South of The River

Posted on Dec 18, 2011 by


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There’s a grain of truth in the most worn out of clichés (which is why they became clichés). I really did live north of the river (Thames) and never, ever ventured south. I have now put that right. Since touring Rennie Mackintosh Country (Glasgow) we are devotees of Art Deco. Yes, yes, he’s Art Nouveau but he pioneered Deco. Anyway. I asked Himself to drive me to Deco Heaven – Eltham Palace. Not an easy drive there from north Hertfordshire but a damn sight easier than coming back. Gridlock. Unbelievable. And this was Sunday. Pity the poor bastards having to drive in that during weekdays. Anyway. Where was I? Oh Yes . Eltham Palace. On the whole a good experience except for the fact that we could not take photographs inside. Oooh no dear not allowed. Why not? So we buy postcards in the shop? Don’t think so dear. You have to run the gauntlet to avoid the over zealous salesman. He was so keen to flog me something he trod on my heels. Literally.  Put me right off. He must have been trained in the same place as the Meet-er and Greet-er. Visitors go in via the tradesman’s entrance instead of the magnificent entrance hall but no way would Shop Boy’s colleague let us pass before he gave his spiel about the joys of joining English Heritage. They were like market traders. No dear, do not headbutt visitors. We are English after all. The house itself is a treat. Loved it. Loved it. Then it was on to see John Harrison’s clock in the Royal Observatory. FREE said the website. Not free said the new sign. Didn’t go in on principle. Then it was down the hill to the National Maritime Museum. I have no interest whatsoever in ships but my goodness that sure is some museum. Fab. Fab. And FREE! Tell you what they have all over the place – FREE shooting sticks so you can park your bum and gaze for as long as you like at – well – anything. Then it was up the hill to the Queen’s House. Oh dear. Enough to make Inigo Jones weep. As for Queen Henrietta Maria. Off with their heads. Scaffolding, building work, tatty strips of orange plastic, lumps of concrete crunching underfoot. Completely spoiled the experience. Why could not the website have warned us? Never mind. All in all, sarf of the river was a very pleasant surprise. Blackheath Common is impressive as is Greenwich Park. The Notice there is priceless. Something like we close at six unless we close earlier. Parking is at a premium. Drivers are allowed three hours max. Or else. The visit is blighted somewhat having to take paranoid peeps at your watch. One anxious father, in true White Rabbit style, said to his mesmerised child in the Maritime Museum ‘we’re late, we’re late, – only have thirty minutes left.’  Sad. And what a disappointment to be locked out of the cafe on a freezing cold day dying for hot cuppa. No matter. Lovely afternoon. Lovely. We’ll go again now we know worst possible scenario. Might even fork out mega bucks to see the clock.

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