Tag Archives: UK

Olympic Torch Relay, 02 July 2012

With 25 days, 05 hours and 41 minutes to go until the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the excitement levels here in the UK are rising by the minute. In spite of the doom-and-gloom economic and financial news we’re bombarded with every day, doubled up – so far – by the most miserable summer weather on record, the host nation is getting into the Olympic spirit and seems determined to enjoy the Games.

One of the brilliant initiatives of the London 2012 Organising Committee was to have the torch travel within 1 mile distance from 95% of the population of the UK. That’s like having the Olympic torch visit your back garden. To achieve this ambitious plan, the torch is being carried by 8,000 torchbearers up and down the country over a period of 70 days, up until the 27th of July.

Today, it was our turn to cheer and welcome the flame. A once-in-a-lifetime, not-to-be-missed event, especially since all 8,000 torches were made by a local company here, in our city. This little detail made the event even more special, as there was a feeling of entitlement and pride running through the crowd.

Luckily for us, the procession was scheduled to reach our corner of the world between 7.30 and 8.00 in the morning, which gave us plenty of time to go see it and still make it to school on time. We went out early – too early, thanks to Brianna who couldn’t contain her excitement – and occupied a strategic position on a traffic island, in the middle of the road. The 15-20 minutes wait gave us time to soak up the atmosphere.

And then they started coming.

First, there were a lot of police officers on motorcycles… Some of them were solemn and serious, whilst others worked the crowds, beeping their horns, waving and shaking hands with the people lining the road.

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Then the sponsors’ procession arrived…

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…followed by the torch and its bearer, flanked by two runners on either side…

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Cheers, applause, more cheers, and then it was over. The torch had moved on to the next roundabout to be cheered by other people and we returned home to get ready for school. But the feeling remained. We felt joyous, proud and energised. But, above all, we felt inspired.

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*** If you want to read more about the Olympic torch, its history or its route, click here. If you want to watch the Torch Relay live, click here.

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Filed under Photo diary

Good Luck, Kate and Will

Ok, so this is a dog blog, I know that. But I couldn’t let such an important and exciting event like our Royal Wedding pass without writing a little something about it. After all, it is the biggest thing that’s happened in this country for a long time and the two young people involved are so loved by everyone here in the UK that their wedding has become our national celebration, too.

It can’t be easy to be hunted by the more or less critical eyes of billions of people on the most important day of your life, when you’re supposed to concentrate on being happy and enjoying yourself rather than worry about your hair not being perfect or messing up your steps as you’re going down the aisle. As I think they are really nice people, I really hope that Kate and William manage to ignore the world, shake the pressure off their shoulders and make this truly their day.

Of course, like many others, I’ll be watching the highlights of the wedding on TV. However, I promise I won’t be looking for mistakes, fashion crimes, bad hair or faulty make-up. I didn’t care about these things when I was a bride and still don’t care about them now. I’ll be looking to see a page of history being written by a young couple radiating with happiness and love.

Have a wonderful, happy day, Kate and Will, and best of luck for the future!

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Filed under Whilst walking the dog

Open Your Heart for Red Nose Day

Not long before my daughter was born, I purchased a little photo frame from a market stall. It wasn’t anything special, but it carried a message that I really liked: “Whenever a child is born, the world lights up with possibilities”.

Recently, whilst walking through our peaceful forest with George, this message sprung back to my mind. Such simple, wonderful words, but are they always true? Are there real opportunities for the countless children who are born in the wrong place, at the wrong time or to the wrong parents? What hope is there for them? What can we do to make their lives better?

 Today, these questions will be on everyone’s lips and none of us will be able to turn our eyes away from the uncomfortable reality of how some of the most innocent live on this planet. In the 21st century.  This is what Red Nose Day – or Comic Relief – is all about:

Publicising the sad stories of less fortunate children in Africa and the UK and turning their tears into smiles. Employing the art of comedy, in all its forms, to raise money for charity. Coming together one day a year to try to change things. In a world where the rich-beyond-measure reward themselves with millions of pounds they don’t really need, it’s up to the rest of us to make a difference. It always has been. And we’ve proved, year after year, that there is enough compassion in our hearts to find the means to make this difference.

Tonight my family and I will be watching the Red Nose Day fund-raising programme on TV. We will laugh at the gags and gasp at the acts of bravery put together by celebrities and common people alike in their attempt to raise awareness and money. We will cry at the sad stories of children working in slums for a penny a day, dying of hunger or sleeping in the street. We will be moved by the desperation of these children’s parents and their genuine gratitude for any act of kindness they are shown. We will cuddle up together and be thankful for our privileged life. But, more importantly, we’ll press the ‘Donate’ button or make a call.

This is one of those days when I wish I was rich. Not for my own gratification – we’ve got everything we need – but to be able to help and share. But, since this is real life, I’m not in that position and have to settle for a modest donation. I have to be honest, I used to wonder whether our humble contribution would really really make a difference. Surely, a few pounds can’t go that far. Well, you’d be surprised! They say that my £5 can save 4 children from dying of malaria. It’s only a tiny amount and a small gesture, with an amazing result. Imagine what can be achieved with a hundred, a thousand or a million times that!

I no longer feel isolated and powerless. We’re only weak as individuals, but we’re powerful together. I strongly believe that and days like today prove me right. The social movements in the Middle East do, too, but this is not the time nor the place to go into that.

Times are hard for everybody, but the truth is that there’s always someone out there who is less fortunate, poorer or in a more desperate situation than us. Today is about opening our hearts to them, listening to their muffled voices and helping them however we can. Last year we calculated that we spent more on butterfly netting to protect our cabbages than the price of a mosquito net which would save a child from becoming infected with malaria. This makes me think that we can all find the means, however small, to show that we care. All we need to do is sacrifice something which, come to think of it, we may not need in the first place, like our butterfly netting or your bottle of wine.

So put on a red T-shirt, do someting funny and join in the charity express. You may wake up a happier person tomorrow.

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If you’d like to find out more about Red Nose Day and what some of the celebrities involved in the fund-raising events have to say about it, click here.

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Filed under Our days, Whilst walking the dog