London – Temporary centre of the Universe

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London… I started visiting the city when I was seventeen, in 1999. Since then I’ve lived in Hertfordshire when I started to visit London a lot, then I moved away and went through a period of hating London for all its hustle and bustle. I simply couldn’t see why I’d want to queue all the time and be given dirty looks by angry people. Three years ago I moved to Buckinghamshire and slowly fell in love with London, and in less than a months’ time I’ll be living in London for the first time. In George Orwell’s ‘1984’, there is a quote which reminds me of my battle with London:

Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

 

As the world’s most visited city, and now the host city of the Olympics, the city has been in the spotlight more than ever in the past year. With all the excitement, I’ve been in London a lot recently and this post is about photos I took during my day at the Olympic Park I adore cities such as Stockholm, Berlin and Madrid for other reasons, but it’s always London that pulls out the stops as, perhaps alongside New York, the world’s most exciting and culturally important city.

  • Clicking any of the pictures will take you to my Flickr page!

Flags down Regent Street

As the shopping capital of the capital, Oxford, Rengent and Bond Street have all gone to lengths to celebrate this year and Regent Street’s new flags are brilliant to see!

Tower Bridge has the iconic rings on display

Tower Bridge has gotten in on the act, and in nearby St Katherine’s Dock, the Danish are showing off their design and creative prowess at the Imagination stand for Visit Denmark. Needless to say, the quality design on show is magnificent.

The gorgeous gardens of Olympic Park

The Olympic Park itself is both spacious and beatiful, and all involved should feel very proud of what they have done with the area. What was here before was an area of London I’d never visited, but from talking to friends they say it was an area of clogged canals, industrial wasteland and a low standard of living. The area is one of the poorest in London and the Games has undeniably bought jobs and change to the area on a grand scale. It’s not all good; Westfield shopping centre will probably force many small shops to close and some feel the heart has been ripped out of the area. Despite this, I can’t imagine that the Lower Lea Valley would be better now than without the Games.

I liked the moments of humour in the park, such as this Kangaroo helping out people and watching over us all like a mighty marsupial god. For some reason, the Dutch at the hockey match I watched came armed with a plastic crocodile…I’ve been to the Netherlands and I remember it for its startling lack of bitey creatures.

A helpful Games-maker

The Velodrome is a stunning building and alongside the Aquatics centre and Stadium, are the permanent standout buildings on the site. I’m still undecided on the Orbit!

Lovely cycling

I watched GBR v Argentina in Men’s Hockey; there was an absolute torrent of Union Jacks, but wonderfully, no booing, no stupid talk about the conflict and everyone remained standing for the Argentinian national anthem where nobody sung a word. Apparently, it’s wordless! No pomp and ceremony there, then. The Riverbank Arena is a temporary arena and works very well for what it needs to do, offering a wonderful atmosphere and at one point, a nearly endless round of Mexican waves.A bossy German tried starting a Mexican Wave by shouting and everyone ignored him.

Riverbank Arena

I could find little to fault with my Olympic experience, leaving satisfied that Britain can handle the biggest show on earth so superbly. Here’s one of the small traits of Britishness that crept into the sensational opening ceremony; I always knew it’d be organised well, I always knew that Britain can do it, but shouting that from the rooftops always seems a little bit vulgar. Well done everyone – 7 years of hard work is paying off.

Goodbye, Olympic Park!

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