Pacific Science Center butterfly wall

That Time I Had a Butterfly Land on My Face

It was a spur-of-the-moment excursion brought on by my stubborn, completist streak. I only had an hour before we had to leave for the airport, but I had used every coupon but one in my Seattle CityPASS. The last remaining coupon was for Pacific Science Center, which was less than a block from our hotel.

Pacific Science Center Seattle exterior

Owing to my status as an insomniac, I was ready to go bright and early, so rather than obnoxiously waiting around for Jane to get ready, I decided to leave her be and flit across to the science centre and see what I could see in the time I had available. Ironically, there was an exhibit on Sleep that I found visually interesting, if not all that informative. I raced through the planetary exhibit that looked cool but was mainly aimed at children. Somewhere along my path I passed a maze full of naked mole rats. What I had in my sights, and was racing around to find, was the Butterfly exhibit, where they have a room full of living butterflies.

Pacific Science Center butterfly wall

Pacific Science Center what do butterflies eatI soon found the Tropical Butterfly House, and after being checked over by the attendant, I was allowed to enter. There were butterflies soaring all over the place. This isn’t my first butterfly rodeo and, as expected, the room had feeding stations where the butterflies landed to enjoy some sugary nectar. They would also land on the branches of the trees and plants. Occasionally they might land on a person’s shoulder or their sleeve. I took a load of really terrible pictures because I was in too much of a hurry.

Pacific Science Center butterfly jacketWhile I was gingerly shooting selfies of the butterfly that had landed on my jacket, it startled me by leaping off my jacket landing on my eyebrow and latching onto it for dear life! Luckily I already had the camera in position to snap a photo, as I doubt I would have had the presence of mind to do so. Why? Because it feels really weird to have a butterfly gripping your eyebrow hairs as though its life depended on it.

An employee noticed my odd demeanor, and clued in to what has transpiring. “Oh my God! I’ve never seen them do that!” She exclaimed. Standing there with the main attraction attached to my face, I realized that I was out of time and had to get back to the hotel urgently. The butterfly lingered a moment or two longer, then released its grip and flew away.

Steph butterfly face Pacific Science Center

I similarly flew back to the hotel. I stopped long enough for the attendant to check that I wasn’t smuggling any butterflies out, or rather than none were stowing away, on my person, and then I sprinted back in a frenzy. I arrived to find Jane waiting in the lobby for our airport shuttle to arrive.

Boy, did I ever have a story to tell her…


Disclosure and acknowledgements: Many thanks to CityPASS for providing me with my Seattle coupon book. Thanks also to Jane for putting up with my nonsense.

Air Raid Shelter Waterloo Station Zombie Blitz

That Time I Was Chased By Zombies Through the London Underground

It all started innocently enough. I turned up at the appointed spot near the rear of Waterloo Station and enjoyed a very civilized glass of lemonade in the autumn air with some other regular folks, surrounded by wartime bunting and tables laced with historic memorabilia.

Zombie Blitz 1940 wartime memorabilia

No sooner had we exchanged pleasantries with a genial, professorly fellow named Alan when an air raid siren blared and commotion ensued. We were hurriedly marshalled into an air raid shelter by a soldier who happened to be taking a smoke break outside when the mayhem began. From the confines of the air raid shelter we could hear the clamour of the Blitzkrieg and feel the impact of the bombardment.

Air Raid Shelter Waterloo Station Zombie Blitz

Our friend the soldier peeked out the door of the shelter only to discover the entrance blocked by debris. We had to decide what to do next. Soon we were crawling through ventilation shafts, emerging to find ourselves in a labyrinthine underground complex. We thought we were in the clear, and on our way to a route to the outside world, when we heard footsteps close by and people started speaking German!

Zombie Blitz 1940 - observing reanimation

Suddenly we were focused on evading detection by the Nazis. We scampered up a mesh staircase to a platform where we could hide. While we were up there observing Nazi scientists’ diabolical undertakings we made the most shocking discovery. The Nazis were experimenting with reanimating the dead!

Zombie Blitz 1940 Waterloo vaults

What happened next is a bit of a blur and, frankly, defies imagination. Our efforts to evade the Nazis put us in the path of a new, more perilous threat. Zombies! Now we were being chased by not only the Fuhrer’s henchmen, but also the undead. Brief flashes of light penetrated the pitch black as we fled, illuminating the scene just long enough to see that we were surrounded by pens full of caged zombies who were reaching out to grab at us as we passed while trying to outrun their brethren giving chase.

Zombie Blitz 1940 pentacle

What is all this? Did I finally fulfil my dream of time-travelling with The Doctor? No, this is Zombie Blitz 1940.

Zombie Blitz 1940 Alan body bagsBelieve it or not, this is not the only zombie experience in town. The folks that brought you Zombie Boot Camp, Zombie Battle London, Zombie Manor House, Zombie Shopping Mall, The Asylum and the Ultimate Zombie Experience, also put together Zombie Blitz 1940.  Zombie Blitz 1940 stands out from its combat-oriented counterparts because it is historically themed immersive experience where the participants become part of the storyline. While the other zombie experience days revolve around combat and typically involve participants rampaging through training grounds, shuttered shopping centres and so forth, Zombie Blitz 1940 has an element of mystery to it and enlists players to solve clues. In other words, I chose it because it’s the Scooby Doo of zombie experiences. It also takes place in an actual period Air Raid Shelter, which is pretty darn awesome.

A Nerd’s Tips For Enhancing Your Zombie Experience

Leave your camera athome and just enjoy the experience. There isn’t enough light or quality picture-taking and the pace of the experience doesn’t lend itself to slowing down to take photos. You’ll just make a nuisance of yourself like I did. In true Scooby Doo style I also pulled a Velma and tripped, landing on my camera and breaking it (but I didn’t lose my glasses!) Luckily I was scooped up instantaneously by a kiZombie Blitz 1940 the vaultsndly soldier and therefore was not trampled in the darkness by the living or the undead.

The information sheet I was sent when I booked suggested that participants not wear expensive clothing, as it might get damaged. I will go further than that and recommend that you do not plan on going anywhere afterward for which you need to look especially smart or presentable. You won’t come out of Zombie Blitz 1940 looking like you barely survived the zombiepocalypse, but you might be a bit scuffed and ruffled. For instance, I wore an everyday sort of dress and found myself needing to replace my tights afterward due to the crawling around we did. There’s also a lot of fake blood and stuff in many of the scenes that could potentially get on your clothes if you bump into something. Comfortable shoes are a must. So yeah, don’t wear a dress to fight zombies and don’t combine it with your invitation to Her Majesty’s garden party, or in my case a reception for the PTBA.

Zombie Blitz 1940 tea

Bring a friend. I was the only singleton in the crowd and, while it was still a great experience, I noticed that going with someone you know, or getting a group of friends together seemed to be the way to go. This is especially true for us ladies. I might be making sexist generalizations here, but my observation is that zombie experiences attract a largely male clientele and if you want female companionship then you may need to arrange it yourself. On the other hand, if you want all those zombie-fighting dudes to yourself, then more power to ya.

Zombie Blitz 1940 escape silhouette

Disclosure and acknowledgements: Because I have written with genuine enthusiasm about zombie experiences in the past for other publications, kindly offered me the opportunity to try Zombie Blitz 1940 first-hand at no cost.