Short Stories: London Edition

Finding the Prime Meridian

Last weekend I decided to go out to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory. Greenwich is still considered part of central London, but it’s a bit farther away and not that many tube stations run there. Unfortunately it took me forever to get there; after waiting a half an hour for a train that never came I finally realized that the tube to Greenwich was shut down refurbishment. This pretty much describes London as they prepare for the Olympics; everything closes down on the weekends for repairs. Luckily I managed to find a bus and eventually got there, although it ended up taking me 2 hours in total!

Greenwich is really nice and the Royal Observatory is located on a hill right in the middle of Greenwich Park; it gives you a great view of the city and the river Thames. The Royal Observatory was built years ago to study the stars in order to create a star catalog. It’s famous today because it is the location of the Prime Meridian, 0 degrees longitude! Everyone in the world sets their watches based on the time it is in Greenwich. I stood on the Prime Meridian and thoroughly enjoyed learning all about how the Meridian was moved 3 or 4 times to suit the astrologer living at the Observatory before it’s location today was agreed upon.

While the Meridian was interesting, my favourite part of the Observatory was the planetarium they have! I’ve wanted to go to a planetarium for years and I finally got to go to one and learned all about the life cycle of stars! There was also a photography exhibition on with loads of pictures of space; they were just incredible!  I ended the day by taking the Thames River boat back to the city center, which was substantially more enjoyable than a 2-hour bus ride!

Happy Chinese New Year

It seems a bit late to be writing about this now, but last weekend London celebrated the Chinese New Year (yes a week late, I’m not really sure why). I was pretty excited to go check out all the celebrations; unfortunately it was a pretty big letdown. Chinatown was decorated really nicely and there were a lot of people dressed in costume dancing around, but there were just so many people crowded into such a small space that it wasn’t at all enjoyable. It’s the year of the dragon this year so I picked up a little Chinese dragon souvenir, had lunch in a small Chinese restaurant with a friend, and then got out of there as fast as I could!

I decided to spend the rest of my afternoon at Buckingham Palace. I’m not really sure how I’ve been in London for more then a month and only just visited the palace. It is located in St. James Park and it’s quite grand. I kept my eyes peeled in case the Queen dropped by or Will and Kate came for a visit, but sadly no luck. I did stumble upon a memorial recognizing the contributions of Canadians and Newfoundlanders in the First World War which was pretty nice though!

Limitless

I spent this past weekend at a youth retreat with the Salvation Army church I’ve been going to in London. About 20 of us headed out to the English countryside to enjoy a weekend retreat. I was thrilled about the timing of the retreat as SASF retreat took place this past weekend as well and I was bummed about missing it. I really enjoyed the youth retreat here though! I met lots of new people and had a great time getting a break from the busyness of the city.

Highlights of the retreat included go-karting and climbing Jacobs ladder. Jacob’s ladder is this huge wooden ladder that starts out with the rungs about 3 feet apart and then they slowly get further apart up to about 6 feet I’d guess. It’s pretty tall and insanely hard to climb up! I really wanted to make it to the 7th rung, but I’m a wuss and got scared about halfway up. You can see pictures on my facebook page. I also attended my first authentic “fancy dress” party! “Fancy Dress” is just a fancy way of saying costume party. We all had to dress up as something that started with the first letter of our name, so I dressed up as an M&M!

I think the best part of the weekend for me though was when it finally snowed. It’s the first time I’ve seen in snow in London and everyone had great reactions to it! It was one of those really nice snowfalls where there’s no wind and the snowflakes are all really sticky. Well we ended up getting about 5-10cm overnight the whole country just about shut down! Nobody could get anywhere, the highways were backed up, everyone was hoping school was going to be cancelled on Monday; it was pretty dramatic. I understand that London’s not really equipped to deal with snow, but the Newfoundlander in me had a good laugh at all the hoopla over a few measly centimeters of snow. Speaking of which, I hear Newfoundland has been getting killed with snow this winter and I’d love to see some pictures please!

Take care!
Maria

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