In pursuit of adventure, travel and the natural world...

Monday, 27 October 2014

Greenwich: the home of time and space

Greenwich is one of those places that gets a reaction from people when mentioned. People usually say how nice it is with a slight element of surprise, usually forgetting it even existed. Greenwich has a lot to boast about, but is never in your face about it.

Guest blog by Matthew Bronka

One of my favourite pastimes

It is close to central London, is rich in history, and all the 'time' in the world revolves around it.

I think Greenwich is one of London's most awesome areas of London and I really hope that doesn’t change. I have been living in the green leafy borough for two years now and want to share my favourite things that Greenwich has shown me.

Greenwich Park

First to be mentioned is the park. It’s cool because it’s hilly, has London's BEST view and only planetarium, a historic observatory, and hosts a loads of events.

It’s one of those parks that attract people's respect effortlessly, due to its well-kept greens and clean, smart layout. It is located in-line with the Queens House and the star gazing observatory, plonked at the top of the hill.

You can see the snake-like curve of the Thames wind its way into London, and it would have been the perfect place to spot all those historic ships coming and going into the busy Greenwich port. It was a party place for the Victorians with their summer fair, where mad hatters and dames sprinted up the hill. There's also a deer park at the rear (apparently the deer used to roam free), a herb garden, a boat lake, as well as a killer hill for skateboarders to mash themselves up.

I know it’s the most obvious attraction in Greenwich, but it really is a banging park. Have a day there when the sun is out, you won’t regret it.

Royal Observatory

Secondly, it has to be the observatory and planetarium – there is so much good stuff to see here. Even if you don't go into the Royal Observatory, just stand outside and close your eyes for a moment and pay some god-darn respect to the amount of stuff that got figured out here.

One being a time system that everyone could use and stick to, so no more meeting at high noon to have a shoot-off. Because of Greenwich Mean Time, boats, trains, royal naval stuff and navigation could all be done punctually. This was discovered by looking at the planets and stars. Anyone who was anyone back in the day studied there. From this we also derived Longitude, it was a clever way to figure out how far north or south you were based on planets and time. Rad.


Moving on to the less obvious now, make sure you have a drink of beer when visiting. Go to the Old Brewery in the Royal Naval College and get tasting. The Old Royal Naval College was basically a fancy old people’s home designed by Sir Christopher Wren by the king’s order for the lucky old wrinkly sailors that needed the care after their honourable duty at sea.

The old brewery is located in what was their original old brewery and they serve a selection of Greenwich Meantime beers. Greenwich Meantime have a hilariously entertaining tour down the road, near the Blackwall tunnel, where you will have plenty to taste and leave with more knowledge and appreciation for the stuff.

The Old Brewery

The two other favourite drinking spots in Greenwich are the more hidden Greenwich Union - TRY THE CHERRY BEER! Oh man it’s like fresh cherry liquid love. Also spend an afternoon in the Cutty Sark Pub. Although not next to the existing Cutty Sark boat, it does have homemade meat/cheese boards (sausage rolls, scotch eggs, you name it) to share, a great drink selection, and its bang on the Thames for a good river view (although not the cheapest!).


The Greenwich Picturehouse cinema is so well suited to the pace and outlook of Greenwich it can’t be missed. It has a community feel with the best, I repeat, THE BEST selection of films from new releases, foreign flicks, old classics and the odd celebratory cult themed evenings.

The bar is inviting and they will even show screenings of films of your choice if you get enough people willing to attend. Every visit makes me feel warm and reassured that there is still hope for authentic love of good film, and also helps me forget about the price of popcorn!


A gem of a shop to visit is the Music and Video Exchange. They give you cash (or double that in vouchers) for your old DVD's and you can lose yourself browsing vinyl and DVD’s. It’s a distant memory of what record stores used to be, with the typical loud music of the sales assistants choice blaring and quietly mooching muso's sifting through the dusty relics. Stop in and lose yourself for a while.


The Chinese on the corner, Tai Won Mein, serves you the biggest plate of noodles for £5 - you will have to share it. You can also get a massive bowl of chilli squid for the same price. It’s served quickly, with the minimal amount of service grace, but so tasty you won’t really care. It’s always full of people, but that’s always a good sign. Go there if you want a large, filling tasty treat for a very cheap price. I know some people that go out of their way to go for a meal here. Other than the calamari, which is a must, try the Singapore noodles...nommmmmmmmmm.

The market

Last but not least, visit the bustling markets for more tasty grub, crafty goods and bric a brac. The inside market in the square is always fun, with some good lunchtime selections and interesting toot. They also hold an awesome vintage motor show on the last Thursday of every month, very fun.

The Flood Gallery sells the coolest cult prints of bands, films, and books. The Clock Tower Market hosts more vintage finds, with bric a brac and retro clothing that is always worth a browse. Make sure you check out the dude with the gramophone and ask him to play an original Shellac.

Don’t forget to visit 'The Junk Shop', a delightful shop full of interesting junk only down the road - kind of like a market but in the shape of a shop.

So these are my favourite things! There’s still an endless list of things to enjoy in Greenwich, such as the vast masts of the Cutty Sark, crossing the Thames via the underwater foot tunnel, the Lunar Cinema events held in summer, watching the popular hairy chested Greenwich drag racing, as well as numerous festivals, arts and concerts.

There is so much character in Greenwich and so much to do, please don’t tell anyone else or they will all come flooding.