"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on September 22, 2018 by Sioux under General


The train journey from Liverpool to London was quiet and relaxing, with a short walk to the hotel from the station. It was Paul’s birthday and I had planned a trip up the Shard, in the hope of catching a sunset. However, this is England – sunsets are never guaranteed! Once we had checked in and unpacked, we headed out, bundled up like Michelin men! The weather had turned very nasty! 

Our first port of call was the observatory at Greenwich, and the meridian line. It was getting late so we went up the steep hill at a fair rate of knots! Well worth it though, and despite the cold, there was a long queue waiting to get photos on the ‘zero’ time line; so while Paul explored the observatory, I stood in the queue until it was our turn.

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Astronomical quadrant. Longitude at sea is ascertained by astronomical observation and the regular passage of the moon against the background of the stars can be read almost like the hands of a clock against its dial – if you know how & where to look! Sailors required extensive astronomical knowledge, mathematics and instruments to able to measure star positions accurately from a moving ship. Collecting this information was one of the main tasks of the Astronomers Royal at Greenwich. Over decades, thousands of observations were taken to create a basic data for the “lunar-distance method” of finding longitude. Astronomical quadrants were made large because they were made by hand: The longer the scale, the easier it was to make it accurate. 

Hailey’s Meridian line, determined in 1725, is the invisible line in Greenwich Park which divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth.

According to modern GPS systems, the line actually lies more than 100m to the east, cutting across a nondescript footpath near a litter bin. The simple explanation comes down to advances in technology – modern devices rely on satellite GPS technology introduced in 1984, and are better at calculating longitude than the one developed in 1721. 

This pillar was built in 1798 to assist astronomers with the aligning of the Observatorys’ meridian telescope, which was kept accurate by sighting a metal marker on the top of this pillar.

In 1851 a new telescope was installed which resulted in the meridian line moving slightly East, to its current position, and this pillar was then used as a support for a night sky camera. 

A plaque in the grounds of Greenwich, showing a panoramic view of the London skyline, from a hilltop vantage point. Paul overlayed his photo with one of the plaque. 

We didn’t hang about for long afterwards though as it was almost closing time, and there was a nice warm pub at the bottom of the hill, right alongside the Cutty Sark. Sadly we coudn’t go in to see the famous ship as it was closed for the day. The pub however was open and welcoming! 

The origins of putting models or objects in bottles can be traced as far back as the mid-18th century and people have always been fascinated as to how these models were placed in the bottles. In the case of the Fourth Plinth ship in a bottle at Greenwich, the artist prefers to keep his method a secret. The richly patterned fabric sails are symbolic of African dress and independence and are a trademark of the Anglo-Nigerian artist. 

One we had warmed up again, we headed back to the station and back to central London. Paul still didn’t know where we were headed but I knew the surprise of a sunset was not going to happen as the weather had turned so bitter that small snowflakes drifted past us as we wandered through the streets towards the Shard. 

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Once at the top, the views, despite the inclement weather, were magnificent. I was glad of the warmth of my jacket and beanie and Paul, who doesn’t usually feel the cold, was very grateful for the fact that I had advised him to dress warmly! The wind blowing in-between the panes of glass on the viewing deck was bitterly cold and once we had seen what we wanted to see, we headed down to ground level and found a warm pub close to the hotel where we had dinner! 

An enjoyable first night in London. Pity the weather didn’t play along! We had an early night as there was much ground to be covered the next day!


2 responses to “Sights and sounds of the big city #1 – a visit to London, but not the queen!”

  1. Paul says:

    Was certainly an enjoyable day out, despite the cold and wind. In future Sioux says dress up warm, listen to her. Realfeel temps were -1 deg

  2. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Awesome visit to London S!

    Great info you have shared once again thank you x x

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