Greenwich Time, or Time in Greenwich

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

It’s almost the end of Daylight Savings Time for another year (November 2nd already!), and it puts me in mind of my most recent trip to England. I’ve been to London many times, but until last year, I’d never visited Greenwich. Time for a day trip.

Of course, GreenGreenwich Timewich is famous for giving its name to the prime Meridian, and the place where longitude is 0′ and Greenwich Mean Time begins. I had thought I was going just to see the observatory, situated very prettily up on a hill and boasting an excellent view, but the whole area was frankly lovely.

It’s full of history; it was a 15th century royal palace and later, the Royal Naval College. There’s all kinds of maritime history, too, with a clipper ship, The Cutty Sark, in dry dock there. I was particularly taken with the Queen’s House, built for Queen Anne (wife to James I). The buildings and verandas were wide and stately, the lawn vast and green. The Queen’s House is interesting in of itself, but it also doubles as a historical centre and art gallery.

I got a few surprises making my way through the Naval Academy buildings, which have mostly been appropriated by the University of Greenwich and the Music Conservatory. As I walked into one of the old chapels, one of the Music school’s opera students was singing his exam in front of a panel of judges and a few interested members of the public. It was quite glorious – and set the tone for the rest of my visit.

The town itself is very walkable, and I wandered around the Greenwich Market, and found a wee place for a nice refreshing gelato. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the day was sunny and bright and 25 degrees Celsius.

Turns out that what I thought was a nice day trip turned into a plan for me going back and seeing the rest of it.


Peace and Quiet and Zen Gardens


A serene pool in back of a temple (Kyoto, Japan).

I’ve always been prone to headaches. I get a little bit sensitive to light, more easily annoyed by sounds, can’t tolerate strong perfumes, and have difficulty concentrating on anything. I’m just coming out of one after two days of discomfort – and all I want to do is relax and clear my head. To simply enjoy the lack of pain.

And some of the most relaxing places I’ve been to were in Japan – in Kyoto, to be precise. Zen gardens, serene pools and Japanese lanterns. I can feel some of the tension in my neck draining away already…




Graffiti: Revisited

After posting my graffiti post earlier in the week, I happened to run across this picture I snapped during a visit to London in 2013.

London, near Waterloo Station

My friend Liz and I were looking for lunch near Waterloo station after a shopping trip through Seven Dials, when I saw this space, replete with words and images of every description. It seemed to exist mostly for skateboarders and cyclists. And though I wouldn’t try to make a case for this as high art, I thought that its bright colours and haphazard nature worked really well.

I can’t imagine how depressingly dreary this unimaginative concrete space would be if not for the injection of colourful chaos graffiti provides. And now that I look at the picture more carefully, I think I see an enterprising young artistic type (to the back right) making their latest contribution. Well done!

Graffiti: Temporary and Anonymous Art

Speaking of art, I recently found myself inspired by Gotrainist’s recent “Is it Art” post, and kept thinking about some of the graffiti I’ve snapped over the years. I often really like graffiti – not the kind that simply defaces buildings, but the kind that has artistic merit and something to convey to onlookers. I think some of it definitely comes down on the side of art.

Here’s an example of one I photographed in Toronto over a decade ago, of an angel with an infant in the crook of his arm. It had been painted on a wall just off of Queen Street West.

Toronto graffiti

I love how graffiti can often liven up the cityscape, adding colour and brightness to old, forgotten, out-of-the-way walls. I regularly take photos of friends and relatives standing against a backdrop of graffiti, and it always adds a nice punch to the composition.

Here’s another one I shot last year in Montreal (on my phone camera). I don’t know if it’s an ad, or was commissioned, but there was no obvious indication of either when I looked at it.

Montreal graffiti

I’m often amazed by the sheer scale of graffiti, and always intrigued by its temporary and anonymous nature. I like that it has to mesh with or override the texture of the wall canvas. Maybe that’s why I’m often drawn to photographing it.