The barriers are coming down, the Donkey Green is quiet and there’s a medal in the bag for Team GB. For Box Hill, the Olympics are over and a happy but knackered bunch of people are making their way home.
The short sharp downpours didn’t seem to dampen spirits and the job of fully reopening Box Hill to the public is already underway. A full ecological site survey will be carried out next week but all the early signs are that the site’s precious wildlife has survived unscathed. One of the National Trust volunteer team has just told me that in her area of the site, a common lizard got almost as many cameras clicking as Lizzie Armisted and Emma Pooley. In another spot, a basking slow-worm was completely un-phased by the crowds while a pyramid orchid growing in the middle of a spectator area survived unharmed because everyone chose to carefully walk around it.
The volunteers have of course done tremendous work in keeping people informed and keeping an eye on our precious grassland but the real un-sung heroes of the weekend are the catering staff. This dedicated team chose to spend two nights in sleeping bags on the floor of the visitor centre so they’d be on-hand to serve early morning tea and brekkie for the army of Locog staff, the police, air force security and of course the rest of us working for the NT.
I don’t think they got much actual sleep the night before the men’s race though. When I stuck my head round the door it was as giggly as a girlie slumber-party (even though they aren’t all girls….) The next day they were on their feet from five in the morning handing out literally thousands of sandwiches, cuppas and cakes. At the end of the day when the crowds had gone and I was ready to crash out with exhaustion, the kitchen team decided to start playing rounders on the lawn. And then they did it all again the next day.
So to Suzanne, Andrea and all the rest of the team – I salute you. You know how to work hard, how to play hard, and how to bake a damn good flapjack.