A Sunday Morning in Greenwich

My in-laws arrived from South Africa on Saturday and yesterday morning we went to Greenwich.  I usually take visitors straight to Greenwich Park which is one of my favourite places in London but we’d already all gone there together in 2008 so this time we decided to go into Greenwich Town Centre.  We started off by having breakfast at Wetherspoon’s The Gate Clock and I’d really recommend Wetherspoon pubs if you are looking for an inexpensive eating experience in London.  Breakfasts range from £1.49 for a bacon roll and cup of tea or coffee but we usually have their traditional breakfast with bacon, egg, sausage and beans.   I do love my cooked breakfasts!

Following breakfast we went for coffee at Starbucks and I bumped into Jon and Jennifer.  With 8 million people living in Greater London and who knows how many more visitors, it is so random that you could bump into anyone!!  I met Jon and Jennifer on the evening I went for the Sunset Flight on the London Eye and Jon was one of the prize winners.  It was nice to see them and they gave us a couple of tips on what to do in Greenwich.

Greenwich Market 02

After coffee, we went along to Greenwich Market on Jon and Jennifer’s recommendation.

Greenwich Market 03Greenwich Market 01

Greenwich Market is one of the nicest markets I have visited in years.  The first part is a food court and the food was absolutely mouth watering!  There was food from many different corners of the world including Poland, Spain and local delicacies too.  From what I could understand, the food section is under threat and the owners of the market want to reduce the food stalls from 12 to 6 to make way for more arts and craft stalls.  You can sign a petition to save the food market.

Greenwich Market 04

I really enjoyed the arts and crafts section of the market.  South African markets have a very definite focus on African and ethnic items so it was lovely to see a more cottage-like or retro look in this market.  Don’t get me wrong, I love South African markets but I liked seeing all the unique items in this market.

Greenwich Market 10Greenwich Market 05  Greenwich Market 09Greenwich Market 06

Stephen saw me looking with great interest at the Steam Punk outfits above and asked if I would fit into them.  How sweet.  The man obviously has no idea of how big I really am as those dresses would not make it past my shoulders or my knees.  Still, they are rather gorgeous and I would have loved to wear something like that 15 years ago.

Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe

After the market, we took a walk through the streets of Greenwich.  I loved the look of this old sweet shop and it was next to Gourmet Burger Kitchen which I wrote about two years ago.  GBK still do the best burgers on Earth and you can often find 2-for-1 specials if you search on Google.

Greenwich town centreGreenwich town centre

We bumped into the Pearly Kings and Queens of St Pancras which I thought was all very exciting as we had just seen one of the Pearly Kings on television the night before.

Pearly Kings and Queens of St Pancras

Only in England…

Lewin Gate - Old Royal Naval College GreenwichGreenwich Foot TunnelGreenwich Foot TunnelCanary Wharf 

We walked down to the piers as we were going to take a boat ride on the Thames.  It will be quite pretty there once they have finished working on the Cutty Sark but it looks like a building site at the moment!  They do have Lewin Gate in front of the Old Royal Naval College which is a lovely little garden.  That is where  I took the photo of the monument above. The domed structure is the entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.  I had never even heard of the foot tunnel before but Jon showed me a photo of it and you can walk under the Thames and come out just in front of Canary Wharf!!  I really wanted to take the walk but my in-laws and Stephen weren’t so I shall have to do that some other time.

I shall have to tell you all about our boat ride on the Thames next time!

The Streets of Novi Sad

I was chatting to a new Twitter friend this week and was explaining that as an expat, I am still very much in the honeymoon period with my relationship with London but as I’d had two affairs with New York and Novi Sad, I did not know for how long I would be faithful.  That is exactly how I feel!  I might have only spent four very short days in Novi Sad but I fell in love and haven’t been able to think of much else since my return to London.  I would really love to live and work in another foreign city and I wouldn’t say no to either New York or Novi Sad.

The strangest thing is that I didn’t actually spend much time being a tourist during my visit to Serbia as the visit was primarily about visiting with Maja and attending the festival.  Nevertheless, we did manage to drag ourselves out of bed by noon on the Sunday and we took a walk through the streets of Novi Sad towards the city centre.

Remember, you can click on all of the photographs for larger images.

Masarikova Street, Novi Sad
Corner of A. Teodorovića and Masarikova Streets, Novi Sad

The first thing that struck me about the city was how much graffiti there was on every available surface, except for the churches of course.  Much of the graffiti was political and referred to things such as the Kosovan independence and there were many Serbian crosses around too (see: Only Unity Saves the Serbs).  Being the bad, tired and hot blogger that I was, I naturally failed to take any photos of those specific examples!

The Slovak Lutheran Church, Novi Sad
The Slovak Lutheran Church, Novi Sad

There are many different religions in Novi Sad and each is represented by its own place of worship. Above is the Slovak Lutheran Church which was built in 1886 in the Baroque-Classicist style.

Below is the Serbian Orthodox Church of Dormition of Holy Theotokos which is simply known locally as Uspenjskai  It was built between 1765 and 1776 in the Baroque style and is right next to the Serbian National Theatre.

Uspenjska crkva Novi Sad (Serbian Orthodox Church of Dormition of Holy Theotokos) Uspenjska crkva Novi Sad (Serbian Orthodox Church of Dormition of Holy Theotokos)

Most of the people in Serbia are Orthodox Christians and most belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Ulica Šafarikova Ulica Šafarikova

One thing you will notice in Serbia is that you can see Cyrillic everywhere.  One unexpected but predictable outcome of my visit to Serbia is that I fell in love with Cyrillic and indeed, with the Serbian language.  I’ve been secretly learning how to speak a bit of Serbian so that I can hold a conversation with Maja next time I visit.  So far, I can say the basic greetings and kreditna kartica (credit card).  Don’t ask me why the language programme decided that should be one of the first things a tourist should learn.  The street sign above says Ulica Šafarikova or Šafarikova Street.

The Reformed Christian Church, 5 Šafarikova Street, Novi Sad The Reformed Christian Church, 5 Šafarikova Street, Novi Sad

This was actually one of my favourite churches but it was difficult to get a good shot of it.  It was built in 1865 and is built in the Neo-Gothic style.  I suppose it is just typical that an ex-coffin kid such as me would be so attracted to the Gothic style.

The Jewish Synagogue, 9 Jevrejska Street, Novi SadThe Jewish Synagogue, 9 Jevrejska Street, Novi Sad

This is the Jewish Synagogue which was built in 1906 in what is apparently the Hungarian Secessionist style but this synagogue is the fifth to be built on this site.  I think it is gorgeous and it is certainly one of the major landmarks in Novi Sad.  It is really heartbreaking but apparently it is no longer used for services and it is used as a concert hall.  However, the synagogue is at the disposal of the Jewish community (numbering only about 400) should they ever require to hold services there.

Once again I struggled to get a decent photo of the building which is a pity because it really is exquisite.

Jevrejska Street, Novi Sad
Jevrejska Street, Novi Sad

This is Ulica Jevrejska or Jevrejska Street (translated as Jewish Street).  I took this photo to show a contrast between the pristine condition of the religious institutions and the rest of the buildings in Novi Sad.

Post Office, Novi SadPost Office, Novi Sad

I think this was meant to be a post office but that it has been left in an unfinished state for years and years.  Hopefully Maja will be able to clarify the exact details.  I thought it was incredible that the building could be so beautiful but they obviously ran out of either funds and/or interest and never quite finished it.

Next we turned into the city centre of Novi Sad towards Trg Slobode or Liberty Square.  There was a lot to see there so I will leave that for another day.

Isle of Wight: Carisbrooke Castle (part 2)

Carisbrooke Castle - Great Hall and Constable's Lodging

After walking around a bit in the grounds of Carisbrooke Castle for a while, we decided to hurry inside as it was beginning to rain.  The two-storey building to the left is known as the Great Hall and was built in the late thirteenth century.  The Great Hall would have been the heart of the castle in medieval times and most people ate there.  The three story building in front is the Constable’s Lodging which was built in 1397 and is in the medieval style. 

Carisbrooke Castle - Charles I's bedroom Carisbrooke Castle MuseumCarisbrooke Castle Museum Carisbrooke Castle Museum - East Cowes Castle ClockCarisbrooke Castle Museum

The Great Hall now houses the Carisbrooke Castle Museum which is spread over a couple of floors.  Much of the museum is dedicated to King Charles I who was imprisoned in the castle in the last year of his life. The story of King Charles I is fascinating and I would really recommend visiting the Wikipedia link above.  In modern terms, Charles I thought he had a God-given right to extort money and privileges from his subjects and that his power should be absolute.  A bunch of people called the Parliamentarians (or Roundheads) disagreed and this lead to the First and Second Civil Wars.  Charles I escaped to the Isle of Wight in 1647 but was imprisoned and finally returned to London for his execution.  His daughter, Princess Elizabeth, died in Carisbrooke Castle in 1950 after catching a chill.

With the rain clearing up somewhat, we took a walk around some of the more functional areas of the castle.  This is where much of the work would have been done in the past and the buildings were incredibly well preserved.

Carisbrooke Castle - Well House

This is the Well House and the well’s treadmill is still powered by Carisbrooke’s famous donkeys.

Carisbrooke Castle - famous Carisbrooke donkeysCarisbrooke Castle - famous Carisbrooke donkeys

They were rather cute little things and apparently they are given lots of rest and not overworked.  They looked to be happy enough.

Carisbrooke Castle - Coach House Tea Room

This is the old coach house which is now a tea room.  We were having far too much fun “castle hopping” to stop for tea though as our next stop was the Keep and Motte.

Carisbrooke Castle 28

With a quick snap of the south east tower, we moved over to the north eastern corner of the castle for the most awesome views yet.  More on that next time!

A Visit to London's Science Museum

Science Museum - London 01

The best thing about London, without a doubt, is that most of the museums and art galleries have free entry.  Sometimes they contain paid exhibits (which usually run for a limited time and need the financial input) but you can genuinely spend days on end wondering around amazing permanent exhibits for free.  You certainly need days on end too!  We spent three hours wondering around the Science Museum and we barely managed to cover a fraction of this massive building that stretches over seven levels. 

I’m going to start off by telling you that the Science Museum is pretty amazing.  It is the sort of place that would be worth it even if you were paying a pretty hefty entrance fee because it is just jam-packed full of technology and history.  There were a couple of areas that were undergoing refurbishments when we visited but I see that those were open and completed in time for the summer. 

Hopefully I can manage to convince you that it is not only a place for men and school children on school excursions!

Energy Hall

Mill Engine by Burnley Ironworks Company, 1903
Mill Engine by Burnley Ironworks Company, 1903

Steam power played a massive part in the history and development of this country and they have some absolute gems in this collection.   Walking through the energy hall reminded me of so many things I’ve learned about in the history and traditions of England: factories, mills, steam engines, the industrial revolution, Manchester, the cotton industry and for some absolutely unknown reason, Oliver Twist.  If for no other reason, visit the Energy Hall for some absolutely brilliant photographic opportunities!  I love the photo above because that wheel was spinning really fast and the photo came out great.

The Atmospheric Pumping Engine (below right) is one of the oldest remaining remnants of these steam engines.  The date they gave is 1791 but I don’t know if that was the commissioning or decommissioning date.

Click on the photos for larger views.

Parsons' steam turbine with generator, 1891Atmospheric engine by Francis Thompson, 1791
Parsons' steam turbine with generator, 1891 //
Atmospheric Pumping Engine by Francis Thompson, 1791

Compound steam engine by J and E Hall, c.1838Compound steam engine by J and E Hall, c.1838
Compound steam engine by J and E Hall, c.1838

I'm such a geek.  I loved that this machine was from Dartford because that is where I live now!  Dartford was indeed an industry hub for several hundred years and in fact, they are just tearing down the last remaining factories in the area now. 

Exploring Space

Science Museum - London 07

There was a lot to see in the Exploring Space section but the lighting was not conducive to taking photos.  Anyway, I met an astronaut!!!  This is Gene Cernan who was the last man on the moon as he was the last astronaut to re-enter the Apollo Lunar Module during the final manned lunar landing.  He was very interested at first to know why I was taking photos and making notes but seemed to lose interest once he learned that I was just a lowly blogger.  Sheesh, thank goodness he was an astronaut and not just an actor or something!!!

Deep Blue Restaurant

Science Museum - London 08

We had lunch in the Deep Blue Restaurant.  It is a lovely looking restaurant and I just had to eat somewhere that looked so futuristic but it was slightly on the ridiculously expensive and overpriced side!


If you read my post about visiting the National Air and Space Museum in DC last June, then you’ll know that I am crazy about old air craft and space ships and so on.  So visiting the third floor Flight exhibition was akin to Charlie Bucket entering the chocolate factory.

A V Roe's Triplane, 1909
A V Roe's Triplane, 1909

This paper and wood airplane was flown by Alliot Verdon Roe on 13 July 1909 at Lea Marshes, Essex.  Roe was the first Briton to fly an all British aeroplane, the Roe I.

 Montgolfier balloon, 4th June, 1783Science Museum - London 11 
Replica of Montgolfier balloon, 4th June, 1783

The Montgolfier brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent using what became known as the montgolfière style hot air balloon.

Beta Airship Car, 1910Vickers Vimy biplane, 1919
Beta Airship Car, 1910 // Vickers Vimy biplane, 1919

They suggest spending 30 minutes in the Flight exhibition but I have to disagree! I would suggest at least an hour or two as there is just so much to see and so much to take in and absorb too.  The exhibit starts with the very first flights in human history and moves right through modern airplanes and technology so yes, 30 minutes is definitely not enough!

Science Museum - London 17Science Museum - London 18 
Air Traffic Control Desk // Jet Engine


Figurehead of HMS Northstar Science Museum - London 20
Figurehead of HMS Northstar

I have been interested in shipping and maritime history ever since I visited the Merseyside Maritime Museum in December 2008.  The museum suggests that you spend 15 minutes in the Shipping section and I would really disagree.  This section is full of models, artefacts and shipping paraphernalia and you’d be doing yourselves a real disservice to just rush through this section.  Realising this, we decided to move on and vowed to return to the Science Museum one day to get a real look at this section.

Computing and Mathematics

Science Museum - London 23Science Museum - London 22

The Computing and Mathematics sections are two sections sitting next to each other on the second floor.  They are really interesting but not especially good for photos, hence the lack of photos.  We spent a good hour in these two sections (and once again, the museum undersells them by recommending 15 minutes each) as my friend Patrick and I are just geeky like that!  If you are interested in computers, logic or mathematics, I would recommend that you go first to this section as it is really interesting.

Making the Modern World

Our last stop in our tour of the Science Museum was the Making the Modern World exhibit.  I didn’t make it very far because right there at the front of the hall was Stephenson’s Rocket.

Stephensons Rocket

Stephensons RocketStephensons Rocket

Until the age of 9, I lived in Rainhill, near Liverpool, which is where the Rainhill trials took place in 1829.  The trials took place to determine the best and most competent design of steam engine and Stephenson’s Rocket won.  It was not the first steam engine ever but it set the standard for steam locomotives for years to come.

The Rocket has a very special place in my heart which is possibly why i couldn’t stop photographing and touching it. 

That concludes our visit to the Science Museum! It is a brilliant museum and well worth the visit.  Actually, it is well worth several visits!