Places within 10 minutes walk of my house that people think are famous but in fact aren't Number 3 - Stratford
England is well known across the world for historic Stratford-on-Avon, home of Shakespeare and ye olde genuine tea shoppes. However, I live just down the road from the other Stratford, home of cheap market stalls and a gridlocked ring-road. Stratford E15 could not under any circumstances be described as a cultural centre, a decent retail centre or even a place worth visiting. It's always amusing to discover lost American tourists who've accidentally headed to the wrong location, hunting in vain for Shakespeare's birthplace or Mary Arden's house. Never mind, only 100 miles and 400 years out.
The one thing that Stratford does have is excellent rail connections. Trains run from here to Liverpool Street, Docklands, East Anglia, Neasden, Ruislip and, when the Channel Tunnel Rail Link arrives in 2007, Paris. It may not be the greatest place to live, but it is definitely a great place to travel away from. Property prices round have risen so quickly that, had I bought a flat in Stratford a couple of years ago, I could probably sell it today at a profit exceeding the gross national product of a small African country. Stratford's new Eurostar station is planned to be at the heart of a billion pound regeneration scheme, bringing new homes and a huge metropolitan, business and retail centre to the area. It's got to be a huge improvement on one Woolworths, one Argos and a Pizza Hut, which is as good as it gets at the moment.
Stratford is now the centre of a UK bid for the 2012Olympics. In nine years time the whole international world of sport and athletics could be arriving on my doorstep, although quite frankly we have a big enough drug problem round here as it is. The Olympics may only last for a fortnight, if they happen here at all, but those two weeks would etch the name of Stratford into global history forever. And who knows, in ten years time maybe it'll be the American tourists who end up in Warwickshire who'll be sightseeing in the wrong location.