Day Five saw a spectacular start to the day with fireworks firing off the Clifton Suspension Bridge as the Torch made its way through Bristol to Wiltshire.
|Photo: www.cliftonpeople.co.uk|Kathryn Atkins, owner of Durdham Down Books, Bristol, reported that, ‘The torch passed through at 8.45am, within 200 yards of our shop. There were tremendous crowds outside - children, parents and grandparents. My mum, who is in her 80s, was up just after 8am to see it – she’s old enough to remember the last London Games and is very proud that her youngest grandson, Will (my nephew), will be one of the Torchbearers when it arrives in the Birmingham area.
‘The appearance of the Torch created a lot of excitement locally, helped enormously by the sunshine. The Torch had arrived at the harbourside the evening before and many people were using it as an excuse to meet up with friends.’
From a bookseller's perspective, ‘Olympic-themed books have been selling well for a few weeks and we have a display area devoted to these titles. Once the Games are underway, we’ll set up a special Olympics window display too.’
David Lawrence, supervisor at Foyles in Bristol noted that, ‘The torch travelled close by, but not past, our shop - it was quiet in the shop that day, but everyone who came in was talking about the torch and nearly everyone was wearing a Union Jack, or carrying a flag or a balloon. Bristol was very patriotic for an afternoon.’ On to Wiltshire, home to Stonehenge and the White Horse Bookshop (Vintage Independent Bookshop of the Year 2011!) in Malborough, Deborah Guest, one of its booksellers, explained how, ‘The torch went right past our shop door and outside the street was packed with people cheering and waving flags. It was also boiling hot and there were a lot of children becoming very fractious. We went upstairs and hung out of the first floor windows – we had a great view from there, better than anybody in town.
‘We saw the street entertainers (half a dozen people on springy stilts), the sponsors’ lorries, and the torch changing hands half w
Today we're catching up with Day 6 as the Torch passed by the lovely bookshops of Cheltenham, Ludlow and Worcester.
Dern Moss, of Moss Books in Cheltenham, reported that, 'a lot of people came out to see it and in the evening there were 40,000 people at the race course celebrating with music, other live entertainment and food. The stage was lit by a cauldron ignited by the Olympic flame.' However, 'the Torch didn't have much impact on the shop, despite a great deal of congestion in the town.'
|Local MP, Philip Dunne, and the Mayor, get ready to welcome the Torch to Ludlow|
The sun shone as the Torch passed through the south Shropshire towns of Ludlow, Clee Hill and Cleobury Mortimer. Stanton Stephens, owner of the Castle Bookshop
in Ludlow, described how, 'The Torch arrived around lunchtime and the town was highly decorated in reading for the Jubilee
celebrations. There was a special 'Olympian market' in the Square with music and entertainment. The route was lined with hundreds of people, including school people who had been let out of school for the afternoon.
'It was very busy in the town square that afternoon and there were lots of visitors to the shop. We had a special window display, featuring Peggy the Much Wenlock Piglet
.' As Stanton points out, Much Wenlock
was the first place to host a modern Olympics
(the precursor of the Modern Games), hence the name (Wenlock!) of one of the offical Olympic mascots (bet you can't name the other without Googling it*).
Dr William Penny Brooks
|Dr Brooks - not the most likely looking Olympian|
formed the Wenlock Olympian Society in 1850 - the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games are still held every July and this year
's will take place from 8 to 21 July.
*It's Mandeville, after the precursor of the Paralympics Games
, which were held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital
A bumper post today as we catch up with the Torch as it travelled from Worcestershire, through Herefordshire and Monmouthshire and into Wales.
Susan Raine at the Malvern Book Cooperative, (which only opened last month with a very original model - check out its site to learn more about its innovative, community-focused structure), told us what happened when the Torch came to town. 'Although not directly on the route of the torch, the Malvern Book Cooperative is definitely within shouting distance. So, we decided to get into the spirit of the games and join in. Our window is a combined Jubilee/Olympic theme with two dolls dressed in red, white and blue, wearing medals, waving flags and looking at books. We also feature a red, white and blue window box, fluttering ribbons and are displaying as many books as possible on a sporting theme.
'The Torch was not due until 9.10am, but we decided to open early. We'd already liaised with other Great Malvern traders concerning publicity and ordered 2012 golden balloons.
'On a glorious May morning we duly opened at 7am, and served early customers with a coffee/croissant deal for the day, while other members of staff patrolled the main road giving out golden balloons and spreading word of our early opening and breakfast deal.
'Everyone was in holiday mood! At the appointed time we shut the shop and joined the cheering crowds to see the Olympic Flame pass on its way. Then back to the shop and a rush of customers for both hot and cold drinks as well as the usual business of ordering, collecting and buying books.
'The whole of Malvern was in festive mood and really buzzing for the rest of the day. We were really glad to be part of the event and now it’s all systems go for Diamond Jubilee Weekend.' From Worcestershire to Hereforshire and Monmouthshire, where Andy, owner of Rossiter Books, Ross-on-Wye, told us how, 'The streets were lined with 10,000 people, many of them school children who had been bussed in, so everything got screamed at, including the police motorcyclists. Two of my three children had arrived with their schools and were up on my shoulders joining in.
'The atmosphere built up nicely, with jugglers and people on stilts entertaining the crowds. Then the Olympic convoy arrived – the sponsors’ vehicles with dancers on top, which I hadn’t expected. After them, very quietly someone ran past the shop (within
Day 9 and we spoke with Gareth Evans, the manager at Victoria Bookshop, Haverford West (the only independent bookshop in the county).
‘When we heard that the Torch was coming to town we thought about opening the shop, but decided not to. Haverford West is not really a Sunday-shopping town, and it’s unlikely that we’d have done much business. Once people found a good vantage point for seeing the Torch, they were reluctant to move in case they lost it.
'Here in west Wales, the Olympics isn’t creating extra business. Most of the Games are taking place too far away from us - the nearest event is Ladies’ Football in Cardiff, and, whilst I like the Ladies’ Football, this doesn’t have a great pull for me.
‘We did order in some Olympic 50p coins, featuring the different sports, to sell alongside the books, but these retail at £3, and once people learned that the coins were going to be in general circulation at their face value, there was no demand for them.’
In Fishguard, Bridget Kenner, co-owner of the Seaways Bookshop [I visited this bookshop last year - it's lovely, with a great selection of poetry and art books - definitely worth a detour if you're in the area - H] described the Torch Relay as a ‘really nice community event’ and highlighted the musical aspect.
‘For the first leg of the town relay, the Torch was carried by a local student and she handed it to Jill Edge, who carried it in a special attachment on her mobility scooter. Jill is well-known in the community for her efforts in trying to keep the local theatre and cinema open.
Simon Williams, manager at the Aberystwyth Art Centre, confessed to being ‘a bit negative’ about the Torch relay before its arrival, but having seen it, felt it ‘worked well. The Torch stopped here for the night and 8,000 people (three-quarters of the town’s population) turned up to see the evening cauldron being lit.’
Simon missed most of the entertainment while waiting at the bottom of his road for the Torchbearer to pass, but he didn’t miss out on the atmosphere. ‘There was an “everyone-on-the-street” feel about it, as though the people were reclaiming the town – a real com
‘I was working when the Torch arrived, but when it came close to our end of town some of my colleagues popped out to see it and told me all about it – I heard all about the big crowds and the patriotism, and how it had gone on a big loop around Cardiff before finally resting at the Castle. It was a really cheerful event.
‘We didn’t have any special Olympic event in the shop – the space is a bit limited for that – but we got on board with the whole spirit of the thing. We had a small promotion on children’s books linked with the Olympics. Many parents and teachers have been asking for Olympics titles, especially ones which focus on its history, and we like to make sure that we’ve got what people want.’
Marilyn Nicolle, manager at Uplands Bookshop in Swansea, said, ‘I would love to have seen the Torch, and planned to do so, but unfortunately one of my colleagues was taken ill and so I had to be in the shop and missed it. Another colleague, who knew the Torch bearer, popped out and reported that thousands of people turned up to see it as it made its way to Fingleton Park, where it rested for the night before going on to the Mumbles and off towards Carmarthen. Everyone was on a buzz that day.’
Day 10 took us through some of the prettiest parts of west Wales as the Torch travelled from Aberystwyth to Bangor.
|Local schoolgirl Carwen Richards was the first Torchbearer on Day 10 in Aberystwyth.|Paul Morgan manages Coch-Y-Bonddu, a specialist fishing and field sports bookshop in Machnynllet. He was a little underwhelmed.
'We weren’t very involved in the event. The Torch arrived at 10am on what would have been a quiet day, and it went back to being a quiet day soon after the torch had left. The town was packed for ten minutes and there was a great palaver as it went galloping past the shop and then everything returned to normal. It didn’t have much influence on our lives.
Ben Cowper, manager at Browsers Bookshop in Porthmadog, was more impressed. ‘It was really nice to see the town return to how it used to be on a busy summer’s day with hundreds of people out on the streets. There was almost a carnival feel about it.’
Ben’s only criticism was that after the initial fanfare there was a five minute delay before the Torch arrived and the delay dampened the atmosphere a little.
Generally though, the Torch was met with great enthusiasm and when Ben left the shop and travelled home, he saw that there were still people lining the route of the Torch and ‘even when it was being carried in the van, they still came out to wave and cheer it on.’
Stephen Wright, manager of Booksellers in Pwllheli, ‘There was an excellent turnout in Pwllheli. It was the Torch’s third day in Wales and the Torchbearer began on the outskirts of town and then ran down to the Sailing Club. Pwllheli had had great hopes of being included as one of the Olympic venues, but it was not to be. However, we’re still hopeful that some of the teams might come here for training.’
|Pwiheli harbour - looks lovely!|
'The Torch w
Nigel Webberley, owner of Webberleys Bookshop, Stoke-on-Trent told us that you needed to be up very early to catch the action on Day 13 of the Olympic torch relay. Unluckily for Nigel: ‘The torch came past at 6am and had gone by the time we arrived there so we didn’t see anything of it. The places where it was of interest were the local schools in smaller towns and villages along the route. Congleton, in particular was gridlocked. I know this because I have to drive through Congleton. It was full of parents with gangs of children, all enjoying themselves.
‘The event was really for children and Stoke isn’t really accessible to children at 6am.’
The torch continued on its route and reached Runcorn at a more sociable hour, where Liz Howard, owner Curiosity Bookshop, told us that, ‘It was wonderful. Our shop was covered with balloons and Union Jacks. There aren’t many shops on the High Street, and the bank next door (HSBC) wasn’t allowed to put out bunting as it was thought “politically incorrect”, so we stood out.
|The Curiosity Bookshop in Runcorn joining in the fun with the worlds' local bank next door|
‘It absolutely poured down on the day – and I don’t mean the odd shower – but it didn’t dampen our spirits. No one minded the weather; we just got on with it.
‘I was surprised by the length of the parade – I didn’t realise that there’d be so many vehicles. The children were all very excited. Before it arrived there was two hours’ of entertainment, with clowns on push bikes, and French onion sellers playing ukuleles and singing French songs. There was also drum band from a local high school, wearing blue and silver satin outfits and getting drenched.
|Clowning around in front of another local bank in Runcorn - this one with flags. |
‘This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often in Runcorn so I was out there taking photographs. Someone asked me why I was taking pictures before the torch arrived, so I said that I wanted to capture the street with people in it!’
Before the torch arrived, Liz was joined by Mrs Philpott, who had been there at the 1948 Olympics and saw the Olympic flame being lit at the stadium then. ‘We gave her a chair and she sat by the edge of the road with her mac and umbrella and was thrilled to see the torch for a second time in her lifetime.’
From an overnight rest at Chester Racetrack, the torch started its journey carried by 16 year old badminton player Jennifer Moore. Did you know that the finest shuttlecocks are said to be made from the left wing of a goose? That's right - no joke.
Carrie Morris, co-owner (with her husband Tim) of Booka Bookshop in Oswestry waited eagerly for the torch's arrival, ‘It was very, very exciting – a huge success. There were 10,000 people lining the streets, wearing red, white and blue, waving flags and cheering. It was a great atmosphere.
‘There were lots of school children from all the different primary schools in the area and they were sitting and standing on the pavement, watching and cheering and waving too.
|Photo taken by Tim from Booka Bookshop in Oswestry|
'Ours is a café-bookshop and afterwards it was full. We had a busy, busy day.'
Carrie’s only disappointment was that the Oswestry leg of the relay didn’t get much TV coverage. ‘The focus was very much on Much Wenlock down the road, because of its historic links with the Olympic Games.’
|Even the mascot Wenlock (or is it the other one) is keeping one eye on the road as it passes through Oswestry on its way to Much Wenlock (did I say Wenlock?).|
Anna Dreda, owner of Wenlock Books, Much Wenlock said that the torch was greeted by a crowd of 10,000 at Much Wenlock, which had squeezed into the narrow streets.
|Anna sent us this photo taken by local artist Beverley Fry (www.beverleyfry.co.uk) showing the waiting crowd|
Anna said that the torch relay had a special significance for the town, as Much Wenlock is where the modern Olympics started. Her shop
There ain't no river wide enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no mountain high enough to keep the torch from you! Today we saw the torch cross from Anglesey across the Menai Straits (ok it's not really a river), pass through some Welsh valleys and up Mount Snowdon (carried by Sir Chris Bonington) before being taken to the races at Chester.
Clare Glass, manager of Waterstone’s in Llandudno wasn't in the shop, but didn't miss out: ‘It was my day off, but the torch happened to go past my house so I saw it then.
‘In Llandudno, it travelled along the prom and I heard that a lot of people turned up. The town really got behind it and there are still British flags flying.
‘We had a dump bin outside the shop featuring Olympics and Jubilee titles, but on the whole the shop had a quiet day. We were expecting some of the crowds to come into the town, but after the torch had passed, they all went home.’
Donna Morris, store assistant at WHSmith, Rhyl said, ‘The torch was a few streets away from our shop so I didn’t see much and to be honest, I didn’t have much interest in it at first, but then I heard the crowds cheering and the loudspeakers playing Chariots of Fire and a shiver went down my spine, and I really got into it.’
A spokesperson at Bluecoat Bookshop in Chester wasn't won over by the fun of the event and didn't hang around: ‘The torch came in the evening and we’d gone by then. I had no interest in it whatsoever. The roads were closed for the night and that was bad enough.’
So there you go - make all that effort Sir Chris and what for? Well it worked for Diana Ross.Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.
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On Day 16 of the Olympic Torch Relay, the flame started its journey from the birth place of the Titanic in Belfast. The torch was set to travel 126 miles between Belfast and Portrush visiting Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Carrickfergus Castle on the way.
David Torrans, No Alibis, Belfast – one of only a few independent bookshop still remaining in Northern Ireland described the early start from Belfast, ‘It rained. It rained an awful lot. And, to be honest, the Olympic spirit was not present in the shop too much. It’s so busy that I haven’t had the opportunity to follow the flame.’ [We will hear more from David on Day 19 when the torch returns to Belfast.]
Rugby Union's Trevor Ringland was amongst the torch bearers in Larne. The former Ireland winger was chosen for the Lions tour of New Zealand in 1983 and played in the first rugby World Cup four years later.
Army medic Kylie Watson from Ballymena, carried the torch in Portrush, she's one of only four women who have won the Military Cross for twice risking her life under heavy fire to treat two soldiers in Afghanistan.
The route followed the dramatic County Antrim coastline before visiting the golf course of Portrush, home of golfers Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, and the evening celebration on the beach.
Missing something? If you work in a bookshop on or near the route and we've missed you out from our blog, please contact us with your news and views of the relay (including any photographs) as we'd love to add you to our blog.