19 September 2012

Messing about on the River Thames

Saturday was a beautiful day in London with blue, blue skies and a soft warm sunshine. This was very lucky as it was the day of the Great River Race when over 300 crews were taking part in a marathon rowing race and thousands of spectators were lining the route.

We set up our position by Kew Bridge and watched some paddle boarders go past, a little wobbly on the part of the learner but by the time they returned he seemed to have got the hang of it!  The Thames is much cleaner than it has been for a very long time but I reckon it's still better not to fall in....

Teacher and pupil paddle boarders

Then the racers started to appear and we saw the first boats heave themselves into view. The race starts at the Docklands and finishes just past Richmond, 21 miles later. The slower boats start first and the quicker boats then have to catch them up to win, though each boat is timed individually.

It was a great spectacle especially when seen against the lovely riverside of Kew. 

The early boats come into view
Rowing through Kew Bridge
A great figure head and a drum beat to row by
Outriggers were there too

The beautiful backdrop of Strand on the Green

Alongside the serious rowers are some 'fun' rowers. A bit like their land marathon comparators, people like to dress up or try rather challenging boats for this daunting task and I salute their achievement! 

Fun rowers in tutus!
Gondoliers from Malta
Dressed for a different occasion!

Bye for now

13 September 2012

It's over! The greatest show in the world leaves London.

When Boris, Mayor of London, handed over the Paralympic flag to the Mayor of Rio, you could almost hear the crowd shout out: ' Boris, don't give it to him'!  We didn't want it all to end, the fun of hosting the biggest sporting shows in the world had got into our blood and we wanted more.

The final days were wonderful and we made the most of it!  On the final Sunday the wheelchair marathon hit the streets of central London, the closing ceremony was live on the big screen in Trafalgar Square, the Mayor's Thames Festival had a night parade and fireworks alongside those at the Olympic Park.  Monday could have been a dull day after all that but we had the massive excitement of the victory parade for Our Greatest Team where the Olympians and Paralympians joined together on a 21 float parade in front one million flag waving people. So watch out for a long, long blog post!

The marathon was a great day out in the sunshine with huge crowds cheering on every competitor as they raced past at incredible speeds. I was lucky enough to see both Paralympic GB competitors whizz past - David Weir and Shelley Woods, gold and silver medal winners. 

David Weir half way through


David Weir heading for home

Shelley Woods (yellow racing chair)
The athletes' parade was a wonderful outpouring of cheer on the streets of London as our heroes, medallist and non medallists, Olympians and Paralympians, went past on 21 floats. They waved, they smiled, they said thank you, they took photos and they tweeted - and so did we! The streets were lined hours ahead of the parade's arrival and as the floats approached the noise level zoomed sky high. The police were in fine form, high-fiving from the motor bikes with lion mascots on board! We were treated to 2 carnival lions, acrobats and a band and then came the floats and it was brilliant to see our athletes in the flesh.

Crowds gathered early....

Hi fiving the police!

The mascot - ahhh!

GB lions head the parade

Here they come - excitement mounts...

Mo Farrah

Jess Ennis
Clare Balding, broadcasting star with David Weir - hidden!
Johnny Peacock
Boxing heroes Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua
Victoria Pendleton
Lee Pearson and a float full of athletes
Guess who? Tom Daley
Zara Phillips
Ben Ainslie
Kath Grainger

Red Arrows celebrate and end the parade
Missing from the athletes parade was Andy Murray who was continuing the golden spirit by winning the US Open, the first British man to win a Grand Slam since 1936 - well done Andy!

The Mayor's festival on Sunday ended with an impressive fireworks display over the Thames, matching our exuberant mood, so here are a few shots to sign off with and look out for St Paul's Cathedral lit up by the rockets!

Bye for now,

3 September 2012

London 2012 just got better - it's the Paralympics!

London's very special Summer Like No Other continues to amaze even the most jaded   Londoners who are used to incredible stuff happening all the time in our great capital city. After the Diamond Jubilee, Olympic Games and Notting Hill Carnival, now we have the Paralympic Games!

We've had another emotional torch relay before the Games themselves set up camp in east London and brought the Olympic Park alive again with thousands of enthusiastic fans rushing in to see wonderful sporting events.

I was lucky enough to catch the torch relay at Lords Cricket ground and see several people take their turn at carrying the famous flame.  The considerable support was very moving as people were running alongside the route to watch as many carriers as they could.

My next Paralympics moment was in Trafalgar Square where the big screen is attracting huge and vociferous crowds who cannot get to the Olympic venues to see the sport in person. Tickets are very hard to get hold of, especially for events in the Olympic park so the screens are a great alternative.  I had another reason to visit Trafalgar Square as my sister is a Paralympic Ambassador, helping people find their way around London and a great job she is doing there.  As were walking around the Square Team GB won a cycling gold medal so the excitement levels went through the roof - if there had been one!

I was lucky enough to have tickets for the Olympic Park and the Olympic Stadium itself so we set out to Stratford full of expectation and excitement. Settling into our seats at the stadium, found ourselves just next to the wonderful Thomas Heatherwick Olympic cauldron. There was so much happening that it was hard to keep up with all the different sports going on, often several at the same time and with very short breaks between starts. We saw 100 metres heats men and women, 1500 heats, shot put, discus, javelin, 400 metres heats men and women and long jump, all in one morning!  Our Team GB heroes delivered us a silver medal in the womens'  long jump and a brilliant gold in the men's discus! 

Stef Reid goes for silver for Team GB

Add caption

Aled Davies proud gold medal winner for Team GB and Wales!

We really smiled at the remote controlled Minis used to collect the javelins! What a great job for those 2 in the ponchos to have at the Paralympics.

To complete our day we wandered around the wonderful Olympic Park to the basketball arena to watch a closely fought game between Canada and Germany. It's a rough sport with incredible skill levels and the crowd are encouraged to the make the venue vibrate with noise so it's a great place to experience the Paralympics!

I'm following the rest of the Paralympic events on TV and there are plenty more top class sport to enjoy in the next week. 

Bye for now