Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Day After the Night Before

Well it was all pretty quiet and calm in Stratford early on this morning, which after all the drama and spectacle of last night, was a pretty big contrast. Like most Brits we scored absolutely zilch on the Olympic-ticket-application-front so a while back Woody hatched a plan and has been busily consulting timetables and maps for months.
Today was Day 1 of the Games and we travelled down to London on a pretty civilised 8.12am train and thanks to an amazingly smooth journey, hundreds of spectator advisors of every corner and London Transport seeming to have things all under control, we were strolling into the Olympic Park for 10.45am. Worth a gold medal alone I'd say.
No queues, no hassle just the friendliest faces, lots of fun and a really warm welcoming atmosphere. We came in past the Aquatic Centre and the cheers were immense, really lifting everyone and made us feel that we weren't on the edge of the venues looking in, but part of this amazing show.

Just as we arrived The Queen headed home and we had a fabulous view of her with the Duke, Princess Anne and Lord Coe sweeping out of the Park. The boys were amazed and were impressed she was up and about so early today; that parachute jump must have taken it out her.
It's a truly magnificent place the Olympic Park. The venues are enormous and very imposing and the wild flower meadows are just stupendous, like flowing rivers of jewels. I'd seen them featured on Gardener's World and was hoping they'd not been washed out by all the rain. But they're stunning and there are buds and other plants maturing to take the display through the Games and right on to the end of the Paralympics.

Paths and rivers wind right through the meadows and they sort of settle and link everywhere together and whereever you look people stop and stare and gently let their hands waft through cornflowers, corncockle and poppies. Its magical.
When you think that this part of Stratford was one of the most polluted places in Europe, the Games has transformed it into a beautiful oasis, full of colour, nature and the most fantastic facilities that will bring so much to so many for the future.

That and the amazing attitude of all the volunteers and staff we met made me feel all wobbly and quite teary I can tell you.
Still not sure about the Orbit though - whoppingly expensive and it looked strangely out of place and even quite old fashioned to me. 
It really felt as if all the world was there today, we heard so many languages and saw people from every continent.
Part Two of the day was all about the bikes.You know we're cycling buffs in our house so the chance to cheer on the GB boys who've only just returned from the Tour de France was all part of the plan.

We headed for Green Park right alongside Buckingham Palace and with the sun still shining, deckchairs out and ice-cream on tap it was a brilliant and very British-style spot to while away some very nervous hours while we listened to commentary of how it was all going a bit wrong for them.
Such a shame but they gave it everything and being the best team in the world has big consequences in the politics of the peleton. Most of the riders out today have spent the last month shadowing and learning our guys tactics on the Tour and with a team only half the size it was never going to be totally in their control, (especially when the other teams decided to sit back and let GB do all the work), and would never be the walk over the press would have us believe.

Just to cheer them as a sort of thank you for the Tour was such a great opportunity for us bike nuts (not that I go anywhere far on my bike with a basket!)

So despite the disappointment we had a most brilliant day and all for nothing bar the travel to London; (a free family travel card came with the free Park tickets). Roll on the rest of The Games!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Allez boys!

Just amazing, what a Tour. Woody was in Paris at the weekend to see it happen. We've loved cycling for a long time in our house, Woody's followed it for years and deserved to be there so much and share that historic day. One of the best weekends of his life he reckons.

I didn't really dare hope it could happen but the Sky boys did it!
We'll be in London on Saturday to see them go for gold. Legends. Vive le Tour!
Allez Wiggo! Go Cav!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Getting Ready to Go

Do excuse my hideous toes but holiday fever is beginnng to grip me very tightly. We are actually going abroad! Not for a few more weeks yet but preparations are in full swing here.

Its seven long years since we went continental, preferring to take our babies to the rugged Cornish coast for rock pool pootling where the heat wouldn't trouble them too much. Turns out the heat never bothered them at all, not for seven whole years to be exact apart from the odd occassional day.
So last year we decided that we needed some sunshine and we'd save up and go back to a little Spanish village we went to on our last foreign sojurn. It was such a perfect idyll and I'd always wanted to return.

We did have a little think about Greek Islands or Italian villas but we knew we wanted the sea, a sandy beach and a quiet place to stay and not to take any risks with our hard earned pennies and to know we'd like where we were heading.
Every time I think about going my stomach flips and I feel as excited as I do for Christmas! After this dismal summer all I want is to see our chaps splashing about in the warm water, hear the waves lapping against the boats in the bay and see the sun glint on the surface of a blue, blue sea.

The water here is famous for being crystal clear and is a bit of a centre for snorkelling and diving. Not sure I'll be doing much of that but the idea of being able to swim in the sea everyday is so exciting I can't tell you. I adore sea swimming and don't get to do it often at all, I can't wait.
I've been practice packing. The rules and regulations have changed a lot since we last flew and we're only taking cabin bags which is a bit of a challenge but we're staying in a lovely apartment right on the beach with all mod cons so I don't need to take too much and can wash and dry what we need.
Books have been purchased and some lovely thin Turkish towels, perfect for packing and quick drying.
I've turned back to Miss Read recently for some simple, delightful reading in these hectic, frantic summer days. In Farther Afield she goes to Crete and well, I'm inspired. Not sure I'll cut quite this figure on the beach but will definitely be wearing my hair this way with a silk scarfe.
So frocks have been chosen,bargain faux Birkenstocks purchased, tiny bottles filled with toiletries and day dreams stored.
We will be on this little beach in this blue bay before long and I don't think I've needed a holiday more. Where are you off to this year?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

I think its stopped...

Just for a day the air has been dry, my sandals have come out again and it even felt warm around tea time. I hear things are on the change and there was a mackerel sky for a little while which is making me very hopeful.
Today has been happy and very emotional - leavers church service at our primary school, in September B moves onto middle school in town. It feels right and he's definitely ready for the next stage but I'll really miss him being at our village school.

We have been so lucky to find such a caring, fun, happy place with kindness all around the children. All good things must come to an end I suppose and what's next will be great too, but I can't believe we're here already. Lots of happy tears today.
For the first time in absolutely ages I got to come home with them too and it was wonderful to chat with them straight out of school, potter around the house and get tea on the go. Woody has been amazing since I went back to work full time, taking on all the weekday cooking and afternoon school runs. His Shepherd's Pie and prawn curry are out of this world.
But today I chatted with the boys about this and that, snipped herbs, picked peas, unearthed potatoes, roasted tomatoes, collected eggs and just sort of wallowed in some simple pleasures I haven't been able to enjoy for ages.
Life is full of fun busy-ness at the moment but just to take our time today was bliss.

Sunday, 8 July 2012


I don't know about you but I find July completely exhausting. Its that time of year again where every possible activity seems to be crammed into as few days as possible - just when I'm ready to kick-back and relax to be honest.

Well its all good fun; plays, concerts, services, sports days, new school visits, costum- making, bake sales, holiday planning, birthday party preparations. And then there's work and the garden to manage too. Clearly I just have no stamina - I am a weak and feeble woman indeed!

Anyway its been a fun week too and a couple of friends and I joined a new, funky WI group that's been formed in town. Our first meeting proper is next week with topics like cheese & wine tasting, a glass jewellery making session and a talk on burlesque all on the programme!

We managed a pass out on Friday night too and went for a delicious curry and a drink at the new community arts centre that tons of volunteers across town are working magnificently to bring to life, The atmosphere was lovely and as our WI meetings will be held there I'm looking forward to seeing much more of it.

Saturday was spent being a tourist in my own town with my sister who lives over the hills. We indulged in some serious local retail therapy and went back to the arts centre for lunch - fabulous. And I met a fellow blogger too which was wonderful. Thanks for saying hello!

Today we've got a family birthday lunch for my lovely dad who unbelievably has reached offical retirement age which seems very surreal. And the sun is out for a bit at last too.

Later there's the tennis match of the decade which we'll all be settling in to watch, followed by a trip to France (via the tv) to cheer on Brad and the Sky boys. Busy then - but fun!