So yesterday, Mr English and I embarked on a little trip. I made the fatal mistake of putting on my new Monsoon shoes (generally, I’m a bit of a slob, but y’know, thought I should dress up for Seb Coe…), which were, in fact, already causing blisters of epic proportions by the time we got to Euston.
The walk from Euston to St Pancras International was enough to completely remove all the skin from my heels, but I soldiered on, especially when we discovered that Eurostar had laid on a lovely welcome with bacon sandwiches and – gasp – pastries!
Hubby and I were there as hangers on (oopsy, of course I mean special guests) to attend a little ceremony and then a lunch to celebrate the ‘year to go’ landmark and welcome competition winners from across Europe who’d won the opportunity to come and hear all about the preparations for the Olympics.
We were rather taken by Freddie the Police Dog (who in turn was rather taken with the bacon sandwiches) and his lovely handler and actually missed Seb Coe talk, but I hear he was very good.
With all the competition winners amassed (I think it was red t-shirts for English winners, blue t-shirts for French winners, yellow for Belgian and orange for…erm… others) and photos organised (we loitered at the back)…
…we were piled onto coaches for a trip across London to the Olympic site (the new rail link, though, will take visitors to the Olympic site in Stratford in just 7 minutes).
Our destination was Forman’s Restaurant – a stone’s throw from the Olympic park (sadly, we didn’t get to see the actual stadium) where we sipped delicious English white wine (Three Choirs Vineyards Coleridge Hill 2009 – seek it out!) and milled about on their gorgeous terrace overlooking the site and ate gorgeous canapés of tempura prawns, sticky sausages and sushi. I might have overindulged a bit but don’t tell.
(What? It was windy.)
The blue lighting in Forman’s was not conducive to food photography, so I’ll spare you my rather sickly-looking picture of the rather delicious Salmon a la Francaise with lovely fresh peas and broad beans and instead share with you our dessert which was a trio of little lovelies including a salted chocolate mousse (with a little caramel surprise at the bottom), a spiced apple compote with a creamy topping, and a tiny little Eton mess. Delicious. Our dinner companions: a fabulous fellow blogger, two competition winners and their partners (hello Richard!) and a Eurostar employee were really lovely company too.
Our speakers were inspiring – first up was the fabulous Olympic silver medal winning Colin Jackson, who was inspiring and funny and gave a great insight into what it’s like to be a competitor at one of these awe-inspiring events. And then came one of the architects of the site, Philip Johnson, who also gave us a really interesting look at his role and the complexities of the project. Here’s a few fab facts for you:
- 125 businesses had to be ‘rehomed’ in order to make way for the site – I think I’m right in saying that one of those was Forman’s itself
- The stadium seats 80,000 people but used just 1/4 of the steel taken to build the Beijing stadium for the last summer Olympics in 2008.
- The stadium will host four amazing opening/closing ceremonies (one each for the olympics and the paralympics), the Creative Director of which will be none other than Slumdog Millionaire director, Danny Boyle.
- After the event, the Olympic village will become housing (some of it affordable), the Olympic health centre will become a health centre for the locals, there will be a school and a huge Westfield shopping centre built in the area as well. A whole new area of London (postcode E20) will have been created.
What an amazing trip. Worth the blisters and the fact that I’ll have to wear flipflops for a week. Mahoosive thanks to Eurostar and the lovely Tom. Oh, and the gorgeous Colin Jackson. What a top bloke.