Saturday, 7 July 2012
Fanning The Flames
If you have been visiting my little corner of the internet for a while, then you will know that I am not the most sporty of people. As such, while I have respect for the feats achieved by Olympic Athletes, I am not madly interested in watching them. So, I thought that Olympic Fever had passed me by, although I did very much like the Cath Kidston mug for the Olympics (it features among other things a lady in an old-fashioned swimming hat diving off of Big Ben!). When I was down in Taunton a month or so ago, the town was completely bedecked in bunting ready to welcome the Olympic Flame. I really liked that, and I like the sense of pride in our nation, and the feeling that we are all getting together to celebrate something. I think it has echoes of the Jubilee and last year's Royal Wedding. Even though I knew the Olympic Flame was coming to Chelmsford, I wasn't particularly excited. And then shops started to hang out bunting, and red-white-and-blue-flower-filled hanging baskets. Then the cafes announced they would open at 6:00am the day the Flame left Chelmsford (this morning, at 7:00am!). At work a lot of offices started to hang up flags and bunting, and even our own office had its own inflatable Olympic Torch! So we decided that we would get up early and go and watch the Flame pass through our town, and join in the celebrations. The excitement about it all has been really infectious! But then yesterday, we had a sudden change of plan! Late in the afternoon, I was lucky enough to be given a pair of tickets to Sparks Will Fly, the celebration event to welcome the Flame to Chelmsford. It was a really lovely atmosphere, with lots and lots of stalls and tents and happy people wandering about, being thankful that the rain had stopped. In one area, there was a band playing swing music, next to a stage where there were Highland Dancers and Bagpipe Players...very eclectic! The finale involved two giant stilt-walking puppet creatures who had been going around Essex collecting glass beads. I am a bit hazy to the details and reasons why, to be honest, but after they had some kind of final showdown quiz (which was visually stunning but a bit bemusing, especially when the compere urged us to breathe the Sussex air!) there were fireworks. All in all, although it was late and dark and muddy, I am really glad we were there, and got to see the flame. As there were a few thousand cars trying to leave the car park at the same time, we didn't get home till well after midnight, so decided not to get up this morning to see the Flame again after all. A good decision, I think, as I was really tired this morning! However, when we walked into town at the more sociable hour of half past nine, I was so pleased to see the Cathedral had decked their grounds with bunting, and so many shops had made the effort to decorate too. All in all, a really lovely atmosphere. Now, I am just hoping that the rain holds off for tomorrow, as we are off to Silverstone for the Grand Prix!