London 2012 Revisited – Olympics Closing Ceremony

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the glorious London Olympics from 10 years ago, hence my recent lengthy reviews of the Opening Ceremony, Days 1-8 and Days 9-16. There are loads of great memories, and some things I’d forgotten about that I’ve been happily reminded of. So naturally it’s time to look back at the Closing Ceremony, which was overseen by creative director Kim Gavin.

As big and important as the occasion was, it’s fair to say it wasn’t quite as epic or impressive as the Opening Ceremony – but then it didn’t need to be. We had already put on a fantastic show over the previous few weeks, and so now we could just let our hair down and have fun, and thank everyone for making the Games such a success. This was more of a party than a ceremony really, focusing on the best of British music and culture with a variety of big-name artists. Most of the tracks appeared on the soundtrack album A Symphony Of British Music, compiled by the ceremony’s musical director David Arnold, which I own in my collection. It contains a mixture of original music written for the ceremony, cover versions of well-known songs, and special re-recordings by artists of their own tracks for the event.

And it was still very enjoyable on the whole. It’s very unlikely that everything would have appealed to everyone but, depending on your musical and cultural tastes, there would have been a few particularly memorable or special moments for each person watching. That was certainly the case for me anyway – there are some parts I can easily skip over, and other bits I can watch over and over again.

And visually it looked very cool as well, not just in terms of the costumes, dancing, fireworks and so on, but also the creative use of the ‘pixels’ – the coloured lights behind each audience member – that created animated patterns around the stadium throughout the show, and the impressive Union Jack stage – designed by artist Damien Hirst – that filled the floor of the stadium.

The ceremony lasted 3 hours and 10 minutes, and is included in its entirety on the final fifth disc of the BBC’s Blu-ray set. There are no alternative audio options and no scene selection menu (though there are chapter points you can skip through). You simply get the broadcast coverage with the BBC commentators led by Huw Edwards, but that’s generally fine as they don’t interfere too much. They’re most involved when the athletes are making their way into the stadium, while at other times they just give a bit of contextual information, which is actually very useful. And by all accounts we had much better TV coverage than some overseas viewers. The only extra on the disc is a long PDF with the full list of credits for the ceremony, which you can see if you put it into a computer’s Blu-ray drive. Not quite as long as the equivalent document for the Opening Ceremony, but still pretty lengthy.

You can also watch the full ceremony on the Olympics Youtube channel, where they have their own commentators. As with their Opening Ceremony coverage, it starts with a beautiful helicopter shot travelling slowly over London towards and around the stadium, showing off the city and the venue wonderfully. And there are other videos online relating to the ceremony as well, including a bit of footage from the audience and behind the scenes. So, like I’ve done with my previous posts, I’ve compiled a Ceremony Playlist on Youtube, with relevant clips and the complete music soundtrack if you want to look through it.

And so, with all that said, let’s crack on with my look back at the ceremony. It won’t be anywhere near as lengthy as my Opening Ceremony coverage, as there’s much less to discuss this time. But I hope you enjoy!

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Christmas 2021 Favourites

Well, we made it through another odd year. We finished 2021 in a stronger position than 2020 in some important ways, and step by step we are getting back towards a sense of normality. But we still to be careful and patient, as opposed to carefree and complacent, and hopefully the situation will continue to improve during 2022.

In any case, despite the various restrictions we endured throughout the year, along with my own battle with sciatica and back trouble over the summer, I still got out and about quite a bit and found plenty to enjoy, as you’ll have seen from all of my Favourites posts. The latter half of 2021 was particularly busy, as I was interviewed on RNIB Radio’s Happy Hour by fellow blogger Holly Tuke from Life Of A Blind Girl, had the opportunity to interview visually impaired actor Gillian Dean about the premiere of a new play, finally got to attend a live performance of the Rocky Horror Show, and had an audio described tour of London Zoo, among other things. And being able to meet some of my friends after so long apart has naturally been the biggest delight of the year.

This Christmas has also marked my 5th anniversary of living in London! Granted, much of the past couple of years has been a bit of a write-off, but that just makes it all the more amazing how much I’ve achieved and crammed in so far, with public speaking, TV and radio interviews, podcast appearances, student documentaries, theatre visits, museum tours, the charity abseil, so many new friendships and connections, the attention my blog’s had in general, and many other things that I would never have imagined happening or being successful at before moving here. So in that sense, the lockdowns have been strangely beneficial for giving me a chance to relax and reflect on all of that, as well as giving me all the more impetus and confidence to expand my horizons even further going forward. So if you’ve played any part in my London journey so far, whether it’s just reading these blog posts, or chatting with me, or getting together with me in person, thank you so much! It always means a great deal that people take such an interest in my adventures and my ramblings.

So before I find out what 2022 has to offer, it’s time to wrap up 2021 with a traditional bumper post and video looking back at what I’ve been doing and enjoying during December and the Christmas period. As usual, nothing here is sponsored and all opinions are my own. I hope you enjoy!

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September 2021 Favourites

Hello again, I hope you’re all continuing to enjoy yourselves safely. I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to get out to meet some friends and explore the city again at long last, as my aches and pains are continuing to ease off, now that I’ve figured out how I was over-correcting my posture problems. I’m still not cancelling my November NHS physio appointment yet, as I don’t want to tempt fate, but I’m feeling much better at the moment. So I seem to be moving in the right direction, touch wood!

That means I actually have some recent and upcoming London adventures to tell you about in this month’s post and video, as well as the usual mixture of entertainment I’ve been into. So it’s a bumper update this time. With the exception of a theatre show I’ll be mentioning, for which I’ve been kindly given a review ticket, nothing else in this post is sponsored or gifted. So I hope you enjoy!

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September 2020 Favourites

Autumn is now upon us, as is the second wave of the pandemic, and I know this will be a very difficult period for many, just as the whole year has been. So I hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well as best you can.

For my part I’m still doing fine thus far, and still keeping myself occupied. I’ve been getting out and about more, and have continued to enjoy various forms of entertainment at home. So here’s my latest post and video roundup, in which nothing is sponsored or gifted as usual. I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 10

Hello again. I hope you’re all doing ok – especially my friends and followers in the USA, all our thoughts are with you right now. Black Lives Matter and there are many ways to get involved and show your support, while those taking advantage of peaceful protests to cause destruction and misery have no respect for peace and equality. I sincerely hope that stability and civility is restored very soon. We should all be pulling together at all times, but it’s more important than ever during this pandemic.

Here in England, our lockdown has been eased in recent days, even though many scientists, including some of the government’s own advisors, feel too much is being done too soon. And if the experts are wary, then so am I, because I trust their judgement the most. So I’m going to continue staying locked down while we wait to see what happens, and until doctors and scientists can reassure us that it really is safer out there. It’s important for me because I live with my mother, who is elderly and blind, so the last thing I want is to bring the virus home and infect her, so that she ends up in hospital where I can’t visit her. So I’m staying indoors to keep her safe, that’s my priority.

And while I’m doing that, I’m still keeping myself entertained, which is taking my mind off the news very effectively as usual. So I hope this week’s post and video, which as always doesn’t contain anything sponsored or gifted, is a nice distraction for you too!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 4

Hello again! As always, I hope you’re staying safe and well, and are getting any support that you need right now. Remember to check out my Covid Resources for lots of information and ways to stay occupied, which I’m constantly updating. And huge thanks as always to all the NHS staff and other key workers who continue to go above and beyond to keep us healthy and the country functioning.

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like time is moving more quickly again, after the month of March felt like a year. Maybe it’s because I was already used to homeworking and spending a lot of time at home, and because I’m finding plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained. But in any case, here’s my latest post and video update on the things that have caught my attention in the last 7 days. None of this is sponsored or gifted, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 3

Happy Easter! I hope you’re all staying safe and well as best you can, and that you’ve had a nice break over this long weekend, with plenty of chocolate goodies or whatever you like to indulge on. I think we’ve earned a few treats at the moment. Or if you’re a key worker – including employees and volunteers in the health service, social care, retail sectors and local authorities, among many others – then thank you! You deserve even more special treats than the rest of us!

Following on from my post last week, here’s my next roundup of the ways I’ve been staying occupied and entertained over the past 7 days, including a video as usual. So I hope you enjoy looking through it. And don’t forget that I also have a huge list of Covid Resources that I’m updating regularly, including information, support and entertainment links, that you can check out as well.

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Christmas 2019 Favourites

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and have a wonderful and prosperous 2020 ahead. 🙂

2019 was a bit of a rollercoaster year for me, but it worked out well overall. I was very busy and active for the first half, with highlights including a holiday in Liverpool, filming my What Is Normal? documentary, giving a speech at the Aniridia Network Conference, attending the Naidex event and seeing the Only Fools And Horses musical.  Then there was a big dip during the summer, with health issues, my PIP application, and my first relationship in London coming to an end after a year (but we’re still very close friends). Then the final few months gave me a chance to recharge and get back to normal, before I made radio & TV appearances on the BBC World Service & 5 News to talk about digital accessibility. So there’s been a lot going on, and you can find out all the details through my Favourites posts from the year.

So December was very good for me all in all, and I was kept happily occupied over Christmas as usual. So there’s lots to mention, including a podcast appearance, museum visits, Christmas displays, socialising in London & Devon, Christmas food, TV shows, movies and audio entertainment, and more. As always, I’ve not been paid or gifted for anything I mention here, I’m simply expressing my own opinions. So I hope you enjoy this festive post and video roundup!

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July & August 2019 Favourites

Right then, I’m back. And it’s fair to say that this past month has been a bit of a write-off. A few things forced me to take a break from blogging for a little while, and prevented me from getting out and about the majority of the time. So I apologise for not posting recently, but I just haven’t been in the mindset for it.

As a result, this post covers both July and August together, as there’s very little to mention for the latter month. To put things into context I’ll start by explaining why I’ve been absent, and I’ve also posted a short video in relation to that. Then I’ll go straight on to the more cheerful stuff, and there’s still quite a lot to mention, including a musical, a movie, a comedy show, museums, walks, events, my new computer and TV shows.

So let’s crack straight on with my latest post and video recap. As always, I’m not sponsored by any of the people and companies mentioned below. I hope you enjoy my latest post and video recap!

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Only Fools And Horses – TV Show & Musical Reviews

Only Fools And Horses surely needs no introduction, certainly for anyone in the UK at least. It is still regularly voted as Britain’s greatest sitcom (which I heartily agree with), it is still constantly repeated on TV, and it still holds the record for the UK’s most watched programme (not counting coverage of special news and sports events, or figures for soap operas that include mid-week repeats, of which there are only a few instances anyway).

It seems hard to believe that 24.35 million people in the UK, over a third of the entire population, were all sat in front of their TVs at the same time on 29 December 1996, to witness Del Boy and Rodney becoming millionaires. And who knows how many others have seen that episode on TV, video, DVD or online since then? It shows just how much affection there is for the characters that such a huge audience wanted to see them finally succeed, and that so many of the fans got upset when they lost their fortune 5 years later. Although it’s logical that Del wouldn’t be a wise investor, the fans still felt bad for him.

And that’s why this year’s launch of Only Fools And Horses The Musical at Theatre Royal Haymarket has proven incredibly popular, and has hopefully helped to introduce some new younger fans to the series. The musical has already had to be extended until next year, given the positive reviews and the high demand for tickets.

So as a big fan of the series myself, I was certainly keen to go. And my wonderful girlfriend Claire knew this without having to ask, so she very kindly booked tickets for us to see the audio-described performance in July, as an early birthday present for me. Which of course means this post isn’t sponsored or endorsed by anybody connected with the TV show or the theatre production. So I wanted to tell you what I thought of the musical, and also take the opportunity to pay tribute to my favourite sitcom.

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