Ok, I know the Docklands aren’t exactly in Zuri, but living in a different country does help you to see your own through new eyes, so technically it qualifies to write about.
There’s been loads of things I wanted to write about the last few weeks, but with various activities and some much needed time off resulting in me have less energy than normal I haven’t actually logged on to write.
But what better place to reflect on life and Zuri than the Docklands? I love this place!
For those of you who have no idea what or where I am talking about, the Docklands is in London’s East End. Next to Canary Wharf, about half a finger nail to the left of the big loop on the Eastenders map. Thought that would jog your memory……
I’ve stayed here a lot over the last few months, but never for longer than a day or two. So after ten days here, I’m really starting to understand why I have a good feeling about this place which on first sight is, to be honest, a bit industrial looking.
I met a couple of youngsters (well late teens- I like to pretend I’m all mature) in the hotel gym the other day. They live around here and come and use the pool and gym because apparently they pay for rooms and use them sometimes (I know, for what exactly?!) and their mates work here. Anyway, they’ve lived here all of their lives, near City Airport. They asked me if I was on holiday, which was a bit weird because I thought why would you come on holiday to the Docklands? Then I remembered I kind of am on holiday here, though maybe not entirely through choice, so should act like I am and appreciate my surroundings!
So, starting with Canary Wharf. Well, it looks good from a distance but by itself it just reminds me of oiled haired Bankers (sorry Bankers) and girls with acquired accents in the shopping centre at lunchtime. But when you take Canary Wharf as a backdrop for the Docklands it does a great job! This whole area looks pretty spacious for London – not so many tall buildings, probably because of all the water – but if you look to the west from the Royal Docks you can see the 02 (Millennium Dome for the oldies) lined up next to Canary Wharf, which is actually on the opposite side of the river, behind the old cranes form the docks and the new cranes of the developments in and outside of the city.
Then in the distance, to the left of Canary Wharf you can see the Gherkin building in the City and the Shard at London Bridge, the new tallest building in Europe.
We stay near to the Excel centre, which to be honest is really not that great to look a. For ages, I’ve tried to work out exactly what the white pointy roof is all about? Well I’m sure it’s not the architects’ answer, but I finally see the point! ‘Scuse the pun.
I’ll elaborate. When I looked out of my hotel room window yesterday, it all made sense. We’re at about the same level as the roof, and looking across towards the Isle of Dogs all I could see were points on points of metal into the sky, it looked great! There were the white points of the Excel roof. through which you could see the yellow points of the 02 next to the black points of the dock cranes and the tall points of the new cable car. It was art in metal.
Then seeing the toy town DLR rumbling past, the boats heading toward the Thames Barrier and the small planes landing and taking off outside the window at City Airport, you really get a feel for life here and the significance of the area today with the working docks long gone. There is so much history here, with all the regeneration I suppose there’s danger of it being lost. I don’t think it has though, you can feel it.
Swing your head towards the North East and you can’t miss the huge ArcelorMittal Orbit – or the big red observation tower that looks like a roller coaster to you and me – at the London Olympic Park in Stratford. Which for the record has more white pointy metal bits on the stadium – must be a trend.
Back to the guys in the hotel gym. When I said “Things must have changed a lot here the last few years with the Olympics etc?” their response? “Well yeah, but it’s still the same old shithole”.
Brilliant. I wouldn’t call it that at all at all, it has a good balance of old and new, but it’s great the Docklands manages to stay true to it’s history and not become a City worker’s paradise that’s inaccessible to everyone else. Let’s hope it stays that way beyond the corporate madness of London 2012!