London: Greenwich & The Thames Barrier

Saturday 13th October, 2012

Myself, Emma, Erin and Uncle Martin decided to take a trip to Greenwich. We took our usual route of the Metropolitan Line to Finchley Road, where we changed onto the Jubilee Line for the rest of our journey to North Greenwich. It was at this point that we were informed of ‘security incident’ at Canary Wharf, meaning that the Jubilee Line would terminate at London bridge. So, Plan B was quickly formulated; Breakfast at Borough Market, then the Thames Clipper to North Greenwich. This plan then changed back to Plan A, a few minutes later, when the ‘incident’ was resolved meaning that the train would continue on its merry way. Finally arriving at North Greenwich, we made our way into the O2 Arena, where had a coffee and a snack, vefore heading off to catch the Cable Car across the River Thames. Having an ‘Oyster Card’ meant no queuing for tickets, so we headed for the lift which would take us to the Departure Deck. The seats on the Emirates Air Line are comfortable and the entire trip lasts about 12 minutes. I took a short video of the first half of our journey, which offered amazing views of Stepney, the Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier to Thamesmead and beyond. We then walked around the Royal Victoria Docks towards the Excel centre, which next week will be full of Trekkers, Klingons, Ferengi and other species from around the Galaxy. We then traversed the Pedestrian Bridge at Royal Victoria Dock, in order to take some photographs. Unfortunately, no aeroplanes were taking off from London City Airport, so it was just views of the local cityscape that I could photograph. I did manage to get a shot of MillenniuM Mills, which I had last visited in 1988, when it proved itself as a worthy backdrop for Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Destination Docklands’ concert. From here we headed South onto the North Woolwich Road and into the Thames Barrier Park. This was my first visit to the Thames Barrier, so I took many photographs as I tried to capture the wonder of human achievement against nature. The Thames Barrier is the second largest movable flood barrier in the World and it was opened on May 8th 1984, by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

From here we made our way to Pontoon Dock DLR station, where we caught the DLR to Poplar. We changed at Poplar and caught a DLR to Cutty Sark. After exiting the station we headed into Greenwich Market to grab a bite to eat. Eating on the hoof, we headed for the Cutty Sark and took many photos and I bumped into someone from Watford. After a quick chat, we went to buy our tickets, which was perfectly timed as the heavens opened moments later. Now, many people have gone on about the ‘greenhouse’ or ‘carbuncle’ that now surrounds the World famous Tea Clipper, but I found it added to the Cutty Sark, rather than detracted from her. It also opens up the drydock, so that you get a true sense of the sheer size and scale of this historic vessel. This also allows you to get some unique views and perspectives, for your photographs, that you would never normally get os a ship. The ship herself has been loving restored but I think that maybe more could have been done. The tickets were very reasonably priced, as were the items in the gift shop. Apart from the £199 bottle of 25 year old Whisky, that Emma said no to me buying. As we made our way onto the Thames Clipper, which was to take us to London Bridge, the ‘PS Waverley’ sailed passed Greenwich, giving us a brief amount of time to take a photograph. The PS Waverley is the World’s only remaining seagoing Paddle Steamer and made an appearance in the 2011 film, ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’.

As the Thames Clipper dropped us at London Bridge, the PS Waverley was being tugged passed the HMS Belfast and, as we alighted, Tower Bridge began to raise her bascule. At this point, quite close to London Bridge itself, the tug began to turn all 230+ feet of the ‘PS Waverley‘, so that she could sail back down the River Thames, beneath Tower Bridge. This was the first time that I had seen Tower Bridge raise her bascule. From here we went into the Hay’s Galleria, where we went to the Christmas Shop. With the light waning, we turned Eastward along the River Thames and headed for Westminster. The setting sun gave us some great moments to catch some dusk photographs, before the entire cityscape of London was bathed in the bright illuminations that make her such a magnificent city to visit. With the time approaching 19:30, we headed for Westminster Tube Station and headed for home.

Once again another fantastic and interesting day in our great Capital.

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