Track 7/01: The Shins: "Black Wave"
Greenwich Maritime Museum, we took the
opportunity to first look upon the Cutty Sark (a famous tea clipper that
was undergoing conservation and was nearly destroyed by fire, and is
now being restored), and to stroll the grounds of the Old Royal Naval
College (now home to music and business schools). There also used to be
a Tudor palace at this site.
They stress the distinction between information that can be found here versus in the National Archives as many seek to trace ancestors in the Royal Navy. While they collect personal accounts of naval history, it is the National Archives that keeps records for career details (with the exception of more notable figures such as famous captains - or certainly the beloved Lord Nelson!). We had an opportunity to examine and handle primary documents of various provenance after our tour. These included a journal describing pirate torture methods, a boatswain's whistle, an engraving of Blackbeard (whom we were told would light fuses within his beard prior to battle to make it smoke so as to look more ferocious -unfortunately, this did not prevent his defeat where his head was cut off and hung from the bowsprit of a ship), and a letter supposedly affixed to Lord Nelson's door describing the crew's appreciation of his leadership stating "we will share our last drop of blood" signed 'The Company' which the archivist humorously speculated might have been re-written out of pride by Nelson himself as the note was in elegant hand, pristine condition and had no marks to support the claim that it was in any way posted. My favorite of the selections was a handwritten text of the poem from 1588 "Look and bow down thine ear, O Lord" that Queen Elizabeth I had composed to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada and commissioned William Byrd to set the text so it could be sung before her coming from Whitehall going to St. Paul's Cathedral through Fleet Street. Visiting this library was a unique experience and it was fitting to begin with our own river voyage.
We were free to wander in Greenwich for the afternoon, and having worked up an appetite during our morning excursions I set off to find lunch. Fortunately, this was no struggle as there is a Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant nearby that was DELICIOUS. It is also quite reasonable. I had a starter of baked chestnut mushrooms, and a small portion of land & sea risotto for my main (only £7!). Unfortunately these delicacies did not leave enough time to hike up to the Royal Observatory or straddle the prime meridian to be able to boast that I have been in two hemispheres at once, though I did poke around a couple shops before catching the bus back to central London. I made a purchase at the neatest store called Full of Joy: a 'jumper' with a cat wearing glasses on it (big surprise).
We needed to be back to the residence early in order to attend a welcome reception for our program at King's College that evening. There was a brief convocation in the chapel, and following our gathering, all of the library students assembled at The Thirsty Bear for pints. It all seemed like a great time but you know what they say, it's all fun and games until someone gets a wad of gum stuck in their hair. No? They don't say that? Well, upon returning to our residence I made this discovery on the back of my head and being practically on my scalp it was a painful strand by strand removal process which I did NOT enjoy. I am convinced it was the fault of some USM undergrad as there were two levels with railings to lean over both at King's and at the pub. Grumble.