There’s one event in the UK calendar that’s generally met with a sense of foreboding and universal despair.
And it’s happening this weekend.
It’s the end of British Summer Time when the clocks go back one hour to Greenwich Mean Time, and autumn throws up the white flag and accepts the certain inevitability of winter. The extra hour in bed is little consolation for the cold, damp, dark experience we must all endure in the weeks and months ahead.
But there’s one person I know who really does not mind.
It’s my husband.
You see he comes from Greenwich, and any mention or reminder of the little patch of London brings a smile to his face.
For him Greenwich Mean Time reminds him of having…well, a mean time in Greenwich.
I can almost understand why.
Greenwich is – quite literally – where time began. It’s home to the Royal Observatory (which first established the meridian line and Greenwich Mean Time).
Today the Royal Observatory can be found in the middle of Greenwich Park, and offers spectacular views across the Thames to Canary Wharf opposite, and central London to the left.
Walking down through the Park there’s the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. Beyond it there’s the former Royal Naval College with its famous painted ceiling. The Navy have now left and these splendid buildings now host the University of Greenwich.
Greenwich itself hosts a marvellous crafts and food market, as well as offering a home to The Cutty Sark, the famous tea clipper boat that raced back and forth from London to the Far East before the era of steam.
Greenwich has a unique feel to it. It’s absolutely rammed with tourists, but it also has an authentic feel to it. You really do get a sense of history, but with its shops, boutiques, craft stalls and all round vibrancy you sense that Greenwich is still a living place, crammed full of life, community and endeavour.
The air is not good in Greenwich. The traffic is dreadful and the number of tourists everywhere makes walking around a slow and frustrating experience, Even so, it’s quite a special place and definitely worth a visit and mooch around.
The clocks may be going back this weekend, but it’s probably worth finding the time to pay Greenwich a visit.