Monday, January 31, 2011


Last weekend (well, Monday) our adventure was to take the train to Greenwich and explore.  Now, my most tangible association with Greenwich is that it’s the city that Gwyneth Paltrow has to get herself to in order to be rubber stamped by Her Majesty Dame Judy Dench in order to marry the undesirable Lord Colin Firth in Shakespeare in Love.  "Sunday..... Greenwich!"  What I didn’t know (until David told me of course) was that the famous Greenwich Observatory houses an amazing history of timepieces, and showcases how the puzzle of longitude was resolved.  For the record, I did know about the Prime Meridian, so that’s something!

We didn't know exactly what it was - we though it was the Royal Palace in Greenwich, but apparently it's something military-related?

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

It's up high on a hill.

The uber-official timepiece of all the world.  Back in the day.

It was very interesting to explore the observatory.  I learned all about John Harrison and his fascinating, lifelong project to design a timepiece that would stay accurate at sea, enabling ship captains to accurately determine their longitude.  This was a serious matter, as the unreliability of finding longitude (in contrast to finding latitude, which was easily done by the position of the sun) caused many shipwrecks and deaths.  Harrison, who was born in 1693, designed four timepieces (responding to a Royal prize offered of £20,000 for whoever could solve the mystery) over a course of many years, and tested his timepieces at sea.  The final result was his H4 timepiece, which, along with the others, is actually on working display at the observatory.  Incredible!

Of course, we also couldn’t resist standing on the Prime Meridian.  There is lots of fascinating stuff to see at the Greenwich Observatory – and it’s free! – so I would definitely recommend it for when you come visit us.  ;)

Montreal and Ottawa?  Come on!

The back-in-the-day officially designated lengths of measurement.  People would come from around town to get the proper measurements from this display.

Wandering around Greenwich.

Sell!  Sell!  Sell!

We are conducting a systematic study of fish and chips in England.  We will prepare a full report once field studies are concluded.  Our first expedition was to a Rock n’ Roll themed (??) Fish and Chips Shop in Greenwich – yum.

Next, we walked down into Greenwich itself and passed by what would be the Cutty Sark, except it is being restored and is covered with scaffolding and tarps.  (It is a clipper ship, one of the very fast trading ships from, like, back in the day.)

Speaking of Colin Firth, we concluded the day by going to see The King’s Speech at the local cinema.  Wow, it was wonderful!  We loved seeing the plaza in front of Buckingham Palace and No. 10 Downing Street featured in the film, since we’ve just seen them!

1 comment:

Karin said...

Was Colin Firth in Shakespeare in Love?? I don't remember that. Maybe because I was too taken with Joe Fiennes.