On Friday I 'queued' for Wimbledon. It was a great experience. A very damp experience, but fun none the less.
As you probably know, 'The Queue' (as well as the rain) is a huge part of the Wimbledon experience. It is also really the only option for those (most of us) who were unsuccessful in the ballot system.
As there is still a week left, if Wimbledon is in your plans, check out these two websites. I found them VERY helpful.
Despite the early (5am) wake-up, the queue really is fun. It's extremely well organized. Upon arrival you receive a card with your number on it. We arrived at 7am and there were already 3953 people ahead of us. D'oh.
It should be noted that this is quite a busy year as the Brits are all wanting a piece of Andy Murray. Should you arrive after they've reached capacity, the stewards will let you know and will not let you Queue. This is reassuring, as you know once you get a card, you are guaranteed to get in. We arrived at 7am and were in the grounds by 11am. Play doesn't start until 1pm, and the stewards aim to get the entire Queue in by that point.
I was told that on most days, unless you camp, you don't stand a chance of getting a ticket for the main courts (as usually there are enough campers to take those seats). Unless you are very very lucky, or the weather is terrible, you are going to end up with a grounds ticket. A grounds ticket is only ₤20. With this ticket, you are able to watch any of the side courts, and from what I read there are a few unallocated seats on some of the big courts as well. You can also join the Rowdy crowd on what is now referred to as 'Murray Mound' (the old Henman Hill), but even finding a seat on the Hill during the big games is tricky.
The Queue is fun, and very social. There are lots of people selling things up and down the line up (newspapers, blankets, umbrellas, magazines, chocolate etc.), there are washrooms available, ice cream venders, as well as hot food and drinks.
...but you are also sitting ducks for those who wish to educate you, or ask for donations.
As we made our way towards the grounds, I was even able to flash my HSBC premier card for a continental breakfast and a coupon for free strawberries and cream. Finally a perk.
It rained in the Queue, and it rained on and off all day. Not ideal, but true to Wimbledon. As centre court has a roof, we were still able to watch the big games from the Mound.
I like this photo.
Yes, 'The Blue Umbrella' made its way out of the flat, and played a very large role in my level of comfort over the course of the day.
The sun did come out (at times), and when it did, we made the best of it.
I took a stroll to watch some of the side courts. It really is fantastic watching such a high level of tennis from the sidelines. I was even hit with a stray ball, that's how close I was.
The ball boy routines were VERY distracting. I was told these kids are all 15years old, and from schools in the neighbourhood. They are recruited and have chosen to opt out of winter and spring sport in favour of 'ball-boy/ball-girl training camp'. Basically they train for months for these two weeks....and they take their job VERY seriously.
It was fantastic.
As I was watching this game on court 5 something great happened. I met a couple from Chicago who were in London celebrating the Husband's 50th birthday. We got to chatting and I was explaining how we had Queued for grounds tickets, and they offered me one of their seats at Centre Court for 45 minutes.
I accepted it gratefully, and off I went...to sit with their friends and watch a set on the main court.
The grounds are absolutely beautiful. I hope to head back one evening this week and explore a little more. Thanks to the weather, my time on the side courts was limited, and I spent the rest of the day watching Laura Robson and Andy Murray's games from the Mound.
This gives you a perspective of where we were sitting...
Dinner in the rain..
Dessert (thank you HSBC).
How was your weekend? I didn't get home from Wimbledon until 10pm on Friday night, and crashed at that point. On Saturday, 'H' and I lay in the sun, and then met some friends in Brixton for a birthday. On Sunday I slept in, and then picked up some magazines and cherries and headed back to the grass to enjoy the 27 degree heat. I finished the day making Fajitas for 'M' and myself. After dinner, despite being stuffed, we took a stroll through the neighbourhood consuming two very large tubs of gelato.
A great weekend.
Fingers crossed that summer has finally reached London!