We were so excited when we heard that the Olympic Torch was coming to Lincoln. It was carried through our city on its way to London for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics next week.
I immediately went online and found the websites that would show me the route and the schedule. I looked at the viewing points along the route to make sure that I would be just in the right place at the right time. I did not want to miss a “Kodak” moment.
After looking at all of the website information, Steve and I decided that we would walk the part of the route that surrounded the area where we live. We even had a print out of the route to follow along the way. I decided that I would choose a place along the route that was close to our house so that I would not have to carry all of my camera equipment too far on my own.
The night before the big event, I prepared by laying out all of my camera equipment. I packed my camera backpack with my full size Cannon SLR, both the regular and telephoto lens, extra batteries, a monopod and my pocket size point & shoot Cannon for back up. Oh yeah I threw in my coin purse with some money just in case someone came along with souvenirs to buy. I included my lip gloss and a compact with pressed powder and a mirror to freshen up during the waiting period. You never know who you might meet at these events. Time for bed to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for an exciting day tomorrow.
I woke up rested and refreshed and with high energy ready for a wonderful day. I got through the tasks of the day and continued thinking through just where I wanted to stand to get the best pictures of the Olympic Torch bearer as they go by. Backpack in hand, I walked the three blocks to the intersection of the Lincoln Cathedral and the Lincoln Hotel.
I called Steve and he told me that he was at just getting home as they let people leave work a bit early due to the fact that many of the roads in the area, including the one leading to our house, were being closed for the event. He changed his clothes and walked down to meet me. When the cathedral bells signal 4 o’clock there are just a few people starting to gather along the streets. I asked the police officer what time the torch bearer is due to arrive and he says between 6 and 6:15. He then tells me that this is the intersection where the torch handover will take place. Having this information gave me an opportunity to position myself for just the perfect pictures.
Steve sees me at the corner and walks up to me and gives me a kiss hello. I am so excited that he is joining me in experiencing this special event. I shared with him the details that I learned from the police officer and we both began looking around at the four corners to decide on the best place to stand for taking pictures. We chose the side that the Lincoln Hotel is on. That allowed me to face the Priory Gate where the torch bearer was going to come through. I stood by the light pole and took a few test pictures just to make sure that I was in the right position. There were no people in front of us at that point and I had a clear and unobstructed view to take pictures. Now that we were settled on the position, Steve sat on the small wall near the curb to hold my camera backpack and keep our place while I went to see what was happening on the other side of the street where the Coca Cola Olympic Bus had pulled up and parked.
The Coca Cola team were taking pictures of people in front of their bus. I walked up and there was my friend John, the Dean’s Verger, ready to have a picture taken with two ladies from the Cathedral. He invited me to have a picture with him.
After the photo, I began to walk back to the corner where someone was handing out Frisbee-shaped drums to pound on to build excitement for when the torch bearer was arriving. He handed me one as well as a souvenir bottle of coke.
Suddenly a man carrying flags in one hand and small medals in his other appeared on the street. He saw this as a business opportunity and he filtered through the crowd selling them. I did not buy anything but many others did. By the time the torch bearer arrived he had sold out of everything. Entrepreneur or just taking advantage of the situation?
At 5:45pm I am resting up against the light pole getting ready for the big moment. Next to me is a man that arrived at same time. He had an even bigger lens on his Cannon camera and he was also propped against the light pole. We stood there in position so that we could both get great pictures.
All of a sudden this large family with lots of kids that was sitting on the curb now all stand up and – you guessed it – are now blocking all of our views. They turned around and saw all of us but ignored the fact that all of them were now blocking our view. Even the little lady in the wheelchair next to us was now surrounded by all of these kids and could not see a thing. We were waiting in this spot for over two hours and they just showed up and obstructed the view.
I am a very patient person but my patience was running out with the parents of this family. However Steve suggested that I just keep my cool and not say anything and focus on the picture taking even if it was through the heads and waving hands of this most inconsiderate family. Just as I point my camera towards the Priory Gate the torch bearer runs through the crowd so fast that we almost missed him. Luckily I snapped two pictures of him as he passed by us. Whatever happened to the handing over of the torch to the next torch bearer in this intersection?
The moral of the story is: Remember the preparation and the buildup, and the excitement and the energy that we felt as the torch bearer ran past us holding the Olympic Torch.
As we walked back to our house surrounded by crowds of people we realized that we were part of history. We are so grateful for the experience of another one of those magic moments as we continue our adventures of living in England. I call them Maxine’s Magical Moments.