16 March 2011
Touring the park
On Friday 11th March I, along with an eager throng of BL colleagues, took the train from St Pancras to Stratford (to Pudding Mill Lane Station to be precise, named after a mill nicknamed ‘the pudding’ that
stood on the banks of a tributary of the Lea) for a tour of the Olympic Park.
Your eyes and mouth start widening long before you get on the site tour bus. There are fine views of the place from the railway, and everywhere you look space age structures loom, under a wide sky full of billowing clouds (it was a gusty bright day). Armed with cameras we climbed on board our bus and were whisked away to the foot of these amazing structures to the sound of a commentary provided by our tour guide the Rev Duncan Green. All around us was a scene of activity: some buildings are completely finished; some just starting - like Anish Kapoor’s tower. All of them have the air of a great undertaking, or even of an apocalyptic vision. The white bouffant shape of the basketball stadium positively dazzles in the light, the media centre displays its complicated internal clock works, and the Velodrome rears up like some alien spaceship (cf. the film 'Independence Day'). Naturally those of us with photographic pretensions were desperate to make the most of these opportunities despite having to shoot through the windows of the bus (strictly no getting out allowed). As we went round, workers were going about their business at all stages of construction: digging, rendering, wiring, painting, tidying, polishing, and planting trees. I was glad to spot a couple of swans on the River Lea as it snakes its way through the 500 acre site, one bobbing about on the current, the other peacefully asleep on the river bank while furious activity went on not so far away. Several moorhens beetled up and down, and doubtless all the newts taken out of the river at the start and since replaced, were doing whatever newts do in the peaceful depths.
It’s very impressive, no doubt about it; organised, purposeful and almost achieved. Everything is on schedule and loads of people are visiting already, for apart from the continual to-ing and fro-ing of buses, there were walking groups following special routes and congregating on the viewing platforms. Here’s my picture of one of the Olympic apparitions. It’s the basketball centre. For more, and better ones, see my colleague Matthew Shaw’s collection on Flickr http://flickr.com/gp/booksnake/6M6pW6