I have a new and delicious question for my rivals in the B&B trade: “How many Olympic medal winners’ families have you entertained this season?” I ask it casually, and in my best Linda Snell manner, with an air of knowing superiority. (I don’t often get to feel superior, believe me). But I could not resist the temptation to have a very small brag about my latest guests from the USA – Mark and Jennifer Kierstead, and their friends Nick and Dianne Somers. Jennifer is the proud – to say the least – mum not just of an Olympic gold medal winner, but a double Olympic gold medal winner: daughter Eleanor (Ellie) Logan was in the US rowing team which won gold in London 2012 and also last time round in Beijing.
As a professional writer and a mother Jennifer was asked by Parents magazine to keep a blog of her experiences as she watched Ellie rowing at the Olympic site in Eton – http://www.parents.com/blogs/goodyblog/2012/07/the-emotions-of-watching-your-child-compete-in-the-olympics/
As a mother whose only memory of her daughters’ sporting achievements has been biting my nails as I worry whether they’re going to come last in the three-legged race, I can hardly begin to imagine the anguish of watching a daughter compete on the world stage and at the highest level. Or the ecstasy when – for the second time in four years – they win gold. Jennifer, with husband, Mark, and Dianne and Nick, stayed with us for two nights after watching Ellie and team mates compete, on their journey around Britain. As we chat, I’m ashamed to recall my reaction seven years ago on hearing London had won the games. “I don’t know what everybody’s getting so excited about – it’s going to be a total disaster. We’ll rue the day, you mark my words,” I’d said to Ian.
It was, I’m sure, a feeling shared by many in Britain. What was the point? Why were we spending all this money? What about the terrorists, the crowds, the riots at Heathrow as so many people tried to get into the country, the gnarled-up transport system, the humiliation as our own athletes fail to gain anything more than a single bronze medal? Well, how wrong can you be. . .
It was a delight to welcome our US guests, to see the pride and joy on all their faces, to play a tiny, tiny part in welcoming visitors to this amazing country. Jennifer emailed me from our guest library during their stay (that’s a first) to say how much they were enjoying themselves, and sent a lovely picture of herself and Ellie (below), taken in their B and B in Reading, where the group were staying during the Games. And I took some more pictures before they left us. We hope they will return, and we’re sure we will keep in touch. Thank you for coming, thank you for sharing your magic, Olympic moment.
Note Dianne’s necklace – gold, silver and bronze rings. A gift from a friend – and a complete coincidence!