So the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are finally over. After five years of preparation and billions of pounds spent London managed to pull of a very rememberable few weeks.
Despite the fact we're not the biggest sports fans and weren't all that enamoured before the Games arrived in town we have to say we're a little sad to see them go. Here's a few reasons why you should be too...
1. Tube delays: After pulling out all the stops on the tubes over the last few weeks TfL have announced that tube closures will begin again this weekend. With closures on the Northern, Jubilee, District, Bakerloo and Circle lines this Saturday and Sunday you can expect the usual weekend travel misery now that the Games have left town.
2. Busier Shopping: All the pre-game scare mongering meant areas such as Oxford Street and even the Stratford Westfield were quieter than ever meaning we could shop in peace and quiet. No tourists stopping in the middle of the street for a chatter nor casual shoppers meandering through Topshop like we have all the time in the world to walk behind them. However what with the run up to Christmas and the Olympics fully over we can expect the few weeks of shopping bliss to become a distant memory.
3. The Tube Will Fall Silent: We can't be the only ones to notice how much friendlier tube rides have become over the past few weeks. From Londoners helping visitors to the city with what stop to change at to general chitter chatter about who won what medals for a few sweet weeks the tubes became somewhere people weren't afraid to look up from their Metro. It was nice and we'll miss it.
4. The Bitching Will Start: In true British fashion we were all praise, praise, praise once the Games were on but now they're finished we'll undoubtedly find reasons to moan. They're taking too long to do anything with the empty venues, too much money was spent, not enough money was made... etc, etc.
5. Boris Will Probably Stay: Now he's done such a great job with the Olympics Boris Johnson will probably stay on as the Mayor of London. He might even go through with his threat of running for Prime Minister which will only mean one thing. The man who got stuck on a zip wire and who likened female beach volleyball players to glistening otters will have more power than ever before.
Sunday evening marks the end of an epic month and a bit for London and to celebrate an Olympics victory parade is being help in town on Monday.
What with the glorious weather reports and the overwhelming feeling of British solidarity between everyone right now the event is set to be absolutely packed. So what that in mind here's all you need to know about the London 2012 victory parade...
The parade kicks off at 1.30pm at Mansion House where athletes will be broken up into groups depending on their sport and travel on 21 different buses through London.
The buses will then travel through Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street before moving onto Fleet Street, St Paul's, Aldwych and The Strand. The best place to probably try and catch them will be Trafalgar Square what with all its high vantage points but the parade will also then be going on through Admiralty Arch, up the Mall and finishing off at Buckingham Palace at about 3.30pm.
Now, with over 700 athletes to see and thousands upon thousands of people expected to turn out for the parade London is likely to be busy so we suggest getting to your chosen location early. However it's probably best to avoid The Mall as that is largely dedicated to ticket holders such as Games volunteers and emergency staff.
Don't tell your boss we said this but if you can sneak off from work early to catch this then do as it'll be a great way to round off nearly a whole year of true patriotism. Union Jacks at the ready...
Fancy kicking off your Monday with a free treat? Well Coca-Cola are giving you the chance to do just that.
To celebrate the success of their involvement with London 2012 the brand are giving away free bottles of Coke and all you have to do to get yours is fill out an online form.
As one of the main sponsors of the Olympic Games the brand have been responsible for lots of activity around the event including one of the official Olympic songs by Mark Ronson and Katy B, Anywhere in the World.
To give themselves a big pat on the back they've put together the below video which shows them building a giant vending machine in London which gave out free bottles of the drink to passers by.
If you missed the pop up structure fear not because there's still a chance to get a free cold one on the brand. In order to claim your free drink simply fill out your details here.
The Olympics are nearly over but if you’re looking for a chance to escape the last minute rush or indeed just to get out of the city after the craziness that has been the last few weeks then we suggest heading to Stratford Upon Avon.
Just under two hours outside of London (leaving from Marylebone) Startford Upon Avon is the perfect visiting place for anyone who wants to get out of London but doesn’t want to have to travel for hours and hours just to feel like they’re getting a break from the Big Smoke.
The city is of course best known as being the home of none other than Shakespeare but it also has mile and miles of green space, a beautiful river, several riverside pubs, some amazing restaurants and bars as well as several theatres that you can enjoy on your day. Here's what you need to know...
What to stay: There are plenty of hotels and B&B's around but we suggest The Legacy Falcon a 16th century residence complete with half-timbering and a quaint Tudor feel with modern bedrooms and communal areas. This hotel has everything you'll need to make your stay an enjoyable one from open fire places for relaxing in front of with a glass of red wine or an ale to a beautiful courtyard garden and award winning restaurant. It's also in the heart of town so you're right next to everything you could ever wish to visit.
What to do: There's several pass times around Stratford but we suggest taking the hop on, hop off City Bus Tour as it's by far the quickest and easiest way of seeing everything the city has to offer in a short time. All five of Shakespeares houses are worth a visit in particular Mary Arden's Farm, a real working Tudor farm complete with falconry displays, a petting zoo, horses, goats, pigs and several other types of animal. What's more when you buy a ticket to all five houses you make a pretty big saving and tickets are valid for up to 12 months so you can return any time. Aside from the houses there's also the Stratford armories, a butterfly farm and a beautiful park to explore which regularly plays hosts to markets and music and theatre events.
Where to eat and drink: We recommend Marlowe's which claims to offer the finest food and cellar in the area. Situated in the heart of town it's the perfect spot for a bite of dinner in traditional Tudor surroundings. We suggest trying the rib eye steak which is really, really good. As for drinking there are loads of reasonably priced and very cosy pubs in the area as well as some more up market and trendy bars such as No.7, and Hole in the Wall.
Escape the Trafalgar Square crowded madness and journey instead along BT’s road to London 2012…
This summer the National Portrait Gallery presents ‘BT Road to 2012: Aiming High’, an exhibition designed to showcase portraits of the nation’s athletes and those participating in London 2012. ‘BT Road to 2012’ forms the culmination of the largest photographic commissioning project the National Portrait Gallery has ever undertaken. It is the third in the series, displaying the work of renowned photographers, Anderson & Low, Jillian Edelstein and Nadav Kander alongside that of Brian Griffin, Emma Hardy, Finlay MacKay and Bettina von Zwehl. These 7 UK based photographers have worked on location throughout the country documenting the preparations of our athletes leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Portraits of Sebastian Coe, Stella McCartney and Anish Kapoor can be seen on display in a variety of locations throughout the gallery together with those of aspiring athletes, Torch Bearers and celebrated British sports men and women such as Mark Cavendish, Tom Daley, Rebecca Adlington, Tom Aggar, Beth Tweddle and Jessica Ennis. Katherine Green's images of sports communities in London's East End complement this inspiring exhibition of creative and sporting talent.
BT Road to 2012 runs until 23rd September at the National Portrait Gallery and it’s free entry so no excuses!