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Published: August 3rd 2017
View of West India Quay from our window
We said our goodbyes to Roger and Judy and set out for London about 9-30am Judy had said to go straight up the A3 and then onto the M25 and we would be at Heathrow. We programmed the GPS and off we went. Because I had entered the "shortest" way into the Sat Nav the lady took us off the A3 and onto the A320. Though this is more scenic and probably cuts a corner or two, it proved to be not a good idea. We were held up at a roundabout where there were roadworks in progress and spent about 15 minutes in a queue before getting through. However, we finally made it and after getting petrol we dropped the car off at the Car Rental depot and rode their shuttle bus to Terminal 5. Here we found the IAAF desk and were assigned a car to take us to our hotel.
We had two athletes in the car with us and they had to be dropped at their hotel first so Sophia, our friendly driver, followed her Sat Nav .This proved to be frustrating as it took her round in circles and eventually she had to reprogram it
Our hotel and the quayside
to find her way. Consequently it took us 3 hours to get from Heathrow to Canary Wharf. Sophia explained that this was her first day driving this route and she has strict instructions to follow the GPS as all drivers are being tracked though it. We had a scenic tour of London going past the burnt-out tower in Kensington, the British Museum and St Paul's before following the back streets to West India Quay. We had to laugh as Sophia, a teacher volunteering in her holidays, was so cheery and pleasant.
On arrival at the Marriott West India Quay, we quickly checked in and were assigned a lovely room on the 2nd floor looking out over the docks. We then went to get our accreditation and check on times for the dinner. Then it was off to the venue where they are holding the Congress to attend the last bit of the Oceania Area Meeting. We were driven there by one of the volunteer drivers and arrived in time for the tailend. After that was finished we came back on the Docklands Light Railway with our fellow Oceanians to the hotel. Finally we ventured out to find something to
London skyline, Canary Wharf
eat as we had missed lunch and had a charcuterie plate and a beer at a local restaurant.
Dressed in our finery we set out at 6-45pm to walk to Canary Wharf. Here we boarded a ferry that took us (and everyone else) to the Tate Modern where the opening dinner of the Congress was to be held. The trip along the river was great and we went under Tower Bridge and alighted right in front of the Globe Theatre. The Tate Modern is housed in what once was the Battersea Power station and our dinner was held in the Turbine Room. This is vast with extremely high ceilings and huge spaces. We had pre dinner drinks and caught up with a number of people we hadn't seen since the last Championships in Beijing. Then it was into dinner. We were assigned a special table as Fletcher was receiving an award so we sat with a variety of people from Granada, Turks and Cacos, Germany, Canada and Japan. We were entertained by a string quartet and enjoyed our entree of trout Then it was time for the awards. Veterans pins were given first and several of our Oceania members
On the ferry on the way to the Tate Modern
such as Yvonne Mullins and Annette Purvis were honoured. But of course the highlight of the night was when the Plaque of Merit Recipients were announced and Fletcher rose to recive this prestigious award for his contribution to World Athletics. Seb Coe presented him with the substantial plaque and there were smiles and applause all around, A very proud moment!!!
The rest of the evening passed very enjoyably with the main course of scrumptious lamb and an equally delicious dessert. The wine flowed freely and there was pleasant conversation. About 10pm we started to return to the hotel, again via the ferry. London at night is a magical sight and we saw St Paul's all lit up. Back at the hotel there was time for a nightcap in the bar and I eventually left Fletcher to his celebrations and went to bed about 12-30. Fletcher tells me he hit the hay about 2am.
Wednesday morning was the first session of the Congress so we were down to breakfast by 8am and then Fletcher left at 8-30am. I then had the whole day to myself. I took the chance just to chill out for a while so stayed in
Travelling along the Thames
my room using the free WiFi to write my blog and look at Facebook. At 11 am I ventured out to see what this area has to offer. It was a cool and overcast day with dark clouds on the horizon so I wandered along the West India quayside and found the Museum of the Docklands at the end.With a few spots of rain materialising I decided this would be an entertaining way to spend an hour or two. The Museum is free and I was directed to the third floor to start the tour. West India Quay was built in 1801 to accomodate the ships bringing goods, including slaves, from Africa to the West Indies and then to London. It was the first purpose built dock on the river. The museum covered the history from those first beginnings, right through to the present day. One of the most interesting sections was an exhibition called Sugar and Slavery which outlined the way the two were intertwined and discussed the final abolition of slavery. There were some recreations of the type of houses and shops which used to exist along the dockside and an excellent section on the importance of this
View of the Shard
area during World War 2 and the subsequent German bombing of this strategic site. I spent nearly two hours here, happily learning some history and enjoying the exhibits, abeit that as it is school holidays there were many small children running around..
I decided against having lunch in the cafe as said small children were making quite a racket there, so I walked back along a row of restaurants and pop-up food vans. There were long queues for these vans from the workers in this area. I decided on Browns which offered a two course lunch for 12 pounds. I settled on a chicken burger and chips followed by a Blueberry Mess and accompanied that with a large glass of a Chilean white. All very tasty and filling. Then it was back to the hotel as it had started raining quite heavily. I had a Nana nap and then watched some TV until Fletcher returned about 6-15. A shower and change of clothes and then we were off to the City of London reception to welcome us all here. This was held in the Guildhall, a splendid building I had not visited before. It is over 600 years old
and is decorated with statues of famous Londoners as well as some magnificent stained glass windows, We had English white wine from West Sussex which was suprisingly good and a variety of finger food which just kept coming. We chatted to one of the councillors as well as delegates from various countries. It was a very enjoyable evening and we returned to the hotel about 10pm. Again we gathered in the bar for a nightcap. So far everything is going well and I am looking forward to Friday night when the Championships begin.
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