In Greenwich for a Day

Looks like the cold dark skies of Winter are slowly rolling into London, the sun sinking lower into the sky each day in the hour after work.

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It won’t be long before we’re walking home in the dark.

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But while we still have Summer fresh in our minds, I’ll take you one a little photo journey through Greenwich.

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As I probably mentioned before, my parents were here from the States a few weeks ago.

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They organised a day out in Greenwich to meet up with friends and family who live in or near London.

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Heading via Canary Wharf to the DLR we made our way from west London to south east.

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We met near Cutty Sark, the dry-docked old British clipper ship (which had many other uses) that’s been recently restored after a fire about six years ago.

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I remember going on the ship when I was a kid and learning how to tie different types of sailor knots.

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I probably still have the one I brought home with me somewhere in one of the many boxes in my parent’s attic.

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We didn’t go on the ship this time, but we walked down to the Thames.

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From the railings lining the edge, we looked out over the brown river to Canary Wharf.

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Behind us, wildflowers were planted in nice little gardens surrounded by seating areas where people could relax.

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After that, we walked back into the village, past food stalls selling giant prawns.

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There was also trays of fudge, which was tempting but avoided.

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We had a pub lunch since there were about 14 of us.

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Far too many for impromptu meal organisation.

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We didn’t go this time, but if you go down there, pay a visit to The Trafalgar Tavern, which sits at the edge of the river, for a drink or two.

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We headed over to the market after lunch, losing each other as we split up amongst the stalls.

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With a fair share of original artwork and craftspeople sharing their latest inventions, it’s a bit different from a lot of the other markets in London in that it.

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My favourite bit was watching some of the artisans at work.

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Others were simply hanging out and waiting for buyers.

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It’s also under cover.

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One end has food – the usual market food – crepes, curries, paella.

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I was tempted to shuffle through stacks of secondhand books, but sadly have not found too much time to read this year. A few years ago, I read 52 books – one a week. This year I’m barely hitting 20. I guess that’s the way life goes.

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I didn’t buy anything at the market, but my cousin found a shop that sells old fashioned milk-bottles – not the glass kind, but the sweets. We enjoyed a few of those.

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And just across from the market, my dad found an old fashioned sweet shop with the jars lined up on shelves behind the counter.

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You could request a handful, which was weighed and priced out – of course, much more expensive than it would have been 50 years ago.

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My dad stocked up on rhubarb and custards, wine gums and a variety of other goodies that we all shared.

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We made our way to Greenwich Park then, the oldest enclosed park in London.

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My mom, Aunt Rhonda, Jorge and I took a walk while everyone else hung out on a picnic blanket, caught up and ate sweets!

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One of my favourite features of the park are the wide avenues lined with Spanish chestnut trees.

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Some of them are over 400 years old, which is pretty obvious from the size of their trucks.

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They are huge!

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Not so tall, but really, really wide.

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And the detail in the bark is incredible.

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Where next… so many options..

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We walked up a long sloping hill to the Greenwich Royal Observatory.

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Also up there is the Prime Meridian Line.

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Although the best part is definitely the view.

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When you look down, you can see the river snaking through the city, Canary Wharf, the O2, the Gherkin and the Emirates Air Line.

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We admired the clock for a minute.

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And everything else up there!

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We spent the afternoon in the park before heading back down the Thames by Clipper boat at sunset (a phone photo with good intentions…).

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Anyway, it would be nice to live closer because it’s beautiful place to be on a sunny day!

Friendly Squirrels

Back home in my little New York town, the squirrels scurry up the trees the second they hear your footsteps nearby. You’d never, ever get one to climb up on your lap and sit there calmly for a photo. Not so in London parks as this friendly guy proves.

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Thanks jamiefraser1 for adding this photo to the Flickr pool! 🙂

Postman’s Park

Films based in London always capture my interest, especially when they are set in locations I haven’t seen yet. That’s how I discovered the small Postman’s Park near St. Paul’s station. The park contains Watt’s Memorial, the place where the characters played by Jude Law and Natalie Portman begin to fall in love in the movie Closer. The memorial commemorates selfless acts of fatal heroism with a series of plaques detailing the situation in which the death occurred. One of these people is Alice Ayres – immortalised both in the park in as the name of Portman’s character.

When I saw the park in the film, I thought it looked serene and a bit secret – set in the middle of the city. A few days after seeing the film, I found it and was right. Here’s a few photos I took while I was there:

Little London Lunch Break: Best Parks

Little London Lunch Break posts will appear every Wednesday around lunch time. I’ll ask a questions or start a discussion, give my answer and leave the comments open for the rest of you the same when you have a minute or two. If you would like to suggest a question, please email me at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Question: London is full of green places to escape the chaos of the city. Which park is your favourite and why?

My Answer:
It used to be Hyde Park for the weeping willows and because I lived nearby and loved to feed the ducks on the Serpentine. Blackheath is flat and empty and perfect for sunny summer days, kicking a football around and close by, Greenwich park has some great views of the city. The same can be said of Regent’s Park at the top of Primrose Hill and I do love the little bridge and the flowers around there.

But overall, I have to go with Hampstead Heath where you can completely escape people, the noise of traffic, buildings. There’s pretty trails and wildlife and it’s big enough you can get lost in the trees and open spaces. It feels slightly more private and poetic with the hills, ponds and woodlands. Hampstead Heath also has Parliament Hill and Kenwood House (which always reminds me of Notting Hill), not to mention a lot of cool pubs around the perimeter and the crepe place!

Back in 2007, about 10 months after I moved to London, I wrote a post in my old blog about a walk on the heath.

Photo of me taken on Hampstead Heath a few months ago, by Daniel higgott

And your favourite green London space?