mean you would not expect lamps not to work, shower fittings to be incomplete, and a total lack of tea and coffee making facilities in your room - whereas you perhaps would expect a half pint of beer to cost £4.50 and a small jar of jelly beans to cost £8.50! (that's a "fistful of dollars" for our American readers). Still, the staff are very polite, and would just love to serve you a full a English Breakfast in the morning at only £20 per head. We decided on Mark and Sparks bread rolls with jam instead, at 80p per head.
Dome From Home
OK - so I am aware of all the negative criticism of the Dome, and I have heard the quote that "Britain is spending more on its millennium celebrations than the rest of the world put together", and I say - "Good For Us!" - for the Dome is excellent, and is well worth a visit by everyone. And as it is only open in this form for one year, then furthermore, you simply need to go to see it. No question.... You have probably read or heard about how there are many different "zones" around the "central arena" area of the Dome, and each has a different theme. All manage to be both thought-provoking and also fun at the same time, which lends for a satisfactory experience for both kids and their parents. Yes we saw the grut old pumping heart in the Body Zone, and knocked a few penalties past the virtual goalie in the Play Zone - hell, we even stood with crooked necks for a minute inside the "all shut-up, think of nothing and stare at this bright spot on the ceiling" zone, but we still did not have enough time to visit every zone! That's not because we arrived late, or because of the queues or anything - that's because the show is that large! You do need a long day to see it all especially considering that you also simply must see 1) The Millennium Show in the Central Arena and 2) Blackadder "Back and Forth" in the "Skyscape" Cinema.
The Show Of The Millenium - The Millennium Show happens twice a day, every day, and you are given special tickets for the show you must attend at either 12 or 3pm - with an excellent soundtrack by Peter Gabriel and a cast of thousands, this show is almost beyond description - perhaps "an extraordinary spectacle of music, dance and aerial performance that utilises the whole of the Dome space, complete with fireworks, pulleys, cables, lights and lots of other stuff" serves to convey a flavour, but really, the following simple sentence says a lot more. Go and see it.
Blackadder - "Back and Forth"
This specially commissioned short film (35mins) can only be seen at The Skyscape Theatre at the Dome for this year, so if like me you love this silly stuff, then you need to get down there. Our hero is to be found with his trusty sidekick Baldrick travelling time to various periods, and includes appearances by old regulars Fry and Lawrie, Amanda Richardson, Rick Mayall as well as Kate Moss, and is a damn good laugh! Woof Woof!
That French Bloke (not Napoleon - who features in Blackadder)
To sum up in one short sentence: The Dome - much maligned - but never bettered. Even though it is now taking a Frenchman to point that out to us! No, not me - the new man in charge of promoting the Dome is French. Why is it that we English do not seem to appreciate ourselves and our achievements, and instead prefer to negatively criticise? Maybe Baldrick is more suited to answer that one - and you can see him at the Dome of course!
Have you been to the Dome? If so tell us what you think - or just give us your views about the Dome and we will add your impressions to this page - e-mail email@example.com
We asked for your views about the Dome - and present a section below:
"Yes I agree. The dome is excellent. I went on Jan the second and
then X-CEL FM did a live broadcast back to the fens from the entrance.
I will return again soon I hope as I still have not managed to get all
the way round. It really is a celebration of design in my view and I
was saddened to see many people expecting it to be some kind of Fun
fair as opposed to a Brain expanding experience. I found the staff to
be helpful, the food resonable, the show outstanding and twice as good
the second time around. I felt there should have been a voice over with
it though. It's very tiring taking everything in, hence I feel a couple
of visits should do it. I went by coach and then cruised up the river
with city cruises, a peaceful way to approach. I look forward to reading
other views." Sue Marchant X-CEL FM