London: My 40th Birthday Trip

Age is important only if you’re cheese or wine. Or something collectible.” – Solomon Short

Forty is almost like being a grownup.” – Solomon Short

Sunday 25th March, 2012.

Although it wasn’t my birthday until Monday 26th, myself, Emma, Erin, my mum and uncle Martin decided to go for a day out in London. Alysha had a dance competition in Hemel Hempstead, so wasn’t able to make it this time. We were up early, which wasn’t bad considering the clocks had gone forward, and left the house just before 09:00. Mum an Martin met us at the corner of our road, and we made the short walk to Watford Metropolitan station. After all the ‘Oyster‘ cards were topped up, or purchased in Martin’s case, we boarded our train. We changed onto the Jubilee Line train, at Finchley Road, and continued our journey to North Greenwich. We exited North Greenwich station and walked out onto ‘Peninsula Square‘. The weather was decidedly cloudy and chilly so, after a few photographs were taken, we went into the ‘O2 arena‘, for a look around and to warm up. We walked along the length of ‘Entertainment Avenue‘, which takes up over half the floor space at the O2, and waited for the coffee shops to open. At 11:00 we went into ‘Starbucks‘ for a drink and to feed Erin. Once we hadd finished, aand Erin had been changed, we headed back outside onto Peninsula Square. The weather had improved considerably, so more photographs were taken, before we made our way to the North Greenwich Pier, to catch the ‘Thames Clipper‘. Because we all had ‘Oyster‘ cards, we all got a 15% discount on our fare. After boarding the ‘Clipper’ we all sat at the back and got our first glimpse of the ‘Olympic Stadium‘ and the ‘Anish Kapoor Tower‘. We also saw the supports for the new Thames Cable Car. The journey to Greenwich Pier was quick and we were soon at the ‘Old Royal Naval College‘. More photographs were taken, before we headed into Greenwich village. As we passed the ‘Cutty Sark‘, Martin told me the story of the ships figurehead. Something that I was unaware of. The Cutty Sark’s figurehead is a young witch named ‘Nannie’ who was a character in the poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’, by Scottish poet Robert Burns. The poem concerns Tam, a farmer who, after an evening of drinking, was riding home on his horse called Meg. On his way, he saw that the churchyard was occupied by a collection of witches, with the Devil himself playing the bagpipes. Tam saw that among the group of witches, there was one which was young and beautiful. Her name was Nannie, and she wore only a ‘cutty sark’, Tam was bewitched and, in his excitement, he cried out “Weel done cutty sark!” The witches then pursued Tam who fled for his life to the bridge over the river Doon, for he knew that witches could not cross running water. Nannie was faster than the others and, as the mare galloped over the bridge, she seized it by the tail, which came off in her hand. Hence, the figurehead is always shown holding a horse’s tail in her left hand. After this, we headed to ‘Greenwich Market‘. Greenwich has been home to a Royal Charter Market, originally assigned to the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital, since the 19th December 1700. It used to be situated at the West Gate of the Old Royal Naval College, before moving to its current location in 1831. After a good look around we sat down to feed Erin and I bought Emma a coffee, while I had a pint of ‘Ghost Ship‘ Pale Ale, from the ‘Coach & Horses‘. Meanwhile, my mum and Martin went for another look around and bought some prints. When we were all back together, we headed to the front of the Market and bought some food. Emma, Martin and my mum had Roast Beef with all the trimmings, while I had a spicy beef stir fry with rice. We then had a look around some more shops and more things were purchased. We then made our way back towards the ‘Old Royal Naval College‘, and went into the ‘Discover Greenwich Centre‘. More photographs taken, before Erin was changed and we made our way back to Greenwich Pier. Once again we boarded the ‘Clipper‘ and enjoyed a trip down the Thames. We passed Canary Wharf, Surrey Docks, Bermondsey and Wapping before alightting at Tower Pier. With the sun beating down, we walked along the Thames, in front of the ‘Tower of London‘, towards ‘Tower Bridge‘. After crossing ‘Tower Bridge‘, we made our way onto the South Bank and continued heading West. Lots more photographs were taken, before we stopped at ‘Hay’s Galleria‘ for a coffee, and to feed Erin. We then continued along the Thames, passing ‘Southwark Cathedral‘, ‘The Golden Hinde‘, ‘The Clink Prison Museum‘ & ‘The Globe Theatre‘. We then crossed the Thames, via the ‘MillenniuM Bridge‘, and headed to ‘St. Paul’s Cathedral’. As we were all getting a bit tired, we decided it might be worth heading towards a station. Farringdon station seemed our best bet, as it was a Metropolitan Line station, and it was less than a mile away. So, that’s where we headed, passing the ‘Old Bailey‘, the ‘Musicians’ church‘ and ‘Smithfield Market‘ before reaching our destination. After a few minutes we boarded a train bound for Chesham and took this to Baker Street, where we changed onto a Watford train. We finally reached home at 19:00, at which point Erin passed out. Then Alysha came home, from her dance competition, looking exhausted. Lots of semi-final places but no medals or trophies, this time. Next Sunday Alysha has another dance competition, so hopefully she will win a few there. So, some food was ordered in, before we all turned in for the night.

All in all another great day in the World’s Best Capital.

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