One of the things I miss most about the Outer Banks is the community.
Despite being a happenin’ vacation destination from May to September, the number of people who actually lived there was relatively small, so everyone knew everyone else. The bond of “local” runs deep.
This was evident in the most significant way after Hurricane Irene when everyone mobilized to help those whose homes had been ruined by the storm, but it’s also apparent in other ways. No matter how far you travel, the label of OBXer keeps you connected. Acquaintances who would otherwise be relative unknowns become friends through the beach bum bond.
One of my regular coffee customers has a granddaughter who just finished up a semester abroad in Ireland and was passing through London for a few days on her way back to the US, so she emailed me and asked if I wanted to get together. She was staying on the opposite side of London from my flat, so we decided to meet in the middle and adventure south of the river to Greenwich.
Yet another neighborhood that I had yet to explore, Greenwich stole my heart almost instantly, and I’m mostly posting these photos to convince Amity that we should move there when our lease runs out in August.
First of all, you get to take the DLR to get there, and I love the DLR more than most things in this life.
If you resist the urge to hop off at the very appetizingly-named Mudchute station, you’ll emerge into sunny (well, sometimes) cobbled streets and perfect little shop fronts – including a Ben & Jerry’s!
This little alleyway spills on to the main street through town, which twists around and spits you out right at the river.
It’s a gorgeous, sunsoaked little road with plenty of cafés to caffeinate you up for your stroll along the Thames. Just look at these perfect cottony clouds!
Greenwich has an amazingly rich maritime history and is a World Heritage Site. The first thing you’ll stumble across along the waterfront is Cutty Sark, her masts and rigging towering above you and stamping silhouettes on the sky.
Cutty Sark was built in 1869 and is one of the fastest tea clippers ever constructed. Kind of amazing to think that this actual ship sailed all around the world in the 1800s. She’s been on voyages to Shanghai, Sydney, Indonesia, and Cape Town, among other exotic locales.
The ship has been moored here permanently since 1954 and is now open to the public as a museum. Cuts quite the impressive figure, eh? (Cuts. Get it?)
I arrived a bit early to meet Sage, so I took my time walking along the river in the shade of all the lovely greenery. I can’t believe what a difference it made when all the trees grew their leaves back this year – London’s a completely different place when it’s green!
I loved wandering through the grounds of the magnificent Old Royal Naval College. You may recognize it as having been smashed to bits in Thor 2, but I assure you it’s quite intact in real life.
Eventually I went to meet Sage at The Old Brewery. They describe it as “café by day, restaurant by evening, bar by night” – basically, you’d never have to leave.
They’re also part of the Meantime Brewing Company which makes some pretty good craft beer. Big copper brewing tanks take up one corner of the dining room, and there’s even a chandelier made of brown beer bottles!
It was one of the first truly lovely days of the year, though, so we decided to take advantage of the weather and sit outside in the garden. The whole place is surrounded by old brick walls and more leafy trees. It was the perfect place to while away an afternoon, catching up on home turf and international adventures.
Pretty soon we decided we should see a bit more of the area in our limited time, so we took a quick pass past the National Maritime Museum (which Townes would LOVE!).
Sage hadn’t seen Cutty Sark on her way in, so we took a walk back down the high street and sat in the sun in front of the ship until she had to catch a train back to meet her hosts for the evening.
I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to Greenwich since we’d only just been introduced, so I decided to explore the other side of the town centre, including some cool old churches and cobbled alleyways.
I popped into Waterstone’s to find something to read and snapped this photo on the wall of their stairwell: particularly exciting as I was headed to a taping of QI to see Stephen Fry in the
flesh purple suit later that evening!
I found a little café called Reddoor in an alley off of Greenwich Market and parked myself with a latte and my new book.
As much as I love wandering, exploring, and trying out everything a place has to offer, one of my favorite ways to experience somewhere new is just to sit and read a good book for a few hours with a tea or coffee. There’s something very satisfying about a familiar activity in a novel environment – one of the nicest parts of our quick day in Oxford last fall was having tea in the garden while reading Jeeves & Wooster.
This view always makes for a happy girl:
Ah, Greenwich. I think I love you.