As a special birthday treat and one that fits our “must be an experience” birthday present remit, my beautiful best mate Steve aka Stacey Hackney surprised me with a completely unexpected experience – two tickets to venture to the Top of the O2. I remember the controversy surrounding the absurd structure, the confusion as to what its purpose would be past the millennium celebrations; the acceptance of it as a social/entertainment venue in recent years; but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would, one day, walk on the top of it. That is until 1st July 2012.
Stace was convinced that I had guessed this crazy present of his – though the sheer likelihood of such an event baffles me to this day – I don’t know what is current on the radio, now or 15 years ago – let alone bizarre expeditions to peculiar architectural structures. I certainly wasn’t even aware that it was an option, so even if I had had half a chance at guessing, this would not had been on my list. I did worry, with his incessant teasing that he thought me brave enough to venture a bungee jump – and while this expedition was not for the faint hearted, it was nonetheless something I was able to do – which should serve as an indicator that it is an activity suitable for most fit (ish) parents and grannies alike..
Anyhow, I subsequently discovered that even though I am completely behind the times, this was in fact a fairly new offering introduced as part of the Olympic celebrations, and thanks to my gorgeous Stace, I was for once, part of the cutting edge group in exploring this particular experience – a no small feat! So first of all you need to be suited up into a jump suit – which did make me wonder whether there was indeed an issue with descent, watch a twenty minute video of health and safety – plus some interesting historical facts about the dome (Spoiler alert: did you know that the dome is: a) 52 m high in the middle – one metre for each week of the year; b) it’s 365 m in diameter — one metre for each day of the year; and c) has twelve 100 m-high yellow support towers, one for each month of the year, or each hour of the clock face, representing the role played by Greenwich Mean Time?, well now you do).
Minor niggles: not allowed cameras apart from mobile phones – that is because you need to grip with both hands for dear life! OK, a little dramatic, but in fairness the reasoning is a health and safety one – you have to climb a fairly steep trampoline like pathway all the while you are hooked by steel to the metal runner on the side, (one you have to hook and unhook at various point of the accent – a cause for much panic and fear among the initiated -not me though. at least, er, not now.) So our photos are not to the usual standard but the experience and vantage points make it worth the trip:
All photos courtesy of Stace and the man we implored to take one of the both of us. (sorry, didn’t get a name for the credits..). When you reach the top, the trampoline pathway gives way to a metal viewing structure, with maps and highlights of various views and maps of London’s iconic architecture – you can see all the key players: from the Shard, Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, St Paul’s to the more recent Cable Cars, Excel Centre; City Airport and Olympic Village; among many more attractions. So, I would heartily recommend you try this out – great day – the whole things lasts about 90 minutes or so – affordable (tickets are available from Up at the O2 website) and you would still be in the minority of those who have (hell, I know people who have yet to visit the dome, let alone climb to the top of it…)