London to greet athletes at a village with no idyllic setting | india | Hindustan Times
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London to greet athletes at a village with no idyllic setting

india Updated: Jul 15, 2012 12:03 IST

When the first wave of athletes arrive in the Olympic Village on Monday they will find their new home from home bears little resemblance to anything found in the English countryside.

In terms of physical size, it may meet the strict dictionary definition of a settlement larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town.

The sort of village familiar through the ages of literary fiction - ducks on the pond, cricket on the green, bell ringers in the churchyard and locals enjoying a lazy pint outside the pub on a summer's afternoon - it is most definitely not.

There is a 'pub', but it serves no alcohol. The landscaped green is surrounded by modern apartment blocks and for church read multi-faith centre.

There are green spaces, wetland pools and wildflowers but there are no farms or fields beyond the wire perimeter fence, only the gritty reality of one of the poorest parts of east London. The city centre is just seven minutes away by train.

The Village 'shops', including a hairdresser and florist, have as a backdrop the giant mass of the nearby Westfield shopping complex — Europe's largest urban mall — and the adjacent Olympic Park with its new stadium and showcase venues.

Big lunch
The main 'dining facility' here is big enough to cater for most villages at one sitting and serve them a range of cooking from every corner of the world.

The biggest canteen in Britain, it is the largest facility of its kind in the world outside of the military arena.

"You could fit 880 double decker buses in here," Janet Mathews — the head of catering, cleaning and waste who previously worked for the British Army in Germany — told reporters on a recent visit. “So you can seat 5,000 people and through Games times we will be operating 24/7. On our busiest day, we will feed 65,000 people and over the time of the Games we will serve 1.2 million meals.”