The ‘Sympathy Powder’ and the green, green grass of Greenwich.

30 Oct

I’m going to keep this post relatively short ‘n’ sweet. The reason being that I think I’m coming down with the flu (appropriate for Halloween, I suppose, but not quite as fun as going to a party). I could just be a bit paranoid, as we did go to see Contagion this week (not a barrel of laughs, I can tell you). Here’s hoping I don’t have a freakishly deadly strain of bat-pig flu!

Moving swiftly on; this weekend we went to Greenwich! Which is beautiful, by the way. You wouldn’t think such lovely green spaces existed in London. Below is a sort of summary of the trip.

Things I’ve learned…

Gorgeous view over London from Greenwich hill

  • John Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal to work at The Royal Observatory. His work was incredibly important, as he helped create a sense of time as we know it today. He was paid a pretty crummy £100 a year (this was apparently a really measly amount even in the 17th century).
  • Sir Isaac Newton was a thief. Supposedly he stole some of John Flamsteed’s work when he hadn’t even finished it! Flamsteed managed to pinch all but 100 copies of his work back only to burn them as some sort of weird ‘sacrifice’ to the heavens.
  • Early attempts at time-keeping were really, really dumb. Some ships used to scratch a dog with a knife before setting out on the high seas. They’d take the dog on board with them, and when they thought it might be noon in London they’d dip the knife into something called ‘sympathy powder’ and the dog would yelp in pain. Apparently they took this to mean that it was noon in London. I don’t get it either.
  • Even lovely Greenwich isn’t immune to tacky tourist spots. There was a ‘D-Day Landing Experience’ (which was essentally just a simulator that had been painted a shade of stereotypical army green) outside the visitors’ centre.
  • There will be lots of tourists at The Royal Observatory, and it will inevitably annoy you that they walk through all the old buildings at the speed of light and head straight for the Prime Meridian for a photo opp.

Things I haven’t learned…

An early telescope

  • What longitude is. Watched a two minute video about it in a vain attempt to understand but it went right over my head. Science related stuff has never been my strong point.
  • How to successfully plan a journey. Much to A’s dismay, we accidentally took the long route to get to Greenwich. My brain just doesn’t seem to process the short-cuts on the Tube map. D’oh.

So that’s what happened this weekend. We went to Greenwich and we liked it! We didn’t buy tickets for the planetarium, which I regret, but I’m sure we’ll go again at some point. If anyone has any tips to help me understand longitude, do let me know…

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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Travel


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