Tag Archives: olympics

An Olympic legacy

This bucolic scene conjuring up Danny Boyle’s staging for the opening of the London 2012 Olympics is Hainault Forest Country Park, my local recreational space. Formed from the remaining sections of the former Forest of Essex the park’s flora and fauna are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) and with the lake has also been awarded the Green Flag the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces.

pondMany recreational pursuits were once possible within its 336 acres. The lake was popular with fishermen and the lake’s perimeter path used by joggers; Canadian geese would stop off there on their migratory routes; miles of bridleways gave horse riders the opportunity to exercise without coming into contact with the numerous dog walkers. With its two golf courses, café and children’s zoo it was a popular place for rest and recreation. Much of that had to stop when G4S was found to have inadequately trained enough staff to guard the Olympics.

[T]he army was brought in and Hainault Forest Country Park was requisitioned to house the squaddies. But hey! There was a war on right!

Floodlights, barbed wire and strict no parking in the surrounding roads was enforced – at night it looked like a scene from the Great Escape, and the only beneficiary seemed to be my barber who cut the officers hair and they wouldn’t have the regimental haircut.

Every year in late May on the other side of London sees the Royal Hospital Chelsea play host to the Chelsea Flower Show. It takes 25 days to erect and last year 550 exhibitors helped to dig up the ground of the Royal Hospital’s vast lawn which runs down to the Thames. But, if like me you should drive down the Chelsea Embankment four weeks after the event is over, the only sign that the show has taken place are the water sprinklers ensuring that the replaced grass turfs grow.

So why is it that with the Olympics just a memory from last year, Hainault Forest Country Park looks like this?


Hard core litters the site; slabs of concrete are still left in the ground.


The lake and surrounding paths inaccessible, and the area is a quagmire of mud.


As every gardener will tell you autumn is the best time to lay turfs. But all we have to show for our contributions to last year’s Games are muddy fields surrounded by fencing.


Lord Coe can comment below if he so chooses.

A journey to the Mystic East

‘Olympic Route Network’, the phrase just conjures up a route for graceful athletics to compete on.

The Greeks would have given the road from Marathon to Athens an appropriately romantic title.

As predicted by CabbieBlog priority lanes are proposed for exclusive use of Olympic officials between their West End hotels and the Olympic Park.

[T]he Olympic Committee has argued that the distance and time taken necessitates giving Olympic officials and organisers a dedicated priority lane on London’s already overcrowded roads.

So while anybody foolish enough to drive in London during the 2012 Olympics sits in a traffic jam, the Olympic Lane will be quieter than the London Mayor’s Cycle Fridays, which aimed at encouraging commuting by bike. Unfortunately some days only two bikers showed up at a cost of £68.80 each. Olympics officials wouldn’t get out of bed if a derisory amount like that was going to be wasted on them.

But the reason that the Olympic organisers are staying in the West End and not the myriad of decent hotels built in London’s Docklands is simple: Wives; their husbands idea of a perfect day might be to watch men throwing spears or hammers, but the wives want to shop. And while all the hotel chains have 5-star hotels near the Olympic Park there is no Harrods or Harvey Nichols.

While we are constantly being told that 2012 is going to be the greenest Olympics in history, its organisers intend to gridlock large parts of central London with stationery traffic pumping out high levels of fumes by taking away 50 per cent of the road capacity. And if you have the temerity to venture into these acres of empty tarmac you will get, courtesy of Transport for London, a fine of £5,000.

All this to enable a favoured few to drive 16 miles every day back and forth to their hotels unimpeded.

As they say ‘it’s not the winning that counts, but the taking part’. Unless that is, you are trying to work in London to pay for their ‘taking part’.

Chariots of Fire?

pink-content1Just thought might like to look at this crappy logo again, it really sums up the London Games.

In case you haven’t noticed there is a little bit of building work going on in East London, apparently it’s the biggest project in Europe.

The London Olympics are going to cost £9.3 billion, that’s £9,300,000,000 to you and me, and we are going to pay for it, God knows how with Government borrowing nudging up to nearly 50 per cent of GDP.

[I]t now seems that almost 2,000 chauffeured cars will be available for the 450 people in the top tiers of the ‘Olympic Family’ none of them athletes. These people are staying in top hotels in the West End (all 5-star hotels are now fully booked for the Games). They are staying at these hotels apparently because their spouses like to shop while their husbands are pouncing around in East London, and they don’t want to travel far to get to Harrods.

So while wifee shops her husband is chauffeured across the whole of London holding us up as we try to work.

On busy stretches of the ‘Olympic Route Network’ special traffic lanes will be reserved for their cars, while everybody will be jammed in what’s left of the carriageway.

But wait, those political geniuses who are planning this event have forecast traffic volumes will be substantially down as people will all take their annual holidays at this time.

They don’t live in the real world do they? Are they really saying all business will close in London for three weeks? Everybody will go on holiday or watch the games at home. Can you imagine telling owners of companies that they must close up shop for 3 weeks?

As for these 4 yearly demonstrations of jingoistic vanity, cannot we always hold them in Greece where they were born?

Each competing country could contribute a small sum so the venues were kept world class. Greece could certainly benefit from the income. And maybe, just maybe the 9.3bn could actually be spent on improving areas of severe deprivation, such as East London or the North West of England and not spent on massaging the egos of these vain men and women.

If these mendacious politicians really want to advertise London, they could start by keeping it as the tourists expect; Routemasters, black taxis without adverts, lack of skyscrapers ruining London’s skyline, curbing the illegal vendors on Westminster Bridge.

God I could go on and on . . . .

Did I get Gold for my rant?