Super Saturday

Trip Start Aug 01, 2012
Trip End Aug 15, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, August 4, 2012

Come what may, today was the day that I was going to finally sample the Olympic atmosphere for real. This was dubbed by the British media as 'Super Saturday', the day with a high number of Olympic finals and therefore lots of gold medals on the line. Not least for Team GB. Therefore, the plan was to go to Hyde Park with Bolton and Rachel to watch the Games surrounded by a patriotic crowd of supporters. Naturally, there’s no accounting for the Great British weather. So, of course it was raining when I got up, why wouldn’t it be? Whenever I decided to get out and about in London, it would rain. The question was whether it was going to rain all day or if it was one of our famous summer showers.

Either way it rained enough to affect our plans – after all, regardless of my intentions, who really wants to stand in the middle of a park all day (Hyde Park, at that, which is huge), completely exposed to the elements? We decided to try somewhere with screens and some shelter. Trafalgar Square seemed like our best bet. As I was up first (!), I made my way there in order to report what was going on back to Bolton and Rachel. I was more than a little disappointed to find that there was nothing there. Then I spotted something in Olympic colours with lots of tourists around it. At that point I put my tourist hat on, and went over to see what all the fuss was about. It was the Olympic clock, counting down to the start of the opening ceremony, which threw me as the opening ceremony had been just over a week ago, until someone pointed out to me, it was actually telling the time. D’oh!

It was just as well that I had my tourist hat on, for, if not, I wouldn’t have spotted the incongruous sight at the top of Nelson’s Column. I don’t have a single photo of Nelson’s Column, so that’s where I turned my attention. As I was taking the photo, I noticed that there was something odd about Nelson’s hat, but I couldn’t quite see it clearly, fortunately through the zoom of the camera lens, I managed to see that Nelson’s hat had been painted in the colours of the Union Jack with, what I think is, an Olympic torch stuck on the front!

After that I went snap happy, taking photos of everything, the Mall, which you had to pay to enter (I see Del Boy’s grubby mitts all over that idea), Big Ben...whatever I could see. Fortunately by this time, it looked like the rain had stopped for the day, so when I was done, I headed over to Hyde Park Corner to meet Bolton and Rachel.

It was turning into quite a nice day, well as nice a day as a British summer day can be – Rachel turned up wearing summer clothes, but had winter clothes in reserve in a bag. Although crowds of people were streaming into the park, I was surprised when we eventually got to the area with the screens that it was fenced off. I was even more surprised to see that there were several long queues of people waiting to get into a free event. If it’s free, surely you just walk in, right? Wrong. The security of this event was like an airport – bag scanner and metal detector included. Of course, no food or drink, alcoholic or otherwise, was allowed in the premises. Guess which person in his Jamaica T-shirt, brought 8 cans of Red Stripe (Jamaica’s national beer)? That’s right, Bolton. This meant we had to stay outside and drink them all before even attempting to enter. Hence we joined the throng of people having an impromptu ‘picnic’.

4 beers later (and a little bit tipsy, I might add), we finally got in. I saw for the Olympic fever for the first time. There were 5 giant screens around the area, all showing different events, so you could take your pick. Most people were chilled out on the ground, with their food, beers and just soaking up the rays and the atmosphere. In effect it was like a music festival without the music. I use that sentence intentionally, because even though they had live music, I would be hard pressed to call it such. Case in point, I was talking to a couple of guys about the merits of Norwich City FC over Ipswich Town (!), when McFly were announced onstage. The response, in unison, by all of us was, "Oh, f**k!" Probably not the response that the organisers had been looking for.

Whenever Team GB or anything/one to do with it came on the place suddenly exploded into life. Therefore when Bradley Wiggins (Tour De France winner and gold medallist) turned up on stage, the place went wild. Unfortunately, we were so far away from the stage that we couldn’t see or hear him.

Then came the golds – first the women’s pursuit in cycling.  I sung my heart out at the national anthem, later on, Jessica Ennis came good in the Heptathlon, then Greg Rutherford won the long jump, finally Mo Farah won his event. FOUR golds! I was hoarse by the time we left.

But the day wasn’t over, the day was finished by going to see what for me is the icon of the Games – more so than the Olympic stadium, because you can’t actually see it – Tower Bridge. It was most impressive. With my tourist hat on again, it was good to see the Tower of London (I can’t remember the last time I saw it in person) and at night, besides. But to see Tower Bridge at night with the Olympic rings illuminated was beautiful.

Finally, I was able to say, “It’s the Olympics, baby!”
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