London II: The Return of London
The Cutty Sark. The last remaining tea clipper from the golden age of really fast sailing ships ( i.e. the mid 1800’s). She had an absurd number of sails and set a record by sailing from England to Australia in 72 days, even passing some steam-powered ships on the way. Oddly, the term “Cutty Sark” refers to a small shawl or shirt-like garment.
O.K., I’ll tell you why the ship is named after a tube top. The name comes from a poem called “Tam O’Shanter” by Robert Burns. It’s about a man named Tam O’Shanter who comes across a group of witches dancing in the woods. He takes a fancy to one who happens to be wearing the garment in question and yells to her something along the lines of “Hey Cutty Sark, How you doin’?” She, being an evil witch, begins to chase him. Luckily for Tam, witches can’t cross running streams of water in this poem, so he jumps across creek to safety. Cutty jumps after him but can only grab his horse’s tail. Hence the figurehead of a witch holding a horse’s tail.
That looks easy enough to rig up.
The National Maritime Museum as seen from Observatory Hill. The museum is full of cool old ship stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Millennium Dome from the hill. Of course, it won’t be finished until at least 2007. And no one likes it. And it’s millions of dollars over budget. But it’s all ok now because some football (or soccer, if you please) took a 999 year lease out on the stadium to save the day.
The view from telescope dome of the Royal Observatory. London stretches pretty much to all corners of the horizons. The black tube at the bottom is part of William Herschel’s telescope. The guy who found Uranus, not the Heisman trophy winner (that was Herschel Walker). For some reason I’ve always associated the two in my head.
The Prime Meridian. I bet you didn’t know it just runs straight up into the sky, did you.
Look Ma, I’m on both sides of the world at once.
A poor picture of my GPS reading a longitude of 0 degrees and 0.000 minutes.
I left Greenwich for some sights that have “tower’ in their names. This is the Tower Bridge, faithfully guarded by the HMS Spamandeggs.
The Tower of London. It’s really old. And I left some beautiful Thames scenery in the front for you.
More of the Tower.
A wall and a cylinder.
The Tower Bridge from another angle. The bridge is pretty old itself, built in Victorian time. As if the very simple, no frills design didn’t give that away already.
To me this bridge truly represents clean design. No extraneous parts; every thing has a function to perform.
This boring looking bridge is actually London Bridge. Of course the one the kids sing about actually did come down and now spans part of Lake Havasu in Arizona. And I didn’t even have to make that up.
Millennium Bridge. A pedestrian bridge built for, you guessed it, the new millennium. In the background is St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It may look familiar to you because pretty much every state in the U.S. has a government building copied from it. Or you can see a replica on the back of $50 bill. Speaking of money did you know that England has 8 different denominations of coins in everyday circulation? They are worth 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, 1 pound, and 2 pounds (where p stands for pence or penny or one of the other interchangeable terms). One day I got 7 pounds change back all in coins. At some point after that I had over 8 pounds in my pocket. That’s over $15 just waiting to fall into the couch cushions.
Longitude by Dava Sobel. Before visiting Greenwich you should read Longitude. It tells the true story of John Harrison and his quest to a build a clock accurate enough to solve the longitude problem once and for all. Of course, even after he does this he has to fight for a long time to get the recognition he deserved. When you visit Greenwich, you can see his first 4 clocks, all of which are still running to this day.