Go Karting with Teamsport

I’m a little bit embarrassed about the number of hours I’ve clocked on Mario Kart.  There’s nothing more satisfying than whizzing past my brother while he skids off the road on a banana peel, or slamming Sunny with a perfectly timed green shell (…and nothing quite as frustrating as when I get bumped right on the finish line when they both enact their revenge).  We  all love it, and we’re pretty good at it.  I mean, okay, we still career off the edge on Rainbow Road (damn it!), but sometimes – and especially around Christmas time – we’ve played it for so long that we end up seeing red shells in our sleep.

With that in mind, for Sunny’s birthday this year I booked us in to give the real deal a go (…minus the red shells) at Teamsport’s Go-Karting track on Newport Road.  On Sunday nights they offer Unlimited Karting – 50 minutes of track time split into five, ten minute sessions.  So around the same time that the Brazillian Grand Prix was struggling with crashes and restarts, we were taking to the track ourselves.

All those hours spent on Mario Kart counted for nothing (…who could have guessed?).  It was tough!  In our group there were guys who came down to race every week and so our first round on the track was a punishing one.  Sunny got black flagged and pulled into the pits (for breaking the rules…), and I was more Maureen than Massa.  We got overtaken a lot.  We sucked.  We came last.  Well… I came last.  Not only that, but my hands were hurting from gripping the steering wheel so hard.

But by the third lap we got into it.  We stopped using the break as much and flew into the corners (…Literally, in my case.  Twice.  Ouch.) – screeching and skidding around each bend.  Our times got a little better.  We didn’t come last.  By the final round I actually managed to beat Sunny and clock my fastest time (which was still four seconds behind the leader, but still…!).  🙂

…I also clocked my slowest time in that round because I went spinning around one corner, slammed into the barrier and got stuck…  😦

Go Karting is even more fun than it looks, and also a lot harder and more physical than it looks – we were both surprised how much we were aching by the time we got home.  But we’ve already decided to go back and try and beat our times.  Also, apparently at the Bristol branch they do a Mario Kart themed night for members – which sounds amazing! 🙂

*Escape Reality

I completely forgot what Cardiff is like on a Saturday night.  To be fair, I think the last time I went “out” in Cardiff you could still drive down St Mary’s Street and Oceana was still around.  Ho yes, it’s been a while.  But this time, instead of the whole drinks, drunk-dancing, dirty burger routine we opted for something a little bit different.  We dodged the crowds ducking down Caroline Street and decided to Escape Reality instead.

I’d heard of the whole escape room thing before – in fact they’re so popular that there are now four different companies in Cardiff alone – but I’d never tried it.  (If you’re new to the concept the idea is to team up with up to 5 other friends, family or coworkers, get locked in a room and then work together to solve a series of themed clues in order to “escape”)  So when Escape Reality got in touch and asked if I’d like to give it a try, I said “yes please!” and dragged my brother, his girlfriend and the hubs along for an early Halloween night out. 🙂

Tucked away on St John Street (opposite Burger King and Owain Glyndwr) you’d walk straight past the entrance if you didn’t know it was there.  A sign beside a door leading to a dark staircase is the only hint at what lurks upstairs.  We walked through that door clueless as to what to expect – especially as none of us had ever tried an escape game before – and the reception and bar area wasn’t exactly forthcoming as to what was in store!  No glossy promotional snaps, just black walls and bar stools, and a leader board of team pictures on the far wall.
We were a bit early, so we took a seat in the bar with a drink while one of the girls explained how the game worked.  We’d be locked in the room of our choice (there are six to choose from, all with different difficulty ratings and background stories; from Saw-themed “Enigmista”, to “The Heist”) and we’d have one hour to solve all eight clues and crack the door code to escape.  We were given torches and an iPad which we’d be able to use to get hints and solutions if we got stuck (with a time penalty for each one used, obviously!).

…I don’t want to give away the story behind the room or any of the clues we had to solve and spoil the surprise – but we did escape… only just!  For the first 10 minutes we completely ignored the first hint and turned the whole room upside down snooping in cupboards and drawers with our torches.  I had no idea how interactive and atmospheric it was going to be – and that solving clues might mechanically open boxes and unlock doors etc.  It kind of reminded me of the Crystal Maze or Fort Boyard.  Once our time began to run down and we’d sort of worked out the whole process of solving clues, we got really into it and raced around the room shouting at each other as we desperately tried to solve each clue and quickly move onto the next one!  As soon as we cracked the final clue and got out with seconds to spare we were a bit bummed that it was over and all wanted to try another room 🙂

If you’re looking for Halloween night out with a difference, then I’d definitely recommend trying out Escape Reality.  There’s a room to suit everyone, from difficult to easy and from horror to heists.  It’s great fun, and as soon as you’ve escaped you’ll want to be locked back up again 🙂

(Psst! I’ve just noticed via Twitter that you can get a 20% discount on your booking between the 28th and 30th of October if you add the code HALLOW20 at the checkout. PLUS, if you turn up in costume, you get a free drink at the bar. Happy Halloween!)