Thursday was a special day for us here in southern Cumbria as the Olympic Torch relay passed through the region. Not only that, but it arrived at Bowness-on-Windermere on a steamboat and we were able to grab a place by the pier to watch it.
The weather wasn't good. The previous day had been unbroken sunshine from start to finish, but by Thursday morning it was pouring. By late afternoon/early evening that had turned to dispiriting drizzle and the clouds were down on even the lowest fells, but in a strange way that added to the atmosphere. You don't come to the Lake District for good weather!
We turned up at Bowness 'promenade' (a strip of concrete by the side of the lake) at about 6.30 pm, fully expecting the torch to arrive within minutes. Only after we'd been waiting for twenty minutes or so did we think to check the official leaflet, to find we were a whole hour early. Still, that meant we found a spot right by the railings with an amazing view of the pier. Not bad considering the crowd was five or six deep by the time the real arrival time rolled around.
MS Tern is the oldest working launch on Windermere, dating back to 1898, and is a beautiful craft. For the relay she had an escort of two dragon boats, which had rowed either side of her all the way from Waterhead at Ambleside, five miles further up the lake, as well as a whole flotilla of yachts, canoes, launches and houseboats which had come along for the ride. Tern's bow, and the yacht masts, loomed wonderfully out of the mist as they got ever closer, and the flame of the torch could be seen shining like a beacon right at the front of the boat. It was all rather lovely, and surprisingly emotional - at least until somebody's children elbowed their way in front of me and blew vuvuzelas down my earhole. I guess there's more than one way to enjoy an event!
What seemed like half the north-west of England had turned up for the event and afterwards there was a massive concert culminating in a spectacular light, sound and firework display over the lake.
And if you want to read more about this stunning corner of the country, pop along to Carrying the Torch where Bruinfisher has posted about the Dumfries-to-Bowness leg of the torch relay with some fascinating snippets and stories.