Posts tagged ‘Greenwich’

May 3, 2015

May Day in Greenwich

On Friday, I donned my flowery skirt and went down to Greenwich to enjoy some May Day celebrations.

I met up with a friend at Surrey Quays station, and we got the bus to Greenwich. I spotted this lovely bird mural on the way to the bus stop, does anyone know who painted it?

mural in Surrey Quays // a raised bridge

While we were on the bus, we had to stop for the road over Deptford Creek to raise, which was a surprise to me as I had no idea the road did that!

Once we were in Greenwich we took a wander through the Old Royal Naval College. Sounds from a music class spilled from an open window, and we stopped to admire the spectacle of the Painted Hall.

Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

We wandered along towards the old Edwardian power station down by the river, past the Trinity Hospital Almshouses, and around the old wall with the story embedded into it. (We were curious about the purpose of that little hexagonal tower at the back of the power station, with the little windows at the top, any ideas what it was for?).

Greenwich Power Station

At the Star & Garter we stopped for a drink, and waited for the revellers from the Jack in the Green parade. It’s one of the few unspoiled pubs in that area, with wooden beams, a dartboard, racing on the telly and a brassy blonde barmaid who calls you “luv”. Just my kind of pub.

Jack in the Green at the Star & Garter

Jack in the Green at the Star & Garter

When the parade arrived we went outside where one of the revellers was telling a tall tale of the Leviathan which seemed to involve a lot of roaring. We hung around enjoying the sunshine and admiring the costumes, before setting off along our way again.

spring flowers and bright colours

We wandered towards Greenwich Park, where we stopped to admire the view from quiet One Tree Hill where we were more-or-less alone, and again outside the Observatory, which of course was full of tourists. We relaxed for a while inside the tiny Observatory Gardens, which always feels surprisingly secluded, despite being so close to where so many tourists congregate (and long may it stay that way!)

around Greenwich Park

We heard the drums from the Jack in the Green parade as we headed down through the park and side streets towards the Richard I pub, another stop on the parade route.

wisteria galore

We stopped here for a drink and some (overpriced) chips, and bitched about the refurbishment of what was formerly just a nice boozer rather than a posh gastropub with shabby chic pretensions.

Jack in the Green at the Richard I

By the time we’d finished our drinks, it was getting towards evening, so we walked over to Greenwich Station and headed homewards.

You can learn more about the Jack in the Green May Day traditions here and check out the Company of the Green Man‘s picture archive here.

October 14, 2014

a ride on the Woolwich ferry

Last month my mum and me enjoyed a quintessential part of London’s history, and went on the Woolwich ferry. I meant to write about it sooner, but I forgot about it (oops) until I spotted a lovely Betty Swanwick poster on Quad Royal yesterday, and read this post on Londonist about the proposed Silvertown tunnel today, and then I remembered again.

We actually went to Greenwich for the Tall Ships Festival, but the riverfront was really crowded and we couldn’t really see much of the boats (and there weren’t that many to see right there). Instead of fighting through the exhausting crowds, we decided to visit the Queen’s House, have lunch in Greenwich Park and then go on to Woolwich to see the boats there.

The Queen’s House is actually one of my favourite free museums in London, never very crowded and always full of amazing art. The current exhibitions, The Art & Science of Exploration and War Artists At Sea are both recommended (and on until next year), but the permanent collection is wonderful, anyway. It’s a beautiful building, too, not just because of its famous Tulip staircase, but because it’s all so well-proportioned (we were impressed to notice how the edge of the upper balcony overlooking the Great Hall is perfectly aligned with the edges of the doorways).

In Woolwich, there were lots more boats, but it was less crowded and there were less tourists, more locals. We had as much fun people-watching as we did boat-watching, and decided that as we were there we’d go home via the Woolwich ferry.

Woolwich isn’t a part of London I have much reason to visit (although it has a very interesting history) and I’m not a driver so I don’t have much of an opinion on the new tunnel, but I’ve always loved the ferry. Or rather, I’ve always loved the idea of it, because — never really having had a reason to travel from one side of Woolwich to the other — I’ve only ever been on the ferry once before, but it’s kind of fun to do. I think it would be a sad thing if the ferry disappeared completely — I’ve always felt there ought to be more boats going across the Thames, not just up and down (the only other one I know about is Hammerton’s ferry near Richmond, which has also been on my list of things to do for ages).

The ride itself doesn’t take very long — less than 10 minutes, but as I said, it’s kind of fun to do.

waiting for the Woolwich Ferry, watching a tall ship go through the Thames Barrier
Waiting for the Woolwich Ferry, watching a tall ship go through the Thames Barrier — you can just see it in the middle, near the Canary Wharf skyline. The cranes and chimneys on the right belong to the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery in Silvertown, which used to be the largest sugar refinery in the world. It has an interesting history that you can read about here.

waiting for the Woolwich Ferry

boarding the Woolwich Ferry

aboard the Woolwich Ferry

aboard the Woolwich Ferry
Below decks there’s not much view of the river but then you find nice old stuff like this. Well, I like it!

aboard the Woolwich Ferry
There’s a tiny outside platform above these steps that everybody crams onto so that they can see the river.

aboard the Woolwich Ferry
I think they added the bunting for the Tall Ships Festival but they should keep it always! Bunting on boats is so jolly.

aboard the Woolwich Ferry
Looking back towards south Woolwich

exiting the Woolwich Ferry

north entrance to Woolwich foot tunnel
Entrance to Woolwich foot tunnel, which goes under the river where the ferry goes over it. That bus to Stratford takes the same amount of time as the DLR, but it’s less faff (I love the DLR though).

In a city that was built around a river, it’s always puzzled me how little access people really have to being on that river, without spending lots of money. The Woolwich free ferry remains one of the last few ways to do so that isn’t privatised and doesn’t cost lots of money. I hope it manages to stay that way.