Bristol holds...the Olympic Torch!
22nd May 2012
Those who know me are aware that aside from eating-out, my other (perhaps rather more productive) past-time, is getting my sweat on in the gym. And, having been a self-proclaimed gym bunny for a good decade or so, it’s fair to say that my love of athletics extends beyond the sweaty four walls of Fitness First – so much so in fact that anticipation of this year’s Olympic Games has grown into a full blown obsession. Yes, I have the count-down clock as a bookmark on my computer desktop, I have booked two whole weeks off work this Summer to sit in front of the telly-box and my girl crush on Cheryl Cole has subsided in favour of Heptathlon great, Jessica Ennis. But surely for us Brits, the most exciting thing of all is the fact that – all together now – “it’s coming home”! OK, I know we’re not on a par with Athens but this is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime, blink and you’ll miss it occasion whereby Great Britain will be hosting the most spectacular sporting event of them all. And, if the efforts of our top-notch athletes isn’t reason enough for a little patriotism, the fact that they’ll be running/cycling/swimming/pole vaulting (and so much more) upon home turf surely must be...Come on, dust off the bunting you have left over from last year's Royal Wedding and show your support for Team GB!
So, with this relentless enthusiasm in mind, I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised to learn that witnessing the arrival of the Olympic Torch in my beloved home-town was hot on my to-do list; clearing my schedule from 17:38 so to facilitate watching it pass through Hanham High Street – the sleepy town in which I spent my childhood – whilst basking in the festivities unfolding within Millennium Square. Here, the torch would be later ‘set-down’ before continuing its journey into Cheltenham the following morning. Prior to this however, my working-day was punctuated with sightings of the torch growing ever closer (via the live feed on the BBC's website) and identifying the torch bearers who had been nominated to take part; delighting in the fact that four would be representing said workplace, as UWE Bristol students and staff. That said, the arrival of 16:00 provoked a swift exit and, after noting the buzz of the commute towards my initial destination, I fought my way through the increasing bustle to reach my viewpoint of the Stonehill to St. George stretch. It was really rather surreal to see my former stomping ground projected around the world via the the wonders of modern technology and yet, I concluded that the choked-up pride that I experienced was a result of the response of its inhabitants whereby people (my parents included) had lined the streets in their hundreds and each shop, café and pub along the way, had been adorned with a Union Jack. Speaking of which, I had become rather aware that I too had dressed myself in appropriate attire; though, the red, white and blue of the ensemble I had subconsciously selected in a haze preceding my 8:00am coffee hit really wasn't intentional....honest! And so I stood with my face turned up towards the glare of the sizeable screen whilst Millennium Square became busier still in anticipation of the climax of the day's procession. And, whilst several sporadic hot air balloons sailed past overhead - which, coupled with the prominent nautical input, featured as an emblem of the city's heritage - British Paralympian, Blaire Hannan, lit the cauldron to a roar of applause. The unbroken sunshine and hubbub of activity never taking away from one's appreciation of what ultimately constituted a historic occasion.
And how does all this fit in with a blog dedicated to gastronomical pleasures I hear you ask...well, it doesn’t actually but given the intermittent picnicking which took place between the coverage of each stretch of the route, the red, white and blue sprinkles added to my Angel Berry fro-yo and later, finding myself with a caipirinha in each hand courtesy of the two-for-one cocktail offer until 7:30pm at Las Iguanas, I can just about justify this post! Incidentally, it will also explain why Canapés, Cupcakes and Cocktails will inevitably go AWOL come the 25th July; for, some may not understand the gravity of this particular occasion, or think that the Olympic Games are a waste of tax-payers pennies but for me, its an event that showcases the talent within our Country and inspires others to go 'that extra mile' – and, for these reasons and so many more, I will be backing Team GB with an energetic passion all of my own.