Greenwich

Mar. 27th, 2017 11:21 pm
lupestripe: (Default)
[personal profile] lupestripe
After the rather long day that was Saturday, we enjoyed a well-deserved lie-in on Sunday, not aided by the clocks going forward of course. Having to check out at midday, we used all the time we had before heading out into another glorious sunny day. Before booking the hotel at Wembley, I hadn't realised that there was an England match that afternoon. This meant that we took our bag with us as we knew that getting back later would be incredibly tricky. Despite the 5pm kick-off, the concourse around Wembley was already starting to fill up, and we took advantage of the game by grabbing a tasty if extortionately priced German sausage from one of the concessions, which interestingly was run by Essex ladies.

The plan for the afternoon was quite fluid but in the end we went to Greenwich, which was a place I had wanted to go for quite a while. We could have gone drinking or to a number of our favourite fetish stores but we thought a bit of culture in the sunshine would be better. Aiding this view was that it was quite easy to get there - the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf and then the DLR down to Cutty Sark. It was quite a pleasant journey although as we approached Greenwich we noticed that a large number of people had had a similar idea to us. This meant the area was quite busy, which was frustrating, particularly when people used the entire pavement when they didn't really need to. By the by, we disgorged at Cutty Sark and headed to the boat of the same name, declining the £13.50 entrance charge for the museum and preferring to walk around what is probably the most famous tea clipper in the world. Indeed, it was quite an awesome sight, although a little odd being stuck on land. Still, we traversed it and stood in awe at the large sail structures and the huge scale of this impressive beast. After this, we headed over to the Old Royal Naval College where we had a wander around the late seventeenth century buildings. Indeed, the style was very much of that era and it reminded me quite a bit of some of the Cambridge colleges where I studied. Alas due to restoration work, we couldn't get into the famous Painted Hall but the Chapel of St Paul's more than made up for it, with its subtle use of gold and wood tones to create an air of beautiful understatement. There was a small museum in the old college too, but it didn't make an awful lot of sense, resembling a miscellany of objects rather than anything with a narrative. As we wandered around the gardens and by the river, looking at Canary Wharf on the opposite bank, along with the O2 Arena to the east, I phoned my mother as it was Mother's Day and ended up being passed around the entire family as she was hosting them.

We walked back into Greenwich from here, a quaint rural-type place with the bustle of a major tourist attraction, grabbing a Gregg's for lunch. We then headed towards the Royal Observatory and the Greenwich Meridian line, the point from which all coordinates and time is measured. The Observatory is perched atop a hill overlooking a beautiful cultivated park, and it was quite a steep climb to get to the top. The red ball of the 1pm setting clock is the most visible thing here, sat upon a tower. It drops at 1pm every day to allow ships on the Thames to set their chronometers and interestingly it is highly dented as restoration builders in 1960 thought it was going to the scrapheap and thus played football with it. The Observatory was patronised by Charles II and opened in 1676, right in my period of history, and thus I knew a fair bit about the place. We decided to go into the Museum here and we explored the Flamsteed House, named after the first Astronomer Royal. After some rather bland rooms detailing the lives of the 13 Astronomers Royal, we went into the Octagon Room which was used for social events. There were a number of scientific instruments in here, including clocks and quadrants, but the main focus of the exhibit was downstairs where you learnt all about solving the longitude problem, which was the key issue in eighteenth century navigation. I already knew a fair bit about this but it was great to see John Harrison's chronometers in person, as they truly are marvels in engineering. The exhibition was very accessable and we did learn a fair bit, before heading outside to take obligatory pictures of the prime meridian. Next to this, there was an extension to the complex where a number of astronomers royal formed their own meridians for looking at the stars. Here there were a range of different telescopes and other devices used to make measurements, and it was fascinating to learn how all this worked.

With time pressing, we couldn't really do much else as we had to make it back to Kings Cross for the train. However, one thing we did decide to do was to go back to the Cutty Sark so we could walk under the Thames using a special tunnel that was built in 1902. This saw us go from Greenwich to Island Gardens on the North Bank, affording us a fantastic view of Greenwich. It was an odd soulless tunnel of white tiles but it was a feat of engineering and a pleasure to traverse. After this, we headed to the DLR and Bank, where we joined the Northern Line. Looking for something to eat, I noted that a branch of the excellent Craft Beer Co was at Angel, very near the station, so we called off there to grab something to eat. The burger and fries were exquisite while the beer was fantastic too, and we even managed to stock up for the train back home. We caught it with twenty minutes to spare, and were surprised that we happened to be sharing a table with one of my Russian colleagues and her husband, who had been in London during the weekend too, albeit for different reasons to us. It would have been good to have chatted but alas it was the quiet coach and people were adhering to the quiesence, so I just wrote my journal as we headed back home. At Leeds we split, with them going home and us going to Bundobust then Tapped Brew Co for a nightcap before heading back home after a fabulous weekend.
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