Travel Report: Greenwich Park, London.
April 2017. There are always more blogs to write up. Always, always, always more blogs. In the process of putting together the eighteen articles from my recent stay in in the English capital, I came across a few unblogged London trips that had somehow escaped me. One of these was a visit to gorgeous Greenwich Park in the days leading up to my third stint of teaching English in China.
April 2017. I’d just parted ways with an old friend that afternoon. It was a brisk lunch date kinda thing and we’d grabbed our food at Greenwich Market, before taking a stroll along the River Thames by The Cutty Sark. It had all been quite pleasant until out of nowhere she basically confronted me about my decision to go back to China. “Oh Leighton, when are you going to get a proper job?” she said, almost absent-mindedly. We went our separate ways shortly thereafter and I found myself entering Greenwich Park for the steep climb up Greenwich Hill. Within ten minutes I’d reached the top and was gazing back down at the way I’d come. The white building at the bottom is The Queen’s House, a seventeenth century former royal residence. Anne of Denmark once lived here as Queen consort of Scotland, England and Ireland by marriage to King James VI.
April 2017. Spread out over an extensive one hundred and eighty-three acres, Greenwich Park dates back to the 16th century when, much like Regent’s Park and Hyde Park, it was initially used as a royal hunting ground. There were some beautiful cherry blossom trees that day and a fabulous giant oak, all of which helped to settle my mind as I chewed over my friend’s ridiculous question. I guessed it would make her feel better if I succumbed myself to a life like hers stuck in an office for forty hours a week. And I was the crazy one?
April 2017. In any case these thoughts were pushed to one side as I arrived at the striking Greenwich Royal Observatory, built in 1676 by order of Charles II. This place has played a key role in the history of astronomy and navigation and is the location of the prime meridian. Today you can check out the UK’s largest refracting telescope (28 inches!) in the onion dome, while at its southern end the astronomy galleries boast a four and a half billion-year-old meteorite! Sadly for me Greenwich Royal Observatory was closed that afternoon, so I had to make do with some exterior shots through the railings. Another one for the to-blog list.
I was also able to catch the unusual Shepherd Gate Clock outside the observatory’s main gate. Constructed and installed by Charles Shepherd in 1852, this was the first clock to display Greenwich meantime. Weirdly, it also has a twenty four hour analogue dial.
April 2017. I’d been wandering aimlessly for a bit before I happened upon Greenwich Bandstand, a Grade II listed structure situated in the park’s large Bandstand Field. Erected in 1891, it still hosts park performances and in the summer rows of deckchairs are laid out for people to kick back and enjoy the shows.
April 2017. It was getting late that afternoon by the time I arrived at Greenwich Park’s General Wolfe Statue. The monument looks back down the hill over the Greenwich skyline and is a popular spot for photographers. I’d never heard of General James Wolfe, a British Army officer famed for his victory over the French in The Battle of Quebec in 1759. A pretty important moment in British-French history by all accounts and one that influenced the eventual creation of Canada. I stood up here for a bit looking out over London, the home I was about to leave once again for yet more foreign adventures. But I supposed the city would be ok without me, especially with General Wolfe looking after it. Now there was a guy who’d had a proper job.
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