London … ‘high’ lights from the top of The Orbit during a Queen Elizabeth Olympic ‘Park in Progress’ tour

Earlier last week (March 2013) the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (nee the London 2012 Olympic Park) partially reopened to allow paying visitors to come and see the park – now under reconstruction – from the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. My gentleman friend and I braved the cold weather and spent our Easter Sunday afternoon on one of these exciting ‘Park in Progress’ tours.

Entrance to the park for the 'Park in Progress' tour was from Pudding Mill Lane DLR train station

Entrance to the park for the ‘Park in Progress’ tour was from Pudding Mill Lane DLR train station

The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture, or The Orbit for short. I've grown rather fond of London's answer to the Eiffel Tower gone wrong

The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture, or The Orbit for short. I’ve grown rather fond of London’s answer to the Eiffel Tower gone wrong

Argh! It's like looking up at a giant, angry Mr Messy!

Argh! It’s like looking up at a giant, angry Mr Messy!

So tempting to do it anyway

So tempting to do it anyway

Not a construction site workers' day out, but the one o'clock Park in Progress tour. We were driven from the Pudding Mill Lane site office to the foot of The Orbit by coach. Reflective vests and hard hats were optional on the trip, but I think most people just liked the idea of wearing them

Not a construction site workers’ day out, but the one o’clock Park in Progress tour. We were driven from the Pudding Mill Lane site office to the foot of The Orbit by coach. Reflective vests and hard hats were optional on the trip, but I think most people just liked the idea of wearing them

A journey from darkness into light: the 'Canopy' above the entrance to The Orbit puts a deliberate shadow over the start of the tour to the top of The Orbit

A journey from darkness into light: the ‘Canopy’ above the entrance to The Orbit puts a deliberate shadow over the start of the tour to the top of The Orbit

Looking up into the Canopy of The Orbit - it's like a big ear trumpet

Looking up into the Canopy of The Orbit – it’s like a big ear trumpet

A short lift ride up to the top of the 115 metre high structure offered some stunning views over London.

Looking over London from the top platform of The Orbit

Looking over London from the top platform of The Orbit

No, David "The Omen" Warner didn't take this photo, although I was told that watching West Ham play football here in the Olympic stadium from 2016 will be like a fate worse than death

No, David “The Omen” Warner didn’t take this photo, although I was told that watching West Ham play football here in the Olympic stadium from 2016 will be like a fate worse than death

Canary Wharf from the top of The Orbit

Canary Wharf from the top of The Orbit

The City, The Shard and the lack of British Summertime weather (the clocks went forward earlier) from the top of The Orbit

The City, The Shard and the lack of British Summertime weather (the clocks went forward earlier) from the top of The Orbit

The Aquatic Centre under reconstruction (reopening as a public swimming pool later in the year) and what's left (on the left) of the Olympic Water Polo venue

The Aquatic Centre under reconstruction (reopening as a public swimming pool later in the year) and what’s left (on the left) of the Olympic Water Polo venue

Once visitors had taken all the photos they wanted of the London skyline or simply could no longer bare the unseasonal chilly winds on the outer parts of the platform, they could come inside and be amused by their distorted reflections in large, convexed mirrors circumnavigating the level.

Standing by the mirror at an angle magnified one's reflection ten fold ...

Standing by the mirror at an angle magnified one’s reflection ten fold …

... and from a distance one's reflection, and that of the London skyline appeared upside down ...

… and from a distance one’s reflection, and that of the London skyline appeared upside down …

Clearly not everyone was impressed

Clearly not everyone was impressed

Visitors were then invited to take a flight of steps down to the next observation platform below to be bemused by a number of rather bizarre interactive exhibits.

Photos of, and mementos from the London 2012 Olympics placed inside a collection of ... bird boxes?

Photos of, and mementos from the London 2012 Olympics placed inside a collection of … bird boxes?

... and inside a collection of whitewashed wooden boxes for the less eccentric observer

… and inside a collection of whitewashed wooden boxes for the less eccentric observer

Oh look! A miniature stage ... in a box (I'm sure there was some connection to the Olympic Park but I must admit I was too underwhelmed by the bizarre display to be bothered to find out)

Oh look! A miniature stage … in a box (I’m sure there was some connection to the Olympic Park but I must admit I was too underwhelmed by the bizarre display to be bothered to find out)

A genuine spot-the-Mayor-of-London-on-the-map-with-a-monocular game. Very popular with visiting construction surveyors

A genuine spot-the-Mayor-of-London-on-the-map-with-a-monocular game. Very popular with visiting construction surveyors

This interactive exhibit appeared more relevant and promised to be fun ...

This interactive exhibit appeared more relevant and promised to be fun …

... but sadly was partially broken

… but sadly was partially broken

Underwhelmed by the strange and arguably pointless exhibits on the second platform, my gentleman friend and I decided to call it a day and make our way back down to ground level. We decided not to take the lift, but were terribly disappointed on realising that the pedestrian way down was by boring old stairs and not as we had hoped by funfair style slide chutes!

What? Steps?! But it looks like a helter skelter chute from the outside

What? Steps?! But it looks like a helter skelter chute from the outside

There were 431 steps down which weren't too strenuous to descend, but thanks to the metal meshing it was rather strenuous on one's eyes to try and enjoy the view ...

There were 431 steps down which weren’t too strenuous to descend, but thanks to the metal meshing it was rather strenuous on one’s eyes to try and enjoy the view …

... there were no portholes or gaps in the thick mesh casing to be able to see anything clearly

… there were no portholes or gaps in the thick mesh casing to be able to see anything clearly

Never mind. Regardless, it was great to be able to climb The Orbit and see the park once again – albeit under reconstruction – six months after the Olympics and Paralympics. The staff on site were superb and very enthusiastic about the future of the park. A nice and different way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Farewell Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Progress. When you're finished and completely reopened to the public, hopefully someone will rename you the "Queen Elizabeth the SECOND Olympic Park" in honour of our present Queen and not the Virgin Queen from the sixteenth century

Farewell Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Progress. When you’re finished and completely reopened to the public, hopefully someone will rename you the “Queen Elizabeth the SECOND Olympic Park” in honour of our present Queen and not the Virgin Queen from the sixteenth century

TLT x

The Olympic Park during the Games

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