Location: Beijing, China
Still can't work out what day we are on, we've packed in a shed load more stuff since I last wrote to you.
A couple of admin bits:
Thank you to all of you for your messages and apologies if you haven't seen a reply. They just take so long to do. We have really loved hearing from you all, so for those we haven't responded to individually: Daniela, Diane, Sarah, Oscar and Ella, to name but a few, thank you and love to you all.
Michelle - Thanks for the 9.30pm GMT, 3.30am Beijing time call today! Hope I made sense as I talked to you whilst asleep.
Liam - Thanks for the drunken 3.30am GMT, 11.30am Beijing time call. I hope your hangover is not too bad by the time you read this.
This is probably going to be our last entry, we hope you like our latest piccies. There's two reasons it will be:
Beijing is a tempermental city weather wise and today it is baking hot, so we're off to hire some bikes shortly to tackle the traffic by ourselves, unaided, without a guide. We have been told the principle to travel is to keep flowing like water, so cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians fit themselves into any nooks and crannies they can, just to keep going. We should be OK, as long as we keep one eye shut and cringe a lot.
Censorship - It is crackers. Each time I write, I come to a typical internet cafe where at first I am told I cannot upload pictures, then after debate, the locked away hard drive is opened up, just long enough for me to upload photos. I am ushered away from other users, to a room by myself, Dominic is not allowed to play games on a computer next to me. The Censorship doesn't end there either, security checks everywhere we go are kinda mad too. All this on top of the constant 'can I have my picture taken with your cute son' has now worn a bit thin. What China giveth with one hand, it takes away with the other! Actually, it doesn't at all, nothing like it in fact, but hopefully you get the grumpy point I am trying to make here.
So... we took the toboggan back down from our hike across part of The Great Wall. That was an amazing day, we're going back the day after tomorrow to repeat the experience. Culturally, it is the best thing we have seen.
The absolute highlights; firstly has to be Team GB's peformance, inspirational! We're back at the Bird's Nest tonight and I am hoping we get at least a medal if not gold in the men's 4 x 400 relay. We bagged the fastest qualifying time yesterday, but it was close.
Sad for the 4 x 100 girls yesterday, it was heart wrenching watching the baton drop, especially because until that point it looked like we were going to get a medal.
Secondly; seeing in action the olympic legend Usain Bolt. He looks super human and he is such a show boater when he gets the inevitable gold medal. You would be though wouldn't you? Liam, when we zoom into the pictures we are going to bring home, they are much better of him, but for now, I hope this one will do. As well as many of him, we've taken a picture of the screen that says WR for you. He's Dom's hero too.
For the closing ceremony, we're going to hook up with a group of team GB fans, where one of the big screens in the city is. Should be a crackin' night.
Got to go, a message has just popped up on my screen, 'cos it is in Chinese I can't tell what it says, but I am guessing it is something like your time is up and you're going to get kicked off.
C'mon TEAM GB and we love China!
T & D x x x
Location: Beijing, China
Can somebody pass this onto Andrew:
Steps 10/08 16,108
Steps 11/08 42,971
Steps 12/08 23,447
Steps 13/08 14,380
Steps 14/08 22,082
Steps 15/08 10,432
Steps 16/08 18,448
Steps 17/08 20,627
Steps 18/08 48,322 (That's a few thousand steps plus 8 1/2 - 9 hours of biking)
I know I am a bit late, but can you ask the organisers to make a special allowance please, given I am on hols.
Location: Beijing, China
Beijing - We're not sure what day number, it's been a bit hectic.
It's really geared up for the Olympics here. Feel a bit worried for our 2012 organisers; China is a going to be a tough act to follow. Not only was the opening ceremony spectacular, the organisation here is too. There are troops and troops of multi lingual volunteers every where we go to help us get around. Transportation to and from the events is slick and problem free. That said, I managed to bag a journey with a total of 33 subway station stops when the correct route would have been just 3 when I navigated our return home from downtown Beijing a couple of nights ago.
It's decked with Beijing Olympic signs everywhere we go. The equivalent to E.ON/Wembley Way at FA Cup Final time, but across the whole city. More special builds, experiential, building banners and wraps, lampost banners and every format of poster you can shake a media plan at. There's even special builds in Tian'an Men Square, right next to Chairman Mao's mausoleum.
Whilst in downtown Beijing, we visited the infamous WangFuYing night food market; everthing you can every imagine skewered and served. We were determined to try something, but half way along the row of stalls I had to duck out. It wasn't the sight of dung beetles, silk worms, sea horses etc that got to me, it was the smell.
We've done lots of the cultural stuff - Summer Palace, Forbidden City and tomorrow we're travelling about an hour outside of Beijing for a 50 km Great Wall cycle ride and to check out the Ming tombs.
There's tonnes of symbolism in China and its history is tracked and recorded from 1000 BC. Mix the two together and you get something truly fascinating, but my little brain is struggling to take evrything in from the start of dynastic rule right through to the modern day stuff. I seem to recall I had the same problem with 'O' Level history. Dom's alright with it all, though he looks a bit bored from time to time, you know, like when he skidded through The Gate of Heavenly Purity in The Forbidden City.
Anyway, to the best reason we are here - what about the rowing yesterday?! Did anybody see it? Fancy seeing your team get gold in the first race at the first olympic session you ever see. Dominic and I went nuts as they crossed the finish line, our boys did a victory lap and we went more nuts, then we blubbed when the national anthem was played!
One gold and two silvers meant team GB were the best of the day. Our women's x 4 team were gutted to get only silver. They got silver in the last two Olympics and there was virtually nothing in it between them and China this time. We watched as their coach waded into the water to give each of them a hug as they cried. Silver at the Olympics seems pretty amazing to mere mortals like Dom and I, but to them it was devasting.
We met some great GB, USA and Canadian fans and can't wait to go to our track and field sessions on 22nd and 23rd.
We'll write more soon.
T and D x x x
Aaaarrrrggghhhh - I've just been uploading photos for 2 1/2 hours and then CRASH!!!!!
Looks like you're going to have to wait for the picture show.
ROCKSTARS x x x
Location: Guilin, China
Day 6 - Guilin
What a day, this country just gets better and better!
Did a 4 hour stint along the Li River, beautiful limestone mountains as far as the eye can see. I thought it would be more serene before we got here, but it's an absolute tourist trap. Guilin city has a population of just 800,000 but has 30 million tourists each year. Anyway, I got over myself with the serenity thing, the whole local economy is based on tourism and it seems to be thriving which is just as good to see.
The mountains were awe inspiring, but on the less than plus side; in 4 hours, I didn't spot any potential single track, shocking!
We spent some time with a local farmer this afternoon. As we travelled to his farm, we saw a cyclist on her way back from the market with a live rooster. Little did we know at that time; just an hour later we'd see it killed. Well actually, we wimped out of seeing it killed, we managed to watch the farmer's wife prepare its neck to be slit open, then watched her drain its blood out after said deed. I have a few gruesome photos but I won't put them on here, you can see them by special request. Actually, there are no photos at all yet, I am going to have another go in a minute. Don't want this to be like one of those cr@p books from when you were a kid - lots of words, no piccies! Anyway, Dom was a much bigger wimp than me, 2 mins after the demise of the rooster, he was violently sick. I think that makes me a bad mother, but I am not going to reflect on that for too long.
We were also fascinated by the snake wine, a big bottle with 4 or 5 snakes in it and the wasp wine, we couldn't count how many were in that though!
We saw lots of paddy fields and water buffalo. One 'holidaying from ploughing the paddy fields' buffalo was trooped out of the 'under a bridge' shade for a picture with Dom. She shook herself like Spike does when he gets out of the bath and saturated Dom.
We've just booked a three day Beijing cycle tour, whihc we'll do in between our events. The Wall and Ming Tombs, Olympic Sites and The Old City - Summer Palace, Forbidden City etc etc...
Right then, going to have another go at these photos...
Rockstarsinchina x x x
Location: Guilin, China
Sorry it's taken us a while, I tried to let you all know what's occuring last night, but t'internet cafe in our last hotel closed at 10.00pm - how rude!
Day 1 Beijing
I thought it was a 14 hour flight but it was only 9, so we got to look around Beijing a lot more than I expected. That said, we still need to find our feet with the place, when we get back on 15th. We visited the Bird's Nest, we didn't take a photo though, it was enveloped in smog and the Chinese Army were patrolling it, so I guess we won't get very close to it, until we attend the track and field sessions we've booked.
Day 2 Xi'an
We met our guide - Julie, who was lovely, in fact just about everybody in China is. Everybody we have met has been incredibly friendly and helpful. Julie took us to a museum which had over 1,000 stone pillars, depicting the history of calligraphy. It's was Confucius' gaff for a while. Dom and I are now bilingual; we can read/write 1 to 10, China, person, large, sky and thank you - check us out!
We were left to our own devices at night. Before this trip, we thought we were pretty good with trying new food, how wrong can you be? Just like Beijing, we're still trying to find our feet with Chinese menus. We're struggling a bit with very hot food and whole animals including heads/feet/fins coming to the table.
Day 3 Xi'an
Terracotta Warriors were breathtaking. After I have written this, I hope to load some photos, I've never done it before though, so if they are there, you'll see what I mean, if not, I'll show you the photies when we get back. Emporer Qin Shi Huangdi's tomb is 1.5 km away from the three pits that have been/are being excavated. They think there are around 60 more pits. Oh yes... we met the 'well digger chap' who came across Pit No.1, had a good chin wag with him. Actually no, he just signed our book! I am sure if we did chat though, he'd be just as friendly as everybody else, but, to be fair, he was a bit busy, he was a crowd puller!
We also visited a buddist temple / pagoda. Buddism was introduced to China via The Silk Road by some chap who I can't remember the name of. You'll see a piccie of Dom and I rubbing the Fat Happy Buddha's tummy - it brings much happiness if you do so.
We did much better with the food, Julie helped us in each of the restaurants. The portions are massive though.
Day 4 Xi'an / Guilin
Finshed off Xi'an with a visit to the Great Mosque - again, piccies available if I manage it! Then best of all, we biked on the city wall, all the way around. 14km, tandem, no suspension, brakes, gears and a semi working bell! The wall had a cobbled surface, lots of bell / drum towers with inclines we had to pedal like mad up and lots of restoration workers we had to dodge - nice, very nice!
Right, off to watch the Olympics on the telly in the hotel room. It's funny, it's like being on the front row of a concert coming to the Olympics rather than watching it on TV. It's an incredible close up experience, but you've no idea what's happening around you.
Oh yes, this is really funny... every where we go, people love Dom because of his brown skin. He's had his photo taken with hundreds of people. Not only do people overlook me, they also don't believe he is mine, because of our different skin colour. A few have asked where his dad is too - whoops!
Location: London, UK
Dom and I are going to watch the opening ceremony on TV tomorrow It'll be so good seeing The Bird's Nest and all the excitment going on in and around it, knowing we'll be face to face with it on Sunday.. v nice, v v nice!
We'll write more and send you some piccies when we're in China. Tammy and Dom x x
Location: Nottingham, UK
14 days to go
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Please get George to call me when he sings Waiting!
Tans sound nice, much love to you all. x x x
Response: I bet downtown Mansfield sold some Brilini's the night Becky bagged her second gold.
Phwoar is all I can say... if your wetsuit is any where near as darling as your montain biking gear. Lovely x x x
Response: Hey you two,
It's pretty amazing being here too. GB's successes in these games has been overwhelming. And it is so good just being surrounded by sports fans everywhere experiencing the highs and unfortunately the lows the games bring - that's sport for you though!
Will call you when we are back to arrange getting together. Ni hao.I know that's hello, but I don't know how to write goodbye!
Response: Hi Karen,
Yes bike piccie was in Xian, on the City Wall, it was such good fun. We have over 500 piccies now and as well as this blog, I have kept a journal, I can't quite believe how much we have packed in! Back to E.ON with a bump end of next week I think!
Behind every great biking team, there is a great coach. I thought you would recognise the course; that pic is us in gold medal postion. See you soon. x
Response: Thanks Liam; very reassuring to know that home is just as I expected it would be. Daft questions I know but: have you cut the grass, taken the bins out, kept your room tidy, walked/fed the dog? No need to answer, I already know! We are still missing you like mad and can't wait to see you next Wednesday. Mum and Dom x x x x
Response: Soz about the mix up Em. You may want to revoke your suggestion to look at piccies when we get back, I think we are on number 323 with 8 days to go still!
Response: Hi D,
Bet you're glad to be back at work? Don't worry about the dignity thing, we've all done things like that in our time. Tan sounds nice, I won't have one when I return; although the weather is great in Guilin, it's bucketing it down in Beijing. Loads of love. Tammo and Dommo x x x
Response: Which part of Devon are you going to? Hope you c, d and l have a lovely time. What's the weather like back home? Better than Beijing I hope.
Will this be your last holiday before you return to work? Anyway, I should ask you these questions when I see you. love T & D x x x
Response: I am sure they will - remember they were the nation that created Gods. I named my bike after one of them - Zeus, courtesy of Sophie.
It is brilliant here, funny though, what inspired us to come here - The Olympics - we haven't even seen yet. Not long to go before rowing now though. Catch up with you when we get back. Are you in London when we arrive back; 27th? We have a few hours on our side, before our train home, so it would be ideal to meet up then.
Much love, Tammy and Dom x x x
Response: Can't think of anything to write to you, said it all via other forms of comms anyway! Enjoy Cornwall, guess you won't have a signal, so you, not me, will be out of touch!
Dom and I love you all back, give my Goddaughter a kiss and tell her Dom and I have been on three ar'planes nows, no fwogs to eat though! x x
Response: Just been chatting to a bird from Seattle in our hotel, showing off with all the US medals. C'mon team GB! Check out our ride today, sad I missed yours, but even sadder you missed ours!
Rockstars x x
Response: Hey now, I tried to reply to this message yesterday (twice), but then I got fed up with the computer crashing on me. Warriors were a bit spesh, not done The Wall yet, as for the banner, yes can do, but Ann, George, Francis, Rebecca, Di Di, Frank, Gabrielle and Amanda will be on it too. And it's first come first serve I am afraid, so you'll be at the bottom, good job I am tall. Anyway, even better than a common old list, as per your request, I have got you an offical Beijing 2008 Olympics desk top snow storm, you can't get better than that can you?!
Smashin' T xx
Response: Hello Stout family,
Have a great time in Turkey. Don't let Sue cause you too much bother. I'll ring you when you are back.
Love you lots Tammy x x
Response: OK, I am going to go with the Smurph thing even though I don't quite get it and I don't think I want you to explain! The reason you haven't seen us is because we haven't been yet. You're bound to catch a glimpse when we're there later this week/early next. Just remember how loud I can cheer from the side of a footy pitch for The Falcons, it'll be the same treat at The Bird's Nest for Team GB!
EEEERrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... no boss, Rockers is not coming to football practice. Please can he be offically excused from the next two practices? Though does that mean he'll be excluded from the first match of the season on 13th Sept? If it does, no worries, we'll fly back home for practice next week. T and D (half way between Golden Child and Afro Man now!) x
Response: Ni hao,
Thank you for this and the text messages. Mandarin is no problem for us now. Tell Francis Dom and I will be practically fluent by the time we get back, we can teach him everything we know. Should take about 10 mins. T & D x x x
Response: Hello Elliott family,
You'll have seen from my notes, Dominic is going down a storm in China, I can't help thinking Eve would too, with those BIG blue peepers. We need another BOL girls night in the diary, so I can tell you aaaaallllll about China! Do you think you could get together with the others to suggest some dates? It'll be good if Mama Mia is on early release, we could watch / talk through it too!
Love Tammy and Dom. x x x
Response: Oh...sorry to hear about Eliza, mind you, the way she dashes around, it's inevitable, almost lucky it's not happened before. The last thing you need before your holiday though!
Hope the apartment was great all week and the weather was not like it is in Beijing right now. I don't know why I keep commenting on it, we've only been there for a day so far!
See you when we're all back in England. Tammy and Dom x x x
PS For Craig - all right nobby?!
Response: Have a lovely time in Majorca all of you. I'll think of you with George on 25th, still gutted I won't see him. I hope he does come on to Waiting, and don't forget the rest of my list of songs I'd like to hear. Being 8 hours ahead I guess if you call it will be about 4am, but I'll remain eternally happy to take a call from George!
Loads of love Tammy and Dom x x
Response: Hey Smurphina and Stick,
The only things still to pack are the things we have to use on Saturday morning, such as hair straighteners. Been packed for weeks!
Thames sounds nice. I am in London myself today, with TBWA, but doing this!
If you look out for me, I'll hold up a flag with your name on it. Couple that with me being 6ft tall, you're bound to see me
Much love to you both and to Atko too. x x x x
Response: Hey Di Di,
We're really chuffed you chaps are taking us to the train station on Saturday morning. It'll be photo No.1 of our trip!
Hope lots of princesses visit you when we're away. One of the things I'll miss most is our respective daily 'business' catch ups. I can only hope The White Room is sustainable without my strategic input for the next few weeks.
Send me a message if you sustain any further sport injuries, I'll get one of the docs from the Olympic Village to haul their ass over to England/Chatsworth Drive to look after you.
Lots of love... Tammy and Dominic x x
Response: Whoops - I was just looking in the wrong place, here it is, the first one has been here all along too, we do have friends! Thanks for our inaugural message. Will a life size TW be ok? You can put it in your front garden, next to the walls and the pond - nice
Response: Thank you Truff, we'll see you both in September. I'll think of Daisy and Spike if we're offered Dog Brain Soup, that'll stop us being tempted!