In pictures: 2012 Games - the nation prepares

By MSN UK News John Stillwell/PA Wire
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The latest images showing the UK getting ready for the Games

With just days to go until the start of the 2012 Games, the finishing touches are being put to colourful commemorations around the country. This picture shows the London 2012 Paralympic mascot Mandeville, placed on the south side of Westminster Bridge on the south bank of the river Thames in central London. A total of 83 official Wenlock and Mandeville sculptures are at some of London's most visited and instantly recognisable locations. The two-metre tall figures are part of Stroll, six individual discovery trails around the city, with the aim of encouraging Londoners and tourists alike to explore the capital on foot.

Steve Back/Rex Features
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In bloom

A flower arrangement in the shape of the Olympic Rings in the garden in Downing Street in London. The flowers were grown by the Royal Parks and planted by Downing Street gardeners Paul Schooling and Guillaume Tremorin.

Rex Features
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Rider in the corn

A Lake District farmer has fashioned his own special giant tribute to the Games across 10 and a half acres of cornfields in Cumbria. Graham Wadsworth, 41, has created the image of a giant horse rider leaping over a jump in honour of Team GB's equestrian team. The special design at the Lakeland Maze Farm Park at Raines Hall Farm, Sedgwick, near Kendal, was plotted using GPS. It took a day-and-a-half to do with the dad-of-one walking the 3.5 miles of its design and carving it with a lawnmower and then perfecting it with a handstrimmer. The horse and rider are leaping a real dry stone wall. The horse measures a massive 200m x 100m, and the rider 80m by 60m.

PA Wire
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Coventry circles

The Olympic Rings are seen on a roundabout by the City of Coventry Stadium. The stadium will host its first London 2012 football match on 25 July.

AP Photo/Jae Hong
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Jumping for joy

Jay Jones and other performers rehearse for the Olympic Games opening ceremony in London, which will take place on 27 July.

Offside/Rex Features
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Road to nowhere

Not all the preparations have gone smoothly. This picture shows confusing road markings in Southampton Row in central London. The road appears to divide into an Olympic Lane and a Bus Lane, giving drivers no other alternative route.

John Stillwell/PA Wire
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On patrol

A trained sniper with the Royal Air Force Regiment at RAF Northolt shows the sniper rifle which will be on duty as they hover above London during the Games. Aircraft that fail to comply with procedures within a restricted airspace zone around the Olympic site in London could be subject to "lethal force" from the military. RAF Typhoon fast jets and RAF Puma helicopters with snipers armed with hi-tech rifles will be among the military aircraft patrolling the restricted zone.

Imaginechina/Rex Features
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Working round the clock

Chinese toy factories are speeding up production of toys of Wenlock and Mandeville, the official mascots of London 2012, to meet growing demands ahead of the Games. These workers are in the Yancheng Rainbow Arts & Crafts Co Ltd factory in Dafeng city, China.

Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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Highland Games

Olympic staff Andrew Hillhouse and Rusne Kuliesiute carry 2012 Games billboards into position at Hampden Park, Glasgow.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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The final cut

Workers mow the lawn near the Velodrome at the Olympic Park in east London.

 
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Striking a pose

A lifesize sculpture of Wenlock, the London 2012 Olympic games mascot, in seen sporting a Cockney-themed outfit on St Botolph Street in the City of London.

Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment
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No overtaking allowed

The special Olympic lane on the M4 motorway, west of London.

AP Photo/Alastair Grant
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Watching the skies

An aerial view of a British military missile battery placed on top of the Fred Wigg building in east London, as part of the defences for the Games.