Greenwich. The place that started navigation as we know it today. That’s a pretty big claim but it’s true!
So, a few days ago we visited Greenwich – yes, as in Greenwich Mean Time – and we had a great time. We set off in our little hire car armed with food, iPods and some directions thought up by google maps, determined to not get lost like out past few outings. It all went pretty smoothly until we got close to Greenwich. For those of you that don’t know, Greenwich is in London so it is BUSY! Add to that the fact that the road signs here are just weird, it gets pretty stressful. One thing that us Australian’s should be so thankful for is our road signs. In Australia it’s all pretty self explanatory, a big sign with 110 on it means you go 110km/h. Easy. On English motorways, numbers are too boring. Instead, they have a white circle with a black diagonal line across it which means a certain speed on a motorway and something else on a smaller road. There’s also a blue sign with a red circle and a cross but I still have no idea what it means. Pretty self explanatory to anyone who isn’t English… Not!
Anyway, enough about road signs. We eventually found our way to the Greenwich Observatory and got a free (yes, free!) parking spot which was good. We wandered around the museum/gallery for a few hours, checking out all of the different exhibitions they had on and we all really learned a lot from that. They had lots of interactive stuff that Xav loved which is always a bonus.
We then decided we wanted to go to the observatory to learn all about longitude and see the Prime Meridian line. Turns out you have to pay £7 each just to go in so we decided against that.
Thankfully, as we were leaving we spotted a gate to the side of the building which had the Prime Meridian line on the other side so we went in and took some photos of that. I don’t know what I was expecting but I was disappointed to find just a metal line on the ground. No red glow from the Earth’s core, no vortex sucking you in and as far as I know, I haven’t got any super powers from it, so, it was a bit of an anti climax but still cool to say we’ve been there. The importance of the line isn’t how it looks but in fact, what it does.
That boring metal line on the grown is accepted as 0˚ longitude which is important because the Earth is a sphere, so we have to have a starting point to measure things from. That all important starting point has been given to this line at Greenwich Observatory and because of this Prime Meridian line, it has allowed accurate navigation for the past hundred years by working out how far away from the line you are. This same principle is still used today on boats, in planes and even the navman in your car. So, it was cool to see where it all started and what it’s all about, even if it is a boring metal line on the ground.
We then wandered around Greenwich a bit but it was SO cold so we decided to head back to the warmth of our car and enjoy some sandwiches before our, hopefully “lost-free” drive back.
Now, without a doubt we are a strange bunch of people. We have used google maps to find our way around every time we go somewhere and without fail, we get lost (lost meaning; we have no idea what the instructions are saying but we’re going to guess anyway) every time yet we still insist that, “we don’t need a road map” and that “google maps is fine, we get there in the end.”
Anyway, that’s all for this post because I’m sure I’ve bored you all with my lecture on what makes your navman send you up one way streets and around in circles. We’re all getting excited for a big family Christmas now so, fingers crossed it’s as good as we’re hoping, some even talk about their plans for when it snows in hushed voices but we won’t get too excited about that for now.