Thursday, October 27, 2016

United Kingdom trip (part 7)-Greenwich

From the Tower of London we decided to go to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory. We took the train and reached the Greenwich station. The observatory was very near to the station. Located at the Southeast part of London, it was very quiet place unlike London. Greenwich means green village. It was very much green indeed.

 We reached the underground station, and came upstairs , and could see an old time ship. The ship could be a model, I don’t know. My w]son wanted to visit that, but our plan was different. We wanted to see the Royal Observatory only. At that time my son was desperately wanted to drink water. However, the bottle I was carrying was already empty. We searched for a shop, and we saw Greenwich Market. 

To out disappointment, there was not a single shop where we could get a bottle of ager. Then we walk through the bylines, alleys and reached the main rod road. We found a shop, and bought a bottle of water. Then we started walking towards the royal observatory. 

The Royal Observatory was situated on the top a hill in the Greenwich Park. Once there was castle, then it turned into Palace of Placentia during King Henry VIII.It was his one of the favorite places for hunting.  Then it converted into queen’s house, then royal navy hospital. Then in 1675 the Royal Observatory was built on the ruins during the time rein King Charles II, who was at the greatest patron of arts of astronomy.

I read the little history written there on various walls of the observatory. It was written that the  observatory was built with spare bricks from Tilbury fort, recycled lead, iron and timber from Tower of London under very tight budget. Sir Christopher Wren, famous architect also a professor of astronomy suggested using the ruin of Greenwich castle to make the Observatory.

The observatory
Prime Meridian

During that time the Europeans started voyage around the world, and they needed more accurate time during their voyage. At that time almost every town had their own meridian, which made difficult to calculate time. King Charles II who was the greatest patronage of Arts of Astronomy took initiative on the matter. 
Flamsteed house was first built. Over the years it was the home of the astronomers and their families. Before the prime  meridian, almost every town maintain their local time. There were no national or international conventions to set how time should be measured. James Bradley, third Astronomer royal, observed with accuracy sung telescope that first defied the line in 1750/.owing to the unequal length of solar days, astronomers measure the line using distant starts. Stars cross the meridian around every 23 hr. 56 minutes. 

However, as the communication grows, world needed an international standard time. The Greenwich meridian was chosen Prime meridian in 1884. 

What is Prime meridian?
Greenwich meridian is an imaginary line used to indicate 0° longitude that passes through Greenwich, London, and terminates at the North and South poles. An international conference held in Washington, D.C., in 1884 designated “the meridian passing through the centre of the transit instrument at the Observatory of Greenwich as the initial meridian for longitude.”
This north-south line at Greenwich is used as the reference for all other meridians of longitude, which are numbered east or west of it. The Greenwich meridian also serves as the basis for the world’s standard time zone system. The mean solar time at Greenwich is now called Universal Time and was formerly called Greenwich Mean Time.— Source Encyclopedia Britannica

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

United Kingdom trip (Part 7)-London

London Day 2

On second day of our London trip we three went to visit the rest of the parts of London. First we went directly to Kensington station, from where we walked to the Natural History Museum. My son had been constantly debating with us for going to Science Museum. The terra-cotta colored typical Victorian high ceiling building was situated very near to Kensington station. The huge building was built using terra-cotta to fight with the harsh climate of London, was proposed by Alfred Waterhouse who was the main in-charge of the building, after Captain Francis Fowke died.

Natural History Museum

The building very much look like castle. When we reached the museum, we stood behind a long waiting line.  Many school children as well as a bunch of tourists were coming to visit the famous museum. Just entering the museum we could see an enormous model of the dinosaurs skeleton was standing tall under a huge archway, partly covered with glass. With sun light coming through the glasses making the skeleton dazzling bright black. Various fine designs were created on all the pillars of the building. The museum had a vast range of exhibits from various segment of natural history.

 Again we just see few of them and came out, as we planed to visit the London bridge and Tower Bridge. Before that we decided to have lunch. To waste minimum time on lunch we went to a Starbucks. While walking towards the Starbuck, I saw the Victoria-Albert museum. I wanted to go inside , but, I knew that, if I went inside, I would spend the whole day there. 

Monument to the Great Fire of London 

Anyway, we started walking towards the London bridge. We tried to find out the route from mobile map, but searching the route on mobile was very difficult. Somehow we managed to walk on the right way. I had under the impression, that there was one bridge with two big tower was the London bridge. However, that was incorrect. We reached the London bridge, but I thought that was not the correct one, and we were about to walk to the other bridge with towers which was very near to that. Out of curiosity I walked down some steps along side of the bridge to see the bottom, where I found the name inscribed London bridge. Then I realized we were actually standing on the London Bridge facing to the tower bridge. This London bridge had a fascinating history. It was built by the Romans 2000 years ago. The nursery poem “London is falling down” actually tells  the history of the bridge. In  different time it was built with different material and it was destroyed under various circumstances, before the modern bridge was built in late 19th century.

London Bridge


After we started walking towards the Tower bridge. At that point of time we desperately wanted a map. Luckily I saw a lady was distributing London Map, and we took one map from her. She also suggested  the places we could visit. One of the place was Greenwich City.  Anyway, we reached the iconic Tower Bridge built in late 19th century , one of the prides of London City. The bridge is a combination of bascule and suspension bridge. We crossed the bridge and reached the Tower of London. 

Tower bridge

Tower of London

The colossal medieval stone structure staring on a vast area of land. It was first built by William the Conqueror, but during Tudor period it was used as a prison. I was very much fascinated with Tower of London. I read many historical fictions based on King Henry VIII, and Tower of London was played a vital part on those books.The enormous building is standing silently bearing so much history through the time. The black  stone building with small window like opening ,witnessed suffering of the captives inside.It gave chill in mine spine, specially because I read those historical novel , where I read many brutalities , which are occurred at that time. I wanted to go inside, but later decide not to. First of all the ticket price was very high, and we had very less time. I think it would take two to three days to see the dungeons inside the prison. Those enormously thick prison walls were the silent spectators of those bygone days. 

Old and new are co-existing

From there we took train and went to Greenwich City to see the Prime Meridian from where the world is divided into east and west. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

United Kingdom Trip (Part 6) -London

London- Day 1

After visiting southwest part of England on the weekend with our friend and his family, we went to my brother-in-laws place, who eventually lives very near to London. We planned stay at his place so that ,we could travel around London easily. Monday evening we reached his place. We were fatigued, on the top of that we had no time to visit any places in that evening, we decided to have rest. However, we had enough time to chalk out our plan for visiting London. My sister-in-law knows every nooks and corners of London, even every unknown places. She is a very good planning person.She asked us, what actually we wanted to see. After knowing our desire, she chalked put the whole plan, we just put little brain in that, rather Mr. Man, not me. Mr. Man  told her about the English afternoon tea. Promptly she booked table at Wolsey in London, one of the upscale restaurant famous for afternoon tea. We were lucky enough to get table there, as most of the time it remains overbooked. 

Buckingham Palace from St. James Park

First the plan was that, we three will travel around London, but my sister-in-law changed her mind, and wanter to visit London with us with her family. That was a great plan, we three, and my brother-in-law, his wife, and two little ones , it was going to be adventurous.  
We took the tube train and got down at West Minister station. Crossing the 10 Downing Street, where the journalists were flocking around we reached the Horse Guard Parade. In fact, from where the horse guards go and come back during the change of guards at Buckingham palace. We took photographs with one of the horses along with the guard on its back. Then we again started again walking towards St. James’s Park. Our next destination was to watch Change of guards at Buckingham Palace. The century old grandeur palace stood with pride overlooking from the park. Queen Victoria was the first monarch resided at Buckingham Palace, after it was it was completed in 1837.

Victoria Memorial
Change of guards

We spent some time in the huge park, beautifully decorated with different plants. The park was actually a marshland, before it was elaborately converted into a beautiful royal garden centuries ago. We visit around the park admiring the landscape with color-coordinated flower garden. The plants and the flowers were so vibrant and so lively, it was clear that, they got plenty of water.  Once I heard from my friend who lives in UK told me that,  few years ago, it was not raining at all , and government declared draught. As soon as draught was declared it started raining so heavily, that every where flooded with water. 

Big Ben
Westminister Abbey
Piccadilly circus

Anyway, we were just waiting to go to Buckingham Palace to watch the Change of guards. When we reached the Palace, it was already over crowded, we literally ran around to find a place from where we could see it. However, our all effort almost went in vein though we could reach the fence of the palace. I could find a little spot where I could stand side wise, but I could see only back of the red dressed guards with huge black gear on their heads. Then we decided to go back, as we couldn’t see properly. We walked around and crossed the street and came to the Victoria Memorial. What a timing!!! When we reached the memorial from where we could see the front of the palace. At that very moment, the gate was opened and the guards marched out from the palace. We could watch the retreat of the guards very clearly. 
From there we decided to walk to Westminster abbey, through St. James’s park again. So many spires, so many grand building, old and new we could on both sides of the streets. 

1000 years old West Minister Abbey was standing just west to the West minister Palace. The Abbey had more than 1000 years old paintings, stained glasses, textiles, and many more treasures. The present abbey was the spectacular example of Gothic Architecture. The Abbey was a living church, where worship still takes place. The last wedding took place there was the Royal wedding of Prince William and Miss Kate Middleton (now Duchess of Cambridge) It was the coronation site as well as the burial ground of the royals. We even saw the age old coronation chair when we were coming out from the abbey. The Abbey is so huge, it is divided between parts.

London eye

The Duke of York's column
Trafalgar Square

 We couldn’t cover the whole abbey. Inside many royal effigies were kept well preserved. So, many years ago those effigies were created, but all of them were still in good shape. I really couldn’t remember any of them royal figure who were buried there. I tried to read the all details written, but it was impossible task to do within an hour. On the top of the photography was prohibited inside, so I couldn’t even take a picture. The worship hall was very large and meticulously decorated with fine arts and painstakingly chose colors. 

Our next stop was Wolsey restaurant for afternoon tea. We wanted to enjoy the every bit of English afternoon tea. So, we didn’t even had our lunch.  After Wolsey afternoon tea, my brother-in-law and his family decided to go back home.  
We were not done till then. My sister-in-law suggested going to Piccadilly circus, and Trafalgar Square. Piccadilly circus lied in the intersection of five main roads. We reached there in the evening when the people were going home from office. The streets were extremely busy. People like us or the youngsters sitting near the famous Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. The fountain was built in the memory of Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist. The statue on the fountain depicted the Angel of Christian Charity. Later it was  renamed Eros after the Greek god of love and beauty.

 We spend some time there,then we crossed the street, and started walking towards Trafalgar Square. We didn’t know anything about London, moreover we didn’t have any map. My husband tried to find out the map in the phone. Some time he could, some times not. Anyway, we manage to reach there, thanks to Mr. Man’s Road sense.The Square was originally called Charing. Later it became known as Charing Cross, after a memorial cross on the square. To me the image was lots of pigeons flying around there. When we reached there we couldn’t see any pigeon. We thought as it was already evening. Then I found that, city council stopped feeding pigeon there. Then I understood why there were no pigeon.  The square was built to commemorate the victory of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson over the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, a naval battle that took place on the 21st of October 1805 near Cape Trafalgar, just off the Spanish coast.On the four comers of there squares there were four huge lions. Those lions were known as Landseer lion in the name of Sir Edwin Landsee, who modeled them. I was extremely tired, and just wanted to go back, but my husband was adamant , he wanted to go to Regnet’s park. After walking a long we reached nothing but a market square, I asked my husband we were done for the day its better to go back. We walked to West Minister station from there we broaded the train and went back to my brother-in-law’s place.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

United Kingdom trip (Part 5)- Bibury village

Leaving behind the city hustle and the century old buildings we drove towards Cotswold to get some fresh air, see the rural beauty amid greens. Crossing the freeway, through the narrow lanes ,and by lanes with trees covered like umbrella from the top we reached Cotswold. The cerulean blue sky and chilly breeze invited us in the bright green nature where the Bibury village had been existing for years. As usual we faced parking problem. Like us, many tourist came there to take a glimpse of the beauty of the sandstone cottages with high roofs. After going up and down few times we parked our car  near The Sawn Hotel.

The calm River Coln was flowing in between the Sawn Hotel and the Bibury village weaver houses. Standing in  front of the The Sawn Hotel, which itself a spectacular building, we could see the village on the other side of the little river.

 No, there was no grandeur ,no huge spires, but the building was so homely, I felt like going inside just to sit with a cup of hot tea at window and watch the greens out side. Before crossing the Coln River we stood on the wooden bridge over it to see the beauty on the both side of the bridge. The water was almost stil, with all the algae the color of water turned into verdant green.  Different  wild flowers were blooming here and there clearly telling that it was summer. 

After crossing tiny little bridge we started walking under shadow of huge green trees, with so many branches full of bright green leaves almost resisting the sun rays to come through. The sun was very gentle. The chill wind was giving us a shiver every now and then.  We trotted on the walkway to reach in front of those houses , completely laden with deep green creepers, with tall steel colored roof. 

All most all the houses were attached with each other. All of them had tiny garden in the front covered with vibrant colored flower. Many of the houses still had occupants. All most all the windows were decorated with white lacy drapes, gave an extra beauty to the houses.
Ones these houses were occupied by the weavers, The workers supplied cloth for fulling at 17th century Arlington Mill, which served, at one time, as a corn mill. Currently the mill was a museum.

The place was beautiful, and mystique that we were thinking of buying one that settling down there, which was a wild idea, I know, but the serene place could attract any person, and could hold him days after days with its beauty. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

United Kingdom trip (Part 4)-City of dreaming spires

After coming back home at 11:00 Saturday night, we readily went to bed. We needed to be fresh next morning, as we were going to visit the Oxford, the city with dreaming spires.

Carfax tower

 The city is full of different schools, students all over the world come there to pursue their dreams. We didn’t know about the city, except my childhood dream to study there. So, our friend suggested taking city tour bus to see around the city. We took the tour bus from near the railway station, which took us around the whole city. Through all the lane and by lanes of the city, we saw the University buildings and the old buildings which were worth to visit. Passing the SAID business whose building was very contemporary, and could be singled out among the meticulously decorated old buildings around the city. 

Sheldonion Theatre Oxford

Our first stop was the Gloucester Green Bus station, once that was the open space of Gloucester college. Then it was a poultry  market. Later it was converted in a bus station.  It was a city of dreaming spire indeed, almost in front of every colleges we saw long queue of students who had come from all over the world to pursue their dreams. Those buildings were not only colleges, but also architectural wonders. From there our bus again started and  we passed the 1000 years old Oxford Castle with had a fascinating history. Though we chose to ride the “Hop on Hop off “, but we didn’t have that much time in our hand to get down at the Castle, and see inside it. Any old castle or fort always fascinated me. Anyway, the 11th Century castle with round cylindrical brick structure with small windows very much like  a prison, gave a cold chill in the spine. So many decisions were taken, so many controversy were created, so my conspiracies evidence were bearing this 1000 years old castle, built by the Normans. When King CharlesI defeated by the Parliamentarians, he made Oxford his capital.

 During the English Civil War this medieval castle was greatly damaged. Actually, this castle served as a prison once. After crossing the castle  we passed by the Westgate shopping center, which was nothing but pile rubbles at that time due to major dismantlement was going on. Most probably, contemporary structure of the mall was coming up. Through Speedwell Street, crossing numerous old building we reached the Christ church college.  This was the only college with a cathedral in it. The cathedral was built in 12th to 13th century. The college was founded in 1525 by Cardinal Thomas Wolsley.  The famous children’s story “Alice in the wonderland” written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgeson , who is known as Louis Carol, came to study mathematics in Christ Church college. There he met the daughter of the dean of the college, Alice. The main character of the story is this very Alice. The fantasy land Carol created was very in and around the college premises. When we went to Oxford the Alice week celebration was going on in Christ church college. Anyway, then we passed by the Queen’s college , which was founded in 14th Century. Then passed Magdalen college founded in 15th Century. Among the numerous colleges we passed the famous Trinity college. Then we got down at Christ Church, to take another bus tour to the outskirt of Oxford. 

We crossed the Folly bridge over River Thames. I heard in the bus that,there was always a quarrel between Oxford student and Cambridge. The quarrel was intense, that sometimes it ended up into bloody fight.

 To maintain the friendliness between two universities the Rowing competition was started between two universities. One interesting fact I heard during our  bus tour, there was no central body to control all the colleges in Oxford, rather they all were autonomous body. That was the end of our Oxford visit.

Our next stop was Bibury village.

Friday, October 14, 2016

United Kingdom trip (Part 3)- City of Bath

City of Bath- UNESCO World heritage site

“Do you want know about Roman history in England?” Asked my friend. “Yes, I do” was my answer. So, we included City of Bath in our itinerary. After visiting Salisbury we headed toward City of Bath. Again we faced problem with parking the car. We entered Bath Cricket Club. We saw plenty of parking. We were so overjoyed that we didn’t notice, that , that was a private parking space. That means only the club members can park cars there. 

Bath cricket club ground

Getting parking outside was a tough. On the top of that, it was a Saturday, people went out like us. Our friend directly went to the club house , and asked for parking permission. They allowed us, and we went to visit the ancient Roman Bath in the heart of the city. The city was built around the ruin of the Roman Bath, and named after it. 

Bath Abbey

When we reached there it was around five o’clock in the evening. But due to long day in summer it felt like in the middle of the day with bright sunshine. So, there was no need to worry about going back home. Moreover, it was Saturday, another lazy day was in hand. 

We started walking on the bridge over  the  Bath River with beautiful similar structured buildings on both sides. We could see the cricket tournament was going on at Bath cricket club. Anyway, we reached the center of the Bath City, in front the Bath Abbey. What a view!! What a magnificent structure! With two enormous tall spire on the both sides and numerous small spires, the building was standing tall with its full glory, showing the modern world, that how could they think about architecture and art together. How could they create such building with so many minute details from top to bottom?  The stained glass windows at the front of the hall added extra glory to the building. 

The structure of Bath might be like this

Then we entered the Historic site of 4th Century A.D. Roman Bath, which was a well preserved site of Roman Public bathing. The actual Roman bath was exactly one level below the modern City of Bath. It was one of gem of the Roman civilization in Britain. The bath system was a detailed grand activity to the Romans. So, after invading , and capturing southwest part of Britain they created the bath , because of hot spring. To them bath was worship. They used different kind of oil for their bath. The bath was dedicated to Auqa Salis who was connected to Minarva, Roman goddess of wisdom.

The main pool

First we entered at the main hot spring of the Roman Bath. It was huge pool compared to that era, with many of the statues of god and goddess surround the pool. There were several pools , they were used for different reason. The Romans believed in different healing properties of different bath. Anyway, we visited seven or eight pools inside the site. In one pool I saw stack of ancient bricks. Out of curiosity I read the board beside it,and found out that brick stacks were made to create a hollow space in the bottom the pool, where charcoal were burned to heat up the pool. Like this many history were scattered inside the site. We saw even the bust the goddess Minarva made at that time. We didn’t have much time in our hand to see each and every site. Though, I visited , but I couldn’t remember all of the pools’ purpose. But in Roman culture those baths were used as a part of socialization, what I think. May be I’m wrong, after all, I’m not a Historian. I love to read history. After coming home I tried to dig out history about the Roman Bath. It is huge, it will take time to read and understand about it. Still I read little bit in Internet. 
But one questions always comes into mind, when Romans left England, what happened to the Bath? How it went one story below the modern city? How it went underground? How did it perish? Due to any war? I don’t know. If anyone know about it , please tell me. I just want to know the history .Was it demolished or it just ruined with time due to lack of care? What happened to it? How it lost its ancient glory. 

The few of remains which were found during excavation

I couldn’t find out my answer. But it was time to back. So we came out from the Bath complex to see the modern city. We roamed by the side of Bath River, then we headed toward Reading. 
After reaching Reading we saw the 900 years old ruin of the Abbey of Henry I. As it would be open in 2018, we couldn’t see it properly standing in the month of July of 2016. 

Beth river
City of Bath

It was time for dinner. We had pizza and went back home at 12:00 at night. Next day’s schedule was Oxford and Bibury village.