Monday, 6 February 2012

2012: Should I stay or should I go?

A frozen Ginglik
As you picked your way gingerly to work through slush spattered streets this morning, you may have thought that summer is farther away than it's ever been. But this is actually the fag end of what has been until very recently an exceptionally mild winter, and before long the rays of Spring will be upon us. So what to do, in this momentus year?

There is certainly a lot happening in London in the months ahead.

For a start there will be an extended range of events relating to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, which centre around an extended weekend on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th June. We even get an extra Bank Holiday to mark the event.

And then of course there are the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, with  the Olympics starting on the 27th July and the Paralympic Games on the 29th  August. Over the Summer there will also be range of events connected to  the Cultural Olympiad.

For some people London might be the best place in the world to be this Spring and Summer. Even if you haven't got tickets to any of the events there will be free live coverage on huge screens in Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square and Victoria Park, and other places such as Blackheath. The road  cycling and marathon events are also open to everyone, with no tickets  required.

And surely just being in the capital, savouring the atmosphere by perhaps  watching the events with friends in a pub in the Bush will be special?

Well, this is exactly the message that the organisers of the Games wish to send out - London will be buzzing this Summer.

In fact on Friday night I listened to a speech at a City Hall reception where we were told just how exciting it will be across the capital, starting in the weeks running up to Games with the Olympic torch coming through every borough, and  then during 'Games Time' itself.

To get us into the mood they even allowed us to hold the Olympic torch - yes  that is the real thing - quite what they were doing letting me hold it is anyone's guess.

I personally hope the Games are a great success. It will be the only time  it will happen in London in most people's lifetimes and let's face it,  London's economy needs a shot in the arm. An influx of visitors spending a  lot of money can only be a good thing. And if the Games are well run that  will send out an amazing image of London to literally billions of people.

Again that can only be a great thing.

However for some Londoners perhaps the events this Spring and Summer are  exactly just the time to get away. Afterall we can cheer on Tom Daley, our  cyclists, rowers and other athletes wherever we are.

And then there is the issue of London's transport network

There is now a raging debate as to whether London's transport system will  cope, or whether there will be gridlock due to the disruption caused by so  many heads of state suddenly visiting and the Olympic Route Network reducing  road space throughout the Games - not to mention millions of extra people  who wish to travel on our tube and train networks.

For some people the prospect of weeks of longer and more crowded journeys just getting to work and then back home is exactly why getting out of London  might be a good idea.

If you are one of those people who simply can't wait to get out of London I have  a suggestion of one place for a holiday this Spring or Summer.

Last Autumn I stayed at a wonderful farmstead in Normandy called La  Hamberie. I would thoroughly recommend it, especially for families.

La Hamberie, Normandy
It has five self catering houses and flats- called gites, all with their own  gardens. The place is incredibly family friendly, including even a massive  barn that kids can play in if the weather isn't that great. Most of the  gites have excellent facilities for disabled people. During the Summer  there is an outdoor pool for everyone to enjoy and throughout the whole year  there is a huge number of places to visit - from Mont St. Michel to Monet's  Garden, to Falaise Castle to race horsing at Deauville. And for foodies  there is no shortage of excellent restaurants literally everywhere.

It might also seem a small thing but if you live in London you will soon  notice the lack of light pollution at nightime.

Of course this part of France is also a powerful reminder of the huge  sacrifices that were made during the Second World War, starting with the  Normandy landings and then the intense fighting that took place in the first  few weeks of liberating Europe from Nazi tyranny. The war cemeteries, the  landing beaches and places such as Pointe du Hoc and Pegasus Bridge are all  nearby and well worth visiting.

After the 1936 Berlin Games the Olympics had to be cancelled on two separate  occasions as war raged around the world. During this period we came close  to being invaded by a Nazi regime. A trip to Normandy brings home just what  so many peple went through just four years before London last hosted the  Olympics.

So if you are staying in London this Spring and Summer I hope you have an  incredible time. There will be much to enjoy, and if you enjoy crowds you will be spoilt for choice.

But if you want to get away and escape from the bustle I hope I have given  just one idea of where to head to.

For more information about the facilities at La Hamberie and the Normandy  area just check out this website

1 comment:

  1. I can't go anywhere. Muggins here is getting married in The Bush during the Olympics! Eek...