And so it was time again for the PirateMania MEGA event in the UK. This time around it was based in Stratford-Upon-Avon on Saturday 27th July 2013 which was just a short distance from the location of the annual UK MEGA event being held the following weekend. PirateMania is all about having fun, dressing up, having a drink and having a laugh. There are some geocaches thrown in for good measure too! I arrived on the Friday afternoon with our Team Essex shipmates: Andy750x, Infinson, Fincache, Sircache1, Tot66, PeCeH, Kris&Co, Yorkie63, MummaD, Natlie92, HollynCharlie, Helennbrian, Doggywalker and Stones2005. We were also joined by BigBadJohn1402 the following morning making a group of 31 of us! We set up camp in a large area making a circle so as to have a communal area in the middle for the kids and adults to play!
I had been very busy for a few weeks prior to PirateMania as I had the idea stuck in my head that I wanted to make pinatas for the event. There was lots of Papier-mâchéing around balloons and boxes, painting and snipping crepe paper and general decorating for many hours until eventually my creations were complete and ready for the event. I snipped a hole in the bottom and filled them with sweeties ready for the pirate kids to batter and destroy!
After we had finished making pirate camp and had our Pirate BBQ and grog we headed off down to the main PirateMania area for some evening fun. There was a bouncy castle to keep the kids amused and a beer tent to keep us adults amused too! It certainly did the trick as before long we were all crowded around ‘The Flying Boots‘ who was holding a live scorpion and told us we could log it if we held it. Yikes! Really? The beer tent had obviously amused me far too much as I held my hands out eager to hold it, as did several of the other brave Team Essex cachers. The scorpion was tame and well handled so the likelihood of getting stung was quite slim and he didn’t sting any of us so we obviously didn’t upset him too much with our handling!!!
On Saturday morning we all donned our Pirate fancy dress and were ready to sail the seven footpaths in search of buried treasure! Everybody looked fantastic in their Pirate clothes and little Callum even dressed up the piñatas!
It was then down to registration to put our names down and grab the coordinates for the new caches that had just been placed.
The kids all looked fantastic in their pirate outfits and we all headed off on to the walk still in fancy dress. I had learned my lesson from last year though when I wore fishnet tights as part of my outfit and ended up with hundreds of grass seeds embedded in the holes. Ouch! No fishnets this time around!!!
We had heard that the PVI cache walk was about 5 miles long, however clocked it at more like 8 miles! It was a scorchingly hot day and walking that distance in full pirate dress was quite a task. There was a pub in the middle however and we had a well earned rest before moving on through the fields and finishing the loop of 18 caches.
Back at the Team Essex camp and it was time for the poor parrots to get a beating. They had been kindly guarding the tents all day whilst we were out caching, but instead of a thanks they got a good smack! We decided on the blue parrot and saved the red parrot for another night so that the kids didn’t overdose on sweeties!!! We had made the pinatas using about 6 layers of Papier-mâché and wallpaper paste and they proved to be nearly indestructible. A standard piñata cane wouldn’t have even made a dent and the kids had to beat them with baseball bats! Lol! (Don’t try this at home! ;))
After our own piratey celebrations we headed to the main event where there was a beer tent, children’s entertainer, sumo wrestling suits, bouncy castle and a stall selling Caribbean food. As soon as we got there though the heavens opened and the rain started pouring!!! The wind decided to accompany the rain too and the children’s entertainer tent had to be disassembled. The beer tent was held down by all those inside it who were already propping it up anyway! I, however, stayed in the super long queue for the Caribbean food which looked so good that nobody moved despite the heavy showers. Everyone agreed that the food was definitely worth the wait.
With the rain not letting off Pop Up Pirate and The Cache Hoppers who had organised the event quickly negotiated somewhere dry for us to all hide from the rain so that we could enjoy the evening entertainment without getting wet. We all headed into the hall for the chili eating competition, free shots of rum, and a live band. I took to the dance floor with some others of Team Essex later realising that I shouldn’t attempt to dance whilst wearing a T-Shirt with my name on the back!!! With my dance moves it would have been better to try and stay anonymous!
The pirate festivities finished with a small Firework display which we all crowded around to watch outside. I think everyone would agree that we had a great time at PirateMania 2013, which was easily as good as (if not better than) last year’s event. It was different to last year where the organisers had to run around sorting out all of the entertainment and organising teams and points that the teams had earned to try and be the winning pirate team. This time was a bit more relaxed as the beer tent, bouncy castle, childrens’ entertainer, food stall and live band took care of keeping us pirates all happy.
As the campsite on Stratford-Upon-Avon race course was only a short walk from the town centre we wandered into town with Team Essex for a bit of caching and tourism on the Sunday morning after PirateMania. That was only after dashing across the race course quickly so as not to get ploughed down by the Race for Life ladies who were running around doing a 5K!
It was a beautiful walk along the river with views of Holy Trinity church, where the grave of William Shakespeare is. Whilst on our walk we took the opportunity to do the multicache Much Ado about Nothing which incorporated clues that we would have walked past anyway.
The multi stages also took us to the Shakespeare momuments which included one for Shakespeare as well as some of his characters such as Hamlet and Lady Macbeth.
We carried on doing the touristy bit and went to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Magic Alley and walked past some of the old buildings in the centre. Certainly a very pretty little place.
We ended our stay at the PirateMania campsite with Marshmallows around the camp fire which was rapidly followed by a heavy down pour of rain! Lol! British camping wouldn’t be the same without it! The following morning we packed the tent up to travel a few miles down the road for a week at the UK MEGA campsite. Blog entry coming soon!!!