Foundations

I'm going on the Camino again tomorrow. 500km of walking and 25 days of space. I'm looking forward to the distance from the intensity of London.

When you haven't written in a while there's an urge to acknowledge that absence. I last published something here in January last year. Since then, the main bullet points were getting severely ill in Edinburgh, surviving my final uni exams, recovering through manual labour in Italy and then building a new life in London where I've been for the last 12 months. Through all of this, writing seemed like a luxury that I couldn't afford. I was clinging to any energy I had left and was reluctant to spare it on anything deemed extra to the immediate challenges in front of me. In hindsight I think this was a mistake; Creating, even something small and simple, helps you feel alive. While it takes energy, it often gives back more or gives back something different. 

I was travelling through Washington and California earlier this year and ended up in a hostel in San Francisco that Joe and I went to 6 years ago. About 30 of us went to a local Indian restaurant for dinner and I was sat next to a group of 'lads' from Melbourne. Most of the chat was about where people were travelling to next and reflecting on the pros and cons of American and Australian sports. Towards the end of the evening one of the guys said something accidentally profound that stuck with me. He was talking about his life in Melbourne and said no matter where he goes and how long he's away, Melbourne will always be home for him. His friends, family, the culture, the way of life, the beaches, the food will always be what he came back to. Some people appear to be comfortable settling into a completely nomadic lifestyle but the thought of having somewhere relatively consistent to return to is appealing. 

The constant moving of the last 6 years have been great but also disorientating. The four 'homes' of Rome, London, Sydney and Edinburgh are in continual rotation. Overall, however, London is becoming the place where I return to. It's big enough to keep exploring but with individual pockets of community that you can eventually settle.

Belhaven

Belhaven

An obligatory NYE walk at Belhaven Bay in Scotland sparked the usual planning for the upcoming year. As much as possible I wanted to try and build foundations here. London has its challenges, it can seem like seeing your friends is a once a quarter battle rather than a regular involvement in each others lives. That's not always the case though and when two people are both willing to make the effort there will always be time to connect.

New people too. I'm joining a new lacrosse club, I go to a board games club (lol), being regular at Church and home group, getting more involved in my livery, joining the squash ladder. You have to keep trying, keep putting yourself out there. The people you naturally connect with will be obvious. One of my closest friends is someone I didn't know this time last year and we have played squash every week for the last 7 months.

I'm excited about this time away and equally excited about coming back with hopefully new energy and fresh ideas.

A presto,

TJP

Wednesday Finals

As much as I might like to pretend otherwise, my work isn't all fun and games. After my alarm goes off at 4.30am, I am soon on my bike completing the 7 mile ride to get to Eton Dorney. Today reminded me why it is worth the effort and allowed me to appreciate how the Olympics is such an important and inspirational event.


Today was the first of four final days at Dorney. It marked GBs first Gold medal and also a brave, fantastic effort by the mens 8. That race in particular was spectacular with all 6 crews finishing within a length of each other. Constantine Louloudis, who stroked the boat, is someone who I raced against a couple of years ago when coxing for Kings. He is a humble guy and a phenomenal athlete. I look forward to seeing him progress further at Rio.


A large part of my day was spent working in the 'Kiss and Cry' area. Situated next to the press zone it is where the athletes meet their families and friends after their races to either commiserate or celebrate the result. You get a good view of the lake, big screen and stands and it is easily one of the better places to be. The BBC also broadcast from within the zone which meant Redgrave, Pinsent and Cracknell were often shuffling in and out between races. While this started to become expected, the appearances of Royalty were a little more noteworthy. Both William and Harry seeing the first of GB's successes.


I've got to know several of the athletes and it has been interesting to follow the rowing from a more personal focus over the last few days. As well as GB there are a variety of random nationalities within different events that I will be following closely. Three more days to go and it is looking promising

Olympic Training

Every day more athletes arrive and the atmosphere is building with each new morning at the lake. I feel particularly fortunate to have a great role within one of the most beautiful Olympic venues at Eton Dorney. I've signed up to do more shifts and will now be at the venue for all but one of the competition days.

Due to standard procedure I can't reveal much of the details but I can say it has exceeded my expectations and everything is rapidly taking shape. One of the highlights of my day is the cycle to work. The route from Englefield Green to Windsor is surrounded with quintessential English countryside. As I cycle at sun rise, I have the crown farm on one side, with forever stretching golden corn fields, and the ominous Windsor Castle emerging from the pinky mist on the other. The roads are empty and the birds are the only animals making a sound. I'm going to take my camera on this journey next week.

Inside the venue I am starting to reap the rewards of the sponsorship of Coca Cola and I hope this will be replicated by Cadbury next week. My role operates within the athlete preparation area and this up close experience is one of the main reasons why I applied in the first place. Bag drop is one of the few positions where you can readily talk to the athletes whether this is in espanol or ingles, depending on the circumstances a lot of the athletes enjoy a bit of light conversation and banter. USA are particularly gregarious and are always fun when they come in. I will find out after the Games whether I have made it onto 'The List' although I'm not particularly hopeful at this time.

I'm spending a day exploring London tomorrow before starting the incredibly busy wind up to the start next Saturday. Everyone is very conscious of the magnitude of the event. Four years is a long, long time to prepare for one moment and its intriguing to see how the enormity of the occasion is affecting each person involved. It should be an interesting week.