Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gold Reef City

On Monday we went to Gold Reef City in Johannesburg, and we enjoyed it very much.

It is called Gold Reef City because the fun park has been built on the site of a gold mine that was used in the 1900’s but the mines are not in use now. All sorts of activities have been built there to entertain people including rollercoaster rides, shops, a 4D theatre, restaurants, etc. and there are several old houses from the old times with old household equipment in them.

When we arrived, the Soweto youth league was playing music just inside the gates, but I will come back to this later. After we went in, we walked around a bit, went into a shop that sold stones and had a scratch patch, saw some luminous rocks, and went out. Next we looked at the old houses, and it is extremely interesting to see small items, furniture, and other household objects such as kitchen tables and clothes. The weird thing is that everything is so small, and it makes you wonder if the people were smaller in those days. Outside there was an outhouse in which there were a bath, a washstand, a cabinet and a tin bucket, and next to this in a separate room (both rooms were joined by a wall) was a toilet, also called a long drop.
After going to buy some chips to eat, we went to the Big Wheel, from which at the top you can see a lot of Johannesburg. It is probably about 100 metres high or more at the top. It is quite exciting to be that high, but when you look down, you get a funny feeling in your stomach, so it is a better idea not to. The tops of the gondolas are made to look like soccer balls, and this gives it a funny appearance. Some distance away from this there was a large tower ride called the Tower of Terror, but it was closed so we didn’t see how it worked. After this we walked around and took Keren on some kids’ rides that were very fun for her, and she went on a kid’s roller coaster called the Shonggololo and Mom and Ben went with her on this. At the highest point it was only about 3 metres high, so it wasn’t too dangerous. Keren also went on a bumping car ride and a carousel.
When she was finished we went to the train station, but it was full, so we had to walk. We went through what was called the Town, and it was made to look like an old town, but I don’t know if it was really a town in the 1900’s.
After going further along the road, we went on the Golden loop, which is a roller coaster that starts in a station, and suddenly starts after a siren has announced that you will soon be speeding. Dad and Ben sat right at the front, Eden and I sat in the middle, and Daniel sat in front of us. Mom stayed with Keren and Jordan by a snack bar at the foot of the ramp to the station. The start is very sudden, with an acceleration speed of 0 to 80 km/h in 3 seconds, so it surprises you even if you are expecting it. It shoots forward along a track of up to 200 metres which it covers in about 6 seconds, and during that time you go through a metal shed with a hole in it for the track to go through, but at that speed it feels as if you are going to crash through the walls. After going through the shed the track has a loop in it that goes in the same direction as it did before, and then promptly climbs to a point, and then it falls back down, goes around the loop again, and then flies back through the shed and station, and then climbs to another point, and then stops at the station again. While I was going up the loop, the G-force threw my head forward to my legs, so I didn’t see much then. Unfortunately we didn't get any photos of it.

After that we headed for the Anaconda, which was further up the road. This is a roller coaster that takes you around in chairs suspended from the tracks. It starts by pulling you up to a high point, where it drops very sharply, and all the people start screaming. It falls very fast and it made me feel a bit sick. It takes you through a tunnel before spinning you on a loop, after which you go on a single corkscrew turn. You then fly around a rock formation twice, and then there is another loop and several turns, before it comes to stop in the station again. Afterwards you feel dizzy and slightly sick, but it is an unforgettable experience, but I didn’t go again, although Dad and Eden did. In the following photo, you can see the Golden Loop in the background, and in the sixth seat from the front you can see my father.
After this Mom, Eden, Daniel, Ben and I went on a short rafting trip in some rapids in which we got very wet, and when we came home the seat of my pants were still wet, which wasn’t very comfortable.

This was around 1:00, and we went to have some lunch at a Wimpy there. After lunch we went to a 4D theatre where we watched a Kids movie called Robots of Mars. The first time all of us went except Dad, Keren and Jordan, and the second time Mom watched Jordan while we went in with Dad. The movie was a childish movie, but the way the glasses change everything to look like it is actually coming out at you,
with moving chairs and air and water spray blowing at you, it was very interesting.

On our way back to the entrance, we got caught in a downpour, and we had to stand in a doorway for about 40 minutes until it stopped and we could make our way out. We were feeling cold so we went back to Wimpy to have some coffee, and when we got there, in a sheltered spot the Soweto Youth League was playing music, but the instruments they had were six different xylophones, a drum kit, two Zulu drums, and some weird metal instruments that looked like the bottom of a metal drum had been cut off and then dented in, and by hitting on different places, different sounds were produced. There were about fifteen of these, and altogether it made a very African, but nice-sounding, music. We watched them for around half an hour, and then we left.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trumpet lessons

For quite some time I have been wanting to play an orchestral instrument. I play the piano, and I am at Grade 4 level. At first I thought about the oboe, but then as I prefer brass instruments, I decided I wanted to play the trumpet.

I decided this about a year ago, and I have been waiting since then to start. I wanted to start last year during the fourth term, but my mother said that it was better if I started in the New Year. We knew of two people who taught trumpet, but we chose the one because he lives closer.
We decided that it would be better if we hired a trumpet at first instead of buying one, in case I didn’t enjoy playing it, because then we would have had a new trumpet that we aren’t using. We phoned Lovemore Music Centre to see if they hired out instruments, and they said that they didn’t, but knew a man that did. So my mother called him, and he said he had a trumpet we could use, and we arranged to pick it up at the music shop.

The next week I started lessons with Herrie Venter (Pronounced Harry). I have been taking lessons for six weeks now, and I am enjoying it thoroughly. Because I have been playing piano for about six years, and know a lot about music, I progressed very quickly, and I had done a years’ work in two or three weeks, and I am already playing Grade 4 pieces now, although I struggle with some of the high notes.

Our family is very musical. Both my grandmothers play piano, and one of my grandfathers. My one aunt played trombone when she was young, and my uncle played tuba in the school band. My other aunt plays piano, and used to play flute and clarinet. My mother played piano when she was young, and after she was married, she started viola. My father played cornet (which is very similar to trumpet) when he was in school in the band. My elder sister plays cello, my one brother plays the French horn, and my other brother plays violin and the recorder, which me and my sister both played when we were young (the recorder, not the violin or both).
I am enjoying the trumpet very much, and I am thinking of joining an orchestra when I am good enough. My sister plays in two, the Pretoria Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (PYPO for short), and Simphonia Juventi.