diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 25, 2014

I hope you're having a thrilling bank holiday weekend. I had a thrilling Saturday - I tidied the flat and I walked to the supermarket. So, assuming you don't want to hear about the former, I'm going to write about the latter.

My walk to the supermarket

✉ The new flats beside the police garage are nearly ready to open. They were built on the site of 80s rave pioneer Echoes Nightclub, long since closed and fenced off, now transformed into 23 shared ownership apartments. In a rather nice touch, number 209 Bow Road has been named Peet Court in honour of Bow Church's esteemed vicar who died three years back. if anyone has any idea why number 207 has been named Edmund Court, I'd be much obliged.

✉ The Bow Roundabout now has a sponsor. Yes, I'm as surprised as you are. They're an "executive travel" company called Goldline who hire minicabs, luxury minibuses and leather-seated coaches, and their telephone number is now plonked on a sign in the middle of the roundabout. It's all official too, there's a TfL logo "in partnership with London Streets" underneath, so hopefully their fee will be used to help fund improvements for those of us on two feet or two wheels who have to negotiate this sponsored deathtrap. [photo]

✉ They're busy knocking down Pudding Mill Lane station. That's the old station, not the new one which opened last month (and which yesterday boasted more DLR staff than passengers). The old one's on its way out, with the tracks into the station now ending in a concrete overhang, and two diggers at work smashing up the embankment further along. It's all got to go so that Crossrail can drive through, next stop Whitechapel, and so that this whole area can be utterly transformed into somewhere new to live. And it doesn't look like the DLR's old platforms will be around for long. [photo] [photo]

✉ Drivers have yet to get the hang of the Olympic Park, because not all the roads go anywhere yet. Several drive in past the Aquatic Centre, the turn up the Loop Road because it looks important, and drive in hope around the back of the Olympic Stadium. Here they stop at some wholly unnecessary traffic lights, where the road ahead is blocked so they have turn left beneath the Greenway to enter Marshgate Lane. And this too is closed, so sixty seconds later you see them driving back, a sheepish look on their face as they try to work out how the hell to escape.

✉ Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is not busy. That's probably because it's been raining on and off all morning, but now the sun is out and the grass is empty. Two families have the dancing fountains to themselves, and are well pleased, while a few lucky children enjoy having the run of the adventure playground. The queue for the Orbit is non-existent, neither are any faces apparent peering through the rain-spatted observation platform 80 metres up. I'm not sure who decreed that the main boulevard needed four refreshment kiosks, but the staff in each are staring bored for lack of clientèle, and each looks hopefully towards me as I walk straight by. Down by Carpenters Lock a photographer is taking close-ups of the flowers, again blooming in a most attractive 2012 style, as the daily blue badge guide tour approaches. A jogger diverts through the Great British Garden where two local youths were hoping to canoodle on the swing in private. I have, as you've probably noticed, diverted off any kind of direct route to any supermarket. [photo]

✉ A new exit from the Park has opened up round the back of the stadium, this from the Great British Garden down to the Lea towpath. It's not yet signposted at either end, hence the jogger turns round before she reaches the turn not realising it exists. The Loop Road alongside this stretch of the river is closed, and the perimeter is undergoing slow transformation into the Canal Park. One day it'll be a verdant strip enhancing the property value of the flats behind, but for now it's a far from finished mess. [photo]

✉ At the end of White Post Lane, a lady in an electric wheelchair pauses to take a photo of the lush bank of flowers. Trampled paths mark desire lines where folk have taken a shortcut through the blooms, because the park's designers (in their questionable wisdom) have failed to provide direct access, only polite notices and low barriers. Meanwhile the northern end of QEOP has now been fenced off, with only the occasional gap, each of these with a lockable gate. Presumably that's to keep miscreants out after dark, and to manage flows in and out when there are events on, but it sends a less than upbeat message. [photo]

✉ Over at the East Village, barriers have come down revealing yet more small bits of parkland. A thin strip runs up through what's been called Portlands, a name written in raised letters within one of the bubbling ponds along the way. Take your pick of the high path or the low, the former curving and undulating up and down in a surprisingly agreeable manner. Two workmen from the adjacent building site are swigging beers on one of the high benches, while a dozen of their workmates chat and check their phones nearby, hardhats temporarily removed. I make the mistake of walking back into the centre of Jeppe Hein's Mirror Labyrinth, and am faced by several dozen simultaneous reflections of my middle-aged body. Never again, I vow, never again. [photo]

✉ The nearer I get to the shops, the busier it gets. That'll be because Westfield's dry, hence a better option than risking being outside... not that some of these folk would dream of heading outside at all. They bustle around, through what the shopping mall laughably calls a market, some dangling bags and others merely anticipating. I'm not long in the supermarket, and then I take the train home because I don't fancy the same three and a half mile hike with groceries. I hope you're having a thrilling bank holiday weekend.

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