Lucky Enough To Be Heading To Wimbledon This Year? Just Be Sure To Revise Some Basic Physics So That “Baby Brain” Doesn’t Get The Better Of You……

When you have young children, you are often very busy and tired. The constant lack of sleep and seemingly endless “To Do” lists often leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused. Personally, I now have more of a tendency to be a bit forgetful and daft more often than not (much to my husband’s dismay). You may have heard the expression “baby brain” being used to describe this common problem, which is known to affect so many women of child-bearing age. This includes those who are pregnant, new mothers, and those who are parenting young children in particular. I have a very extensive list of ridiculous things I have done as a result of this so-called “baby-brain” but with tennis season upon us and the most exciting tournament of the year (Wimbledon) starting, I thought I’d share one such example in more detail, whilst informing you of ways to enjoy Wimbledon on a budget. Hopefully this means that you may be able to experience this great English event for real if you are a tennis fan who has always longed to watch some matches from the stands of the famous courts whilst avoiding some cardinal errors that are perfectly possible for you to make if suffering from “baby brain.”

A few years ago one of my good friends was having a very tough year indeed. When we discovered we had a few days off work at the same time after both having just finished working a hideous stretch of shifts, we agreed it would be nice to do something enjoyable with our time off to try and take her mind off things a bit. It just so happened that our time off coincided with Wimbledon. We originally flirted with the idea of taking a trip down to London and getting a ground pass for Wimbledon so we could have a look round and maybe see a few tennis balls being hit from a distance. However, we got excited when we discovered that there are actually a small number of relatively cheap tickets for sale in pairs online the day before some of the matches. It is possible to get last minute tickets for Centre Court and Number One Court. Yes, it’s true, you don’t have to be a rich person with an invitation to The Royal Box to enjoy the tennis live from Centre Court. We knew our chances of successfully bagging a couple of these were remote- essentially you have to continually refresh your screen when the tickets come out and hope you can click your mouse fast enough to transfer some securely into your virtual shopping basket. Anyway, we agreed we would both at least try, and if we couldn’t get any, then we would go to London for the day anyway.

Well, my clicking clearly needed practice, but soon after admitting defeat, I received a call from my friend who excitedly told me that she had managed to get two tickets- for CENTRE COURT! We were going to be sat court side at Wimbledon’s Centre Court. If it rained, it wouldn’t matter, because there was now a roof (my Mum went to Wimbledon twice years ago and it rained torrentially both times- she didn’t see a single ball go over the net as she reminds me time and time again). We were going to see some matches regardless, and we were especially excited that both Serena Williams and Andy Murray were in the line up. I also felt very pleased for my friend, whom I felt really deserved those tickets after all she had been through.

We threw together some overnight bags and got a train down to London that evening. Whilst reading the terms and conditions, we got extremely excited to learn that we would be allowed to take our own alcohol into the grounds. We opted for several bottles of cheap sparkling wine so that if for some reason we had misunderstood and they were confiscated, we wouldn’t lose out too much.

On the way to our budget hotel (Travel Lodge at King’s Cross), we detoured to an off license and purchased a few bottles of cheap fizz. We then checked in and went up to our room, which had a most picturesque view of a train track. This wasn’t so bad, if you don’t mind sleeping to the periodic rattling of trains steaming past your window (after having kids who cares about the racket of passing trains?! Did someone say the potential for a FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP?!) We enjoyed one bottle of bubbles that evening in front of the TV before bedding down.

The following morning, we needed to catch a few trains in order to get to Wimbledon from central London. Whilst at the station, my friend received a phone call and was informed that her house had sold, but that she needed to move out within the week. This was obviously a bit stressful to hear, especially when you are in a different city and are thus powerless to begin packing up the contents of your sizeable house immediately after hanging up the phone. Considering this news and the events of the year so far, I turned and said to her something along the lines of “Don’t worry. You will laugh again. Remember what they said in the Sex and the City movie?! You will laugh again. When something is REALLY funny. In the meantime let’s enjoy today.” (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the gurus of life that are Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes, Samantha Jones and Charlotte York from Sex and the City this is a reference to when, in the first movie, Carrie is jilted at the altar and the girls decide to all go on the planned honeymoon as a girls’ trip so as not to waste the booking, whilst attempting to cheer Carrie up a bit at the same time. Carrie is obviously depressed having been stood up and asks them if she will ever laugh again. They say yes and when she asks when that might be they say “when something is REALLY funny.” They later all laugh uncontrollably (including Carrie) when Charlotte soils herself after inadvertently drinking contaminated water).

To get to the point of the story, we were allowed to take the alcohol in, but you cannot take glass into the courts. Therefore, we were able to pour it into plastic cups and top it up in the breaks. Frustrated by having to constantly go out to do this, I had a sudden “light bulb moment” and hatched what I thought was an ingenious plan. Excited, I relayed said plan to my friend. “I’ve had a great idea. We can’t take glass into the court, so let’s decant the wine into plastic bottles!” Now let’s remind ourselves that this was fizzy wine we were dealing with. If you aren’t familiar with the “gas law’s” (Boyle’s Law, Charles’s Law, Gay-Lussac’s Law) now is the time for a bit of physics revision. Let’s also stress the fact that my friend and I are both anaesthetic doctors. Between us we have several science A-Levels, and we have to know the gas laws in detail for our anaesthetic exams. Basically, we are supposed to be experts on the properties of gasses and if you asked us we could explain the laws to you, write out equations to demonstrate understanding and even draw graphs illustrating how gases behave under certain pressures, in certain volumes, and at certain temperatures. The most relevant law here is Boyle’s. It states that the absolute pressure exerted by a given mass of an ideal gas is inversely proportional to the volume it occupies if the temperature and amount of gas remain unchanged within a closed system. In other words, cramming a gaseous substance into a smaller volume means the pressure increases massively. What I am trying to say is that, given our background knowledge, there was simply no excuse for what happened next.

We were watching Andy Murray play. Our wine needed topping up. Thank goodness I waited until a lengthy round of applause to open the bottle. There was loud “BANG” and the lid flew off the bottle, hit the ceiling of Centre Court and flew into the crowd several metres below us. The fizzy wine also exploded in my face. Luckily most people who had seen what happened laughed and we did not disrupt play (otherwise I suspect we would have been escorted out. Andy Murray seems pleasant enough, but I’m not sure he would have seen the funny side if we had interrupted his rally with the bang of pressurised booze escaping from a confined space). Dripping in cheap champagne and in shock, I turned to my friend. She was in hysterics. I started laughing too when I realised that we had both been inexcusably stupid to have even contemplated decanting the fizz into small, plastic water bottles. So, she laughed, because something was REALLY funny. Also, not totally unheard of for me to be the butt of the joke. Glad I could have been of service.

The story also doesn’t end there. Remember I said we decanted the wine into a couple of bottles? Nervously, I placed my hand round the bottle that was in my handbag. It was hard as a rock. I knew I was going to have to retreat to a secluded location to release the pressure. I was, however, highly concerned that the bottle would explode before I could escape the stadium. There were some painfully long rallies that followed. I knew I had to wait for an applause break before I could leave. I started to sweat. Andy hit a winner down the edge of the court. My friend leaned in and sniggered under her breath “we need another one of those, QUICKLY!” The break seemed to take forever to come. I virtually ran out of the stadium when the chance arose and decided I would hide in the toilets whilst I opened the bottle. Once in the cubicle, I flushed the toilet, cleared my throat very loudly and “accidentally” tripped into the closed door so as to attempt to mask the inevitable bang that was to occur when I opened the bottle. Luckily it wasn’t too noticeable with all the background noise I made in an attempt to mask the sound. I was concerned that someone may have suspected a terrorist attack if I had just let the bottle bang loudly without attempting to cover it up. Luckily, I didn’t walk out of the toilets to find I was under arrest as the suspected mastermind of a bomb plot.

Relieved, I headed back to the stadium. We finished the last of the wine (that hadn’t been wasted during the explosions) from our plastic cups. During a long rally, someone’s mobile phone rang high in the stadium. The call was answered, and a man began talking very loudly on the phone during play. He was escorted out. “What an inconsiderate so-and-so for being so disruptive during a civilised event like Wimbledon” I said guiltily to my friend. We both chuckled.

We laughed intermittently throughout the day and for days, months, weeks and years afterwards about how foolish we were. No matter how bad things may seem, I promise you, you will laugh again. If you have a silly friend who is anything like me, you are likely to laugh again sooner rather than later. Anyway, I blame “baby brain”- that’s a valid excuse, right?!

Have a look online for cheap last minute Wimbledon tickets. You may get lucky. Remember the gas laws when dealing with fizzy wine. You can do Wimbledon on a budget. Go ahead and persuade your other half to let you have a well-earned break at the tennis!

Centre Court at Wimbledon as viewed from budget seats. Eerily quiet during play meaning EVERYONE will hear exploding sparkling wine.
Wimbledon refreshments. Perhaps strawberries are safer than fizzy wine, but they are nowhere near as much fun (although they are tasty!)

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