This isn’t on my list, but is the kind of thing that could have been if I had thought of it earlier. A friend is celebrating her 40th birthday this year and instead of a big one-off celebration she decided to have 40 ‘events’ with 40 different friends or groups of friends. My event was zorbing.

I drove down to Nottingham last night to stay with her. This morning we headed to the outskirts of Loughborough for our, courtesy of Groupon, bargain zorbing experience. I’d deliberately not googled it beforehand as I didn’t want to freak myself out. I was fine until we got there and saw the large balls bouncing down a very steep hill. Yes, bouncing. I was expecting rolling.

At the top of the hill we joined a queue and watched the people ahead of us squeeze through a very tiny hole to get into the balls. First panic, how am ever going to get through that hole? It actually wasn’t as bad as it looked, albeit it was very undignified. Second panic, how securely am I going to be strapped in? The guy doing the strapping was very reassuring and made sure everything was tight and secure. Then he strapped Al in opposite me.

See that tiny hole on the side? That’s what we had to crawl through.

We were getting all psyched up and ready to go when another guy popped his head in through the hole and said there was a problem with the harness and it would have to be changed. As we unstrapped, Al moved her (shoeless) foot and somehow managed to burst the ball. As the ball deflated we had to quickly ooze ourselves back out through the tiny hole. Third panic, is it possible to suffocate inside one of these overgrown pieces of plastic?

We were given another ball and started the strapping in procedure again. This time everything was ok and the barrier holding the ball in place was lifted. We were off. A nice slow start. But it quickly picked up speed. I was going backwards which was actually the better position as I was always feet first, whereas Al was head first. Each time the ball rolled our bodies to the bottom, the ball bounced and it hurt. I hadn’t expected that. It doesn’t hurt when you bounce on a trampoline, so why inside the ball? We also hadn’t expected the heat. Daft really, as we were inside a type of greenhouse, but we just hadn’t thought about it. Even before we set off we were already hot and sweaty.

Rolling down the hill seemed to take much longer than walking up had done. Once at the bottom we squeezed ourselves out again and decided not to have a second go. Al had pulled her shoulder and so it wouldn’t have been a good idea. I was glad I’d done it, but I think once is enough. I don’t think I’ll be in a rush to do it again.

After leaving the zorbing place we drove into Loughborough and sat in a lovely coffee shop for a while recovering. Then we had a wander round before going for a late lunch in a wonderful Turkish restaurant. All in all a good day.

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