Saturday, 21 July 2012

Tour de France

‘How I remember Normandy, 1968’  by Susie Mallett, July 2012



It is not often that I wish that I had a television

In fact I am usually very pleased that I do not have one and never have owned one of my own.

But, today I would have liked to be near one just to have been able to watch the closing stages of this year’s Tour de France. I would like to see it tomorrow too as the riders pedal along the Champs-Élysées, but today’s 19th stage time-trials will decide whether Bradley Wiggins, who has been wearing the yellow jersey since stage seven, steps up on the podium tomorrow in first place, probably with his team colleague beside him.

I have no television and I am, as always, content with just listening, or reading about it all in the papers, later on. As I write I have heard that Team Sky have taken first and second places in today’s time trial so there will be a lot of Union Flags flying high in Paris tomorrow. I wonder if my Canadian cousin, who lives just around the corner from the finishing line, will be there to witness it and cheer for me too.

It looks pretty good for Team GB’s cycling squad for the following weeks in the Olympic races.

A trip down memory lane

When I was ten-years-old, on an exchange trip with the school in France, my host family took me on a car journey to the Normandy countryside, not far from Rouen one of Norwich's  twinned cities. I had no idea at the time why I was sitting there in a Van Gogh landscape, in burning sunshine, beside a picnic-table in a field, with other families spread along the country road doing just the same.

I remember so clearly how intrigued I had been and how I had wondered what this strange custom could possibly be. I was none the wiser when what seemed to me like thousands of cyclists whizzed past us in a blink of an eye!

It was not until years later, when cycling became a bit of a passion for me too, that I realised that we had been there to watch the Tour de France and that I had actually seen the riders pass by in the 4th, or perhaps 5th, stage of the 1968 Tour de France. My pen friend’s father was a sports teacher, so of course he would have been very interested, just as I am now.

Some British events become a part of family life

London, 2012


Sometimes I am very glad to be in Britain when certain televised events take place. Strangely enough they are mostly sporting events and royal occasions that catch my attention enough to sit in front of the television.

This year I was glad to be with my Dad to see the middle bit of Wimbledon. This was extra special because of the success of Scotland’s Andy Murray.

On another visit I saw snippets of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend and although I was only at home for part of it, that was enough. I was also able to watch the Epsom Derby, another family viewing highlight, taking place on the same weekend.

I seem to have caught quite a few recent highlights on my now more regular trips to England.

I realise that I even saw the Royal Wedding in 2011, and this year I caught both Ladies’ Day at Ascot Races and the chaos at the Boat Race.

I remember that on Boat-Race Day I received a text from a friend in Surrey that said something like — ‘What chaos!’

I replied – ‘How did you know that I would be watching the Boat Race?’

To which the friend replied – ‘What else would you be doing?’

How right he was. What else indeed?

Last year I was with the same friend in the middle of Norwich waving my flag while watching the Last Night of the Proms on a big screen in the rain with several other mad dogs and Englishmen!

I do not wish to own a television but it is still nice to occasionally catch the occasions that have become a part of our family life. The Tour de France has not been one of the family occassions, but, this year, with the Brits in such good form it would have been a pleasure to have watched some of its stages with my Dad. Maybe later this summer I will get the chance to watch some of the Paralympics, but that of course depends how much airtime it is given.

Notes

Mad dogs and Englishmen – 






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