Sunday, March 04, 2007

London 22-25 February: Post 4 - Greenwich and walking

In all the times I had been to London, I had never been to Greenwich. So we decided that this time around we would take some time to wander new places. So it was that Friday morning - after a suitably glorious breakfast at Brunos - we wandered to get a train across the river to fair Greenwich.

Of course we were inevitably disappointed that the Cutty Sark is under repairs and under wraps at the moment. Still, we had some great views across and down the river, including the monumental elephant that is the O-god-whatever-it-is-now-called-Dome.

There are always unexpected pleasures in city wanders; our first came with the arrival of Louis, a small boy who thunderingly ran up to the barricades overlooking the river and promptly yelled "digger!!!" We looked out, but in vain could we see any sign of a digger across the beach or riverbeds: we turned to his mum who was sat behind us "I think your boy's hallucinating diggers!" She shook her head. "No, he'll have seen one" (Louis is still yelling "digger!" in the excited way that only small children can do). She wandered over and quickly scanned the horizon. She pointed to the far distance: "there, it's red". And sure enough, the smallest clue of a digger behind a screen of building work was visible.


As I explained to Neil, we had forgotten to take account of that crucial piece of information: small children, especially boys, appear to be genetically programmed to spot diggers at 500+ paces! And boy was little Louis good! He duly kept following us as we wandered the pier area and it eventually took us quite some effort to persuade him to stay with his mum as we went for a wander down the under-river footpath.

That was quite an experience. The domed entrance to the tunnel scarcely indicates the curious experience of being below the river. The lighting is very strange indeed!

Neil under the river at Greenwich in the Tunnel

Anyway, tracking back we wandered along the riverside coming up at Greenwich University (the old Naval Hospital).

View across the old and new at Greenwich to Canary Wharf

These are fine buildings and good on the university taking the opportunity to buy them.


We walked up the hill, through the grounds of the Maritime Museum, to the Observatory at Flamsteed House

Flamsteed House, Greenwich Observatory

where again we were thwarted by redevelopment (the Planetarium is closed) but were able to see all the magnificent time pieces and materials relating to scientific developments in studying time and space. Brilliant! We were even there at lunchtime to see the rise and fall of the red ball!

Greenwich Observatory 1pm
Greenwich Observatory 1pm
Greenwich Observatory 1pm

After such excitement, we trundled off for a walk around London, ending up looking at the very weird but wonderful world of Hawksmoor over at Christ Church, Spitalfields. We also walked through and got tempted into purchases at Old Spitalfields Market, only narrowly missing getting caught up in a coterie of Gilbert and George accolates walking through the market with the two weird ones themselves (it was that sort of weekend: the following day we walked past Mr George Alagiah).


Reidski said...

Greenwich really is a lovely area of the world. As for that foot tunnel? Engineering miracle! Imagine carrying your bike up and down those stairs every day - that's what I done for three years when I worked in the Isle of Dogs.
Greenwich is lovely and what a view from the next to the Observatory. And you cannot beat a Sunday afternoon in the park watching the cricket after a really energetic cycle up the hill (with beer in rucksack, of course)!

Anonymous said...

The Woolwich Foot Tunnel — built by the same engineers — is just as odd. When I was working in Woolwich, they got an artist to do an installation with light effects and sounds triggered as you walked along the tunnel. It spooked me so much I had to use the ferry instead!