Archive for June, 2008

The Bouquet Tree

Monday, June 30th, 2008
The Bouquet Tree – currently sans-fleurs

Benedict asks:

“While wondering about the park, I often notice a bouquet and a card left by the big tree in the rose garden. Any ideas as to who what and why this mysterious offering is placed there?”

I’ve seen that a few times too – it is definitely refreshed on a regular basis, but I have no idea whose secret this is, or why it’s done.  I’d feel very iffy about peeking at the notes – but I’m sure that there’s a wildly romantic and/or tragic tale behind this floral gesture. If anyone knows the real story, let me know, otherwise I might just have to make one up and you know the sort of tripe I come up with when I go off on one…

Views From The Wheel (1)

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Lovely pictures are beginning to come the Phantom’s way, courtesy of the Wheel, and here are a few of the first. This one’s by LGM:

I find it almost impossible to imagine that I actually live just down the road from somewhere that looks like that – it’s like some stately home or Versailles or something – I feel that I should be listening to a Purcell voluntary whilst looking at it. And the angle it’s taken from makes it look as though the whole thing’s set in the countryside…

Methers’s pics have taken a slightly different approach. Vanbrugh Castle, a mere dot in the distance, seems at least a little closer here:


And I really love the framing of the Dome by the ironwork of the Wheel.

But what I like best are the angles we get of things that make us look at things in a different way. Take this shot, of the Pepys Centre directly below the Wheel:
I don’t know about you, but when I think of the ORNC, I think of angles. I think of mathematical precision, straight lines and rigorous perspective. But what’s that building just behind the curvy colonnade in the bottom left corner doing? For starters, I’m not quite sure what it is – it’s round the back (I have an inkling, but I need to do some more digging…) but just look at that angle. It doesn’t particularly bother me – but it does make me curious. I mean – who decided to put something at such a squiff in a place that is so very rigid in its design? I like to think that it was an individual decision.
I don’t know what it is or who built it – but I’m going to find out. I want to know who it was that had a little rebellion one day and built what is effectively a neo-classical shed on the wonk; a little fist of defiance to architectural conformity.

Greenwich Wheel

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Since I haven’t made it this weekend (I have been doing some splendid other stuff, about which more later…) I’ve appropriated Greenwich Lalas comments about the new wheel – which include some helpful tips. The photos are courtesy of Dave (naughty Phantom – zero effort on today’s post. Must try harder…) Anyway, Greenwich Lalas says:

“I went on Saturday afternoon and queued no more than 10 mins, and was given a gondola with just the two of us in (don’t waste your money on a private one, they pretty much will give that to you for free anyway).

I’d say 12 mins is a starting point not a guarantee, they’re not overly strict on how long you spend on it. We had more like 15 mins and 4 revolutions on it before the staff unloaded us.

I like it, it looks lovely and is a nice way to spend a little bit of time. But deary me, it’s a lot higher than it looks once you’re in one of those little pods, swinging away. We were postively queasy for the entire first revolution!”

So – sounds like it’s fun and pretty. I am especially looking forward to seeing it at night.

Anyone else been yet?

Lost Emails

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

I’m very red-faced just now – I’ve just accidentally deleted about four emails, sent yesterday (Saturday.) If you sent me something yesterday and I haven’t replied, chances are I’ve done something stupid with your mail. Could I ask you to send it again?

Royal Teas Discussion

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Folks – I’ve locked the comments on the Royal Teas discussion – it was turning into a mud-slingery and just going round in circles – and that’s not what I’m about. Discussion good. Flaming bad.

Greenwich Park Prods

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

It’s not just the major studios that find Greenwich a draw. I was delighted to see this group of students(?) filming their own music video (?) on this park bench a few days ago.

They got a beat going, then took it in turns to rap – not sure what it was about – I couldn’t hear properly – but I wish I could.
If any of you guys are reading this (unlikely, I know) and it’s on YouTube or similar – let me know – I’d like to see it…

Water Charges

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Lizzie asks:

Every Friday we go to Zin in Trafalgar Road for great value Chinese/Sushi meals.

Today they told us that they charge 50p for a glass of tap water.
Isn’t this illegal?


How much more than 50p have they lost in a badwill gesture?

The Phantom replies:

The Phantom-Find-Outer has found this out for me – that if they’re licensed to sell alcohol, they cannot refuse to serve you tap water, but they can charge for it, unless there is a special condition in their license.

Interestingly, The Phantom-Find-Outer tells me that under 2005 legislation, under Scottish law they HAVE to provide free tap water.

I agree with you though, Lizzie – this is a short-termist attitude and has not gone unnoticed.

Cautiously Good News

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Laura has just sent me a link to today’s Standard.

Do you reckon we count as part of the “unprecedented levels of opposition?’

Rock on…

Mark has found the press release for us.

I’m cautiously welcoming this, but I still think we need to keep a beady eye on things.
What do you think, guys?

Moving From Islington to Greenwich

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Kelley asks:

We live in Islington now and are looking at buying a flat in Greenwich, on Blackheath Road. I know the Estate agents want to make it sound fantastic, and the flat itself is fab, but what do you say about the location? It’s about five minutes from the Greenwich centre, but how about the Lewisham part? Any thoughts about the area?

The Phantom replies:

What a sound move – Islington to Greenwich. I applaud you, Kelley.

Blackheath Road is, I believe, part of the A2, so, be prepared to see traffic jams outside your window on a regular basis, and check the pollution levels. For noise, check the DEFRA noise mapping site ; (thanks Stevie) I’m not sure if there’s a corresponding pollution level site.

Contrary to popular belief, there are are whole swathes of ‘Lewisham’ that are almost posher than Blackheath and Greenwich – where Blackheath and Lewisham merge, it’s extremely smart, though the smartness does tail-off as the roads reach the town centre.

Having said that, Lewisham has good shopping – a vibrancy of chains and independents, and stuff going on. I guess it’s much like Islington – in that there are swanky areas and really poor bits, though the shopping does tend towards the downmarket – more Chapel Market than Upper Street…

There are good transport links – and in Blackheath Road, you’re a cough and a spit from Greenwich town centre (though five minutes would be pushing it unless you’re in a car), Blackheath, Deptford (with a great market and a growing artistic community) not to mention The Point (a splendid vista over London) and Greenwich Park.

But go and see the place – and ask around. Try the various local estate agents too.

Good luck moving in such uncertain times…

Underground Greenwich (8) The Snow Well

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Cathy asked (an embarrassingly long time ago):

“I recently read a plaque fixed to the old ice house at Holkham Hall in Norfolk which said that one of the earliest such structures in England was the ‘snow conserver’ built for James I At Greenwich. Any ideas on where it was and what happened to it?”

The Phantom has been pondering on this. It’s clearly an early Ice House – which was the ultimate expression of wealth and sophistication in the 17th Century – a way to cool a drink, or create a fabulous dessert out of season to amazeone’s guests.

Thing is, I can’t find that there was ever one at Greenwich built by James. The first Ice house was introduced in 1660 by King Charles – but in St James’ Park – I wonder if some Chinese-whispers have been going on here? Charles enjoyed the first ice cream in 1662, or so the Internet, which is never wrong, tells me. It doesn’t tell me where, but I haven’t heard of an ice house built in the grounds of the Queen’s House.

However, I have also been thinking about a section in A.D. Webster, which does take this back to Greenwich:

“…on the west of The Obeservatory (was called) “Snow Hill” from the Snow Well there.”

Apparently this is yet another part of Greenwich’s underground heritage (Olympic organisers, take note…) – an old well in an ancient artificial hollow, between Crooms Hill and the Observatory. It’s about 26 ft deep (how big is that in ‘hands’? Think how many horses you could get in that hole) – the bottom part is lines with 16th Century bricks; higher up they’re more recent.

About 4ft from the bottom, a little passage leads off towards St Mary’s Gate (that’s the main Greenwich entrance.) It’s about 4 1/2 feet high and 30 inches wide (a tight fit indeed) but Webster doesn’t say how long it is. I assume it’s another conduit so it goes some way – perhaps towards the old Stock Well?

I don’t think any of this well is visible any more, but the ancient hollow had another use – there used to be a whipping post there for naughty sailors “in frequent use to a late period.”

As to how old the hollow is, Webster seems to think that from the name, it could be Roman. Who can tell…

Anyone got any more on this enigma?