The main event (23rd July)

I woke up super excited on Wednesday, the day of the opening ceremony. The excitement was palpable on the train as my fellow Clyde-siders and I made our way to Celtic Park and the weather was beautiful.

As field of play first aiders we needed to be able to get a cast member off the arena as quickly as possible without causing too much disruption to the performance, so during the afternoon we practiced this in the blazing sunshine.

I don’t need to describe the opening ceremony as I’m sure everyone watched it on the TV, I can only put into words the amazing experience I had that night. The atmosphere was electric way before the performance even started and was off the scale once Des Clarke had finished his warm up.

My partner Scott and I were well positioned at gate one, just to the left side of the big screen, which meant we had a fantastic view of the performance and of all the stars as they left the stage, Rod Stewart definitely blew a kiss at me when he walked off. It was so easy to get caught up in the spectacular sight and forget that I was there to do a job.

It was the first time in my life, and maybe the only time, that I got to sing the national anthem in the presence of the Queen and I felt so proud to be British.  The atmosphere hit the roof when the athletes came into the stadium, but the noise was so deafening when the home team arrived that the arena floor seemed to shake and at that moment I wished I was Scottish!

I have to say that night was probably one of the best in my life so far and even the hour long wait for the train couldn’t dampen the wonderful feeling inside I had after such a fantastic day.

opening ceremony

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Time for tourism

For my first full day off I met fellow Clydesider, Chelsey,  for an afternoon of sightseeing in Glasgow.

But before we could do anything we needed to buy summer dresses because the unexpected glorious weather was way too hot for the jeans and t shirts we were dressed in.

So kitted out in our new outfits we boarded the sightseeing open top bus and Chelsey managed to get student fares for the both of us. The bus wound it’s way around the streets and all the major landmarks for nearly 2 hours with entertaining commentary by the tourist guide, she was hilarious and kept us laughing all the way round. It was good to see all the other venues for the Games without having to do the leg work.

We both needed to be back with our hosts for early evening dinner so there was just time for a cocktail before getting the train home.

Open top bus fun

 

Something bizarre happened that evening, after dinner we were talking about wildlife in the garden and the conversation turned to bats, George, my host, said that they hadn’t seen bats around for a while. I settled early and watched a film on my laptop, about half way through a bat started to fly around my bedroom. I have no idea how it got in as the window wasn’t fully open. It flew around madly for about 5 minutes desperately trying to sense a way out, it eventually found the open window I was holding for it.

Thank goodness I wasn’t asleep when it started flapping around my head, would have died of fright!

Keeps getting better (21st July)

My next shift was the second rehearsal for the opening ceremony and I was in the field of play team, which meant this time I was inside the arena and able to watch the action. The weather was glorious, most un-Scotland like, the sun was beating down and the arena looked fabulous.

After an afternoon of last minute training we were at our posts ready to keep an eye on the cast members while they performed. What a performance it was! even though it wasn’t the full show it was breathtaking and awe inspiring. It was so exciting to be part of the electric atmosphere and the stadium wasn’t even full. Luckily my partner and I had no incidents to attend to and the train times were extended so there was no mad dash to the station when we were released from our posts.

I fell into my bed at 1.30 am,  happily exhausted.

A team for rehearsal no 2

 

Last training

The day after my first shift I had an early start to do some venue training at Ibrox Stadium, home of the Rangers and the venue for the rugby sevens. All of the first aiders from the night before were there and we all looked as jaded as each other from the long shift and late night.

Fortunately the training didn’t go on for too long and we were set free at lunchtime, so I took the underground into the centre. The Clockwork Orange, as it is affectionately named by the locals, is a very efficient service that just has 2 lines, inner and outer, which makes it impossible to get lost on. It was first opened in 1896 making it the third oldest underground in the world, after London and Budapest.

After a much needed coffee I found a little street market just off Buchanan Street and even though it only had about 5 stalls I still managed to part with £20 on stuff that I really didn’t need.

I needed to crash out for an hour in the afternoon but after another delicious dinner Erika and George took me for a walk around the Dalzell Estate. This extensive estate boasts a 15th century tower house that was extended in the 17th and 19th centuries, it is now converted into private apartments that cost an arm and a leg to own. The tower house is said to be haunted by 3 ghosts; the Green lady who frequents the south wing, the White lady who  roams the whole house and the Grey lady who was a nurse in World War 1. The grounds are beautiful with woodland walks and an impressive arboretum which has the Covenants Oak, this tree is 900 years old and is the oldest living thing in Lanarkshire. It is named after the religious group, the Covenants, who were Scottish Presbyterians renounced by Charles II in 1662. The owner of the estate allowed them to conduct their services in safety.

The gardens are beautiful and in one if them is the family mausoleum and pet graveyard where the family dogs are buried. The Lord Gavin’s Temple was built as a summer house so that he could look down on his beloved wife’s grave.

I only saw a small part of the estate and wished I had more time to explore.

tower house

temple

 

And so it begins (19th July)

My first shift as a Clydesider, (the official name for Games volunteers), was the first rehearsal for the opening ceremony at Celtic Park. We were all given 2 tickets to watch one of the rehearsals to use or to give to friends and family. I gave mine to my hosts as I was working at both of the performances.

I must admit initially when I was walking to the train station I felt very conspicuous in my bright red uniform, but that uniform got me free travel throughout the Games so I wasn’t complaining. Once I was on the train though I saw many more Clydesiders and we were linked by a common purpose. Being involved in something like this meant that I was never without someone to talk to, be it another volunteer or a member of the public interested in what I was doing.

clydesider carole

Unfortunately the weather was dreadful, so it was a very soggy walk from the station to Celtic Park. After negotiating security I set off on the mammoth task of locating the rest of the first aid team in an enormous stadium. We did have a tour to orientate us but that just resulted in more confusion about our whereabouts at any given time.

Once all the briefing was done, the first aid equipment bum bags and radios were given out it was time to section off into teams and go to our locations. My team definitely drew the short straw as we were placed outside the arena in a first aid tent so we could attend to the spectators as they arrived and exited the stadium. The rain was relentless until just before the ceremony started, but it made the arena floor very slippery and I was surprised there weren’t any injuries in the cast.

First aid dream team

I had wonderful team mates in Chelsey, Christine and John and we really bonded well out there in the cold and wet.  Our only call that shift was a little old man with cramp in his leg as he was coming out of the stadium.

The extended train times weren’t in operation so once we were released from our post we had to power walk down to the station and got the train with just minutes to spare.

The day was exhausting but hugely enjoyable.

first shift done

My Temporary Abode

The way my shifts were arranged meant I needed to stay in Glasgow for 10 days. The prices for accommodation during the Games period were horrendously expensive so I decided to take advantage of the Homestay scheme whereby volunteers are placed into private homes.

My hosts were Erika and George and they met me at the station and took me to their beautiful home in Motherwell, about 20 minutes outside of Glasgow.

20140723_112129

 

George is a Scot and Erika comes the German town of Hameln of the Pied piper fame, (we call it Hamelin but that’s not correct). They got involved in the scheme through their church. Their house is just 5 minutes away from Strathclyde Park where the triathlon took place and the day I arrived I took a little walk around the park to work up an appetite for the delicious food that Erika rustled up.

My bedroom was very big and comfortable and I couldn’t have asked for better accommodation or better hosts.

The Journey begins (17th July)

After months of travelling back and forth to Glasgow the day had finally arrived to set off for my exciting journey of volunteering at the 20th Commonwealth Games. My chariot taking me there was the Megabus Gold from Bristol travelling through the night. I always used Megabus to travel to London on the cheap but had no idea about the overnight service until another volunteer told me about it.

The bus was running late, putting me in a bit of a panic, but eventually I was settled into a seat next to a poet talking very loudly on her phone about the illustrations in her new book. I was just wondering how I would survive a 9 hour trip without killing her when luckily she got off at Cardiff.

We stopped at Cardiff for nearly an hour while most of the seats were cleverly converted into single and bunk beds. One of the drivers said something to me in a very broad Glaswegian accent that I didn’t understand, but he gestured to me to follow him so that I did. My bed was upstairs and very comfortable it was too, I slept surprisingly well except for an attack of leg cramp which was nigh on impossible to walk off on a moving bus converted into beds.

We did get into Glasgow a little later than planned but all in all I was very impressed with the service and raring to go on my big adventure.

 

commonwealth games