It seemed like a good idea to watch the Olympic opening ceremony up at Blackheath’s big screen. In fact, it was a good idea, since I knew a good few people up there. With the Olympic cycle park on Talbot Place not yet in operation, benches and Lewisham Council street signs were taking their place as I found I wasn’t the only one to have to hunt around for a space to leave the bike.
What a turnout there was. I reckon at least 4,000 people were up there to see the festivities – it was packed. And there was my problem – I had no chance of finding anyone in that crowd. But this is going to be a lovely spot for watching sport in over the next fortnight. There are some downsides – decent beer costs £4.50/pint, but screens have to be paid for somehow, I guess, and the sound isn’t particularly loud. I left as there were cries of “turn it up!” from the back. I’ll definitely return when it’s quieter – although I might bring my own beer along…
So, off on the bike I went. I couldn’t hear a dicky bird from the big screen at the Royal Naval College as I passed through the Olympic checkpoint at Park Row – surprising as it’s become a regular place for live music – so I took a sharp right and ended up on the peninsula.
The Peninsula Festival still hadn’t opened its gates when I passed by just before 7pm, but it’d attracted about 250 people by 9.45pm. There was a decent atmosphere – a bit like a big pub beer garden. But there wasn’t much else to do – and getting inside involved negotiating huge empty lanes with “Royal Borough of Greenwich” banners, and the needless hassle of being frisked and scanned. Cans of Stella at £4.50 each and cash machines charging £2/withdrawal didn’t seem to be having many takers, although I’m told its hog roast is rather good.
Now it’s finally staggered to life, can the Peninsula Festival flourish? Suspending my scepticism for a moment, it could be a decent spot with enough to do there – but the poor and highly-priced bar’s a major deterrent. The area around the Dome was phenomenally busy on Saturday as the artistic gymnastics swung into life, but there was nobody promoting it up there. Passing the site at 6.30pm on Saturday it looked very quiet – although sheeting’s been put up to prevent viewing from outside – and an 853 reader reports it closed early. Greenwich’s oddest soap opera continues – but it’s worth a visit if you’re nearbu.
I also popped up to Greenwich Yacht Club – no big screen, but lots of tellies, a barbecue, and all open to the public during the Games. It’s a lovely venue and the only one with a view of the Olympic Stadium – but my half-arsed idea of staying for the fireworks were dashed by the realisation we were only at “B” in the athletes’ parade. Oh, and a pint of Guinness cost – you guessed it, £4.50. Maybe that’s the price us non-members pay for access to the club and a fantastic view of and across the Thames.
So I buggered off to the pub instead, where I still couldn’t get away from council sponsorship, as a woman frantically waved a “Royal Borough of Greenwich” flag she’d been given at the naval college. But if you watched the opening ceremony at one of the big screens in this area, or have been watching any Olympics action, how has it been for you?
PS. There was a Deptford connection with the opening ceremony’s boy/girl story…