Some lovely friends donated us two free tickets to Altitude, the high ropes course in Sheffield, over the summer. Brilliant, I thought, I can sit and drink coffee while the kids do the monkey thing. Then I realised that expecting my nine year old to do the course on her own might be a bit unfair, so in the spirit of summer holiday ‘all in’ parenting I bought myself a ticket.
On arrival I realised a few things:
- It’s really high
- It’s really long
- I may have made a mistake.
I also remembered that while in theory I’m not afraid of heights I haven’t actually been in a situation to know whether I am or not in quite some time. Turned out it’s not heights I’m so much scared of as being high up in the air and walking along bits of rope.
We got harnessed up and I was really quite frightened, but as a mum you have to pretend you aren’t frightened of things in front of your children so I took a deep breath. This illusion of confidence was to show the little one that there was no need to be scared and to show the older one that I’m not as totally decrepit as she actually thinks I am.
The instructor asked who was confident and my eldest daughter’s hand shot up. P and I stayed firmly at the back while T shot off around the course at (thankfully not literally) break neck speed. She finished it in around 25 minutes, as we were only rounding the first corner.
I’d like to say the rest of it is a bit of a blur but that would suggest that it went quickly and that I can’t remember it in detail. In fact it was very very long and each section is painfully etched into my brain. We were so slow the next group were starting before we’d even reached the end.
Some of the sections were ok but there were some shockers. P wasn’t keen on crossing a single rope bridge with obstacles hanging in front of her. I in particular hated crossing a single rope bridge while holding onto a single rope above it. It was ok for the girls – they weigh rather a lot less than me. For me it swung wildly and I thought I was doomed to fall off in a embarrassing and terrifying fashion. My tennis elbow thankfully held up but graceful I was not.
To top things off the next group to start the course included two of T’s school friends and one of their mums. Not only was I embarrassing myself in front of strangers but now also in front of people who actually knew me.
We made it to the last section and as if things weren’t bad enough the wind picked up and it began to pour with rain. It was at this point I decided that extreme sports are not for me.
The final descent is a fast one where you step off a platform ridiculously high in the air. T and P glided down. I hit the ground with an amusing thump flat on my back, relieved I had made it round without crying.There were a few tears and lots of supportive comments about how we could do it being shouted between the three of us.
Later? We ate chips and watching people ice skating. Much later? P and I decided that despite all the evidence to the contrary it had been really brilliant. we talked about it to everyone who would listen and I felt more of a sense of achievement than I’ve felt in a long long time. I was proud of my girls for supporting each other as we went round. I mean yes T was videoing me at some points but not when I looked totally petrified.
I’ll be honest I won’t be doing it again, but the rush was worth it.