London II: The Return of London

 

I skipped out of work on a Thursday, with the intent to do some more stuff in London.My main goal: Greenwich.

 

 

 

 

The Cutty Sark.The last remaining tea clipper from the golden age of really fast sailing ships ( i.e. the mid 1800ís).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 ďCutty SarkĒ refers to a small shawl or shirt-like garment.

 

 

O.K., Iíll tell you why the ship is named after a tube top. The name comes from a poem called ďTam OíShanterĒ by Robert Burns.Itís about a man named Tam OíShanter 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 ďHey Cutty Sark, How you doiní?ĒShe, being an evil witch, begins to chase him.Luckily for Tam, witches canít cross running streams of water in this poem, so he jumps across creek to safety.Cutty jumps after him but can only grab his horseís tail.Hence the figurehead of a witch holding a horseís 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 youíre into that sort of thing.

 

 

The Millennium Dome from the hill.Of course, it wonít be finished until at least 2007.And no one likes it.And itís millions of dollars over budget. But itís 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 Herschelís telescope.The guy who found Uranus, not the Heisman trophy winner (that was Herschel Walker).†† For some reason Iíve always associated the two in my head.

 

 

The Prime Meridian.I bet you didnít know it just runs straight up into the sky, did you.

 

 

 

Look Ma, Iím 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 ďtowerí in their names.This is the Tower Bridge, faithfully guarded by the HMS Spamandeggs.

 

 

The Tower of London.Itís 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 didnít 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 didnít even have to make that up.

 

 

Millennium Bridge. A pedestrian bridge built for, you guessed it, the new millennium.In the background is St. Paulís 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.Thatís over $15 just waiting to fall into the couch cushions.

Recommended Reading:

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.