The Olympics, surely, have been one of the highlights of this Summer: so back in June, when my son Thomas announced that his secondary school had awarded him two Olympic tickets to see the women's hockey team in action, there was general jubilation in our household. In part, because the tickets represented the recognition of Thomas' academic success - he has a very good record and he prepared the winning Power Point Olympic presentation that clinched the deal. And of course, who wouldn't want two free tickets to watch Team GB?
I have to admit, I am not the sporty type: the Olympics have converted me. The positivity around the whole event was infectious and palpable: there was a distinct lift in energy in the city, very much needed with the latest financial problems looming over us like a black cloud. So, provided by Dunraven with two travel cards and two beautiful brand new shining tickets, we set off for the day.
The structure itself smacks of everything that is good about London, architecturally speaking: it was contemporary, clean cut, and very cutting edge, all of this being friendly and easy to use. I will not divulge on the various landmarks- the Aquatic Centre, the Velodrome, the Basketball Arena, 'Art in the Park', etc. - I am sure you had an opportunity to have a good look via being there or the screen, but the whole space really had an amazing feel to it.
"It's a pity I am too young to volunteer," said Thomas. I could totally see the point: in fact the volunteers were genuinely cheerful and welcoming. You would have said they were really happy to be there! Indeed their uniforms looked really cool, and I could only speculate on the after-hours parties! We had some time before the start of our scheduled event at 7.00 pm, so we wandered around: plan A was to stop at the screen broadcasting live events. There was this massive screen and then an open space, picnic-like with grass - overall very much 'English Summer': people were sitting on blankets sipping bear and drinks- families, friends, couples, people of all ages. Of course there was the occasional roar whenever a British athlete did well: it was packed! We stayed there for a while, having found a decent spot on the green; then we went looking for some early dinner.
There were stands with food, but we opted for the biggest MacDonald in the world: this one looked really sleek and it was nice to consume our burgers baps upstairs, with views on the Olympic park. Don't you find big crowds exhausting, for some reason? I know some people find crowds energising, sadly I am not one of them: so I was relieved when we finished eating and we reached the arena for the main event, where our tickets came handy yet again. We were syphoned into aisle 126: our corner hosted an impromptu band with a rather quirky repertoire of music and was the most active in terms of supporters (we actually discovered that we appeared in the 'best moments' replay thanks to a chap with a massive British flag right behind us!).
Team GB was a real bonus as the hockey team won a smashing 3-0 against Belgium. I have to say, I never saw the point of stadiums, but the experience has totally changed my mind. It was like this whole crowd had one mind: we sang together and there was this strange unity experienced through rooting for the same team - that was really fun. Oh, and the Mexican waves!
There was a further dietary lapse when, after the event, a waffle stand managed to lure us, siren-like. I (supposedly the responsible adult) succumbed rather swiftly and we shared a massive waffle with whipped cream and strawberries. All that walking and watching games had had a rather tiring effect on my diet morals: it's all I can say!
It was soon evening, the whole Olympic park most charming in a moon-light atmosphere: so we headed home, very tired, having spent a remarkable day, in a remarkable place. The trip back went without a single glitch. Not only it was a fantastic afternoon out and an activity I could share withy my son; what made it so special was the fact that he had won the tickets through his own efforts in school. Thank you Dunraven for understanding that good people need rewards for good deeds! This certainly gave him huge motivation to make an effort academically, for now and the future: and for me, a very special day spent with my son.