I was a part of London 2012 Olympics

Wembley StadiumLast night I was one of the 70,584 spectators at Wembley Stadium, watching the women’s football match between Brazil and Team GB. A few of my football questions were answered. I learnt that the players do not stop playing to watch the replays and that when the ball is kicked into the audience, they are expected to throw it back. I still have no clue what the offside rule is all about, but I have a feeling that no one does.

I screamed ‘Team GB’ until my voice was hoarse and took part in no less than eight Mexican waves that went around the entirety of the stadium, so frequently that the match was just a little extra entertainment. We were the people who provide the sound effects for your television screens, the boos, the gasps and the cheers. We deafened each other with our joint voices and after only a few minutes in the stadium, I had a buzzing headache that stayed with me until this morning.

Women’s football is unlike men’s football in that there are far less fouls and they do not mess around, throwing themselves to the ground in hopes of a penalty. From what I observed, women play clean and follow the rules. Let’s hear it for the women and for the London 2012 Olympics, unless the traffic and television take over are spoiling your summer!

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I caught a glimpse of the Olympic Torch

Today, I braved the heat (unusual for any time of year) to witness a historic moment that I will be able to tell my grandchildren about in many years to come. The build up was tremendous (at least on my part), despite the traditional British moaning about the traffic, the sneaky immigration and the new olympic lanes.

The crowds slowly built up…

The police were waiting whilst telling people to keep to the pavement…

Coca Cola made an appearance, commercialising the entire event and gaining publicity that they most definitely do not need…

And finally, the Olympic Torch passed us by. Those who blinked missed it. The torch-bearer was jogging along the road and was gone before some people had even realised he had arrived. I was prepared and managed to catch it on video.

These small fleeting moments make up history and it feels good to be a part of it, even if it means baking under the hot sun for three seconds worth of a historical event.

Cambridge Excursion

Yesterday, in an effort to inspire the youth to aim higher and motivate them to take their studies more seriously, my class was taken on a school trip to see Cambridge University. Our lack of initial enthusiasm was evident; the coach journey was two hours long (I slept both hours) and we all just really wanted to go home as we had just completed a science exam that morning.

Cambridge University is always regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions, inaccessible to many. However, upon seeing it, my classmates were sorely disappointed and it was nothing like they had expected it to be. When asked, they had envisaged the university to be one ginormous ancient castle resembling Hogwarts. What we did not know was that the university is actually comprised of thirty-one smaller colleges scattered about the town, some fairly modern in comparison to the older buildings of much more impressive architecture.

The town is small and old-fashioned, with cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, and the main mode of transport is clearly cycling. Parked bicycles littered the pavements and there were very few cars. I suppose for university students who have little money to spare, bicycles are convenient and practical with everything being within a small distance.

We saw no cloaks and nobody walked around with a pile of books but you could feel the brains working as soon as you exited the coach. Even their pubs have an intellectual touch; one was named The Sir Isaac Newton! So affected was my friend that she started speaking in a ‘posh accent’ at the top of her voice, attracting stares by everyone that passed by.

They must really love Sir Isaac Newton in Cambridge because his mathematical bridge was pointed out to me by a rather enthusiastic student. It is a curious looking bridge and the story goes that Newton built it without the use of any screws, nails or bolts. It was taken down, however, when they tried to rebuild it the same way, they were unable to and had to fix the wood together with nails. Even Cambridge myths have an intellectual theme to them.

Newton's Mathematical Bridge

We were given a talk about the university and the application process and it was informative and frightening at the same time. I don’t feel completely discouraged, just a little nervous about the future. I learned that they don’t really care what you wear to an interview and that they will never ask you to define a banana. At least that’s what they want you to believe….they could just want to catch you off guard.

The admissions man was hilarious and told as that Oxford, their rivals, are a university whose existence they ignore; they are there but we do not talk about them. He labelled them the Voldemort of Cambridge University. I asked a student and she replied “what’s Oxford university?” Apparently, the main cause of this split is competition between sporting teams, particularly rowing and they feel extremely sore about their consecutive losses to their rivals.

I doubt I will ever apply to Cambridge University; my Daddy will miss me too much and there are plenty of universities here in the capital. I wouldn’t mind though, in fact, I think I would quite enjoy living on a campus and attending lectures. If I study medicine, my time at university will be much prolonged… I can’t wait!

Camden Curiosities

Yesterday, I went exploring around London and discovered Camden Town. There were many people (mainly Spanish-speaking tourists and spiky-haired punks) to push through, in order to see many different peculiarities and as such pictures were a hassle to take. This, in addition to the stall keepers’ unreasonable aggressiveness in shielding their showcases from the lens, makes every single photograph a valuable mark of my struggle. So, enjoy and appreciate!

 Camden Fashion!


 

Like something out of Dracula, many outfits were a little too vampiric for my liking…

 

 

 

but if I were to buy every hilarious slogan t-shirt I laughed at, I would be penniless.

 

 

 

 

 
Every odd shop was a tattoo and body piercing parlour and at every corner stood a sign twirler, male and surprisingly clear skinned. I stayed well away from them. No man was going to drag me into a chair and stick coloured needles into my skin for me to moan about in my old and wrinkly age!

 

 

 

 
If tattoos and piercings weren’t painful enough you could also take part in fish feeding and stick your feet in for 15 minutes, at a cost of £8. Their nibbling at your feet is apparently painless, but I have my doubts.

 
Then, if feeding fish builds up your own appetite, there is a food stall for every single country on the map. As you pass by, the vendors stick out a plastic fork with a morsel on it and wave it at you to try. (Tip: don’t pay, just have a taste and move on to the next.)

Mexico
Spain
India
Morocco

Many different aromas wafting from every stall, mixed in with all the different tunes blasting from their speakers created a real, upbeat vibe to the market and a perfect atmosphere to curiously browse through the interesting things there were for sale.

Fruit and veg candles- pour in the magic salts and light up!
How motivational…

However, despite all the things that caught my eye, there were too many of them and as soon as I saw one thing, I was drawn to another and so forth. I was so caught up in the novelty that I didn’t buy anything, but for next time, watch out Camden!

Indian Summer to the Max

Mid October, and the news reporters are calling it an Indian summer and because we are not easily influenced by the media, us girls headed off to the beach. With winter jackets and my father’s best wishes we were off. Always the optimist, he shook his head in disapproval and announced that he would not be buying anybody medicine when we all came back nursing dreadful colds.

With that in mind we cozied up into the car and enjoyed the lengthy 2 hour view, sleeping against each other and cringing at my mothers version of Queens’ Bohemian Rhapsody. She made for a terrible singer and a most interesting travel companion. She takes the prize for quote of the ride, which surprisingly was not are we there yet, but “I miss the London pollution.”

Once we had passed the motorway, we drove through the New Forest, and saw wild horses in their dozens; black, brown and white; bathing in the rays of sunlight peeking through small clearings in dense forest. We hurried a few snaps as we passed the brave mares at the roadside, inches away from the open windows.

Then, we drove through a quaint little village, complete with thatch roof cottages and funnily named pubs. We exclaimed at all the village sights that one does not see on the London High Streets. Oh look, it’s an apothecary. Oh look it’s an old sweet shop. Oh look it’s a tea room. Oh look it’s a Costa coffee?

Oh look it’s the sea! My mother spotted it first and we all squealed in excitement, anticipating the waves crashing against our bodies as we jumped up and down, getting ready to the build the tallest sand castles.

Well, not me. I didn’t even touch the sand.  I lay my pink snuggly blanket down on the rocks, and slipped into a book. Yes, I could have done that in my garden but the fresh breeze, salty smell and symphony of waves created a better reading atmosphere. I entertained the thought of dipping into the freezing October sea for the duration of an entire page but rid myself of it as soon as I imagined the sand sticking to my wet skin as I tried to get changed under a flying towel. Not worth it.

I was content to just to watch my sisters splash about in the water and return not shortly after, teeth chattering and jumping into their dry clothes. Anyway, I got up to my own fifteen minute adventure, looking for fossils in the cliffs with the only tool available, a fork. No luck, except for a few pin sized shells, but I couldn’t really expect to find the ancient remains of an extinct species on my first go. Maybe on my next.

There’s a jungle growing in my garden

Three months after I posted about my home-made vegetable garden, I was given the great honour of being Freshly Pressed. It was my first time and although I had always (less than a year) wished for it to happen I never actually believed it would. So, when the comments came rushing in and readers I had never come across before started to congratulate me I was completely baffled; pleased but baffled. Did everybody else know something I didn’t? Why was I not privy to this piece of top-secret information?

Fortunately, I was soon clued in and the reason for my bombardment of supportive and congratulating comments became clear, relieving me of my earlier confusion. Confusion that turned into absolute joy and excitement at the arrival of each comment. Each comment like the harvest of my labour’s fruit and veg, received with much appreciation and a fair amount of positive annoyance at the clogging up of my inbox. Thank you 🙂

Many of my commenters were extremely enthusiastic about growing their own produce and I’m glad I supposedly inspired some people. I guess that is something that I can proudly add to my repertoire and use in a college application if I ever feel lacking in any areas, not that it will get taken too seriously. However, one reader made a very unusual point which I feel compelled to clarify in order to keep a clean record and avoid any problems in my future political career (and eventual world domination). Although I mentioned immigration in a negative light, I would like to make it absolutely clear that this is only applicable to fruits and vegetables and mainly because of the impact it has on the environment. So, if I ever run in an election and you happen to be involved in a smear campaign against me, look elsewhere for dirty secrets and irrelevant information that can be twisted and mis-interpreted to destroy my public image and mislead my voters.

Moving away from my slight paranoia and on a more positive note, it seems there is a lot of curiosity about what happened to my garden following my Freshly Pressed post and as a few months have past there has been a lot of change. Gone are the neatly kept rows of tomatoes supported by straight standing bamboo sticks; replaced by an overgrown wilderness of green leaves and fruits fighting for space and sunlight. It seems that when planting the seeds, in an effort to economise and make the most of every single millimetre of land, not enough space for was left between the plants resulting in the appearance of the world’s first city jungle. Yet, despite the conditions the tomatoes have managed to grow and if you dare to venture deep enough, into the darkness of the bushes, you can spot the juicy glow of the first few reddened tomatoes.

The sweetcorn has also greatly flourished, but in a much less chaotic way. Each plant has produced a few cobs and they all look ready to hit the barbecue, if only it would stop raining. Without a single hint of bias, I can honestly say that the sweetcorn from my garden is the best I have ever tasted; sweet and juicy even when eaten plain and raw.

As for the strawberries in the hanging basket… At first they produced a few tiny sweet strawberries but as time went by and the weather grew worse they withered and died, only to mysteriously start growing what appears to be green tomatoes! I am not yet sure as to the origins of these magical fruits and will need to do some further investigation to ascertain the cause but I have a small inkling that my father may be behind it.

Let’s hope that everything continues to go well and perhaps next year we can learn from our mistakes and avoid any unfortunate repeats. Everyone starts off with black thumbs to begin with; they just get greener and greener with practise.