We do seem to be all over the country at the moment don’t we? One minute we are in Sussex, then Kent, then Berkshire, now back in Kent. If you think it’s tiring keeping up then imagine what it’s like being us! Shattering sometimes. Anyway this time it’s with good reason (sort of).
Arranged and rearranged time and time again
Back in April 2020 we were booked to go out to the south of France to visit Jo’s Mum for a week but unfortunately, like so many others, we had our flights cancelled due to the pandemic. So we rebooked for later in 2020, cancelled again. Then again for April this year. Guess what? Yep, cancelled for the third time. Someone trying to tell us something?
Anyway, 2021 started looking better so we went ahead and booked for the fourth time in September. We decided that Jo would go alone so after a lot of watching the government change travel rules she headed off last week for ten days in French France. Stay tuned for her post soon.
Whilst she was away I had a few days in our go-to hotel, a Premier Inn in Wrotham Kent. Had a lovely lunch with two of our oldest and best friends, Keith and Nicola before a big old day out.
Arranged to meet my youngest son Ryan for a day out and decided to head to my favourite London park and the scene of countless family trips over the previous 30 years. We have been there SO many times with the children since they were toddlers and taken so many friends.
Greenwich Park is one the Royal Parks of London and was created in 1427, so almost 700 years old! The history of the park is fascinating with so many kings having hunted and built various castles and homes in it over the years but it’s probably Charles II in 1675 who made it world famous. He built the Royal Observatory on the site of the derelict Greenwich Castle and that is where the Greenwich Prime Meridian was located in 1884 as the key reference position for all shipping charts and map worldwide.
Ryan and I walked down the main avenue past the statue of General James Wolfe and down the hill towards the National Maritime Museum. The museum has particular significance for our family as Jo’s Dad, Gordon, was a proud merchant seaman in his youth travelling the world and always full of amazing stories of his adventures. In his later years he spent a lot of time at the Maritime Museum and was proud to give talks on his career there.
Then down through the town to the edge of the River Thames through the very cool Greenwich Market and past the world famous Cutty Sark. I even managed to get Ryan down the Victorian staircase to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel that has run under the Thames since 1902. Fascinating.
The Old Naval College
It really was a day of memories and tales of past trips as I reminisced on visits to Greenwich from the late 1960s when I first saw the Cutty Sark through to wonderful trips with our boys when we spent perfect afternoons playing football in the sunshine.
The Old Naval College is now mainly the University of Greenwich but the original 1696 constructed buildings remain in their complete form. Built as the Royal Hospital for Seamen the whole site is absolutely drenched in history and looks as it would have done in its heyday.
Wandering past Pepys Walk into King William Court we headed up into the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul. Staggering beautiful yet simple in design the chapel took our breath away. With a floor constructed from old ships timbers to countless memorials to lost crews and famous captains it felt like we had stepped back in time. Fabulous and fascinating.
The Painted Hall
If the chapel wasn’t impressive enough we headed across King William Court to the Painted Hall. Bizarrely, most people have never heard of The Painted Hall but it ranks alongside the Sistine Chapel and Westminster Abbey for it’s history and beauty. Painted in 1726 by Sir James Thornhill it isn’t just beautiful, it’s absolutely breathtaking.
“A baroque masterpiece known as Britain’s Sistine Chapel”
The hall has changed use over it’s lifetime from being a dining room to an art gallery, and from a ceremonial space to part of the hospital. It’s most famous moment though came in 1806 when Lord Nelson laid in state and received over 15,000 visitors. What a significant moment in British history.
What a day! Spending time with Ryan was perfect but the memories of past visits and the family stories just made the day fabulous. He’s such good company and is obviously a chip off the old block in his history interest. Could have spent so many more hours in his company just walking and talking and enjoying his company. Here’s to the next day out.