World, there you have it! We’ve spent seven years in the build up to the London Olympics and in just two weeks…it’s over!
I truly hope you have enjoyed our Olympics, and I know that I certainly have. I shared some of the fears that all Londoners had – would it all be OK? Would the venues look good? Would the Tube cope? What about the weather? Well, in the end, it was all, quite frankly, amazing. Sure, we had a few showers, but mostly we’ve had warm, sunny days with fluffy clouds, drama, royalty, Pimm’s, a curiously British opening ceremony, and in my case, the rare experience of getting sunburned at the hockey venue between 8 and 10 in the morning!
If you’ve been following my tweets, you’ll have seen that I might have been on the very verge of “losing it” in the midst of a chaotic house move (the week before it all kicked off – how was that for planning?), but I’ve still been in there waving the Union flag over at the Olympic Park. I was lucky enough to see swimming (Michael Phelps! Rebecca Adlington!), hockey (NZ, SA, Australia and South Korea!) and athletics (Jessica Ennis!). I also got to hang out in front of one of the giant screens to watch a bit of equestrianism in the middle of a flower meadow (in Stratford – who’d have thought?). Even at work, we’ve had the Olympics on in the background (by which I mean “on all day, glued to the screen”), with frequent cheers going up as the UK took gold. And Charlotte Dujardin and her horse Valegro competing to Land of Hope and Glory and James Bond themes in the dressage? Unmissable!
I was struck when I was at each of the venues just how great the atmosphere was. Flag waving and proud nationalism, but also the crowds were cheering all competitors. We wanted the winners to win, we wanted them all to finish, and you just will each competitor to give their best and deliver a performance that allows them to go home with their heads held high. Having sampled that atmosphere, it made watching in TV so much more special, as you could imagine what it was like to be there.
The atmosphere has been something that everyone has commented on, and if you have been lucky enough to visit, I hope that you agree. No matter which part of the country you are from or where you live, you will have seen us Brits at our best, and I think we can all be proud of that. I’d even go so far as to suggest that Londoners have gone from being rushed, pushy and impatient to being – gasp – helpful and friendly. Who’d have thought? Well, I think we all knew that under the surface there was gold to be found.
What has been truly inspirational is that the faith of the crowds was met by team GB bringing back an impressive medal haul, involving 29 golds – our best performance as a nation since 1908. Apart from a horse that can win a gold medal while performing to Live and Let Die, apart from Jessica Ennis, apart from Mo Farah…oh, apart from so many special moments, I loved some of the heats in the cycling Omnium – combining skill and judgement to remain in contention, while conserving every for the final sprint without ending up too far back in the pack and getting knocked out. Laura Trott did us proud in that event!
Now that it is all over, however, life seems just that little bit less exciting. I loved all the visitors on the tube that did not know where to go. I loved pointing Italians the correct way to the Victoria line. I loved showing people how to find the Javelin trains to the Olympic Park from St Pancras station. I loved the buzz, the excitement, the flags, the organised chaos, and now – something so major in our lives has gone. We are no longer the host of the next Olympics. That honour has passed to Rio de Janeiro. And that is a feeling we will all miss. Life seemed just a little bit less colourful today, and it was not just the muggy, cloudy skies over London. How could it be over?
Well, the truth is, it isn’t over. You might notice that I’ve referred to the “London Olympics” and not “the Games” or “London 2012”. This is entirely on purpose. For you see, we’ve become just a little bit addicted to the excitement of seeing athletes and medal ceremonies and soaking up the great atmosphere in the city. I was coming back from work today, and the tube seemed strangely empty. For it seems we want more. And more we will get. The Paralympics start in just over two weeks, and I think people are excited. They want to feel that buzz in the crowd, the packed venues, the breaking of records and the chance to cheer on some inspirational sportsmen and women. So in fact, it’s not over. We’ve just reached the half-way mark. And you know, I think the prospect of more to come is just what we need! It also makes me so proud to think that the London Paralympics will be sold out.
So on that positive note, and in honour of the 29 golden moments we’ve just had (and with the hope of a lot more to come) I’ve paid a little tribute of my own, with my top 29 posts to date (this is a food blog, after all). In true Olympic style, I’m happy that there is a good mixture of counties represented below, albeit that the UK is pretty well represented in this list too. And if you want a little soundtrack as you check them out, I suggest the classic Gold by Spandau Ballet or the slightly more disco-tastic Gold by Amanda Lear.
- Poffertjes (little Dutch pancakes)
- Easy Lemon Cheesecake
- Spicy Mixed Bean Stew
- Let’s make a Crunchie bar…
- Pan-Fried Feta
- Salted Caramel Macarons
- Ecclefechan Butter Tart
- Macaroon Bars
- Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)
- Easy Poffertjes
- Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake) for Koninginnedag!
- Making Paneer
- Take it sloe…
- Maids of Honour Tarts
- Quince Jam
- Galettes Bretonnes with Mushrooms
- Welsh Cakes
- Macarons à la framboise
- Semlor (Swedish Cardamom Buns)
- Lentil and Chick Pea Curry
- What to do with windfall pears?
- Split Pea and Lentil Soup
- Horchata de Chufa
- On Location: Nordic Bakery (Soho London)
- Tonka Bean Macarons
- Red Onion and Goat Cheese Crostini
- Gooseberry Fool
That’s all for now, but I promise to include a few pictures from the various events I’ve attended shortly.