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May 22nd 2015
Published: May 25th 2015
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Today was set aside to re-visit the Royal Museums at Greenwich - the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen's House Art Gallery and the Cutty Sark. We have visited these museums before but, with my post-retirement volunteer role at Cooks' Cottage, I wanted to see the Time and Longitude Gallery again because of their relevance to Captain Cook's voyages of discovery. I especially wanted to see K1 - Cook's 'trusty friend the Watch'.

With the museums not opening until 10.00am we were able to have a bit of a sleep in and a leisurely breakfast this morning. As we were walking to Greenwich Park we passed a barber's shop. With Bernie desperately in need of a haircut we popped in to see about making an appointment for later in the day. One of the two barbers cutting hair pointed to a bench seat indicating that Bernie could have his hair attended to shortly. Within a couple of minutes a third barber appeared and trimmed Bernie's hair and beard. It cost £12.00 though which is pretty pricey considering I can do much the same job at home for nothing!

With Bernie's hair tidied up we continued on our way to the park and made our way up the hill to the Royal Observatory ... which used to be free, but now costs £9.50/adult and the Cutty Sark costs £13.50. As we were planning to visit both we saved ourselves a few quid by purchasing the combined ticket for £18.50. I knew from the research that I had done before our trip that K1 was part of a special exhibit at the National Maritime Museum 'Ships, Clocks and Stars: The Quest for Longitude' that concluded on the 4th of January. I was hoping that, at the conclusion of the special exhibit, it had been returned to the Time and Longitude Gallery at the Royal Observatory.

We made our way through the Meridian Courtyard and the Camera Obscura and then into Flamsteed House which houses the Time and Longitude Gallery. We found the chronometers that John Harrison built - known as H1, H2, H3 and H4. The first three are hard to miss because they are HUGE! It was only when he refined his design and built H4 that he made a device that was sufficiently accurate and portable to be practical for keeping time aboard ship. Hmmn, no K1. We headed downstairs into the Time and Society Gallery where I asked a gallery attendant about K1. I was very disappointed to be told that K1 is currently on tour in America!!

From the observatory we made our way down to the Maritime Museum which is set up to be very family friendly and has exhibits showcasing Britain's most famous naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson, and maritime trade with Asia, in particular the impact of the East India Company. Now that the Ships, Clocks and Stars exhibit has finished there is nothing at all (not that we could find anyway) at the Maritime Museum about Britain's great explorer, navigator and cartographer, Captain James Cook.

Next stop, the Queen's House Art Gallery. The Queen's House was Inigo Jones's first classical building in Britain and was designed for James I's queen, Anne of Denmark, but finished in 1638 for Charles I's queen, Henrietta Maria. It features a beautiful spiral staircase known as the Tulip Stairs. At last we found some reference to Captain Cook and his voyages of discovery in this building. The gallery is currently hosting a temporary exhibition 'The Art & Science of Exploration, 1768-80'. The exhibition includes paintings, prints and drawings by specially commissioned artists on Captain Cook’s voyages of discovery and the portrait of Captain James Cook by Nathaniel Dance.

After the Queen's House it was off to see the Cutty Sark, the world's sole surviving tea clipper. When we were last at Greenwich she was sitting on her keel in a dock filled with water. Unfortunately this was putting too much weight on the keel and her hull was gradually being squashed out of shape. The ship has now been lifted and is being supported by multiple struts around the hull. Following the conservation work and lifting it is now possible to walk underneath the keel and see the ship from every angle.

As we walked to the Cutty Sark we noted signs to the Painted Hall and Chapel of the University of Greenwich so we made our way back to those buildings. I'm sure before our last visit to London that I read about the Painted Hall, but we didn't visit/couldn't find it when we were last in London. It is also possible that it may have been closed at the time for restoration works? Anyhow, today we were able to see both the hall and the chapel with both definitely worth a visit. The choir practice taking place in the chapel was an added bonus.

More socialising tonight. We made arrangements to catch up with Robin and Sandra's son, Paul, and his partner Sabi at the 'Inside' restaurant just around the corner from the Novatel. Very convenient. After another lovely meal - three course set menu two nights in a row! - we went to one of the local pubs and had a couple of drinks outside by the Thames on a balmy, English evening. Our run of luck with uncharacteristically lovely London weather continues; it has never rained when we have been visiting London!

Steps for the day 14,049 (9.57 km)

Additional photos below
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26th May 2015
Tulip staircase, Queen's House

The ups and downs of travel
I love architecture and Inigo Jones, and this is a fabulous staircase!, and as a traveler, how thrilling to stand on the Prime Meridian! How fun to let your volunteer work at Cooks' Cottage help direct your exploration in England. Too bad the K1 watch and "The Quest for Longitude" (how delicious) weren't there for your visit, but how lovely that you caught some Cookisms in the Art Gallery. Hope your weather luck holds.

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