Blimey – what a weekend. Normally I have at least something to moan about but this weekend Greenwich was just a brilliant place to be, especially if you’re a local. After years of scaffolding, hoardings, railings and no-go areas, at last stuff is being cleared away and we’re entering a small golden window of lovely stuff (before the market goes pear-shaped, of course.)
As one wonder disappears (thanks to Stephen for this fabulously stormy pic of Les Miserables film set being cleared away)
another wonder opens.
At last we were able to get inside the Cutty Sark and hoorah for them giving local people the opportunity to see it first (I did tweet about it, btw). Hundreds of us went – the queues were round the corner, and that was just ticket-holders – and the atmosphere was ‘excited.’
Of course it’s not finished yet, and everywhere there were empty cabinets, plinths with nothing on and vacant display boards, but hey, they’ve got three days… (frankly I think they’ve got a bit of a steep task to get it done by the time Her Maj arrives on Wednesday, but then I suspect that she has never actually ever seen a totally complete project…)
In fact I found it rather charming that wherever you looked there was something being done – it was often hard to tell which bits were artistically arranged artefacts and which bits were the real thing
And I know we worried about the big old cradle-thing that raises up the ship, but I have to say it’s blimmin cool to walk underneath that hull. I guess only time will tell whether it continues to hold the ship without too much damage, but it certainly seems to at the moment and there’s something truly awe-inspiring about seeing it from underneath:
I even like the way they’ve displayed the figureheads. They always used to be in regimented rows, but grouping them together like a football crowd really gives them dynamism. I just hope they can sort out the touch-screen display, which was very hyper-sentisive when I tried it and jumped about all over the place before you could read what was on it.
On the deck itself you get a better view than ever because it’s so much higher. I had several enthusiastic new members of staff, including the ship’s captain, coming up to talk, but far beit for me to suggest they tone it down a bit – I enjoyed it really, I just like to be able to stop and look at things without being jumped on. I suspect when the novelty’s worn off (it probably already has) they’ll be perfect.
I had an utterly monster time, and everyone who I’ve spoken to enjoyed it too. It went down especially well that after all that disruption, they did actually invite us locals first.
Oh – I forgot to mention the tea – served in giant enamel mugs. The cupcakes are, like most modern cupcakes, lovely to look at but tooth-rottingly sweet; I don’t think I’ll be having another one, but I’ll be back for tea now I can.
Which brings me to membership. Thanks to everyone who told me to join the NMM Friends – I’m not generally a ‘joiner’ but I’ve done it and recommend it for every local – as well as the existing entry to paid-for exhibitions and as many standing-the-meridian-line-as-much-as-you-like benefits, you also get in free to the Cutty Sark. Believe me, with the amount of friends and relations who have suddenly expressed a desire to come and visit ‘me’. I’ll need that.
It seems almost churlish, then to smile at the photo Meirion sent, but hey, everyone’s allowed to forget the ‘i before e’ rule occasionally:
If it had just been the Cutty Sark preview I’d have been a happy enough Phantom but this was the weekend that kept on giving. After my mug of ship’s tea, I wandered over to see the Vikings invading Greenwich for the first time in 1000 years.
The whole thing looked huge fun; I have sneaking feeling that in previous life I must have been a reenactor. I love watching but could never do it – I could never decide which period I’d want to play. I learned much from this splendid fellow, though, who told me that some of the Vikings actually stayed in their tents over the weekend and that no one ever wants to play Normans.
He also told me that the best bits are the fighting, the fires and the beer.
I loved the way they parked the longboat so that you could get the church spire in the background
but what I really wanted to see was St Alfege himself. The chap in the chainmail told me that in the afternoon he’d be martyred, with the added benefit of, just at the end, a bunch of Anglo Saxons bowling up to tough up the Vikings for the spoils (not convinced that actually happened, but hey, we need to remember the best bits about being a Viking).
Just as I was about to leave though, I heard rumour that he was dying specially for the BBC in St Alfege Park, so I scooted over quick
and there he was under a cherry tree. Sadly I’d missed the actual boning, but I did see him lying very martyr-like under a cherry tree being scattered with petals by sad Anglo Saxons so I can hardly complain.
I have a horrid feeling I might have to watch Songs of Praise for once.
Was it me or were there just sights a-gogo this weekend?
I mean – what was this Gypsy caravan convoy doing along Traf Road?
They’re on their way to Kent from Durham, apparently but I know nothing more.
All in all it was certainly a memorable day to have a wedding:
I confess that after Saturday’s craziness, I was a bit wondered-out for our own local London Marathon the next day and I didn’t bother with my camera. But I went along, cheered and shouted, particularly enjoyed the Kodo drummers and renewed my annual vow never to be even tempted to take part.
So – what’s next, then? Well, the podules are being tested on the cable car, the Queen’s coming on Wednesday, the Cutty Sark properly opens on Thursday, there’s a new exhibition opening at the NMM and the sun’s out.
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