Sneaky peek into London 2012’s Aquatic Centre!

The wonderful Olympic Park in London is closed at the moment as it is being transformed into a public park with amazing sporting facilities. This is due to open next year, a year to the day after the opening ceremony – remember that uplifting, bonkers, inspiring show from Danny Boyle? Of course you do!  

However, I was lucky enough to sneak into the park for a tour of the Aquatic Centre, scene of so many brilliant performances, not least from our own Ellie Simmonds. The venue is also building site as they are removing the additional seating which was in 2 ‘wings’ on the side of the whale shaped aquatic centre to house the extra thousands who wanted to see the Olympics and Paralympics.  You can see from the first photo one of the wings facing you and the pool emerging on the right – and the Olympic stadium beyond on the right. 

Aquatic Centre

We started our visit at the practice pool which has the very top end of swimming pool technology as does the whole venue. The pool is heated to 26 degrees and the outside air would be 27degrees. The floor can be raised and lowered to achieve the ideal depth for athletes and the boom you can see in the pool can be moved so that it can form one or two pools. The public will be able to come in for a swim next year and the pool will be split into a children’s and adults’ pool.

Practice pool

We wandered through all the corridors and machinery rooms, admiring the filtration plant where the water is completely cleaned through massive tanks of sand every 4 hours. The areas behind the scenes are spotless and a real insight into the pride taken into the venue by all those who work there.

Filtration tanks

A couple of side windows gave us a really unusual underwater views into the pools. Apparently these were used by the BBC to get their great footage of the swimmers powering through from below.


Before we got to see the main event – the competition pool – there was a photo exhibition showing the stages of building this marvel. This photo shows how they put the roof on first and then dug and filled the pool before putting on the sides. This was one of the first buildings in the Olympic Park to be completed, well ahead of the Games themselves.

Still some way to go!

I was so excited to see the competition pool as I didn’t managed to bag any tickets during the Games themselves but watched it all on the TV and as we walked in through the door the swimmers emerged from I could imagine the roar of the crowd and only just stopped myself from giving a wave! The pool is beautiful and very big, especially in the eyes of a non swimmer!  Behind the pool in the photo you can see the rows of yellow seating  which are being dismantled and taken away. The new wall will fit into the slot in the roof as it was designed to be amended post Games and will emerge as its intended whale like form and be a most beautiful shape emerging from the park.

The competition pool

We all loved seeing the many ‘no swimming’ signs, aimed at the staff who are no doubt tempted to dive in.

The best swimming pool sign!

I stood right by the podium where the swimmers hold themselves ready for the start and could only imagine the tension and the excitement as they look ahead down the lane and wait for the gun.

Marks, get set, GO!

We turned round and saw the looming dive boards including the 10 metre one which is incredibly tall and impressive. I can still see Tom Daley waiting for his second attempt at the  dive he retook and have even more admiration for him now – the lower boards looked quite high enough!  They are beautifully made, curving concrete over a pool which has a special water fountain in it in case a diver gets into trouble, they will be pushed up by the water. More hi tech thinking in this top venue

The diving boards – soooo high!

I’ll be back on my Christmas theme in my next blog but couldn’t resist this one.
Bye for now

The Olympic Hospitality Houses bring more fun to London

We’ve all been glued to the TV, except for the lucky few who have had tickets to watch the Olympics live, and have enjoyed wall to wall sport – especially as the wonderful Team GB have won so many medals! However, there is a lot more going on in London than just sport as there are themed exhibitions, shows, concerts and the National Hospitality Houses. 

Most nations with a team competing in the Olympic games set up a national house to be their headquarters for the officials, dignitaries, people visiting from that nation and for medal celebrations. The houses are a chance to showcase their nation to the world in London and they are open to all visitors, although some do charge. 

I’ve visited several and heard about many more so here’s a quick peek at a couple I have enjoyed.  Denmark have set up camp in St Katherine’s Dock and to call it a ‘house’ is not quite right as they have taken over the Dickens Inn and the area around it for the Imagine Denmark show. Anyone can stroll in and enjoy the food, the exhibitions and watch their teams compete on Danish TV. There are lots of typically Danish things there such as: a wind turbine made completely out of Lego; a Viking boat you can sit in with sailors in traditional costume; a summer house decorated in Danish style; and, a wonderful schooner called Danish Crown that has come from Denmark full of bacon for us!  The Danes in the crowd got very excited when their medal winner arrived and he was full of smiles having his photo taken with everyone!  I watched handball with the excited Danes who kindly explained the rules to me. The food and drink on offer is excellent too with cooking demos celebrating their culinary successes and authentic hot dogs a real must, topping off a great interactive experience.

Have a look:

Lego wind turbine


Danish design


Viking boat


Danish medalist


Bloggers gathering on the sail boat
Watching Denmark win at handball

Another of my favourites was Jamaica House at the 02 Arena. This is the place to go for a party with big screens, a great sound system and live music and DJs. You can pick up some tasty Jamaican patties or a full meal with dumplings and wash it down with Red Stripe or Appleton’s rum.  There is an outdoor terrace to enjoy the warm evenings and heaters just in case the temperature drops a bit. On the terrace you can enjoy BBQs, DJs and another bar.  Back indoors there’s a beach for kids and a great shop with everything in Jamaican colours and their wonderful Blue Mountain coffee. You have the chance to scream and shout as the Jamaican sprints screech down the track. I was lucky enough to see Yohan Blake run and then Veronica Campbell-Brown and everyone was on their feet – I can’t imagine what it’s like when Bolt wins!  The sounds were cranking up as I left and I could tell the party would be going on well into the night!

Tasty jerk chicken patty


The only beer to drink


Out on the terrace


Fun for the kids on the beach


Colourful stuff in the shop


Jamaican sprinters on the big screen

It’s a great time to be in London and I’ll bring you more tales soon.

Bye for now