Our wee Olympic holiday was everything we expected – exciting, hectic, informative, exciting, celebratory, exciting, exciting… 🙂
London has been consumed by the Olympics, but in a good way (in my opinion, at least). If you didn’t already have Olympic fever you’d certainly feel it once you’re there. Bunting, posters, and supportive signs everywhere; people in Olympic and Team GB tops and accessories; brightly labelled directions to Olympic venues at public transport stations; groups of athletes or team members wandering around in the ‘casual’ kit of their various countries; volunteers in their Gamesmaker uniforms on the tube, on buses, relaxing between shifts all over London; an all-round air of fun and cheeriness – it was
all very uplifting indeed.
My little knitted Usain Bolt came with us everywhere, taking in the sights of London and the Olympics, and bringing a smile to people around as well (he’s a charmer, that Usain…). So on our first day out we had an event in the Olympic Park itself. There was no trouble getting around on public transport, especially as we were staying with my brother in
Ealing, and his tube stop is right at the start of the Central Line. Also, thankfully there were no issues at all with my knitting needles at the venues. I had a new set of wooden circulars (good
excuse reason for getting those lovely Knit Pro Symphony ones), and had them in a little project bag inside my handbag, and it went straight through the airport style scanners.
Usain gets his first taste of the Olympic Park and checks out the stadium. I happily waved my Malaysian flag all day – there were lots and lots of Union flags and flags of many other nations to be spotted as well.
My brother came with us for this one, and he went all out with his GB flag, superhero style.
The Park itself is huge; we took ages to walk around most of the area, although we did do lots of stopping for photos and admiring the venues and structures as well. I really liked all the landscaping around the Park. There were sections of flowers from the continents represented by the Olympic rings, but also around the main stadium is a huge section of British wild flowers.
There were a couple of ‘meadowy’ areas around the big screens, and we’d settled ourselves down to watch some of the rowing. I was just getting comfortable and about to pull out my knitting, when the rain just started pouring down! People could’ve got gold medals for speed jacket-putting-on and sprinting over to any sort of shelter! That was one thing missing from the Park, sheltered areas dotted about. At that point people were just huddling in the food stalls (we were in Fish and Chips). It soon cleared up though, and the sun came out to dry us off as we had our lunch.
We then went into the Copper Box, for women’s handball. I’d never seen handball before, but I had the vague idea that it was fast paced, and it certainly was! We saw Montenegro
v Croatia, and Russia v Brazil.
The next day we were out to the indoor Volleyball, which again was very exciting. We saw Australia v Italy, and USA v Russia.
Also, these mopping dudes were just brilliant. They came on every time there was a time out, and had this brilliant routine to cover the whole area. Well done guys!
Afterwards we went to join my brother and cousins at a pub in Fulham, and caught up with Super Saturday. We saw Jess Ennis, Mo Farah, and Greg Rutherford get their golds, and the atmosphere there was just amazing, with EVERYONE shouting at the TV screens and then erupting into a mass of cheering and clapping!
Day three, and we were off to the Excel arena for some team table tennis.
Outside was this very interesting large sculpture of dock workers from the 1800s. What also caught my eye was that one of the crates they’re handling came from Kuala Lumpur. I wonder what it might have contained. Spices, perhaps pepper? Textiles? Tea?
So at this event it was Germany v Austria, and Portugal v South Korea. It was quite different seeing two matches on at the same time, but the Germany-Austria match finished first, and it was then all about Portugal and South Korea. That was such a close match, which went to the full five games. With all that shouting and stamping and cheering, supporting is pretty tiring work!
And then it was back home to watch the 100m men’s final, and of course Usain delivered, with his customary cheekiness.
The next day we went out to central London, and found the World of M&Ms!
I just LOVE seeing colours lined up like that, and bonus that it’s “Chocolate fun for everyone!”
Out in Leicester Square there were medals hanging in the trees. Usain is trying to point to the gold one.
We stopped by St Paul’s but didn’t have time to go in properly, but we stopped for a photo with the St Paul’s Mandeville. The mascots are all over London, themed according to various landmarks or areas.
We then crossed the Millennium Bridge, and Usain pointed out the rings at Tower Bridge.
We said a quick hello to the Bard,
and then headed over to Wembley, for a women’s football semi-final – Japan v France.
The atmosphere, once again, was fantastic. The high-up seats were pretty scary, but the excitement was distracting enough. Also, after seeing 6 matches in 3 events, finally, in the 7th match, we managed to back the winning team! From the first event we’d decided not to just be neutral, but to pick a team at the start and support them fully. It really does make a difference when you feel some sort of allegiance and you really want someone to win, as opposed to ‘objectively’ watching as a neutral. More so when you don’t know the ins and outs of the rules! To be fair, for some of the matches I suggested we back the underdogs, so I guess we knew what we were getting into, but for this one I decided I wanted to support my ‘buddies from Asia,’ and Gareth later revealed that he knew the Japan women’s team were world number 1!
The last day was our ‘tourist day,’ but we managed to catch the men’s Triathlon first. We went over to Hyde Park and watched it on one of the big screens. It was here that I finally managed to get some knitting done at an Olympic venue! At all the other venues there just didn’t seem to be any time. Either we were wandering around the venue, or getting food, or waiting elsewhere before going in. When the matches were on I was well into them, so no knitting there, but certainly a lot got done on the tube. So it was nice that I got to knit at the Triathlon, under some nice sunshine.
I also got to nip over to the road every so often and catch the triathletes flying past during the cycling.
After that we walked over towards Hyde Park corner, past Wellington arch,
and over to Buckingham Palace. Usain would like a bearskin hat.
Further up, Usain tells time with Big Ben,
and points out the Prime Minister’s residence.
And in the evening Usain takes in a show at the Fortune Theatre.
The Woman in Black is SERIOUSLY SCARY. Seriously. Don’t underestimate this whole business of building up suspense and preying on your heightened senses. It’s like a Stephen King novel but watching it happen right in front of you. So creepy, but such a good production.
Finally, little Usain gets home to Aberdeen and finds his bearings.
So a very good Olympic experience all round, and just over a day left! Malaysia’s done well at London 2012, with the archers and cyclists getting pretty far, and with Lee Chong Wei’s silver in badminton, and Pandelela Rinong Pamg’s bronze in diving. Who knows if I’ll ever be at another Olympics, but I’m so very pleased we made it to this one, which was a ‘home’ one for me as well. I am proud of being Malaysian, but I am also definitely a proud supporter of my second home, and have enjoyed cheering on Team GB very loudly!
As for my Olympic knitting, it’s coming along slowly. I don’t know if I’ll finish it by midnight tomorrow, but I’ll certainly try. I know it was a little silly to get distracted by something else, but, you only live once, and who can regret getting distracted by Usain Bolt?