Sunday, October 2, 2011

A day out on the River

The London Eye
After what can only be called a strikingly cold and rainy summer, the last few days have been hot and cloudless, perfect days to be outside.  And so, Steve declared that Saturday's adventure would be the Thames Boat Ride, from Westminster Pier to the Thames Flood Barrier, and back to Greenwich.
We're on a boat...
A bit late off the mark, we missed out on the outdoor seats, so settled down inside by an open window, the London Eye winking back at us. 

The river tour took us past a plethora of sights.  We got a great closeup view of the HMS Belfast, which is permanently moored in the Thames.... Duncan kept wondering if he could get his hands on the gun!

Cleopatra's Needle
HMS Belfast
Even more exciting, we got a riverside view of Cleopatra's Needle, which of course features so prominently in Rick Riordan's book "The Red Pyramid", the first book in the Kane Chronicles.   ( We didn't see any escaped chicken headed egyptian gods or wand-wielding magicians, but still.... pretty fun!
Tower Bridge
Executioner's Pier
The Thames Police
We floated under Tower Bridge, and down past Executioner's Pier, where those sentenced to die were submerged for a full two tides (the Thames having two full tides every 24 hours), while the head judge (who had sentenced them) would watch with enjoyment from the Angel Pub on the opposite side of the river.  He sounded like a rather nasty piece of work.

We were also told that the Thames Police Force (with its lovely boats) is the oldest police force in the worlds.   I think they must have been commenting on the number of years the 'force' has been in existence, rather than the average age of its police officers, but... who knows?

Millenium Dome / O2 Stadium
Thames Flood Barrier
Greenwich, from the water
tides on the stairs
At Greenwich, lots of passengers hopped off (since this was the hop-on-hop-off-boat), but we continued on to the end of the trip, with outdoor seats, and our hair whipped by the breeze.  This meant we got a close up view of both the Millenium Dome (which is now a stadium), and the Thames Flood Barrier, which, when the gates are in place, has already prevented London from being flooded more than one hundred times.  It is a pretty groovy looking structure.

The boat headed back up the Thames, and we stopped at Greenwich.   The view of the Royal Navel College was gorgeous from out on the water.  Duncan and I spent a few minutes by one set of steps down to the water, watching the tides splash up and run down the stairs.  We walked by the Cutty Sark, and peered at the tunnel that lets you walk under the Thames.

The Sun over Canary Wharf
Evening on Canary Wharf
The plan had been to search for the Prime Meridian, but first, we were in search of a good pub.  After several misfires (I think we sat down in 3 different pubs, only to change our minds [ie. all out of Banger and mash]) before we found one... it was the perfect blend of East meets West (ie. both bangers-and-mash as well as Thai food?!)  It also had no lights.  :-)   that is, there had been an electrical fire the night before, so there was no light in the room we were eating in.  Still... they brought us in a bunch of candles, so we sat there for hours, enjoying dinner, and playing cards as the evening approached.  Having missed the last boat home, once evening was well and truly upon us, we took the Docklands Light Rail.  We couldnt' help it.... we took another detour at Canary Wharf, and sat there by the water until well into the night.  Great fun!

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