While Spain was still recovering from winning to Portugal in Penalties and warming up for the Gay Pride parade, Green Park was heating up with Sudanese Londoners defending their rights and their Twitter hashtag #SudanRevolts (my friend R was there to tell us all about it), half of the UK was crowding up at Heaton Park to rejoice with their teenage heroes The Stone Roses and the internet was freaking out with Instagram's first (and very long) crash, London was enjoying one of the best days in summer and probably the last. See, London can be the most terrible city is the weather is not with it, but just a couple of ray-lights absolutely changes the whole thing. I still try to convince everybody that it is really a very nice city.
Even though I treated myself with a long sleep yesterday (because you know, I was tired from coming back from Stockholm), my friend D and I decided that there was no way we were going to spend the day at home. There was sunshine in London.
We headed to the far far East, we no man has gone before. Further than Canary Wharf, further than the new climbable O2 Arena, and even further than the new, I think very exciting, Cable Car that the Emirates (and Boris?) have gifted us with. Pontoon Dock, were the not very known Thames Barrier have their permanent residence, and where new housing development is taking place but it is too far away for us to realise.
But there it was, London's Pleasure Gardens, LPG to shorten (not to be mistaken with Liquified Petroleum Gas). Location of the now derelict Millennium Mills, apparently post-industrial Britain architectural delight, and its brother, the Grade II listed grain silo simply labeled 'D', and just for that, reason good enough to visit it. Now refurbished site, buildings behind, to host again, after 200 years, day and night events for all ages and tastes for the next couple of years at least.
The celebration in this occasion was actually the Grand Opening of the site, named Paradise Gardens.
With, I think subtle, but effective publicity via Facebook and Twitter, I ended up knowing about it through other London blogs and kept it aside to follow it up carefully. I was actually able to follow the progress of the construction by photo, so became very curious about it. Also, the fact that they finally advertised it on a big banner in my neighbourhood...
But yeah, Paradise Gardens, Grand Opening. Free and celebrating from 1pm until 10pm both Saturday 30th and 1st of July. Being for free and the location was the catch, so we went.
Easily accesible by DLR, stopping at Pontoon Dock, the line towards Woolwich Arsenal, just 8 stations away from Shadwell. By the time we came out of the station, just by crossing the bridge, it was possible to get a good sight of the great location of the site surrounded by water. To welcome us all, a colourful circus-like box office and again, the sight of the magnificent derelict architecture (and of course, the SUN).
Walls of the Millenium Mill decorated by Obey. Good one!
The main square, held a great number of street lamps filled with random objects, so the first game consisted on finding the most awkward one. I found a bird's skeleton. To the left, the Oyster Bar, chairs and tables and the path to a (temporarily) inaccessible garden just in front of Silo D. To the right, what looked to my exactly like the Bucky Dome in Stockholm, but bigger and fuller, daytime swing lesson classroo and mvenue of the after party at night.
Dusty? Who cares?
Around, some tents and stalls selling a variety of things including s***y airbrush tattoos, scarves and all sorts. Apparently, hours before (we arrived around 16:30 ish), there were few cool activities, family friendly and the best, some giant salad tossing that I would really loved to have seen.
Airbrush tattoos for the most badass kids
Enough activities for kids and grown ups. I must admit we made a little race in the track. Apparently they held sillylimpics there in the morning. Missed that!
For the grown ups, the packed main stage and little tent with live reggae on the side. Good tunes, lots of trumpets ('Hypnotic Brass Ensemble'). For the kids, and not so kinds, a big wheel, flying chairs and a carousel.
These two blokes, playing along the reggae tunes. Silo phone in hand (how carries with him a Xilophone?) and some empty cans of beer for percussion.
For those fussy about their feet, this was not a place to be with heels. Must admit that the place had no tarmac, so combining that with the fact that we had pretty good weather, the chances of dust were undoubtedly big. And that's what happened really. After I came back, I read all these reviews about the event of people complaining about how dusty the site was. Londoners, let's be serious: a) it is free, b) the weather was fantastic, c) What? Do you want mud? There is nothing that cannot be sorted with a pair of sunglasses. Let's stop whining and let's enjoy. DUSTY nightmare was the one I suffered back in 2005 while trying to see Incubus live at Festimad.
We wanted to be the sky
Two stations away: London City Airport
Stage-wise, the Dome, some small tent playing reggae and the big main stage. Food: lots of stalls, did not try any. Drinks? Overpriced. Get the booze on the first tend to the right; on the main stage is 50p more expensive (£5).
The vibe? Really good. By 10pm, everybody gathered in front of the Silo D, where the access was controlled before, it was now opened for everybody to lay on the comfy grass. We waited for the fireworks show to started when the sun came down.
Best fireworks of the year, not counting the Jubilee's (sorry Guy Fawkes might)
In front of Silo D, waiting for the fireworks display to start.
As the Arctic Monkeys would say: this house is a circus
London's new housing solutions
As I came back home, Instagram was working, the Sudanese demonstration was over, The Stone Roses were heading home and Madrid was preparing for today's final. But that's another story.