I’m truly grateful that Lockdown has enabled me to spend more time with the family and as it happens, it’s also October half term. While the usual family entertainment options are limited, we’re still able to make the most of outdoor life. Lucky for us, we’re in a location that allows us to enjoy some of the local delights not far from where we live in the South East, one such delight is Greenwich.
Those who have visited will know its sights are a pleasant assault on the senses. You feel as though you’re stepping into hundreds of years of history, full of ornate buildings and timeless architecture like the Naval College, The Maritime Museum, The Royal Observatory, and Greenwich Market. If that’s not for you, instead you could take a stroll along the Thames, hop into a boat, explore the Greenwich Peninsula by cable car or walk through the Royal Park and take in the wondrous sweeping views over London.
Many places are COVID friendly, although you may have to book in advance, as we did if you want to visit some of the impressive venues. It’s difficult to choose one favourite place in the area. Maritime Greenwich, after all, is also a World Heritage Site, complimented by a list of equally extraordinary sites from around the world like the Taj Mahal, Venice and Victoria Falls, to name a few, it is truly a gem and something to behold. You could easily spend the entire day here, just taking in all the charm and beauty of the place so if you do decide to go, you may want to plan your visit.
We had also reserved tickets to attend a book reading event at the Cutty Sark for the release of new children’s picture book, At Sea Without Tea which we’ll do a little review on later. For now, I'd like to talk about our time exploring the world famous tea clipper. Cutty Sark's name comes from a poem about a scantily clad witch who chases a farmer, but the actual name itself is an old fashioned Scottish word for a "short nightdress", quite an interesting choice for a ship in my view.
In all my time in London, I’ve actually never been inside the ship before despite only living about 20 minutes away, so it was a great chance to do some exploring. Cutty Sark is an engineering marvel in itself, a spectacular example of a mid 19th-century sailing vessel, designed for speed.
She now sits in a drydock suspended in midair, letting visitors walk along, beneath her keel. So, after the reading event which takes place on the lowest level, we took time out to tour the decks and what’s more, there are lots of educational videos to watch and interactive games to take part in, which is a great way to keep the kids engaged for a couple of hours. She is in excellent condition for a ship that’s been in service for 85 years, but that’s because she’s had many restorations over the years.
The ship moved from owner to owner, taking on various identities and routes. Towards the end of her sailing days, transporting wool from Australia to England, and subsequently less lucrative routes, she was saved from the scrapheap by a wealthy patron for use as a training ship for cadets, before being permanently docked in Greenwich where she's been since 1954, for the public to enjoy.
If you’re thinking of visiting, it’s worth checking out Royal Museums Greenwich for a start to plan your day.