The Cotsworlds are well-known for their gentle hillsides (the ‘wolds’), sleepy villages and for being so ‘typically English’.
How odd that it was in one of these sleepy villages that Britain’s first real ‘Olympics’ were held.
Although Much Wenlock in Shropshire is attributed as the birthplace of the modern olympics there is no denying the spirit of competition that took place far before that event found its way onto the calendar.
According to historical records (are there any other type?) in 1612 in the tiny village of Chipping Campden, Robert Dover opened the first ‘Cotswold Olimpicks’, an annual sporting fair that honoured the ancient Games of Greece.
Those early ‘Olimpick’ competitors and to be fair those that take part today are as far removed as possible from the Olympic atheletes we will watch in our millions during the ‘official’ event in London.
Ancient Greeks threw discus, javelin and hammer and ran races however not so the ‘Olimpicks’ as the ‘sports’ include jumping in sacks, dancing and even shin-kicking.
Today is the 400th anniversary of the inaugural games but rather than the dulcet tones of Julie Andrews echoing across the valley instead you will probably hear the odd curse from a burly chap getting his shins smashed by a well aimed kick from his fellow competitor.
The hills are alive with the sound of “******* **** !”
Could be worse though…even though you are allowed to stuff straw down your trouser legs it was only a few years ago they stopped allowing steel toe-capped boots !
Rather them than me any day.