Saturday, March 4th 2017
We started our outing with what was for me the best part of it. We changed buses at Liverpool Street Station and took the opportunity to visit the pub there called Hamilton Hall.
This pub, owned by Wetherpsoons, occupies what was once the ballroom of the Great Eastern Hotel. Entering through glass doors, you find yourself in the huge space that was once the ballroom. This early in the day, it is full of men singly and in groups boozing away as though beer is about to go out of fashion. However, in one corner is the entrance to a long, narrow room set up as a dining area. We entered this and found a comfortable booth. Then, noting the table number, I elbowed my way through the crowd in the ballroom bar to the counter where I order breakfast. Whatever else you might say about Wetherspoons,you can usually count on them for breakfast and their prices are moderate too.
This pleasant interval over, we resumed our journey. This took us to a strange place called The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is out in Stratford in the Lea Valley. Come to think of it, it would be better to show you a map.
Click on the above image to view the corresponding Google Map.
The Olympic Park, as the name suggests, was created for the 2012 Olympic Games and Summer Paralympics. It cost huge amounts of money for, to my mind, very questionable results.
I must say that I did not warm to the Olympic Park. In fact, I felt miserable throughout our journey through it and couldn’t wait to leave. It struck me as something of a paved wasteland and the only people we saw there were hurrying or cycling through it on their way somewhere else. The presence of would-be works of art, showing the pointlessness and lack of imagination that characterises so much big-project art these days did nothing to lift my mood.
The Copper Box, should you be interested, is an arena and was built to host some of the activities of the above mentioned games. You can find out what its current use is by looking here.
In front of it are big letters which, when seen from a particular angle, spell the word ‘RUN’. It is by Monica Bonvicini, who is described in all the literature as ‘Internationally renowned artist Monica Bonvicini’, no doubt so that we will understand that this is a really wonderful piece of art and not a rather silly waste of money, as we might otherwise be tempted to think.
This is a two-for-one picture showing what was called, reasonably enough, the Olympic Stadium and now rejoices in the wonderfully imaginative name of the London Stadium, and a heap of twisted metal unconvincingly posing as a work of art called the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
There’s not much to be said about the stadium which, after all, is just a soup-bowl shaped structure with a central area where some people perform activities that other people in the surrounding circular tiers of seats watch them performing. The basic design had been settled by Roman times and hasn’t changed since.
The Orbit, was a cooperative effort by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond. It includes a viewing platform and a tunnel slide and looks like something that half-melted and collapsed in a tangle. It is said to be Britain’s largest work of public art but I think the description ‘blot on the landscape’ suits it better.
The Lea Valleys is so called because, as you no doubt guessed or perhaps knew, the River Lea (sometimes written Lee) runs through it. Not that much now remains of the ancient riverine landscape.
This creation intrigued me. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it is. But then, maybe that’s for the best because, to my eyes, it has a delightful inconsequentiality, unlike the earnest dullness of RUN and the self-conscious showiness of the Orbit. It seems that you can wander about in it or sit on it.
I suppose if you are interested in athletics and pastimes such as football (West Ham United play in the stadium) then you will find this place exciting. As I find such things about as interesting as watching paint dry, I can only regret what could have been made of this place and wasn’t. But, then, anything undertaken by Boris Johnson and a committee is bound to end in disappointment.
We left the Olympic Park by a combined pedestrian path and cycle lane called the Greenway and descended by steps into Dace Road. The name of this road and those of the nearby streets – Smeed, Monier, Bream and Roach – remind us that this area was, and to many still is, known as Fish Island, though whether fish were actually traded here, I do not know.
In Dace Road, we were happy to find Cafe Greenway where we tarried a while over cake and tea. Relaxing in these pleasant surroundings helped put me in a better mood for undertaking the journey home.