Down at the O2 in Bank Holiday mood
The bright Easter sunshine filled the riverside attractions with tourists from every country in the world. The art of people-watching, armed with a cup of coffee and a sketchbook, gives me every excuse to enjoy the scene. The warm air without that nagging wind and the overcast greyness spurs one’s private observations into the future of the written word and possible pictorial potential. North Greenwich seems to attract groups of families and individuals to bide their time in this extraordinary new world. The once barren acres of concrete bordering the O2 are coming to life as new attractions open; the Emirates cable car and the pair of new pavilions shortly to be joined by the opening of a new park’lette’.
The O2 itself is a major bank holiday attraction. The newish elevated pedestrian track up and over and across the O2 canopy was also well patronised. The bank holiday atmosphere reminded one of other cockney favourites along the south Bank or to Battersea Park or even down to Southend on Sea. The planners must be well pleased that the major transport interchange is attracting so many diverse folk from every corner of the world.
The promise of two new craft to swell the Thames Clipper fleet is indeed a show of confidence together with, perhaps, an extra new pier to serve the ever expanding Peninsula with its 450-room hotel and significant conference facilities alongside the O2.
A further venture into this peninsula to see how the construction of even more phases of the Millennium Village is developing was indeed a surprise, if not a shock, when witnessing the high density being built on these brown field sites. A further in-depth report will follow as I comprehend the various schemes now in hand, almost obscuring the Yacht Club from view.
A spring-inspired breakaway weekend up-river to Oxford and Marlborough gave us both a well-enjoyed rendezvous with friends who have moved out of Greenwich to pastures new! A lunch beside the Thames at the famous riverside Trout Inn and a theatrical supper at the Watermill Theatre near Newbury gave us a real insight into a very different scene of the Thames in its infancy. The concentrated volume of water flow powering its way downstream through narrow sluices was a completely different sensation to the estuarial nature of our river view back in Greenwich. The water meadows of the Kennet and the famous Port Meadow on the western side of Oxford provided a spacious aspect, so different from our evermore crowded metropolitan embankments. The famous views of Chelsea and Battersea are now cluttered with skyscraper developments towering to the skies as mega schemes crowd the banksides – some even taller and more gargantuan than those of SE London. As a past member of the London River Association (now defunct) one would have provided an early warning of their massive invasion and dereliction of once-working wharves. The reassurance of seeing an aggregate upstream wharf still working with a regular shipping service between Gravesend and Cringle Wharf squeezed in next to Battersea Power Station reminds us of yesteryear when similar sized vessels brought Tyneside coals up through the capital’s bridges. These ‘flatties’ survived constant evening attacks through WWII as they dashed down the East Coast to supply the Power Station and gas works which were once a feature of the Port of London.