It was the best of days and it was the worst of days… to badly paraphrase Mr Dickens.
For want of something to do, I took the kids out yesterday, down to that London. my mate Danny came along and we were to meet up with his son, Oliver, who lives in Greenwich.
I arranged to pick Danny up at 10 o’clock on the dot, and did so. At 10:24… on the dot.
“M25′s closed. Accident.” was his greeting to me as he opened his front door. Arse! Well, there were a couple of other routes we could take, but they were all likely to be as bad as each other. In the end, I decided to let my sat-nav bird make the decision and we set off down the M1.
The sat-nav selected a route and then changed it’s mind several times – taking into account the live traffic feeds it was receiving – before deciding that M1 – North Circular – A13 would be the least shitty route to take. If that was the least shitty route, I dread to think what the others were like, because it took us ages to get there. A truly awful two and a half-hour journey.
Finally we arrived, parked up and availed ourselves of Oliver’s bathroom facilities, before setting out to see the sights.
“Where first?” asked Oliver.
“I think we need to get some food first, the kids are famished”, I said.
“I know just the place”, he replied and led us to Greenwich Market, where a cornucopia of aromas assaulted our nostrils; so many different foods, exclusively exotic, mainly African and European. The kids looked up at me in disgust.
Fortunately, there was a McDonalds just around the corner.
Our hunger sated and full of McCrap, we sauntered off to see what we could see, and the first thing was the anachronistic sight of some tall sailing ship masts rising above the buildings at the end of the street. It was the Cutty Sark.
It was this: brilliant.
I was pleased that the kids seemed to have a genuine interest in it all and so I regaled them with my extensive knowledge of Tea Clipper history.
With 90% of the restoration being the original ship and all it’s fixtures and fittings, It wasn’t hard to imagine what life was like on board all those years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could have spent so much longer there, but the day was disappearing fast and so we moved on.
It was a long walk up the hill and we reluctantly walked past the National Maritime Museum on our way. “I’m definitely gonna have to come back to Greenwich”, I thought to myself.
We queued up with the other tourists, in order to take our photos on the Meridian Line. Oliver couldn’t understand what it was all about and so I explained it’s significance. “Oh”, he said, rather non-plussed. Harry and Amelia couldn’t understand either, but obligingly posed for a photo.
Inside the observatory were plenty of exhibits explaining the history and discoveries that were made there. I was loving it, but most of it overwhelmed the kids. Whilst I was getting excited over a 20 year-old Charge Coupled Device used for gathering light from distant stars and the huge magnifying glass that William Herschel used to prove the existence of starlight invisible to the naked eye, they were using the Extra Solar Transit exhibit to play Whack-A-Mole. I dragged them away. Quickly.
Downstairs, were the winning photographs from the Astronomy Photographer Of The Year 2013 competition and though I’d already seen them online, I relished the chance to drool over them all proper like.
By now, it was starting to get dark and so we walked back to the car, bid our farewells and headed home.
The journey home was far worse than our journey there. It was now Friday night rush hour and - annoyingly – the M25 was still bloody closed! Our 50-mile journey home took over three and a half hours!
So, all in all, an excellent day out, sandwiched – and ruined – between two very crappy car journeys.
I hate that fucking M25.