All good things….

My last 2 shifts were early Saturday and Sunday at the Ibrox stadium for the Rugby Sevens. My lovely host Erika got up at the break of dawn to give me a lift into Glasgow.

Unfortunately I wasn’t one the lucky Clyde-siders who got to be on the side lines to attend to the wounded hunky rugby players, but it was a thrill to be there nonetheless.

This was my first experience of Rugby Sevens and I have to say it was fantastic, so exciting. Not only the games but the entertainment in between as well, good old Des clarke was on hand again to stir up the crowds with Kiss Cam, Air guitar Cam, Karaoke and Bongo Cam. The crowd got behind every single team especially the underdogs such as Uganda playing New Zealand, every try scored was cheered on, whichever team got the point.

To my knowledge there was no crowd trouble for either of the days. Luckily my partner Katie and I only had 3 incidents to attend to, so all in all it was a fantastic end to my Commonwealth Games experience.

I am so delighted that I made the effort to apply to become a volunteer back in May 2013. When I traveled to Scotland this time last year for my interview I had no idea how fabulous it would be. I have made some fantastic friends and had the most amazing time.

Now it’s all ended I feel I need to do more to challenge myself so I’m thinking of joining the British Red Cross, initially as a first aider for events, but maybe to volunteer abraod and use my nursing skills.

Watch this space.

 

Steve, carole and Katie at ibrox

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Well earned rest

After the excitement of the opening ceremony I had 2 days off to relax and take in some Scottish sights.

On Thursday my hosts, Erika and George, took me on a day trip to the Trossachs National Park. Just north of Stirling this park is breathtakingly beautiful with lochs and mountains galore. We spent most of the day exploring various lochs stopping off for lunch and a cups of tea in the lovely sunshine.

trossachs2trossachslochs

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way home we stopped off at Aberfoyle, this village at the gateway of the Trossachs has a few claims to fame. Mary Queen of Scots spent some of her childhood there and during her short lived reign she used the Priory as a refuge to hide from her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. The village boasts a tree climbed by Rob Roy to hide from the law and Robert Kirk, the man who did the first Gaelic translation of the Book of Psalms, was minister of Aberfoyle Parish.

But it’s cutest claim to fame in my opinion was the lovely sheepdog, Bess, who herded a group of ducks around an assault course…..very entertaining.

The next day I really didn’t have any plans until a fellow Clyde-sider texted me in the morning. I met Christine in the centre of Glasgow so we could soak up the atmosphere that was electric everywhere, again the weather was glorious. We had a lovely afternoon mooching around, chatting to loads of people caught up in the excitement of the games and having one or two bevvies.

 

 

clyde and us

drinks in the square

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

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

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

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