...of people, at Eton Dorney to watch the rowing. It was all very different to the last couple of times I've been to Dorney - with my rowing club a couple of times for races, and also mooring the Duck there when we passed it with Warrior, all those years ago.
Amy and I set the alarm for 5:30 am and walked into Bracknell town centre from my grandad's house. We were due to catch a bus to Windsor at 6:50am, the same route that I used to use to commute to work at Legoland when I worked there over a summer.
We arrived early in Windsor and walked down the hill past Windsor castle towards Windsor and Eton Riverside train station, from whence we would catch a shuttle bus to Windsor Racecourse and then walk to Dorney Lake itself.
We were feeling pretty hungry, and so popped into a bakery for pastries and food to take in. The rules for the venue stipulated that we could bring in only empty drinks bottles - not even water - and no "excessive" amounts of food; or, even, "excessive hats"! Although we managed to get a couple of cups of tea to take away, it wasn't until we got to the station at the bottom of the hill that we realised that they'd not put milk in as we'd asked for, so we went back up the hill to get some. Yes, I know, the lengths we'll go to for a decent cuppa!
The transport to the venue was very well organised. Pink and purple shirted volunteers directed the streams of people towards several waiting buses, themselves painted pink and purple for the occasion. We were soon at Dorney's transport hub on the racecourse - a vast area covered with plastic panels to avoid the buses getting bogged down, and easily 30 buses waiting, coming, and going, and a constant stream of people heading into the racecourse to get to the lake, which we joined. We headed over lots of temporary plastic footways. It had been carefully built to be very wide, so that although we were part of a crowd of thousands moving at the same time, we didn't feel crowded.
The security checkpoints, which we reached after a 15 minute walk or so, had a series of fast-moving queues and chirpy volunteers. All the ranks of metal detector arches and bag scanners were manned by soldiers, so clearly G4S hadn't delivered on that part of their contract!
We crossed the Thames over a huge Bailey bridge, and were soon at the lake itself. We had a good hour before the first race of the day, and standing tickets which meant that we could stand anywhere along the course from the 500m mark to the 1,500m mark. The only criticism I'd have of the organisation was there was a lack of points to fill water bottles; only one near the entrance (although there were more further down) which everyone queued at, forming lengthy delays.
We headed along the lake, and tried to get as close as possible to the start. Although it was fenced off at the 500m mark, we were still able to see the boats aligning themselves with the start pontoons and getting themselves into position.
Heats of the mens' lightweight double sculls
Heats of the Men's IV- (coxless four)
Women's eights heat- Great Britain just above the head of the person with the light blue coat.
All in all, a very good day.
We headed back to Ely, where we'd moored the boat, via London, where we had a bit of a brief jaunt out to Beckton and back on the DLR, past London City airport and the docks, to make full use of our Olympic-issued travel cards, before getting back via another stopover at Stansted Airport, as there were no direct trains on the Liverpool Street line due to the Olympics.
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