And I only went to the women’s hockey!
The beauty of the Olympic Park captured by a first-time visitor (with
two kids, plus granny)
Wildflowers, views of the Olympic Stadium made for a great day out – plus the sport, of course
19:34 GMT, 9 August 2012
Much celebration ensued in our house when the announcement came that London had won the Olympic bid.
We had spent the past seven years – our youngest is only seven, so his whole life – telling the children how incredible it was that the biggest sporting event in the world was going to be held on our doorstep.
But then having lost out on the first round of the Olympic ticket bid – along with almost everyone else we knew – we felt terribly let down. Londoners with no tickets. We felt robbed.
Julie and family arrive at the Olympic Park, excited to be a part of history
The second round of tickets failed too, and then I was out of the country for the third and by then had given up all hope – until a friend offered me four tickets for the women’s hockey play-offs (to see the losers placed in seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth places).
OK, so I never would have plumped for them when I first started this long winding ticket process but at this stage of the proceedings – older, wiser and desperate – I snapped them up.
Yes, yes, yes! I felt like we had won a gold medal. We were going. We would be part of history.
Like all the best things in life we had to get up at 5.30am. It was like going on holiday.
With bags packed the night before, we had decided to ignore the Transport for London suggested route to the stadium – which would take an hour and a half – and instead used common sense.
We caught the 6.47am Wimbledon to Waterloo train and then the Jubilee Line to Stratford, which took a total of 50 minutes.
Say cheese: The boys have fun with their reflections on the roof
Julie and her family were amazed by the sights of the stadium and the Orbit
With every step towards the Stadium it was like walking into Disneyland for the first time, but better
This part of London has been transformed by the landscaping of the Olympic park
Julie took advantage of the time prior to the match to take some treasured photos
Flower and the glory: The Olympic stadium and wildflowers nearby
A smooth and stress free journey – and free as the hockey tickets came with travelcards.
At Stratford we followed volunteers wearing big pink foam hands, pointing the way, and seemingly genuine smiles – were we really in London
We were at the gates by 7.50am. We walked through security waving our empty water bottles – no liquids are allowed in but you can fill up for free inside – and then we were in.
Of course, first things first. Photos.
So, there I am taking pictures of kids with gran. Within seconds a volunteer with a big smile appears from nowhere and asks whether we want a photo of all of us. Yes, please! And, then she thanks us for being part of 2012. I nearly cried.
Parked up: The glorious Gloriana which headed the Queen's Jubilee Pageant shines out in less salubrious surroundings
Supporting in style at Team GB HQ
With every step towards the Stadium it was like walking into Disneyland for the first time, but better.
With two coffees and three muffins – they had run out of pastries – and 11 lighter we made our way to the Riverbank Arena, at the far end of the park. Of course, despite being early, we missed the national anthems, having spent so long taking photos. And, the Riverbank Arena is further than you think.
But once in our seats the views across to the Olympic Stadium and the Orbit were incredible.
In case you were wondering, the seats which were 75 per cent full when we arrived at 8.35am, were I reckon, 95 per cent full by the end of the first match. Perhaps, it was a little early for some, or they had followed the Tfl planner, who knows
The hockey matches were all good family fun and Julie and family watched Japan vs Russia
It was a tight match and after extra time Japan won 2-1. Between matches there was enough time to queue up and spend 27 on two caps for the children and then it was back in for the second match
Korea versus Germany was much more aggressive and exciting
Julie and her family were delirious with excitement whilst watching the matches
Making friends and posing with Wenlock the mascot
First match was Japan versus South Africa. It was all good family fun.
The rules were explained as we went along, the sound man had fun playing a variety of British tunes, including the Beatles ‘Help’, whenever there was a video referral and then there was the neverending Mexican wave.
I think we were all delirious with excitement.
It was a tight match and after extra time Japan won 2-1. Between matches we had enough time to queue up and spend 27 on two caps for the children and then it was back in for the second match.
Korea versus Germany was much more aggressive and exciting. Those hockey players are gutsy. New respect. The Germans won 5-1.
And then we were out and ready to explore. We managed to bag a spot watching one of the big screens, but unbelievably the sun was out and it was too hot to sit and watch.
After queuing to get into the megastore and then escaping as quickly as possible with no purchases and then queuing to get into McDonald’s, which we would never normally go in, but was cheap and had air-conditioning, we walked around the park and took in the incredible sights, in particular the landscaping, river walk and wild flowers.
After that we contemplated going back to watch the screens but we couldn’t even see a way through the crowds.
So, after a bit of hill rolling by the boys we reluctantly called it a day. It was 5pm.
Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympics had come to an end for us – a day none of us will ever forget.
And a few special Instagram memories…