AS you would expect, most of the Olympic events are taking place in London. But a few are being staged further afield, offering an opportunity for travel out of the capital.

The football tournament is the most obvious example of non-London 2012, but it is not the only one. The rowing regatta is taking place at Eton Dorney, so while the commuter trains were heading into London yesterday morning, a hardy band of spectators were squeezed into normally-empty carriages travelling in the opposite direction.

Hurtling out of London, following the winding route of the River Thames, it is quite a scenic trip. You go through Barnes and Mortlake, well-known names thanks to the University Boat Race, and Twickenham, home of English rugby union.

Once out of London, you hit Staines, Runnymead and Datchet, before the journey ends at Windsor and Eton Riverside, the closest station to Dorney Lake.

That effectively makes Windsor a host venue for the Games, although you suspect the town is not quite sure about fully embracing the circus that tends to accompany the Olympics.

There is bunting in the town centre, but it is all rather tastefully hung. It's almost as if Windsor's residents are saying, 'Look, we'll go along with this if we have to, but don't let it get in the way of our hanging baskets'.

It's an impressive old town mind, with the castle towering above the rest of the centre, visible from miles and miles away and lending a permanence that contrasts with the temporary seating that has sprung up around the rowing lake to transform the venue into a 25,000-capacity Olympic site.

The rowing lake itself belongs to Eton School – it might just be me, but I can't quite remember Wolsingham Comp having its own lake, unless you count the puddles that used to collect in the centre-circle of the football pitch – and it's a hugely impressive sight.

More than 2,000 metres of crystal-clear water, divided into various sections for racing, warm-ups and cool-downs.

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping sight is the camera that whizzes above the course providing the aerial shots that have proved so popular on BBC television.

It runs on a series of wires that are connected to two huge towers at either end of the course, and you can only pity the poor technicians who have to look on from the top of the towers to make sure everything is all right.

It was windy yesterday, and it's supposed to be even windier today. That makes it tough for the rowers, but one suspects it's even tougher for the poor chaps rocking around in their cradle.

The crowds at Eton Dorney will smash the Olympic record for a rowing event, and they're a mix of the sport's enthusiasts, proudly wearing jackets proclaiming Bath Rowing Club or Thames ARC, and more casual observers who aren't always sure what's going on, but are simply desperate to witness some Olympic sport.

Yesterday's spectators were a fairly cosmopolitan bunch, with large contingents from New Zealand and Australia, and a group of French fans decked out in red, white and blue.

The most unexpected sight was the large middle-aged man feverishly waving the flag of Tunisia. Do they do much rowing there? To be honest, I wouldn't have fancied his chances of squeezing into a boat.


THE Olympic organisers have spent the last four years doing everything in their power to ensure the rights of their commercial partners are protected during the Games.

So we've had shops banned from hanging Olympic images in their windows, newspapers warned about linking any advertising with the Olympic rings and spectators prevented from using their Mastercards because Visa is the official debit card of the Games.

The IOC's zeal seemingly knows no end, but even by their standards, the toilets in the main press centre at the Olympic Park are quite a site.

Every hand drier has a huge white sticker on it, obscuring the name of the company that manufactured them.

Never mind sorting out the allocation of tickets to sponsors and national associations, it's clearly more important to prevent any subliminal advertising while members of the media are washing their hands.