Time out in the capital

The view of Greenwich Park  from the Observatory

The view of Greenwich Park from the Observatory

First published in Holidays Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

APOPULAR district in south-east London, Greenwich is a riverside borough drenched in history.

Birthplace to the likes of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I; home of the Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark and, as if that wasn’t enough, it is the place where time, as we know it, began.

It’s a phrase that rolls off the tongue, without so much of a second thought.

But Greenwich Mean Time is the product of a mind-boggling amount of science, dating back as far as 1675, which is encapsulated quite brilliantly inside the prestigious Royal Observatory.

Almost as mind-boggling though was the sheer volume of tourists snaking in a queue within the grounds, for their chance to get the prized photograph alongside the Prime Meridian line.

For my partner and me, the real picture opportunity was across the London skyline.

The Observatory is positioned idyllically at the top of a hill in the centre of the beautiful Greenwich Park, overlooking the Queen’s House, the Old Royal Naval College and the banks of the River Thames, with Canary Wharf, Canada Square and the O2 all in perfect view.

Next it was time to take a stroll around Greenwich Market. Just outside the grounds of the park, the hustle and bustle of the market is an absolute must-see, with its seemingly endless conveyor belt of unique and creative crafts on show, ranging from £3 hair clips and bars of soap, to paintings, hanbags and jewellery worth more than £100.

Needless to say, my girlfriend was in her element with lots of over-zealous ogling, pointing and exclaiming.

Every taste bud was catered for too. Tantalising aromas from Italy, Spain, Mexico, Japan, China and even Ethiopia created a cocktail of scents that Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen would struggle to match.

Somehow resisting the temptation, we opted to dine at The Spread Eagle. From the outside, it is your run-of-themill London pub and we fully expected all the usual pies, burgers and sausages.

Instead, we entered 30 FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2012 Luke Tugby spends a weekend in Greenwich and is surprised by how much it has to offer TIME OUT in the capital travel USEFUL LINKS novotel.com greenwichtheatre.org.uk rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory spreadeaglerestaurant.co.uk Olympic holiday action in Weymouth u With less than 100 days left until the start of the Olympics, it’s still possible to effortlessly combine a family summer holiday at Moonfleet Manor with a once in a lifetime chance to experience some Olympic action at nearby Weymouth Bay.

Moonfleet Manor is a member of the Luxury Family Hotels (luxuryfamilyhotels.

co.uk), and the handsome Georgian hotel is only a stone’s throw from all the Olympic and Paralympic sailing competitions at Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour in Dorset.

Enviously positioned overlooking the World Heritage listed Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon, Moonfleet Manor offers a warm welcome to families with children of any age and over the period of the Olympics (from July 27 until August 14) the hotel will be organising all sorts of activities so that families can enjoy this spectacular event together outside of London.

Mirroring the real event, Moonfleet Manor is holding an Olympic Opening Ceremony on Saturday, July 28, complete with its very own torch made by resident children the day before.

The ceremony will be accompanied by drinks, BBQ, music and plenty of sporting games such as egg and spoon races, sack races and three-legged races.

The opening ceremony will be open to a limited number of nonresidents.

The hotel’s crèche, the Four Bears Den, is organising events throughout the Olympic period from sailing inflatable boats in the hotel’s pool to long jump, weight lifting, hurdles and cricket.

There’s even a Three Event Race challenge involving cycling, swimming and running. And the Five Ring Bean Bag Challenge may not quite be a real Olympic sport but it’s bound to be loads of fun!

Adding to the Olympic Razzmatazz is the Weymouth Bayside Festival taking place from July 27 to August 12 with all day live music, local arts and crafts, food stalls, an extreme skate park perfect for teenagers, reverse bungee rides and exhibitions.

From July 27 until August 14 prices start from £220 per night based on two adults sharing on a room, dinner and breakfast basis.

Children up to the age of 16 can stay free of charge in their parents’ room, subject to availability, and pay for breakfast depending on their age.

Deluxe family rooms are also available from £290 per night, inclusive of dinner and breakfast.

Complimentary childcare in the hotel’s OFSTED registered crèche, The Den, is also included, which is available in two-hour sessions.

To book call Moonfleet Manor on 01305 786948 or visit luxuryfamilyhotels.

co.uk Chesil Beach, close to the hotel to find a beautifully decorated, upmarket, quaint eatery, with a menu fitting of the surroundings.

Braised vegetable salad, seasonal vegetable cannelloni, succulent pheasant pithivier and honey-glazed duck breast with a tangine were simply faultless dishes with service to match. With no time to sample the equally impressive dessert menu, we headed across the road to catch a show at Greenwich theatre.

Granted, it doesn’t have the grandeur of our very own Mayflower, but it’s charming, comfortable and intimate.

On the subject of comfort, the Greenwich Novotel is the perfect place to grab some much needed shut-eye.

Positioned next to Greenwich station and within walking distance to just about everything in the area, it should be high on the list of anyone venturing to the Olympics. Rooms are modern and tidy, the staff friendly and attentive, but, most importantly, the breakfast buffet is amazing.

The next day we hopped on the Thames Clipper for the short journey to the O2, ahead of a visit to the British Music Experience – and what an experience it is.

A museum that takes you on a journey from Cliff Richard and Cilla Black, to the sounds of Amy Winehouse and Arctic Monkeys. It is stacked with memorabilia – clothes worn by Ozzy Osbourne and Boy George, instruments played by Brian May and Slash and handwritten lyrics from Coldplay and Adele.

You can even have a go at making your own music using an array of guitars, pianos and drum kits in the Gibson Interactive Studio.

After drumming to the sounds of Blur, we headed back down the Thames for a spot of lunch at The Old Brewery. Beer kegs and thousands of bottles hanging from the ceiling create a warm atmosphere and the proper pub didn’t disappoint.

As we reflected on our time in Greenwich, we were pleasantly surprised by how much the area had to offer.

If I had one regret, it was not seeing the famous Cutty Sark.

Reopened this week following our visit, it’s the perfect excuse to return.

Not that I needed one.

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