I really enjoy documenting my travels on this blog, but despite living in one of the greatest cities in the world, I rarely spend time photographing it. A few months ago I found myself walking around SE1 with my camera and a few minutes to play at being a tourist.
Our name came out of the tennis club ballot for Wimbledon this year—Court 1 tickets on the final day. With the Centre Court roof protecting the schedule from rain delays, it is no longer likely to see any main draw matches on Court 1 on the final Sunday but the atmosphere in the ground was fantastic and we saw potential future stars in the boys’ singles and doubles finals, plus some very entertaining invitation doubles.
The eventual winner of the boys’ singles was a tall American named Reilly Opelka with a giant serve. I had some fun capturing it using the “Slow-Mo” video mode on my camera.
I also recorded an entire point of the doubles, here it is at 6x speed.
Leading up to the event, mention of the Olympics in conversation led to pessimistic discussions of two weeks enforced working from home or even “escaping” London before the city gridlocked. While road users moaned about lanes being reserved for IOC bureaucrats, official websites indicated that there would be a 30 minute wait to board trains at key underground stations.
A week into the event and everything has changed. The transport and general chaos that everyone thought inevitable has not materialised. The transport has been no busier than usual, the attendees’ tube etiquette no worse than the standard tourists, and at times it has seemed that the only delay was due to officious one way systems that continued to be enforced despite deserted passageways.
I, for one, am really glad that I did not leave town for the duration. The clutch of gold medals won by Team GB have undoubtedly helped kindle interest in the games, but there is also a great atmosphere in the city. Sports rarely heard of in Britain, such as beach volleyball, have won new converts with their party atmosphere and many nations are hosting a “hospitality house” with exhibitions, concerts and parties. You can even spot medal winners on the bus!
And what about that much vaunted legacy of the games? With so much success by both sexes in boats and on bikes, surely it is time to end the illusion that men’s football is our national game?
Photographs from day five of the Olympic tennis tournament at the All England Club in Wimbledon. We saw Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko on the practice courts in the morning. Then Roger Federer v Denis Istomin, Azarenka v Petrova, and Sabine Lisicki against Maria Sharapova from some great seats on the Number 1 court.
The grand opening of London’s new skyscraper was an excuse to put on a show… with lasers.
Bermondsey Street runs south from the always busy1 “More London” riverside but (fortunately!) few tourists seem keen to venture under the imposing railway bridge to visit. Consequently it normally has a quiet village-like atmosphere, there’s even a little park half way down which might be the Village Green.
- even on Christmas Day! [back]
The National Theatre is one of those buildings on the South Bank which was erected in the 1960’s by people who though concrete was an attractive building material. The name also suggests a rather high-brow entertainment-offering, and consequently I have never really paid much attention to it. However I have learned that this ugly building hides in fact not one but three theatres, making an enquiry about returned tickets at its box office the ideal way to end a spontaneous afternoon visit to the South Bank.
My prejudice about boring and/or expensive “high brow” content was also allayed last night when I saw a new play called Happy Now, a black but razor-sharp comedy about modern life in the vein of Ayekbourn’s Absurd Person Singular. I thoroughly recommend it.
(Incidentally, the play’s haunting title music is Michelle Branch’s, Are you happy now? [itunes link].)