Spring mornings in London make me restless. Birds really go for it – not sure if it’s the fumes or the Heathrow competition. The parrots (yep, my mother’s neighbourhood is full of wild, green parrots) sing their hearts out along with all the British birds. I love London mornings. After all these years, Borth and all its seabirds and constant wind still can’t compete.
This is how we woke up this morning. Ready for Delph’s show. Sunshine and birds – all in all a pretty perfect Sunday. By 9:30am, we’d packed our stuff from my mum’s house and were in the car. Trip across London. Past the Cricket Oval at Kennington, where so much ivy covers its outside walls Chloe reckoned it was a monkey house. Into South London’s boroughs. A man cycled through a covering of fallen blossom petals. It looked like he was cycling through snow.
We dropped Delph at the Laban building. The dancers had a pretty painful-sounding, eight-hour rehearsal before their evening performance. Delph wasn’t completely enamoured either – but I wanted to show Jack and Lulu the neighbourhood we’ve become acquainted with. This meant taking him and Lu (with Chloe in the lead) around the Cutty Sark. Jack had done his homework and told us about the 230 million cups of tea the tea clipper held under sail. 600 tonnes of tea on the fastest sailing ship of her time.
We stopped then at Greenwich Market. A Sunday bonanza! So much food offered up for free taste-testing – it was hard to resist. Jack made friends with a Pole who sold oysters. The girls made friends with a churros van. We tried burritos, sampled pizza, bought biltong and lastly, Portuguese doughnuts with chocolate filling.
Luckily, some of this food got back to Delph for lunch. We met her back at the Laban building at 1pm. Lunch over – Delph gave us the side eye since she had to go for another dress rehearsal. We headed back into the sunshine into Greenwich Park toward the Royal Observatory, where east and west begins. Zero degrees longitude: the prime meridian. Designated when John Harrison perfected his ship-proof chronometer. His sea watch that never failed. Even though his time-keeping accuracy beat the stars, the prime meridian was still set at the Royal Observatory.
It was a taller hill to climb than I expected. But with such stunning views of London, it was worth it. At the top, Jack realised his phone’s GPS wasn’t agreeing with prime meridian’s location. We found an Observatory staff member to confirm it.
‘Apparently GPS revealed the Earth was bulgier than expected. GPS zero degrees is actually a little bit that way,’ he said, pointing towards the park. ‘Someone told me it’s near the bins.’
So off we went, looking for the bins.
‘Is it this one?’ Chloe asked. ‘It says dog-waste only.’
Jack peered at his phone. ‘It’s hard to tell. The tree is interfering with the signal.’
He took a few paces left. Then to the right. In the end we decided it was probably at an intersection of a footpath near the bins. Digital zero degrees decided by satellite technology flying at an altitude of 20,000 km. And not a single sign down here to say so. Oh well. We had to go anyway – it was time to re-join Delph. Her show was about to start.