Category: LONDON

Public Toilets Near Cutty Sark

Toilet break at Cutty Sark, photo by PH Morton

Toilets at Major Tourist Attraction

 

Public Toilets Near Cutty Sark

I was looking through our photos taken when we recently visited Greenwich, South East London, around the tourists-famous Catty Sark Tea Clipper museum and noticed this black edifice, which reminiscent of a Doctor Who’s TARDIS.  It seemed bigger on the inside.

Anyway, it cost £0.50p to use it.

A tip:  if you are going with a nearest and dearest, you could go in together.  If a small family, it could comfortably hold about six altogether.

The only thing is that you should all be so close as the toilet does not flush each time you use it.  It is only after you exit that it flushes and self-clean.  And you can only stay for a maximum of 20 minutes, which is more than enough time before it automatically open.

🙂 That does not mean you are trapped inside the toilet for 20 minutes, you can press the open button anytime, but the usage time is for 20 minutes only.

The toilet above is directly across the road from the Cutty Sark.

If you do not have a fifty pence or a chance, the nearest free toilets are inside the Royal Naval College which is about 300 yards across the road.  Or you could always stop for a beer at the Gipsy Moth and use their beautifully maintained loos.

 

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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Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.

Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.

One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time is beetroot. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Excessive bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce its quality.

All Photos By PH Morton

After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals.  This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂

If using homegrown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.

Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.

Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.

Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-

  1. Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
  2. Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
  3. Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.

Place the beetroots in a suitably sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.

Boil for two hours.

Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.

Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.

The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.

Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.

Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.

Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.

If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.

Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.

But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.

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.

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!

 

A Touch of Ming

Ming Vase

A Touch of Ming

During a recent visit to Victoria and Albert museum, Peter and I were surprised by this rather interactive art appreciation exercise.

Visitors are allowed to touch a huge Ming vase, see above photo.

It said in a note beside it, written in English as well as in Braille, that visitors are allowed to touch it. It was not inside a glass case.

At first Peter and I can’t believe it.  Despite the clear note, we looked around if anyone was looking; we had to make sure that the coast was clear.   We felt that it was rather naughty to touch an antique work of art.  We would have been good candidate for experiment or candid camera, to see our reaction.

The above Ming porcelain vase was an original 1550 antique.

Ming antiques are very much wanted by the rich and famous.  I have often heard that a really rare Ming can set you up for life!

But can you imagine, if we broke the vase, we had to sell up our house to pay for the damage!

I reckon the vase was once broken into several pieces, thus not as valuable or sought after by the moneyed people, ergo hoi polloi are allowed a quick fondle with the Ming!  🙂

 

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

Mask, by PH Morton

Snuff Box Head @ V&A

This is another treasure from the V&A exhibits.

You would not have guessed it that it is a snuff box, a container for ground tobacco.

The lovely intricate design makes it a collectible.  This particular item was made in Chelsea by an unknown artist between 1760-1765.

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