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My London Olympics 2012

flameThere is a vibe of excitement in the air that greets us on arrival in England this August, 2012, that is distinctly different. People are friendlier, carrying smiles normally reserved for friends and family. Patrotism is brandished about unashamedly. Positivity flies with the many flags and so-British bunting!  The Olympics are here and everyone feels good about it. 

We managed to get athletics seats at the last stage and I now appreciated what a great priviledge it is to feel a part of this monumental event.  As you walk towards the Olympic Park volunteers greet you with welcoming cheer.  Nearly there! There are crowds of course, but its all well-orchestrated and you glide along surrounded by other enthused spectators into the stadium, guided by helpers at every turn wishing you a great experience.  Once in, one of the 80,000, the warmth and bonding of the crowd is overwhelming.  All nationalities are encouraged, with extra bursts of noise for Team GB of course. We are one people, so connected that the Mexican wave does 2 whole laps.

The men's pole vault begins and continues, interspersed between other events, for the duration.  We, the crowd, whoop our encouragement, and aarh the failed attempts.  We are pleased to give our Spanish flag a good flutter in support of Igor Bychkov, who failed just short of his personal best of 5.60 metres, and was no competition for the medalists. Renaud Lavillenie got the gold at a height of 5.97 metres. 

Meanwhile our attention is distracted by various relay heats - the American women's world record breaking 4 x 100m was spectacularly gripping - timed at 40.82 seconds. My heart went out to the USA's Morgan Uceny when she tripped (or was tripped) in the final lap of the 1500m race.  She remained curled up under the glare of the photographers stand for several minutes unable to accept her fate - this being the second time her chances have been shattered in this way. Bolt was sadly missed in the men's relay heat, but Blake and his colleagues, made the impressive time of 37.49 seconds. Usain Bolt, of course, assisted the Jamaica team to Gold the following evening in just 36.84 - another world record!

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There is never a dull moment at the stadium.  There is still more action in the form of the women's hammer throw final, harder to see clearly from our viewpoint, but giving us another excuse to wave our Union Jacks excitedly to support Laura Douglas who eventually came 4th.

We leave in a hurry to get ahead of the vast throng of people and walk a fair way to West Ham to avoid the busier station of Stratford, but all the way there friendly volunteers keep everyone in the Olympic mood.  The children dart in and out of the crowds wearing their flags around them. To our amazement there are no hold ups at the station and we made our way back to our Edgeware Road hotel, The Pavilion, in good time.

The Pavilion Hotel offers themed rooms, elaborately decorated with antique furniture and velvet-like bed covers. However, from the rooms I have seen I would struggle to describe it as 'Rock n Roll' and would be surprised if celebrity guests have stayed in them, despite these claims on their website. Perhaps there is another section to the hotel which us commoners never see.

It is reasonably priced but has its limitations... Functional staff, some very small rooms and bathrooms, basic breakfast to be taken on your knee in the room, wifi available while perched on a sofa outside reception (there are no common areas to this hotel). We felt there were numerous simple touches that could improve a stay dramatically. My sister's hot and cold tap were on the wrong way round, but she was left to discover this for herself. A large charge on a credit card could means you need to go off to a cash point before being allowed up the stairs. And, to be honest, a simple smile from a staff member would have worked wonders.

pavilionI would definately avoid the 'Family Affair', the only room that sleeps 4.  We could barely all stand at the same time and there was a metal table at the end of our bed which we had to shimmy past to reach the loo and each one of us left with mid-shin injuries from it.  I felt as if I was in an old ship's cabin, although the sounds of the sea would have been preferrable to heavy traffic. Our room was at the top of the building under a flat roof, it was extremely hot during our stay and could only be cooled by a desk-top fan which sounded like an aircraft was taking off.

I'm sure other rooms are more impressive and comfortable, and let's not forget that you get what you pay for in this life.  The room rates start at £100 a night for a double which needs to be taken into account when you are looking at central London hotel options.  I just think its important to go there with a realistic expectation.  It is interesting, different, eccentric, but impersonal. Had we had a better proportioned room I'm sure I would have enjoyed the experience a lot more.