Drafty and drizzly began the day as we boarded our first train heading to the city passing stranded commuters held up by a traffic incident. Our second train a lot more comfortable, the disabled seating is in first class. We’d just about left the county before we started on our sausage sandwiches. Big Sis grabbed a copy of the complimentary local paper for its taxing cryptic crossword and once coffee had been purchased we taxed our brains (more like she exercised hers and I confused mine) only one clue not answered. Being engrossed we hadn’t noticed the time, our train was speed restricted due to animals on the line earlier, instead of arriving at 10.20 it was 10.45. Hey ho.
Map in hand we three stepped forth to Tower Wharf to catch the river taxi to Greenwich. What an easy, slick, comfy operation! We were listening to a guide inform a group. That’s the downside of independent travel, you don’t discover the tidbits of anecdotes. Seamlessly we were there and before us was the vessel floating on her glass ocean. Prior to coming people had remarked how small the ship seemed, but not so to me. We found our way in and the lift down to the cafe beneath the keel. Hmm, first disappointment of the day, the selection was very limited and rather artisan not to mention a little over priced. Still it was quite something sitting beneath the copper/zinc coated keel, it was fascinating seeing the shaping and riveting, the rudder was hardly very wide at all, and the prow seemed square not really shaped to cut through the water. There was an impressive collection of figureheads, on show, such fun colourful characters.
Up a level and into the hold, reading various aspects like the crew numbers, miles travelled, how the tea crates were packed, life at the time and the importance of trade. Think Tetris on a grand scale. Did you know she transported more than tea? The tween deck spacious and informative with artefacts from her glory days and the history of her owner. Up on deck the livestock was housed, as well as the galley, crew bunks, carpenters workshop, bosun’s, officers and captains quarters, there is even a head! Peering in at the wooden crew bunks they looked a bit more spacious than the tallships I’ve sailed! The deck was a lot wider and more spacious than expected although one or two of the ropes coiled and fastened to their pegs would not have passed our Bosun’s inspections. Accessibility was very good, with only the quarter decks inaccessible and I didn’t notice the visual alternatives. It was pleasingly atmospheric being surrounded by the wood, teak and rope, the brain managed to recall names of various elements of rigging, sails and infrastructure. Woohoo!
We moved on to the Royal Maritime Museum, we perused the extensive collection of Nelson related items, the Jutland exhibition, the Royal Barge (the jubilee barge Gloriana was based on her) used my one of the George’s, which had another barge following along the Thames bringing the orchestra who played Handle’s Water Music on loop (18th century iPod, lol), the Miss Britain III speed record vessel. A section about the yachts in the America’s Cup race. I must admit I find these types of museums detached and a little dis interesting. I was surprised there was practically nothing about knots and rope work, nothing on how sailing works, how is harnesses the wind and makes it move, what a rudder does.
We ambled our way back to the gastro pub practically beneath the Cutty’s stern, the Gipsy Moth for dinner, two thick slices of ham off the bone, two mighty fried eggs and triple cooked chips. Drool worthy and the comfortable ambience, pleasant staff and surroundings most welcome. Before long we were back aboard the water taxi, zooming up river to Tower (at least our stops were pretty noticeable) and meandering back to the station. Giggle of the day? The staff disabled loo at the train station, parked on the throne taking care of business I looked to my right for the signs of loo paper, none there, maybe behind me standing atop the cistern, nope. I glanced across my wheelchair beside the loo and there level with the wheel was the circular container. No chance of reaching it!
On the return journey Big Sis and I attempted the other cryptic crossword in the paper. How did we fair, erm, well, our words fitted the clues and the space but were wrong.
Collapsed into bed 10.45pm, ready to be flat and still.