#06 – Greenwich Not-Sunset

It’s fitting that this post is being uploaded on the Summer Solstice, but that was never my intention.

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I actually took all of these photos coming up to two weeks ago now, but these last 10 days have been so hectic that I’ve hardly had chance to sit down and write a blog post, let alone edit a host of photos.

I’ve got to the point now where blogging is a weekly ritual for me, and when I don’t get chance to upload something, I genuinely feel guilty about it. Having technically missed two weeks now, it is past time that I got back on track. I haven’t been so busy as to not take any photos, but I just haven’t had the time to give them the care and attention they need to pass the metaphorical upload bar I set for quality.

So, back to it.

Greenwich is quite possibly my favourite London borough. It’s open, busy – but not to the point where you can’t move in the streets – and there is plenty going on to keep you occupied. It’s home to my favourite London pub – the Cutty Sark – a pub that is taller than it is wide, and one whose bizarre layout gives it a unique character unlike any other I have been to; the real ale on tap is always good, and I have not yet been disappointed by the menu and food. Not to mention, it sits on a bend along the south banks of the Thames, looking over the O2 Arena to the east, and Central London to the west.

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My last spare Saturday was spent wandering around the borough, waiting for the sun to set over the Maritime Museum.

From the Cutty Sark pub you can get down onto the sandy banks of the river and walk all the way back to Cutty Sark tube station, about half a mile west. They aren’t really beaches, as such, along the stretch of walkable sand, more exposed sections to the riverbed and there are probably equal amounts of litter, pebbles, and logs along the riverside as there are sections of sand. In fact, more than once, we came across old cow bones hollowed out with age amongst the pebbles along the shore, I’m not forensic expert in bone age, but I’m pretty sure that the abattoirs today aren’t allowed to dump bones directly into the river…

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Still, the macabre debris is not enough to take away from the sights and views you get along these thin stretches of ‘beach’, though I would recommend washing your hands after touching anything along the river.

The whole point of our trip to Greenwich this time was to get a decent seat on the hills of the observatory in order to watch the Sun set over the city of London.

We almost managed it.

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We – myself and Elliott – got a decent position halfway up the hill to the observatory about an hour before the official sunset time, giving us plenty of time to assess golden hour and move around to get a decent angle against the city. Sunset was due at about 2109, so we planned to stay until about 2210/2230 to get the best variation in light.

Little did we know that just as the light was coming good, with a contrasting bank of cloud rolling over the city to throw some colour into the sky, the park closed.

The park closed. It’s the middle of summer!

The park was filled with families having dinner and students drinking and making human pyramids, it was all looking so good until a fun-sponge in a little Ford Fiesta and a loudspeaker strapped to the roof drove around the park blaring you “the park is now closed, please make your way to the nearest exit.” The sun had not even set yet, it was warm, and yet we were being kicked out.

Very frustrating.

So here I am, two weeks later looking over photos of not-the-Greenwich sunset. But as I look back over them there is something I notice; air pollution.

Just look at these images.

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Air pollution is worse in the summer, when the air sits under a blocking high pressure system and sunlight provides the catalyst for the chemical reaction that splits NOx and other chemical compounds suspended in the air. I actually have a post written about the issue that I plan on putting up shortly. This comes as a second timely coincidence as the London mayor puts London on a state of alert of Air Quality amidst the current heatwave we are having. When the sun sits low in the sky, and you can look across the whole city, you can so obviously see the effects of this smog-like cloud that chokes the surface layer amongst the sky scrapers.

Still, the not-sunset did give me some nice photos.

Until next time.

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