x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Teen life: This summer, the holidays will be full of Olympic-sized fun

London in the summer - it's what we've waited for all school year. But why do the holidays go so fast?

For a whole school year, we have chewed our pens down to slobbery plastic messes trying to get our heads around trigonometry. We have faithfully forced ourselves out of bed at ridiculous hours to show our unwavering support towards the alma mater. Just when your noses have spent so much time against the grindstone that they've been rubbed raw, a chance to recharge presents itself in the form of the summer holidays.

The holidays, however, pass at a speed far greater than should be lawful; it's hard to believe that a month of wasting time has passed already.

In London, in a hotel a minute away from that glorious shopping destination, Oxford Street, you don't need to look particularly far to enjoy yourself. All of Regent Street is bedecked with the flags of the nations participating in the Olympics, so it's easy to get into the sporting spirit. My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with my schoolmates giddily posting pictures of their TV sets frozen in the glimpse of the swimmer Andrew Chetcuti at the opening ceremony with the rest of the Maltese contingent. And with good reason, too – he is our ex-head boy, giving us all a vicarious thrill at the school being represented.

The shops seem to be putting much effort into tactics for cashing in on the tourist influx. The evenings here can be quite cold, but the beachwear store Gilly Hicks has, in a rather desperate attempt to draw in the customers, parked some 20 boys in nothing but beach shorts outside its doors. They don't do anything but stand there giving toothy grins. Shallow marketing ploy? Maybe, but it works, considering all the swooning female tourists having their photos taken with them.

A Ferrari store, meanwhile, was more discerning - you could obtain permission to take a photo of the car on display for a meagre fee of £16 (Dh92). Bit of a rip-off, but then the store also featured a recording in the background of "vroom-vroom" noises, contributing to the atmosphere you could enjoy free of charge.

One of the most enjoyable moments of the trip so far, though, was a warming hearty meal with some friends outside the capital in Southampton. I don't think teens are allowed in most of the UAE watering holes, so it was a pleasant change to smell the heady mixture of body odour and a delicious something roasting in an oven as we entered The Cowherds, a cosy converted cowshed and stables.

Polishing off my massive golden-brown chicken and leek pie - they're generous with their portion sizes - I'm looking forward to the rest of summer doing nothing. That pie was excellent, and my bags are full of tacky Olympic souvenirs.

Do I really need to splurge on key chains featuring creepy one-eyed mascots? No. But the Games are all about showing solidarity with the athletes, and this summer is all about living the Olympic dream, getting through high-street stores faster, wracking up higher bills than ever and helping build a stronger economy.