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"Isles of Wonder"

Living in Britain, we see extraordinary promise, competence, energy, imagination, common sense, fortitude, and kindness every day from people who live here and love Britain.

They have worked very hard to put on the 2012 Olympics. They are not finished. They won't be until the Olympics ends, but as a sports coach observed, “The hay’s pretty much in the barn now.”

Living in the country, we like that barn image for many reasons.

In London, ". . .the people of the Isles have built a stage for 10,490 Olympic athletes, 8.75 million spectators and 20,000 media personnel. They have constructed a new Stratford metropolis, with waterways and flowers."

This morning at 8:12, thousands of people rang bells - church bells, hand bells, bicycle bells, a Berwick Celtic war horn - all over Britain for three minutes. They were part of Britain's 12-week programme of cultural events, celebrating the arts alongside sport. Children were among the most excited bell ringers.

Stunningly, the French head of the International Olympics Committee said that London was superbly prepared for the Olympics and took his hat off to Brits for inventing so many great sports.

Surrounded by watercraft, the Olympic Torch, carried in the Queen's Barge, was rowed swiftly down the Thames on the last day of its 8,000-mile journey. Spectators from Britain and all over the world have begun streaming enthusiastically into the Olympic Park.

Danny Doyle, director of the opening ceremony, said the people of Britain are receptive to ceremony, and insistent on freedom. He hopes the ceremony captures that graceful and stubborn belief in liberty. Worldwide, a billion people will be watching.

The opening ceremony begins tonight at 8:12 pm with a Red Arrows fly-past.

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