Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan the year "2013" in terms of reading and writing it. It just looks awkward, no symmetry or evenness. Now I didn't think of this myself, but I read that 2013 is the first year since 1987 where there are 4 different integers. I was just a youngster then, so it's a brave new world, indeed.
Nonetheless, it will be a great year of new experiences, and I look forward to every moment. I turn 30 in a few weeks, so it's high time I start thinking about what I want to be when I grow up.
This weekend, however, will be pretty low key. I dropped off Kerry at Manchester airport a few days ago for her flight back to Indiana to visit family and friends. One advantage of not working is that you can travel after the holidays when prices drop 30%. She has promised me to take pictures and write at least one post about her experiences! In the meantime I'm just going grind through the next two weeks to research and save up for some trips we are planning this spring. That said, I thought I'd spend a few minutes to document the tail end of the holiday break, since it was a doozy.
We planned a budget day trip to London on Dec 29 - the itenerary was to catch the 6 am train from Derby to put us into London at 7:30. Tour some free attractions and mueseums, grab a lunch, then catch the return train at 4:30 to be home for dinner. Unfortunately there was a derailment which meant we had to take the bus to Leicester, hop on a later train, and get into London around 9. Feeling entitled, I went to the ticket counter to try to argue my case to change my return train to a later time - there's a train every half hour, but cost goes up for these high demand times. However, since I bought our tickets at the discount "no refund" rate, everyone was generally unhelpful and just kept passing the buck. Having burned another 30 minutes walking around St. Pancras, I cut my losses. We topped up our Oyster cards and made our way to Greenwich.
|"Weel done, Cutty-sark! And in an instant all was dark."|
Anyway, Cutty Sark started out shipping tea from China, sailing around Africa. After the Suez canal opened, steam ships were more cost effective so it switched to running wool shipments from Austraila, where it was popular for its speedy delivery. You can guess what its figurehead was...
|Not much support there, Nannie|
From the college we strolled to the Royal Observatory, again sticking to the portions which did not require admission fees. The work done here in the 18th century is beyond impressive. I have a casual interest in both astronomy and maritime history, and here is where it all ties together. I apologize in advance if the next few paragraphs get a bit nerdy.
Ships needed a way to know their location in the open sea using the stars as reference, and thanks to the hard work from gents like Flamsteed (born in Derby), Halley, and Bradley, among others, they figured it out here. It's only fair that we recognize this place as the modern datum of time (Greenwich Mean Time) and space (Prime Meridian, 0 deg longitude). In the end it's all relative, isn't it? This line is determined by the location of the transit telescope which tracks star positions, so it's as good as any. Certain things just work better when we're all using the same reference point.
You know, I just read that NASA is looking into the possibility sending a robot out to snare an astroid and put it into orbit around the moon so astronauts can "safely" practice landing on it. Reference. I wonder what Sir George Airy would think of that?
|Bradley's original meridian was used for 134 years, it's 20 milliseconds off from the current meridian, which moved when Airy upgraded the transit telescope in the 19th century, and everyone had to buy new maps.|
After we grabbed a quick lunch near the Greenwich Market at Noodle Time (I was pleasantly surprised), we headed back to central London for our final stop, the British Museum.
|Weather was less than perfect, so going to a free museum was a popular option on this day.|
I don't know why I'm putting pictures here because the internet is littered with them. But more than anything, appreciate the crowds which rivaled Birmingham's Christmas market minus the drunkeness.
|The ego of Ramesses II|
|Assyrians were badass tough guys; they were all into hunting lions and not too friendly to strangers|
|A Greek vase for drinking parties, depicting drunk saytrs doing their version of keg "stands". And you thought the Cutty Sark name story was raunchy.|
The museum is pretty close to St. Pancras station, so we walked to catch our train. I was happy to do so, as you see interesting bits of London you'd miss spending all the transit time underground. This way you get a feel for the city as a whole, instead of feeling like you're a whack-a-mole. And to see St. Pancras from the outside was a nice surprise, you might mistake it for a cathedral.
|St. Pancras at night|
|Not sure what Disney character I am, but Happy New Year anyway!|