As you know, the Olympics are taking place at the moment, in Stratford in east London. That is a part of the world with a special association for me. I lived the first part of my life near there, and Stratford was where my father lived when his family emigrated to London. It was also where my uncle lived until his untimely death. So I have found the descent of the Olympics to there fascinating.
While I was in London over Easter I went on a tour of the Olympics site. The tour starts off at Bromley-By-Bow tube station, which is on a busy road in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Across from the station is a derelict commercial premises, reminding viewers of how depressed east London has become. The area is clearly in great need of rejuvenation, but whether the Olympics will bring any lasting redevelopment is of course another question.
The tour then brought us by an old mill house. It looks rather dinky, its rustic appearance at odds with the area's reputation for urban decay. Apparently it is the only listed building in the borough of Newham (or so I remember the tour guide saying, but surely that cannot really be the case?). At the time, the building was Danny Boyle's headquarters, in which he was planning the opening ceremony of the games. I did not drop in to give him a few pointers.
We moved on through a park and then up beside the river Lea. Some have speculated that there may be a crocodile or monster living in the Lea, but this remains unverified. However, as we walked past a housing estate I saw (but did not photograph) a fox, prowling in broad daylight, and a prosperous looking cat.
And then, as we walked up the riverside path, the stadium came into view for the first time, as did the strange viewing platform beside it.
After crossing a big road, we moved on down beside a canal - perhaps the very canal that David Beckham speeded down with the Olympic torch. By now something of a tour group logjam had developed. There was one, just ahead of us.
And then another, close behind.
That building with the crane will apparently be Europe's tallest apartment block when it is finished. I bet it currently serves as an anti-aircraft missile platform.
We soon came closer to the stadium itself, where there was still a lot of construction work going on. The place had a certain concentration camp quality to it.
The path into the site is not a public right of way.
Eventually we climbed a ridge and had an unobstructed view of the stadium. It looked like a surreal addition to landscape. Or like something that had dropped out of the sky and landed there.
The viewing tower looked like some kind of demented rollercoaster. I understand, though, that the red scaffolding structures are purely decorative and are not tracks for vehicles. Which is a shame.
There was also an exhibition of art and stuff, as well as an appealing looking café in a converted container that we did not visit.
After that we strolled up to Stratford and had a look at the giant Westfield shopping centre there, a place so terrifying in its vastness that I failed to take any pictures of it.
Should you wish to look at the other pictures I took on my tour of the Olympic site, they start here.
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