diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 02, 2012

London 2012  Around the post-Olympic Park
  b) Eastway to Leyton Road
  11 more photographs here; map here

"Check Point Ahead" says the police sign on the path leading off the Lea towpath, even though there isn't. The security presence hereabouts has almost vanished since the Games departed, and the media-specific bus station now lies very very empty. One entrance remains open below the multi-storey, lightly supervised, allowing access for those involved in the un-fit-out of the International Broadcast Centre. The pavement further along is still barriered-off, for no readily apparent reason, while one of the contraflow arrows on the tarmac has been painted out to make the road one-way again.

The A12 roundabout is busy again, and not with Olympic traffic. The back route to Westfield begins here and has reopened, for vehicles only, threading the long way round the edge of the Athletes' Village. But mid-Games this junction was the location of another unfortunate cycling death. A bus carrying journalists turned left across Dan Harris's path, and the sad result is made evident by the number of candles in jars and limp bouquets still laid out near the roadside. Dan's ghost bike has since been removed, but his helmet, his gloves, his trainers and his neckerchief remain. All this memorabilia makes for a poignant reminder, but alas passing motorists will probably only ever think "what's that mess doing in that tree?" as they go by.

A number of Olympic grandstands are visible from Ruckholt Road, each now a metal skeleton stripped of purple and pink branding. It's still possible to picture the tennis, the football, the BMX and the hockey taking place within, but before long all elevated trace of these events will have gone. It's left to the Velodrome to leave its permanent mark on the skyline, along with the bright orange footbridge that leads nowhere for the foreseeable future. Beyond the bridge is an evocative treat for those of us missing the Olympic Park - a riotous outbreak of those gorgeous meadowlike flowers. Entire banks are still in full bloom, even into October, lining an exit ramp the public have for some reason never been allowed to use. And that tree up there, the one with the big ring around it, that's art that is. It's one of ten History Trees, one of which will appear at each entrance to QE Olympic Park, in that hope that bark and ring will fuse in centuries to come as a long-lasting reminder of 2012.

Don't look across at Hackney Marshes, at least not at the East Marsh, now acres of vehicle-less coach park. It'll be football pitches again next year, but not this season. And it'll be a while before you can drive again down Temple Mills Lane, still blocked off part way down by metal gates. The remainder of the road is used solely for access to the Lea Interchange bus depot, and as somewhere for all the drivers to park their cars. I don't know who thought to plant sunflowers on the Eton Manor side of the road, but they've thrived, and grown, and make a brief but splendid display beneath the razorwire.

Waltham Forest Welcomes You, says the sign by the unnecessary footbridge the council built. They thought there'd be hordes crossing the railway to enter the Olympic Park, whereas it turns out the existing two narrow walkways would have coped admirably. Nice bridge though, nice bit of legacy. It's unclear why someone's painted "574m" in giant letters on the wall by the allotments, although the equally giant arrow pointing in the general direction of Leyton station suggests a Games-time waymarker. Almost nobody walked instead via Asda's car park, past the ill-fated Leyton Food Market, although that route was deliberately upgraded too. The Retail Park now has a proper entrance off the High Road, down steps rather than a narrow zigzag ramp, which is yet another positive outcome from the Games.

Bright orange "London 2012" banners still hang outside the station - one suspects the council are reluctant to finally take them down. But the aftermath of the Games is still very much underway further down the road. Drapers Field remains a warehouse rather than a recreation ground, with two chatty guards down by the entrance overseeing who goes in and out. There's much more security at the other end of Temple Mills Lane, because this was the backroom entrance to the Park, and is still the backroom exit out. This way please for all those retro-fitting the East Village, upgrading from athletes' accommodation to saleable flats, and from medical facility to Academy. There are a heck of a lot of kitchens to install, seventeen clustered blocksworth, even if the balconies look really drab now the competitors have taken their flags home.

A special hello at this point to Ravinder K Atwal. About five years back she was invited to design panels to screen a wall along the edge of the local estate, which she did with a series of close-ups of youth playing sport. All well and good, except that Ravinder thought it necessary to label each and every panel (and there are dozens) with her full name and qualifications. "Artist - Ravinder. K. Atwal B.A(Hons) M.A." they read, every last one of them, in a scarily self-important manner (and with little knowledge of punctuation). And then she added her web address for good measure, that's www.ravindersartworld.com, in the hope that passers by might be so won over by her smeary ping pong players that they'd rush to check the site out. Alas, Ravinder, it seems you've allowed your URL to lapse, and all that remains is your fading ego stapled to the wall.

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