With the year coming to an end, I’ve been thinking over some of my favourite moments of 2016. And, actually, one the of best experiences I’ve had this year is one I’ve been sitting on for a while!
I’m a big mint-eater.
We’re not allowed chewing gum at work, so I always keep a pack of POLOs in my bag for after lunch – they’re my minty must-have for refreshing my breath on the go!
So when the POLO team got in touch over the summer and asked me to help them celebrate the launch of their new POLO Sugar Free Extra Strong mints, I couldn’t say no.
The new mints pack a proper punch of freshness and they’re sugar free, so they’re kind to teeth AND delicious.
Armed with my pack of minty-freshness, and a GoPro to record the experience, the team sent me on a mission to test my strength… with a climbing experience over the O2!
(You know how you’ve always wanted to see me with sweaty hair, no makeup, and wearing a sexy oversized climbing harness? Well guess what. TODAY’S YOUR LUCKY DAY. I’ve been saving these up especially for you…)
For those of you who aren’t from the UK and/or have never heard of The O2, let me give you a bit of background info:
What is The O2?
This massive dome structure was built in 1999 to commemorate the new millenium. It was originally called the Millenium Dome, and housed a huge exhibition celebrating the year 2000.
The dome itself is basically a MASSIVE circular tent, and is now occupied by a huge concert arena, a cinema, and a ton of snazzy restaurants and bars.
What is the Up at The O2 experience?
The Up at The O2 experience involves (funnily enough) climbing up and over The O2.
You see that little line of ant-like figures on the walkway in the picture below?
Yep, that was me!
I booked my slot for Sunday, for the very first session of the day: 10am.
I’m a bit of an early bird, and the idea of taking in the views of the city before it properly woke up made me happy.
We started at Base Camp. Around 20 of us gathered in a big room to watch a safety video and meet our lovely guide, Lucy. She gave us a chat about health and safety, and showed us the proper way to suit up for the climb.
The O2 provide all the climbing gear you need, including boots, harnesses, safety vests (in summer) and safety onesies (in winter).
Unfortunately there are no photos or filming allowed until you reach the viewing platform at the top of the dome. You can zip your phones, cameras, (and mints!) etc, into a purposely built pocket of your safety vest, but you’re not allowed to actually use them until you reach the top.
Which makes absolute safety sense…
But is also kind of disappointing. Especially when you’ve been looking forward to all the action shots you were going to take!
OK so first of all: it is STEEP.
The first part of the walkway is on a 30 degrees slope, which wouldn’t be so bad, except the walkway is made of a bouncy sort of rubber material, kind of like a trampoline.
It’s definitely not a bouncy castle, and it’s not TOO bad to walk on… it’s just not so easy to climb!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put anyone off! It’s not hard.
There are grips on the floor and a rail for you to hold onto, and once you’ve cleared that first steep section, it starts to flatten out. As long as you’re in minimal shape, you’ll be able to do it.
But it’s definitely not EASY.
Our lovely guide, Lucy, kept up a running chatter, moving back and forth between us, helping if we got stuck, and making sure everyone was OK and enjoying themselves.
She told us that she does the experience 4 times a day, which means she must have insanely fit leg muscles, because by this point my calves were BURNING…
Up at The O2
But I did it!
We reached the viewing platform at the top, Lucy unhooked us from the safety cable and we were free to wander around.
I filmed some footage of the amazing views and took a bunch of selfies (because I may be brave and strong, but HEAVEN FORBID I ask a stranger to take a photo of me…)
And then I just stood and took it all in.
I’ve been up tall buildings before, and I’ve even been up even TALLER buildings before. But knowing that I’d physically climbed to that height (as opposed to taking a lift) made such a difference to my feelings about it.
My heart rate slowed back down to normal, the ache in my legs faded, and I just stood and breathed in the cool breeze, the warm sunshine and the fabulous views.
It was awesome.
I felt strong and calm and refreshed… Exactly what you’d expect with a pack of POLO Sugar Free Extra Strong in my pocket!
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*This post and video were sponsored by POLO Extra Strong.