The Bear Gryll’s Adventure at the NEC – Diving with Sharks

Last year, the Bear Grylls Adventure opened at the NEC. It offers a range of activities such as iFly, diving, high ropes, maze and assault course. Its open to everyone but obviously aimed largely at youngsters.

Inside the attraction is a large aquarium tank with sharks, rays and a number of tropical fish. They offer an experience where you can dive inside this tank whether you are a qualified diver or not.

You book a date/time slot and buy your ticket online on their website and I quickly found the dive option which includes archery and an assault course for about £110.  I only wanted to do the dive so phoned them and asked if this was possible. They emailed a link to book the dive option only (not on their website) for about £85. They provide all equipment and training. I need quite a large wetsuit and checked they had a range of sizes. They said they had everything from extra small to 4XL. We booked and got a confirmation email within minutes.

It took us about an 1hour and 45 minutes to drive the 100 miles to the NEC which is located just off junction 6 on the M42 and is well sign posted. As you enter the NEC site, there were electronic signs directing you to a particular car park for the bear grylls experience. You go through a barrier, park and then it takes a couple of minutes to walk across the road from the car park, around a lake and up to attraction.

IMG_4479

 

As we walked through the door, there is a small reception area, where we were welcomed by an enthusiastic member of staff who then barked at me that I need to get my trainers ready. I replied I had none, she looked worried and then I confirmed I was only doing the dive activity. She looked relieved and directed us to another member of staff who took our details and gave us some instructions and a ticket.

We arrived quite early so decided to get snack and drink. They have a bar and restaurant inside the venue. Unfortunately on our visit, they had run our of snacks and only had a very limited menu whilst they were waiting for new supplies to arrive. We ordered some nachos. They were tasty, if a barely warm. One of the nachos turned up without chicken and the staff had to return them to the kitchen to add the chicken.

After this we had to wait for our time slot so made our way to the tank to look at the fish. There was a young staff member there who was very friendly and gave us information on the experience and the fish in the tank. You are given a wrist watch that vibrates when your activity is ready. Mine started to vibrate and I made my way upstairs to the dive area. After a few minutes we were met by Kate, the dive instructor. She gathered the six participants into a briefing room where we ran through some basic dive skills, safety and information on the activity. The whole areas is made to look like you are in a ship or submarine.

After the briefing we made our way to the changing room where we were each allocated a shower with a website and boots already laid out for us. Their wetsuits only go up to size XXL, not 4XL as I was told on the phone. We had to shower to remove any deodorants, makeup etc and donned our wetsuits and boots.

We were then led into a small training tank adjacent to the tropical fish tank. Here we spent about half an hour practising basic dive skills such as mask clear and using a regulator. Then one by one we were led down some steps an into the main tank. You do not use fins in the tank and instead walk at the bottom of the tank as the dive instructor and safety diver lead us through the tank and some underwater photo activities. We spent about 20 minutes under the water and it was a great experience to be amongst the sharks, rays and inquisitive fish.

At the end, we were led back up the steps, removed our gear and were given PADI discovery dive certificates. Katie and Rachel the dive instructors were very warm, friendly and supportive to guests who were nervous. One lad who could not even manage to put her head under water before this activity, managed to complete the dive with help from the staff.

As you exit the event, you pass through the gift shop where you also get a discount token for the car park.  On the way back to the car park, we passed the resort centre where there are some shops, bars and restaurant and stopped at Nandos which overlooks the lake. When we got back to the car park pay station, we had to pay £7 for about five and a half hours parking. Overall a fantastic experience and worth the £85.

 

 

Advertisements

ZX Spectrum Bare Metal

I recently came across this post and thought I would give this a try on one of my spare Raspberry Pi Zeros. A Sinclair ZX Spectrum bare metal emulator that opens almost instantly.

First I went to zxbaremulator and downloaded the images for different raspberry pi models.

spectrumemulator.png

To get this to work, the instruction suggesting copying the all files zip download onto a new formatted fat32 micro sd card or using an image supposed to work on pi 2 & 3’s.

I downloaded etcher.io and copied the relevant pi 2/3 image onto the micro sd card.

I signed up to a website called the oldcomputer.com where you can download back up

theoldcomputer.png

copies of any ROMS you own. You can download various tap and tzx files used by spectrums. As the instruction’s suggested, I copied these onto the root of the sd card and raspberry pi image. I then inserted into the pi and turned on. The pi booted straight into the spectrum emulator. I pressed F1 to select any game rom files but none were shown on the screen. I tried the raspberry pi 2,3  image and copied this onto the micro sd card and tried again but the pi zero would not boot. One final attempt, I tried downloading a Raspbian image. Then renamed the kernel7.img file to kernel7.img.old and copied the all files zip onto the micro sd card. Again no boot.

I suspected the image did not like my pi zero so I tried a new raspberry pi 3 b+. installed Raspbian onto the micro sd card, kernel7.img file to kernel7.img.old and copied the all files zip onto the micro sd card. Copied some tap and tzx files across and this work first time.

It took me a while to work out keyboard controls on a standard UK PC keyboard but this worked for me:

F1 to load the game selection screen. Choose your game and press select then Escape. This takes you back to the home screen. Then press J to type the LOAD command and then Control+P twice to insert the speech marks “”.

The game takes a short while to load and looks like its loading from a tape cassette. I tried chuckie egg for a test. Because i’m using a PC keyboard I tried to remap the maps in the game to the arrow buttons on my keyboard but this didn’t work. In the end I found that using QA,N,M and space worked well for me.

 

D,D,D,D,D,D,D,D,D,D

PHOTO-2019-06-03-17-20-12PHOTO-2019-06-03-17-20-23Sunday 2nd June, its time for the Tenacious D concert at the Wembley Arena. Last time these guys were in the UK, we missed it but this time Debbie got me a ticket as a present.

It was a bit busy in Wembley as there was a BTS concert at the same time at the Stadium.

Tenacious D were great. They did their Post apocalypto set, and old favourites.

IMG_4283IMG_4284IMG_4287

Silent Pool & Martha’s Hill Walk

We left home at 5.0o am this morning so that we could complete a walk and still get back to the Bank Holiday Taplow Car Boot Sale at 9.00 am.

We arrived at the Silent Hill car park around 5.50am and started climbing the first hill. After 200m, sadly, Debbie had to return to the car as her foot was hurting so I continued with the dog. This is a 6 mile circular route that starts and finishes in the same car park. I managed to get back at 8.00am.

IMG_4271IMG_4272IMG_4273IMG_4274IMG_4275IMG_4276IMG_4277