Today I drove around the Olympic Park while going to work and back. To my continued surprise, despite the “Games” the commute both ways took less time than usual. Thetraffic locally now has a permanent Sunday morning feel.
So far every "Newhamite" I have spoken to is supportive of the Games and some admit that they use to be cynics before the opening ceremony but they are now big fans.
During the week I have taken the train past and through the Olympic Park a number of times and it is clear there is a huge number of spectators and competitors but little or no congestion on the underground or overhead train services. This may change tomorrow with the reopening of the main Stadium for the athletes. Hopefully not.
In the morning I went for my usual jog in Wanstead flats past the temporary Police feeding station on the fairground site which is overlooked by the "Surface to Air" missile battery mounted on the top of Fred Wigg House. I drove to Bow in Tower Hamlets from Forest Gate via the A12 for a meeting and later walked through lovely Victoria Park to Hackney Wick station. There is a free “London Live” event in “Vicki Park” with a huge Ferris wheel, cafes and open air video screens. This is just west of the Olympic park and there was a steady flow of people coming and going.
In the evening on the way home I drove along the A11 into Stratford itself, parked up (thank you Morrisons) then walked around with my camera taking in the sights. As I have already pointed out here, while I’m really pleased that the Olympics are in Newham, I’m not into watching sports at all. But I like people watching and feeling part of an occasion.
There was a music festival in the gardens of St John’s Church. I first went into the excellent "Peoples Museum and Gallery of Newham" at 306 High Street (which I will post upon separately) then into the melee of the stairs near Stratford station and the shopping centre Westfields. Christian and Islamic propagates compete for attention with Tamil protesters. The staff and volunteers had it all well organised.
There is a very international and touristy feel. It reminds me of living in Edinburgh during the August fringe and festival. Everyone appeared to be happy, pleased and intent on having a good time.
Next I went into the courtyard of the Old Town Hall back on the High Street. There is a restaurant under a canopy which serves different international food every evening with an outside bar and a Council information office. Had an interesting discussion with the information officer about why West Ham Football club is actually located in East Ham (for now). Then along West Ham Lane past the East Thames Housing Association HQ (which is now home to the Kenyan Olympic delegation) to Stratford Park (proper name West Ham Recreational Park), where there are stalls, displays and a live open air video screen of events.
Finally back to Morrison’s then home (picking up on the way a pack of beer at the supermarket to claim back the £1 parking fee). I still have to pinch myself that this is all finally happening.
(UPDATE: I've done a new collage. Double click to bring up details)