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Posts Tagged ‘wimbledon’

Three-quarters of the way through the extraordinary calvacade of the Olympic Opening ceremony last night, sitting on our sofa in the heart of SW France, we experienced an entirely appropriate British moment: It started to rain!
If you are British or have ever been to the UK in summer you will be familiar with the expression Rain Stopped Play.
It happens regularly at Wimbledon even though after decades of delay they finally put a roof on Central Court!
The expression is mainly associated in British minds with the game of cricket.
Images of a British summer would not be complete without a shot of a few dedicated spectators, plastic mackintoshes or umbrellas over their heads, resolutely sitting in the pouring rain in a sparsely populated arena waiting for play to resume–with no realistic prospect of it happening.
Obviously one of the adversities that have helped forge the British spirit!
There we were, on a sofa, engrossed in the show when we heard large, thunderous drops outside. The satellite reception was interrupted, turning the screen black on and off for fifteen minutes.
Rain stopped play!
Doubts had been expressed about whether the Brits were fully prepared.
But taking their cue from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “the readiness is all”–the Brits were undoubtedly ready.
From what we saw, it was wonderful (i.e. full of wonder)–eccentric, moving, ironic, proud, honest, humourous, serious, self-deprecating, sometimes confusing, dense, theatrical, ambitious, worth a second look, spectacular, unexpected!
Maybe even persuading some that the Queen had taken parachuting lessons for her part in the drama:
(Overheard early this morning at Castres market–two women in their 70s chatting. One said to the other: La reine est bien!)
And like those dedicated and determined spectators at summer cricket matches, we held on and reception was restored!

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Sunflowers are emerging from their tightly bunched heads and their colour yellow announces July.

Wimbledon winds up and the Tour de France  sets out, heading south towards the Tarn, our department.

‘Old Black Socks’ is no longer in the hunt.

Lance Armstrong retired after last year’s tour, this time it could be definitive….

You spotted him by his un-chic black socks and heavy pedalling, and “the focus’.

Doped or not doped [nothing proven]–he was good to watch.

They flashed through Lautrec last year– too fast to catch a glimpse of “Black socks”– buried in the pack [le peloton].

The atmosphere is festive and the anticipation intense–and it’s all over in a trice.

Meredith, miraculously,  caught the yellow jersey’d leader Andy Schleck in the centre of a frame.

They’re coming this way again on the July 13th.

Will the work on the road that bypasses Lautrec be finished? Touch and go!

They pass through the Tarn most years, heading for the Alps or the Pyrenees.

Part of charm of “le Tour” is its easy accessibilty for the public.

We milled around at “le départ” one year in Albi–rubbing shoulders with these world class athletes, about to head off for another 150 kilometres of torture in the pulverizing heat.

On the mountain climbs you fear for the riders’ safety, as the crowd closes in and the passage narrows alarmingly.

Keep back!

“Get out of the way,” I find myself shouting at the TV!

The French regard the Tour as the third greatest sporting event on the planet–after the Olympics and the soccer World Cup–and unlike them, it’s annual.

(Americans have no problem naming their national baseball final–the World Series!)

Certainly as a feat of endurance the Tour is probably without equal.

You’d have to admit that Armstrong, finally hanging up his socks at the age of 38 last year, had–excuse the pun–feet of endurance.

MEDIA CODA

The television coverage of the Tour is a miracle of coordination. From on high–with helicopters–at ground level on motorbikes, the movement is constant–but at the pace of the riders. Many French people watch it as a way of getting to know their country.

Our friend Deming–an American–says she once took a holiday in a village she’d liked the look of as the Tour passed through!

Look forward to a bird’s eye view of Lautrec on the 13th!

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