We were a small but select group but we weren't alone. All along the road, at the side of the roundabout, people sat in their gardens under gazebos, flags flying, banners blowing in the wind - who knew that old Billingham could be so festive? And so excited! The atmosphere was really something special.
I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting from the torch relay. I think maybe I thought it would just be a couple of guys running past, torch in hand, to a few wet cheers on the side of the road. I certainly didn't expect crowds of cheering people waving their flags. I didn't expect the youth theatre group over the road to have a band on the steps of their building. I didn't really think that I would get so excited I would clamber up onto a wall by the side of the road and whoop and cheer myself hoarse all the while dancing to the beat of the drums over the road. Even Wavey who had been a smidge sceptical about the whole thing and only really came along to keep me company got into the experience.
From my vantage point on the wall I watched as police cars with flashing lights closed the road in advance of the convoy that was to follow. Another car with flashing blue lights! A bus! Policemen on bikes high-fiving people by the side of the road and raising their hands in the air for three cheers. The spectacle was about to begin!
And begin it did. Buses full of people with Torch Relay 2012 flashing across their front. Sponsor buses and vans from Coca Cola, Lloyds Bank, another bus telling us the torch was due through in about 6 minutes. Then there it was! Ahead in the distance being carried by someone in a wheelchair...hope they're going to swap that over before attempting to run down Billy Bank...! And then it was there! Right in front of me! Snap snap, there he goes:
In total we were probably only there for about 40 minutes, but it was totally brilliant! I'm getting excited about the games themselves now...