January 20th was a federal holiday, so we did what has become a pattern for us over the last couple years…drop our son off at his normal daycare and have a date day! On this day we decided to go to Greenwich. We hadn’t been out there yet, and the Royal Observatory was having an Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibit. So it was a perfect excuse!

We made our first mistake by sticking with our normal baby drop-off schedule, a little after 8am, and getting on the tube…in the middle of morning rush hour. It was awful. We waited for two trains to pass before we even attempted to squeeze on. And of course we were all wrapped up for winter, so it was hot and crowded and really stuffy. At one point, my hubby made the second mistake of the day…he locked his knees while standing and got a full on dose of orthostatic hypotension.

I had never heard of it before this, so it didn’t occur to me to say anything. And I guess he wasn’t really thinking about it either. At first he started to say he wasn’t feeling well, and he began to turn very pale all the way to his hands. I thought he was motion sick and prayed that he was not about to throw up on me. But it got worse from there, and a moment later he scared the sh*t out of me and completely passed out.

I’ve not posted many pictures of him, but my husband is 6’2” and weighs about 200 pounds. Happily, the train was so crowded that the people he fell on were able to support him for the most part, and he didn’t hit his head. And they were all really sweet about it! One woman began to fan his face with a paper and another jumped up from where she was sitting and offered him her seat. But we thanked them all profusely and opted to get off immediately instead.

After a bit of a rest and some fresh air topside, we opted to skip the rest of the tube journey and continue by bus, then stopped into Subway (ironically) for a sandwich after we arrived in town a little before 10:00. Convinced that everyone was feeling better, we ventured over to the Cutty Sark Museum, took a turn about the ship and admired the large and bizarre collection of mastheads that included Boudicca and a dog cleverly-named Sirius.

The Cutty Sark.

The Cutty Sark.

Mastheads.

Mastheads.

Next we walked across the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College and the University of Greenwich, which used to be the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and stopped to listen to some of the singing voices floating out of the windows at the music college. We also peeked inside the amazingly decorative chapel that was designed by James Stuart in 1781 after the original that was designed by Christopher Wren was gutted in a fire.

Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Beautiful interior.

Beautiful interior.

From there we headed north across the mostly dead National Maritime Museum Gardens and took advantage of the free entrance into the Queen’s House art museum built in 1619. It was originally the home of Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria, and is now a popular wedding venue. It was full of nautical-themed works with lots of images of Lord Horatio Nelson. I particularly enjoyed a collection of paintings of New Zealand by William Hodges, an artist on one of Captain Cook’s voyages.

Queen's House art museum.

Queen’s House art museum.

Cascade Cove Dusky Bay by William Hodges, 1775. Photo courtesy of the Queen's House.

Cascade Cove Dusky Bay by William Hodges, 1775. Photo courtesy of the Queen’s House.

We then staged our assault on the Royal Observatory, which sits on top of a ridiculously tall hill. The grounds are divided into two areas at the top…the Astronomy Centre, which is free, and the section that encompasses the prime meridian and the old royal astronomers’ quarters, which is £7 for adults. So we paid our fare and got a few pics straddling two hemispheres, then went inside to see the exhibit…which was utterly underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, the photographs were amazingly beautiful. But the images were barely 8×10 inches, slapped on a wall and lit from behind. I felt they could’ve been displayed to much better advantage.

Astronomy Centre.

Astronomy Centre.

Straddling two hemispheres across the prime meridian.

Straddling two hemispheres across the prime meridian.

By this time it was approaching 2:00pm, so we rolled back down the hill and into a great little pub on the corner called the Greenwich Tavern where we dined on mushroom tarts, onion rings and fish and chips washed down by a couple pints of Guinness. Appropriately fortified, we then began the long journey back to Central London. And yes, we actually braved the tube.

Greenwich Tavern with the Cutty Sark in the background at the end of the street.

Greenwich Tavern with the Cutty Sark in the background at the end of the street.

Yummy!

Yummy!

On a side note: I did a bit of research afterward because I was curious about how many people actually faint on the tube. I came across a document from 2009 that showed people had reported 311 incidents of fainting…and 68% of them were between 7:30am and 10:30am. So apparently it’s a fairly common occurrence!

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