How To Wim at Wimbledon: The Q

Though it wasn’t Andy’s Wimbledon this year, it was probably my most successful Wimbledon yet. Not one visit, but two: one in the queue as a punter, the other as a member of the tennis elite, strolling in after brunch in Wimbledon village, smug with ticket in hand. Following on from my last blog post “So You Want To Go To Wimbledon?”, I thought it could be useful to illustrate my step-by-step guide to queuing at Wimbledon to demonstrate that anyone can”wim” at Wimbledon. I mean, at least in 2018 you can?!

Step 1. Wake up at 5am. Take obligatory sunrise photo and post it on Facebook so the world knows you’re going to Wimbledon.

Step 2. Meet friends at 6.30am outside Southfields station. Be thankful that you were only 5 minutes late, and not 30 minutes late like you were two years ago. Follow signs and crowds to the start of the queue. Join queue at approximately 7am, receive your queuing card (essential for getting into the grounds) and tweet ViewfromtheQ to let them know the status of the queue (please note, tweeting is not mandatory, it’s just helpful for your fellow Wimbledon fans).

Step 3. Enjoy the queue. Take natural photos like the one below. Go for multiple walks. Try a delicious iced coffee from one of the food outlets. Get told you won’t be allowed to take your Scottish flag inside the grounds so hide it in the depths of your backpack.

Step 4. But not before you take a group photo with your flags.

Step 5. Make slow progress in the queue. Make friends with the people next to you in the queue so they can take group photos for you.

Step 6. Pay £25 for a grounds-pass and enter the grounds around 13:05. Take a photo to remember how joyful you felt. Check out the order of play and if interested in the players on Court Number 3 (Oh hi, Nishikori) get yourself in another queue to get a seat.

Step 7. Having not been deterred by the length of the Court 3 unreserved seating queue, get on Court Number 3 court and feel extremely pleased with yourself. Watch Nishikori win a set but then ultimately lose. Mixed emotions.

Step 8. Get some bargainous strawberries and cream for £2.50 and then some less bargainous Pimms for £7.50, battle through the crowds to find a small space of grass on the hill and sit back and watch the tennis on Murray Mound (Henman Hill).

Step 9. From your perch on the hill, watch a third-round battle on Centre Court between Murray and Fognini, realise the match isn’t going to be over in a hurry so join the ticket resale queue and get yourself a cracking seat on Centre Court for £10.

Step 10. Scream your way to an Andy victory!

this one's for the instagram feed @andymurray rest up and i'll see you at the @usopen #twoscots #catmacbirthdayslam

A post shared by Catriona MacArthur (@catriona_mac) on

So You Want To Go To Wimbledon?

A few people have asked me for advice on going to Wimbledon so before the greatest grand slam of the year descends upon us, I wanted to write a quick post explaining all there is to know. Sit down, make yourself a cup of tea, and wish that you had one of my amazing Wimbledon cupcakes.


Going to Wimbledon
One of the reasons that Wimbledon is so great is the fact that you can get tickets last-minute, either by queuing on the day, or by purchasing online the day before.

The Queue

  • Show-courts (Reserved seats on Centre Court and courts 1, 2 or 3):
    The majority of the show-court tickets have been allocated through the ballot but a healthy number are kept behind for on-the-day purchasing. If you want a chance of getting these, I suggest you become one of these mad people in tents who camp overnight.
  • Ground-passes (Grounds and unreserved seats on courts 3-19): The majority of people joining the early morning queue will be there to get a ground-pass ticket. These tickets are only sold on the day of play. In past years, I’ve arrived at the grounds between 6.30am and 7am in order to guarantee entry. Follow @ViewFromTheQ on Twitter to get the daily update on what time is advised to arrive. If you rock up at 10am, you’re not getting in. Tickets on the first week of play will be £25.
  • After work: I can’t find anything to confirm this on the Wimbledon website but I think if you go to Wimbledon after 5pm, you can buy a Ground pass for even cheaper than £25. However, I’d only recommend doing this on the first week or the first half of the second week when there are still lots of matches going on.
  • Re-sale tickets. Another reason Wimbledon is so wonderful is because you can buy show-court re-sale tickets which have been handed in by attendees who decide to go home before the action is over. Tickets cost either £5 or £10, and are available from 5pm at the re-sale kiosk.

Online
It is also possible to buy show-court tickets on the day before play on ticketmaster – my friends did this last year and saw some epic matches on Centre Court. I’ve never done it but imagine this might cost a small fortune!

Watching Wimbledon
If you’re in the UK, as ever, Sue Barker and the BBC have you covered so you can bask in the wonders of Wimbledon for the next 2 weeks. If you’re in London, I’d recommend watching some of the matches on one of the big screens dotted around the city for the next best thing to a Henman Hill/Murray Mound Wimbledon atmosphere.

Myself? Queuing on Friday. Centre court tickets on the following Monday. And lots and lots of quality time with the BBC on either end!

One more sleep until Wimbledon!

A Postcard from Paris

Bonjour mes parents! C’est votre plus jeune fille préférée qui vous appelle, finally here to tell you all about her recent grand slam adventure à Paris! If this was a real postcard, it would have a British stamp on it, rather than a French stamp, because as per usual, I’ve been quite delayed in actually getting around to writing this and sending it to you. Terribly sorry. Anyway, I don’t want you getting your grand slams confused so before Wimbledon hits our screens, shall we reminisce about Paris?


My long weekend in Paris was such a delight. London had been hot that general-election Thursday when I departed, but I arrived to even warmer temperatures in Paris. Can you believe I hadn’t been in Europe proper since 2015? Somehow I’d forgotten that last year I was too busy walking 500 miles. The temperatures, combined with this realisation and the view in front of me, made for a very ecstatic Catmac as I walked out of Gare du Nord into the blinding sunshine. Paris architecture is incredible. ‘Shall I move to Paris?’, I wondered to myself as I slowly wandered south to our Air BnB in Le Marais, an excellent choice might I add. Don’t worry parents, as with Australia, I think it’s unlikely that I’m about to change countries any time soon.

Do you remember my old Brussels flatmates Marine and Jo? On my first night in Paris, whilst I was waiting for Viv to arrive, I met up with Marine and as per tradition (well, we’ve done it twice!) we face-timed Jo who is now back in Brussels post-studies. It was so cool to see and laugh with them again! I love that I still have these connections from different stages of my life. My Brussels life is a distant memory to me now, but meeting up with the people I shared the experience with helped me relate to it again. The blog also helps. Rue le Titien pour toujours!

Weirdly, Paris didn’t seem that fussed about Roland-Garros, At least, not to the extent that I saw in Melbourne and have witnessed multiple times in London. There was barely any advertising for it anywhere in the city and even when we arrived at one of the designated Roland-Garros metro stops, we literally had no idea which direction we needed to walk in because there was nothing to instruct us. (Shout-out to the man who took one look at the Scottish flag draped round my neck and concluded that we should follow him.)


Even in central Paris, there seemed to be a lack of activity. We’d been told there was a big screen by the Eiffel Tower so we ventured there for the final. Naturally, this led us to vision our arty Instagram shots-to-be but when we arrived at the screen, we were a bit disappointed.

Sure, the Eiffel Tower is in the vicinity but how am I supposed to see it from within this hidden enclosure?! Alas, our instas were not to be, but to be fair, when we did get inside this rather random and exclusive RG watchpoint, we quickly embraced our new lives.

Asides from the tennis, and the obligatory parkrun (when in Paris), we still had lots of time to enjoy the city. Shout-out to Viv who got up at 7.30am to go to Versailles whilst I went to parkrun so we would then be able to hang out again in the afternoon after our respective activities! This trip was the first time that I felt like I really understood the geography of Paris. Now I understand that the Eiffel Tower is west, Roland-Garros even more west, etc, etc! It was also the first time that I’d walked extensively in the city and fully appreciated its beauty.

Paris, there’s so much I love about you.

It’s a good sign that, even only three weeks on, I keep forgetting that I had possibly the worst cold of my year on this trip to Paris.  Let’s just block out those negative memories! I remember thinking I’d have to rein in my cheering for Andy because my voice wasn’t strong enough to shout, and then, of course, I threw that plan out the window as soon as Andy came on court. “ALLEZ ANDY!” To be fair, it felt like there were only 10 other Andy fans in the whole stadium – he needed my voice! Ice cream was then, of course, essential to aid my recovery. 

Amusingly, my grand slam tour has turned into a bit of a Nadal slam tour. I watched him in the final in Australia, and then again in the semi-final in Paris. Is he going to feature in my Wimbledon experience? This wasn’t the plan. But I can’t complain. Even though Andy lost in his semi-final at Roland-Garros, that match was a huge treat for me and made the grand-slam risk of 2017 seem all worth it. Now I hope you’ve both fine-tuned your voices because Andy needs us for the next 2 weeks. Watch out for me/him/two scots at Wimbledon!

CatMac X

Parkrun #7 – Parc Montsouris, Paris

Back in January, I’d never run a 5k and I’d never done a parkrun. I chose to do both for the first time whilst on holiday in Melbourne, Australia. I mean, you have to start your professional running career in style, no? 6 months later, I found myself with the chance to embark on another international landmark: parkrun number 10, à Paris!

I’d discovered there were two parkruns in Paris: one in Bois de Boulogne, which is located beside my friends at Roland-Garros in the west of Paris, and one in the picturesque Parc Montsouris, in the south of the city. I half-heartedly asked around about which park route was flatter but in the end, I settled purely on someone saying Montsouris was ‘one of their favourite parks in Paris’. I mean, if it’s beautiful, then I can deal with any hills there might be, right?

So Montsouris is deceivingly all about the hills. The parkrun route is three laps of the perimeter of the park, 50% of which is running up a hill. Oh lovely, just what I like on a 25-degree heat morning! I’m not going to lie, I definitely stopped on this route. Who wants to run uphill? However, just as 50% was uphill, there was a glorious 50%-per-lap of downhill running. And I am aaaaall about downhill running. No effort whatsoever! This wasn’t my fastest time – 32:07 – but not bad considering the heat, the hills, and me being full of the cold!

This was the smallest parkrun route I’d been to yet, with only 28 runners participating, a reflection, perhaps, of how new parkrun is to France: the first route was only set up in 2015. The majority of people there seemed to be ex-pats of sorts, either on holiday like me, or inhabitants in the city, who knew about parkrun from their home country initially and had then sought it out whilst abroad. There were loads of people running in the park though so it’s not a lack of fitness that’s preventing the locals from getting involved. Maybe it just takes a while for the word to get out? I do wonder though if the language plays a role in any way. Parkrun is not a difficult string-of-words, but it is still English. Parc courir, anyone?

Regardless of the numbers, it’s very cool to travel to other countries and see the concept of parkrun working in exactly the same format as it does in your local park down the road. Admittedly, it is a pretty simple concept so it’s easy to see why it’s replicated so well across the globe. My next and final international parkrun of the year is hopefully going to be in Washington DC. No, you’re right, there isn’t a grand slam there! Unfortunately, there isn’t a parkrun in New York, would you believe, so sister Mac and I are going purposely out of our way to live the international parkrun dream. Come on NYC, get involved!

When Andy Gets the Memo

The last time I wrote a blog post, Andy had made it as far as the 4th round of Roland-Garros which, given his past run of form, was already pretty good in my eyes. ‘If only he can get to a round that has the word ‘final’ in it’, I thought, ‘that will give him a boost of confidence and shoosh the haters’. I was also trying to not get ahead of myself, and think that I’d get to see him when I ventured across to Paris for the semis. I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Clearly, Andy was out for more than a wee ‘boost’. After winning his 4th round in straight sets against Russian Khachanov, he battled his way through a quarter-final against Kei Nishikori, a match I feared because of their previous encounter at the quarter-finals of the 2016 US Open, where Kei had knocked Andy out in an epic 5-setter. It wasn’t to be for Kei this time round though; the Murray-MacArthur forces were against him. Andy had got the memo; it was time for him to hang out with CatMac at a grand slam!

I mean, I hope I get to see him closer than this at some point in my life but for a semi-final at one of the four biggest tennis tournaments of the year, I can’t complain!

Andy came into the semi-final in almost miraculous fashion. His tennis hadn’t been that great, but he’d somehow found a way to frustrate and overcome his opponents. However, in the semi-final, he was up against seed number 3, Stan the Man from Switzerland, who had seemingly strolled into the semis on his favourite surface. I feared the worst. I was even more distressed when, at security, I had my Scottish flag taken off me. ‘But how is Andy going to know I’m there?’, I voiced to Viv, wishing I hadn’t worn it in patriotic fashion on the metro across Paris. Top tip for Roland Garros: hide your flags/take small flags/dress as a flag. I’m convinced my lack of flag affected the outcome.

Back to the match, Andy defied all odds and played some of his best tennis of 2017. He won the first and third sets and at one point, Viv whispered, ‘He might actually do this’, echoing the thoughts I was too scared to voice out loud. But again, Andy got the memo. He knew I didn’t have final tickets so rather than me being disappointed at missing an Andy-final, he decided to play really well in the semis and then take a bow out of the tournament. Ha, or not. Given the tennis that was played over the whole tournament, Stan earned the win, but Andy deserves so much credit for his persistence and determination. How on earth does a player have such a bad warm-up clay season, yet still get to the semi-final, and almost the final of a grand slam? That’s the number one player in the world, for you!

When Roland-Garros Is On ITV4

Somehow February turned into June and Roland-Garros, the second grand slam tournament of the tour, and finale of the clay season, is in full swing. Though it’s been a few months since the last grand slam took place in Australia, various tennis-themed headlines have distracted me from the grand slam drought:

(1) On 22 March, an hour long online queue led to me successfully acquiring tickets for the semi finals of Roland-Garros (was very late to work that day);
(2) A letter arrived through the post from Wimbledon in mid-March to say I’d been successful in the ballot, on my first attempt (March was an exciting month);
(3) My friend Sara took me to the Wimbledon Tour and Museum for my birthday one sunny Saturday afternoon in April (such a joy when Andy Murray is the current champion);
(4) The Great British Tennis Weekend in May saw me discover my local tennis club and start a beginners course (we weren’t taught tennis at school in Inverness, very deprived);
(5) Last week, I booked my flights to the US/Canada for my US Open tennis adventure in September (this birthday keeps on giving!);
(6) And of course there’s always my favourite Google search: Andy Murray. No jokes, my phone has decided, without prompt, to make this a favourite on my Safari homepage. It’s important to find out what the world is saying about my favourite player. Shingles? Oh no. Elbow injury? How unfortunate. 30?

Happy birthday, Andy!


It’s fair to say it’s not been the best season for Andy so far but it’s made me so happy to watch him fight through the opening rounds of Roland-Garros, and even more delighted that this viewing hasn’t been through refreshing an online newsfeed, as I had anticipated, but through live coverage, courtesy of ITV4. Who actually knew? Has this always been the case? Have I been depriving myself of the pinnacle of the clay season year after year? Thank goodness I discovered in time this year! In all seriousness, it’s like Christmas came early. Every day this week, I’ve been in work early, to leave early, to get home as soon as possible and dive my face in front of my laptop screen. I want to watch as much of this tournament as I can.

 


I’d originally considered visiting Paris twice during this tournament, to experience both the early rounds and the finals, and to ensure I actually saw Andy play (remember that time I went to Australia?…). However, work constraints meant this wasn’t possible, and with an American adventure still to finance, it was probably for the best. Instead, I focused my efforts on getting finals tickets and when tickets went on sale on 22 March, I successfully managed to get myself 7000th-odd in the RG online queue for tickets. Unfortunately, the final was sold out by the time the 7000 people in front of me had finished their online shopping, so instead I opted to get tickets for the two men’s semi-finals. Two matches for the price of one? Sounds like a good deal to me. Read more about my experiences of getting tickets for the grand slams here.

Viv, a friend from Japan, is joining me for the Parisian adventure which will see us hit up Roland-Garros in the flesh on Friday, go for a cheeky Parkrun on the Saturday morning and then hopefully, if I haven’t made up that this exists, watch the final on a big screen by the Eiffel Tower on Sunday. Only two rounds stand between me and an Andy Murray semi final – fingers crossed he gets the memo this time round!

Parkrun #5 and #6 – Wimbledon and Tooting, London

It’s been a while, blog. And that’s why I’m going to make it up to you by documenting not one, but two parkruns in this post. What a treat!

 

 

The challenge I set myself at the beginning of the year was to run at least one different parkrun every month. April saw me return home to Inverness for a weekend, where it would be rude not to do my first Scottish parkrun. This was followed by my birthday weekend back in London. As part of my celebrations, I had invited my friends (of the running variety) to join me for a tennis-themed (location only) parkrun in Wimbledon. In the end, April was the month where I’ve seen the most improvement as a result of me doing the Dulwich, Inverness and Wimbledon parkruns on consecutive weekends. It’s no wonder I got my fastest time yet in Wimbledon – 31:05, baby! And yes, if you’re counting, the two new parkruns in April meant I was going above and beyond my challenge. Oh, how smug I was in April.

 

 

Unfortunately, May has been less fruitful. Two weeks travelling for work, and a week overcoming a virus, has meant that any fitness gains I made in April were lost in May. However, I knew that in order to keep up with my challenge, I had to do a run today as it’s the last Saturday in May. The good thing about parkrun is that you can always walk if running gets the better of you. I don’t like to stop but if it’s a choice between finishing the parkrun, and not finishing it, I’ll happily surrender! I really struggle to run in the heat, and with it being around 22 degrees at 9am this morning, I knew it was inevitable that I’d have to stop. In the end, my time was 35:00. It’s not terrible but it’s also nowhere near my best. Still, as long as I stay healthy and train during the week, I should be able to improve on that next weekend. And that’s what it’s all about for me: challenging myself to improve.

 

 

So what are the routes like? Both flat, obviously. Otherwise I wouldn’t be running them. One of the main criticisms I’ve heard of parkrun routes concerns sections of the routes being narrow trails, meaning that if there are many runners, it can be hard to run at your desired speed. This is a challenge of both the Wimbledon and Tooting parkrun routes. However, it only tends to affect the beginning of the race when everyone is bunched together. As people establish pace at their own speeds, the route becomes less busy. What particularly struck me at Tooting parkrun, and to an extent at Wimbledon, was that the volunteers who were rallying the runners to keep going, were located in different locations around the course. I think this is so important because it makes a huge difference to your motivation levels if there is someone telling you to keep going, you’re doing really well, throughout your run. What really motivated me at Wimbledon as well was that on the second and final lap, towards the finish point of the race, there was someone calling out the time. I heard 30 minutes and knew if I sprinted to the end, I would be able to get a PB. And that’s exactly what I did. Thanks a million, Wimbledon!

So, what’s next? I’m so glad you asked. In case you’re not quite up to speed on your tennis calendar, Roland Garros starts on Monday and I’m eurostarring across to Paris at the end of the second week to watch the semi-finals. Conveniently, France has caught on to the parkrun craze, so hopefully I can be back at my best in two weeks time for my second international parkrun of the year. Bring it on!