Becca Jane St Clair

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London 2012 Basketball Quarterfinals

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I have been obsessively checking the ticketing website for the Olympics hoping beyond all hope that I would find something….anything and not having much luck. Several times, Tim and I thought we ha tickets only to have the little ticker count down to 0 and “no tickets available”. So we bought Paralympic tickets instead for the two of us (and they were reasonably priced!) and Tim told me to keep trying for a single ticket for myself. Thanks to a twitter feed called 2012 Ticket Alert, I was able to keep an eye on things as they became available. The only downside was that sometimes an alert would be posted for a single ticket in the highest price range (£495!) and in the lower price ranges they went fast and I still missed out.

Finally, on Tuesday evening, Basketball tickets became available for the following day. I held my breath as I loaded the ticketing website, put a single ticket (at the £55 price bracket) in my basket and clicked on “check availability” and watched the countdown tell me I had 15 minutes left….14……13…12….then it kept jumping between 8 and 9 minutes remaining and I thought for sure I had missed out on tickets….so imagine my joy and surprise when it popped me through to the checkout screen and told me I had 3 minutes to book my ticket! Ticket booked, I ran outside to tell Tim I needed a lift to the station in the morning….I didn’t get much sleep that night.

Due to Tim’s schedule, he wound up dropping me off at Lincoln station in time to get the 0526 train. This was good because the information online stated if you had tickets for the same day you were picking them up, you should get to the box office as early in the day as possible. Instead of heading straight to the North Greenwich Arena (which I only learned the day before is actually the O2/Millennium Dome) to pick up tickets, I decided to go to the gates in Stratford because I wanted to get a glimpse of Olympic Park.

Travelling in London was very smooth! From King’s Cross, you just had to follow the pink signs across the street to St Pancras and onto the Javelin trains to Stratford. From Stratford, you followed MORE pink signs to Olympic Park. The queue was short for picking up tickets, so in no time I had my tickets and I headed to the Jubilee line, with the intentions of getting some photos of Tower Bridge with the Olympic rings (the rings will be replaced with the Paralympic logo when Tim and I go down). I got off at Waterloo station and while walking across Waterloo bridge I spotted the floating rings:

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I decided to take the Dockland’s Light Railway (DLR) as far as Royal Docks and then the Emirates Air Line (A gondola ride across the Thames). The Air Line was amazing, and I got a view of Olympic Park from the air:

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And also of the North Greenwich Arena:

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It was lunch time. The ticketing website said to “be at the venue two hours before the event” and the first game started at 2, but I decided to take some time to eat before getting into the arena. I spotted a Subway, so for £3.59 I had a very decent sized salad! Can you get anything at the Olympics for less than that? (Maybe the pound range at McDonald’s!) Getting into the arena was a bit like going to the airport. Put your single bag* on the x-ray belt, take off anything metal (including watches and belts) and go through a metal detector. Okay, not bad. But then, once you got into the Arena and wanted to go to your seat, you had to submit to a bag search. This part I didn’t like, as I had packed my bag very carefully and very full and it was hard getting everything back in without causing a traffic jam. The ticketing website advised that you could bring an empty water bottle into the venue, so I went up to the concession stand and asked them to fill it for me. Fortunately, I had my filter bottle, though I wished the water had been a little colder! I watched many people buying bottled water and then pouring it into their reusable bottles, so it doesn’t sound like they are advertising the “free water” very well!

I was in Section 115, Row Q, seat 74. ROW Q. Does that sound as crazy close to the court to you as it did to me? Well, it turned out I was TWENTY ROWS BACK. I think the only reason the ticket was going was because I was nearly dead center with one of the baskets, so it had a partially obstructed view. I didn’t care.

I sat next to a man from Stratford-upon-Avon (I forget his name) and he and I had a great time talking and commentating on the games. The games I was going to watch were Russia vs. Lithuania and France vs. Spain. The first game was good, but a little slow. And there were loads of Lithuanian fans in the arena who booed anytime Russia had the ball! I decided I would cheer on Russia, and was glad I did because they won the game 83-74. During the break, the Lithuanian and Russian fans left, and the French and Spanish fans arrived. The second game was at a much faster pace than the first. France and Spain seemed to be fairly evenly matched and the score was kept close until the fourth quarter where Spain started to sneak ahead. The last 25 seconds of the game took at least 15 minutes to play out because the French team was obviously sore losers and kept fouling the Spanish players, so we would have a few seconds of play, a foul called, 2 penalty baskets by Spain (which was only increasing their lead!), a few seconds of play, foul, penalty baskets, etc. etc. Spain won 66-59.

I left immediately after the whistle, as I was going to be in a time crunch to get back to King’s Cross for my train….and I was so lucky I got to the ticket barrier just as they were announcing my train!

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Ironically, while I’ve been writing this, the gold medal match is being played out….USA vs. Spain. Who do I root for? The team I have been following since 1992 (when my dad and I were obsessed with the Dream Team) or the team I watched? Oh, who am I kidding? USA! USA! USA! USA! (and USA won!! 107-100!!)

If you’d like to see the rest of the photos I uploaded (I took over 500, uploaded a little over 100), you can check them out in my facebook album.

* You may bring in ONE backpack of up to 25L or a “medium handbag” because you have to put your bag under your seat. Fortunately, they don’t say anything about having things hanging OFF your bag, so I had my raincoat and lunchbox attached to the outside.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Swimming, Swimming…

Swimming, Swimming,
In a swimming pool.
When days are hot, when days are cold,
In a swimming pool.
Breast stroke, side stroke, fancy diving too,
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could go swimming with you?

We’ve hit a heat wave in the UK this past week (or two, actually!) and I’ve been spending time away from the computer and outside in the garden….until it got even too hot to do that.

Yesterday, we were melting. I had just finished making dinner, and standing in front of the hot stove/oven had overheated me. I went outside (where it was cooler!) and watered the garden before coming back in and Tim suggested we head on over to the Yarborough Leisure Centre to have a swim. Entry costs £2.90/adult for casual swim, which gives you about an hour and half of swim time.

It was….interesting. Nothing like what I expected, and nothing like what I’m used to in the US. In the US, I’ve always had community pools at my disposal (either in my development or within a short walk) and your fee for using it was always included in your annual fees. At the pools where I grew up, you would walk in, flash your pool pass, and then head into the gender segregated changing rooms/toilets. At this one? We all got herded into one single changing “pavilion” (I believe that was the word used) which had coin-operated lockers (£1) and individual changing stalls (with locks). Men, women, and children all together in the same room with plenty of attendants on hand. If you needed to change, you were expected to use one of the changing rooms, and the only shower facility was the group shower area (so no way to really wash with shampoo/body wash, etc. unless you went into the gym’s segregated changing facilities). To say that I was shocked was an understatement. The attendants didn’t even say anything when Tim and I went into the same changing cubicle post-swim.

After you changed into your swimming costume (US: swimsuit/bathing suit) you went through the showers (required before swimming) and handed your ticket to a lifeguard. He then handed you a colour-coded wrist band (though mine was large enough to go on my ankle) based on what time you entered. Along one side of the lifeguard station was a strip of bright lights. When your time was up, a buzzer sounded and a coloured light lit up based on your wrist band colour.

Despite the crowds of people waiting to get in and milling around the changing room, the pool itself wasn’t too crowded. I imagine the colour-coded wrist bands help. Tim and I swam a bit, and did “water aerobics” until our colour lit up. Then, it was out of the pool, back into street clothes, and home with just enough time for Tim to get ready for the overnight shift.

We’re hoping to swim again soon. Our plan is to eventually feel comfortable enough to attend lane swimming instead of open swim so we can get in more exercise, but it’s been a while since both of us swam, so we’re taking it slow!

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Olympics From a Traveler’s Perspective

It’s actually really interesting to be in another country during the Olympics, and to be watching things on that nation’s television station. It’s interesting how the focus isn’t all about the Canadians, and they’re actually talking about all the other nations and athletes…they even showed George Bush when the US walked by. It’s refreshing, because on the US station(s), I know they’ll be concentrating mostly on the US teams and on telling us all about the US.

The commercials are also great, because they’ve been showing support commercials for both Canada and the US….whereas in the US, we wouldn’t get Canadian commercials.

Also, I completely do not understand the Chinese alphabet they’re using for the countries. Peru followed by Ireland followed by Estonia…oh wait, and now it’s the Czech Republic and El Salvador. What?! And the UK, the US, and Canada all already marched. Can anyone explain to me the Chinese alphabet?

I’m also actually pretty exited…these are the 29th Olympics, and I’m turning 29! Okay, so the Olympics aren’t technically 29 actual years old, but it still keeps me entertained.

The only thing I might miss with not being in the US would be the coverage on *all* of the NBC owned channels and the chance to be watching high diving at 2 in the morning because it happens to be on MS-NBC or something like that.

I love the Olympics. I have since I was little…..Mom has a photo of me somewhere from 1984, asleep on her and Dad’s bed, holding an American flag in my hand because I had been trying to stay awake to watch the opening ceremonies. In 1992, when the US had it’s first “dream team”, dad and I watched every game we could, and collected all the newspaper articles. I bet I still have them somewhere. My hometown was host to an Olympic athlete (he went to Peddie, my public high school’s private rival across the street), and my college (Penn State!) has been the alma of many athletes. My friend is vying for a position on the US Hockey team for 2010, and Tim’s already been teasing me about staying with him in 2012 for the London games.

The sad thing about this year? I won’t be watching them with my mom, and I’ll miss out on the local coverage. Oh, but how’s this for strange? I went to both the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting) and NBC websites to check on the schedule because I don’t want to miss the Penn State alum (Kevin Tam, US Men’s Gymnastic Captain) and I thought I caught that part of Men’s Gymnastic’s was tonight, and I actually had the local (WGAL) logo showing on the NBC site. My IP is currently showing me as being in Canada, so I know it’s not some weird “we’ll go by her IP and show her the station logo for the local station”….but look:

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Isn’t that weird?

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