Category: Holidays & Travels

Painted Hall Ceiling @ Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich

Museum

Painted Hall Ceiling @ Old Royal Navy College – Greenwich

Old Royal Navy College, photo by JMorton

Old Royal Navy College, photo by JMorton

Peter and I went to see a once in a lifetime conservation project at the Old Royal Navy College in Greenwich.

The last conservation was done in the 1950s and they reckon the next one will be in 100 years time.

There were scaffoldings everywhere, which are securely fastened and safe and convenient enough for the public to trod on to go near the ceiling and admire England’s most comprehensive and greatest decorative painting.

Close up dome ceiling, photo by PH Morton

 

Thus, it earned the sobriquet of UK’s Sistine Chapel.

They are currently cleaning and conserving 40,000 square feet of the most amazing allegorical work that used to deliver a strong political message about the monarchy, religion, navigation,  maritime power, and commerce, amongst other things.

The project was instigated by Queen Mary II, who died before its fruition.  Nevertheless, she will always be remembered for it as her image together with King William III, her husband, is depicted in the middle of the ceiling murals along several gods and goddesses.

A relatively unknown artist was commissioned to design the ceiling decoration.  He was Sir James Thornhill, who was knighted for his efforts.

He was paid a princely some £1 per square metre of work on the halls and £3 for the ceiling per square meter.

Thornhill did not work alone.   He had an assistant and hired specialist painters to finish the work as towards the middle of it Thornhill started to receive accolade and private works.

Our tour guide said that monies confiscated from an infamous Scottish pirate William Kidd, more known as Captain Kidd was used for the building and decoration for this project that was the Old Royal Navy College.

The old Royal Navy College was built as a mess hall for sailors, naval pensioner and those who used the Royal Naval hospital nearby.

The sailors and the wrens used the site as a dining area.  Inches of gravy and dried old food were cleaned up in the 1950s when it was first restored.

It is still used as a dining venue once in a while for a really grand special occasion.

Today, the building is a major attraction in Greenwich, Tourists from all over the world come to visit.

By the way, it cost about £10 for an adult and £5 for a child over the age of 6 to join the tour which will be wrapped up towards the end of September 2018.  The numerous number of scaffoldings will be taken down.

It is hoped that by March 2019, the Painted Hall Ceiling will reopen to the public in a different perspective: from the ground looking up above the high ceiling and walls.

Get down to Greenwich for this once in a lifetime privilege before it is too late.

 

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Royal Airforce Museum (RAF Museum) – Hendon

Museum

Royal Airforce Museum (RAF Museum) – Hendon

RAF Museum, photo by PH Morton

We were pleasantly surprised how much the RAF Museum had changed from a year ago when we last visited.  Actually, when we went last year, they were already busy with the renovation.

The very helpful guide had said to be sure to come back because it would be so different, with more exhibitions and things to do.  Also, a new museum restaurant will be opening as well.

As it is now the last few days before the start of the new school year here in the UK, today, with our grandson, Nathan, we went and had a fantastic time with all the amazing array of beautiful warplanes, which western democracy had much to thank for.

The renovation was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, a very well deserved funding I say.

This renovation also coincided with the 100-Years Anniversary of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Photo by PH Morton

This is, therefore, the ideal time to visit the museum.  A perfect time for the whole family, young and adult will sure to have something to find interesting.

There are so many things that you can get involved in, plenty of interactive activities to be experienced

Like the majority of museums in the UK, the entry is free.

Of course, there are some ‘rides’ and activities that would cost between £3 to £10 per person.  The simulator machine is £3 per person, there was also a chance to board and learn more about a Spitfire for the princely sum of £10, it is well worth it as there was an assistant that would talk you everything about its history.

Peter and Nathan went to the 4D cinema.  The ticket for this is £5 per person.  Our nine-year-old Nathan really enjoyed it.  He said it feels like flying.

Photo by PH Morton

Because of its excellent and large number of exhibits, which is distributed in six hangers, it is much lauded by visitors from all over the world.

There is nothing like being up close and personal with a Vulcan Bomber.  It is quite an experience!

In fact, there was a coach full of visitors disembarking in the carpark when we were there.

The whole family could easily spend the whole day at the museum

Photo by PH Morton

There are a couple of coffee shops for a quick break.

The was also a restaurant, which serves hot food.  I have to say that they make a good Chilli Con Carne.  Our Nathan had loved, I thought he would find it too spicy but he loved it so much, he wanted his own child portion after he had fish goujons with rice as at around 3:45, the restaurant had run out of chips.

Child portion starts at £5 and adult chili portion was £8.50.

If you do not want to eat in the restaurant, there were specific rooms, next to play areas, where you can enjoy your pack lunch.

If the children needed a break and rather overwhelmed with the display, there is a play area outside, with aesthetically pleasing slides in the shapes of a helicopter, Spitfire, a castle and many more.

There are also plenty of toilets, very clean, dotted all and clearly sign-posted all over the place.

There is also a gift shop located at Hanger 1.  The items are reasonably priced.

We really had a great time at the RAF Museum and as a lottery buyer, I support this project 110%.  Well done!

By the way as a recommendation, the Vulcan Bomber is really something to behold, I would have liked it to be exhibited on its own with a gallery, where you can walk and admire it from all angles and corners.

Happy 100th Anniversary to the RAF!

 

Qixi Festival (Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day)

Qixi Festival (Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day)

Global Granary would like to wish you all a Happy Chinese Valentine’s Day!  Jiayou

Yep, me too.  I find it rather ‘strange’ to be celebrating Valentine’s Day today.  Valentine’s Day is on 14th February every year.  🙂

Today, however, is the Qixi Festival, also known as Qiqiao Festival.  This festival is celebrated just like the St Valentine’s Day, where lovers go on dates, giving presents like chocolates and flowers.

The Qixi Festival originated from one of the poems from the Shijing collection of Odes and Songs dating back from 11th to 7th century BC.

The poem is a narrative of the saga of the romantic but forbidden relationship that develops between a human and a goddess.

Niulang was a poor cowherd boy, who lived with his brother and brother-in-law.  He was a male Cinderella, maltreated and abused to the point of being thrown out of the house.

Niulang then met an old man, who told him that there was a job going for a resourceful cowherd.  Niulang was so grateful to the old man, who was, in fact, a supernatural being.  He brought Niulang to the heavens to look after sick cows.

In no time, the bovines where thriving.  The old man was grateful to the young man.  He noticed thought that Niulang looks lonely.  As a reward for the hard-working man, he introduced her to a beautiful girl, who spends her day weaving.  She is a goddess incognito and her name is Zhi Nu.

It was love at first sight for both of them.

A marriage between a mortal and a deity is strictly prohibited.

But they did not care; they were in love and got married, had two kids and would have lived happily ever after if the goddess’ grandmother did not find out.

The grandmother, Wang Mu Niang Niang, thought her granddaughter was contentedly weaving infinite yarns 🙂 in a corner of the heavens; she did not know that she was playing wifey to some mortal.

She was incandescent with rage that with her hairpin she scratched a wide ribbon in the heavens separating Zhi Nu from her mortal family.

Zhin Nu and Niulang with their children cried so much that their tears flowed into the chasm between them creating a river.

It might be pity or it might be a wish for some peace and quiet from all the cryings that a great flock of magpies forms a bridge so the family can be reunited for a day.

So it was then decided that on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month each year, the magpie will help to reunite the family.  That is why today is also known as Magpie Day.

 

 

 

 

 

2018 – Year of The Dog

2018 – Year of The Dog

You belong in the Years of the Dog if you were born in the year: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018 and next one will be in 2030.

Nostalgia

2018 is a Fire Dog Year.

Lucky numbers are: 3,4 & 9

Lucky flowers:  Rose (you can’t never go wrong with this delicately scented blossom), oncidium, cymbidium, orchids.

Lucky colours are green, red and purple.

 

Camera Obscura – Magic

Greenwich, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura Image on a table, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura – Magic

The lens, Photo by PH Morton

Summerhouse in the Meridian Courtyard housing the Camera Obscura with doorway with black curtains, photo by JMorton

It was my second time to visit the Camera Obscura, located at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, South London.

The first time we went which was the autumn of 2013, Peter excitedly insisted that we enter into this building complete with a doorway shrouded in black curtains. Inside was pitch black, as dark as the night.

In the middle of this fairly tiny room,  probably 4square metres (only 6-8 people allowed in at any given time), was a polish table which looked to me like a white marble.  We all looked at the table and thought there was nothing really special about it.  Just an empty table.  We went out of the room absolutely perplexed and disappointed, the same look and feeling on the other faces that had also went in and out with us. We were all asking?  What was that about?!!!

Yesterday was a glorious warm and sunny day.  While at Greenwich Royal Observatory, Peter, Stacey, Nathan and I went into the black shrouded doorway and on the table was a real time panoramic projection of an image of Greenwich.  People can be seen moving on the projected image.  Finally we understood what this camera obscura was about!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Camera obscura (from Latin words: camera, meaning room and obscura, meaning dark) uses a natural optical phenomenon projected from a small hole, a pinhole.  This has something to do with physical law that light travels in straight line.  When some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a pinhole, the rays do not scatter but reform to reflect an upside down image of the subject the rays were reflected from.  I wish now that I had paid attention to physics class! 🙂

The Greenwich camera obscura uses lens for a larger image projection.

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark in its heyday was the fastest ship because of hull shape and vast sail area.  It sailed for more than 957,991 nautical miles which is equivalent to going to the moon and back 2 and a half times. 🙂

Beautifully maintained ship and the information provided were entertaining and interesting. There were a lot of interactive activities and the guides were all friendly and very accommodating. The place is perfect for school children to learn about the life aboard a vessel in the middle of the ocean.

Jean Morton review on Cutty Sark Facebook page

The Cutty Sark was built in Clyde, Scotland in 1869 originally to be a tea clipper, traveling from London to China and back, until the arrival of the even faster steamships. The Cutty Sark then started carrying wool from Australia to London.

The Cutty Sark continued being used as a training ship until the 1950s.

In 1954, it was permanently lodged in Greenwich, South London, as a public display and museum. It is now a National Historic ship being only one of the three remaining shipping vessel with its original composite construction, where the wooden hull was framed in iron. Copper was used a great deal in the making of the Cutty Sark. Apparently, the copper prevents barnacles attaching themselves to the ship.

Peter, Stacey, Nathan – our intrepid grandson and I enjoyed our tour of the Cutty Sark.  The weather yesterday was perfect to see the ship.  It was bright and glorious.  There was plenty to do and to see.

It was a wonderful piece of history. Long it may be preserved for posterity.

Liverpool, The Port City

Liverpool, The Port City

It was our first time to visit the city of Liverpool last week and I have to say, we totally fell in love with the place. It has so much to offer.

Prior to our mini trip, when we told friends and acquaintances our plan for the trip, they would say “Why Liverpool of all places. It is run down”

Peter would say, “too late now, we booked our hotel and the train tickets.”

I am so pleased that we did not listen. Because Liverpool is a very vibrant city, a lot to do and see. One can take away plenty of experiences and new knowledge.

For a Scouse city, I think it is very English.

Old and new buildings married splendidly, giving birth to a wondrous skyline, beautifully scenic especially when spied from a ferry across the Mersey.

Liverpool is of course the birth place of the ultra iconic The Beatles, of John, George, Paul and Ringo.

We visited the famous underground Cavern Club, where the The Beatles played during their early days.

Liverpool is also known for its majestic churches.  The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is an architectural phenomena in its modernity and simplicity in a vast area. It is a Roman Catholic Church, a must see crypt underneath has a gravity defying ceiling made from bricks!!!

On the other hand, the huge Church of England, Liverpool Cathedral is equally awesome.  It has a very spiritual ambiance.  We thought St Albans was so beautiful but Liverpool Cathedral can give it a run for their money.

While we were in Liverpool, the sun tried to break out from the clouds and Peter was quite happy to go on top of the Radio City, which allows anyone to see miles on end in a 360 degrees.  Apparently you can see the Blackpool Tower clearly if the sun was brighter.  I opted out of the privilege to climb the tower because I felt rather queezy after having an enormous Full English breakfast at the Shiraz Palace near the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, where we stayed.

Another thing about Liverpool is the presence of publican houses everywhere, unlike in London.  I think pubs longevity in Liverpool has to do with the prices.  One can get a pint of beer for a couple of quids (pounds). 🙂  The students who board nearby our hotel patronise the many pubs at all hours.

The famed Chinatown in Liverpool was smaller that what I expected compared to Chinatown in London.  Chinatown Liverpool is the first one in the UK.  Some 1500 Chinese were living in Liverpool as far back as the 1600 and some Filipinos in the 1800.  This is because Liverpool is a port, where seafaring immigrants took advantage of.

They have the most fantastic library building in Liverpool Lime Street.  It was modern and huge in four or five floors, very airy.  It makes you wanna sit down with a book, which I did.  I quickly skimmed Jilly Cooper’s Mount, which is the return of Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie.

Queen Victoria must have loved Liverpool.  Her beloved husband, Prince Albert’s statue is everywhere and places and buildings are named after him.

St George’s Hall along Lime Street is another must see place.  It has an underground Victorian jail which you can tour.  There was a room with drawings and posters by children which is rather unsettling.  Another prison cubicle has a collage of photos of the prisoners, who were murderers, rapists, debtors, fraudsters.  That was really macabre.  What what spooked me was an empty room at first sight but suddenly you feel a presence which was of a statue of a Victorian woman breastfeeding her baby partly hidden next to the doorway.  Spooky.

All in way, I highly recommend a tour of Liverpool.  Add it to your bucket list!

The Betrayal of Jesus

The Betrayal of Jesus, by Caravaggio

The Betrayal of Jesus

We saw this painting during a recent sojourn to the National Gallery (London) during a special Caravaggio painting exhibition and influence to other artists.  It is about how he applied light to his work, thereby focusing your eyes to the real subject of his work.  His technique was emulated by other artists after him.

The above painting is about the betrayal of Jesus.  Judas was giving Jesus a kiss, (which has became infamously popular as an idiom, meaning betrayal) to let it be known that the person the authorities/soldiers were after was the one he was kissing.

At the periphery, a man can be seen holding a lamp.  That man is the painter himself, Caravaggio.  Isn’t he clever.  He made it very personal but to the viewers of the painting as well.

We thought, we should highlight this painting being a Maundy Thursday.

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