Today I went to Greenwich. The weather seemed right for it and, anyway, I had a Purpose in mind.
Getting to Greenwich from the Angel is quite easy and in fact, you have at least two good ways of doing so. To go I took the Northern Line to Bank and changed there to the Docklands Light Railway, making sure I got a Lewisham train. I disembarked at a station called, somewhat verbosely, Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich.
I shelved my Purpose (can purposes be shelved?) for the meantime and went off to browse Greenwich Market. It wasn’t as lively as it is apt to be on a Saturday but quite a few stalls were up and running. Being the methodical sort I cruised the aisles in turn, making sure I had seen everything. Like most markets they have a mixture of new and old goods, antiques and tat, and as usual I was amazed at some of the things on display: do people really buy old, worn-out tools, cameras for which you probably can’t get film and buttons and badges of long forgotten regiments? I suppose they must do, though how long the stall-holders have to wait to shift these things is anyone’s guess.
I also popped into Autumn and May, the charmingly named jewellery shop in the market to look at all the sparkly rings and bracelets, of which they have a beautiful collection.
Finally, it was time to attend to my Purpose. For this I betook myself the Nauticalia, that strange store which, I imagine, is the heir of a one-time ships’ chandler’s business but is now a nautical-flavoured upmarket gift and novelty ship. It’s always worth having a look around the shop as they stock many intriguing items.
The reason I was there was that I wanted a new hat. I rather fancied a panama hat. I have spent a lot of time the last few days researching panama hats on the Web. Unless you have done this, you cannot imagine the mystique and blather that surrounds this subject. If you are interested, I recommend you look at Panama Hats Direct, as they really go into the subject most charmingly with pictures and videos.
Now, the thing about panama hats is that they are made of straw, not common or garden straw, admittedly, but a special and specially prepared straw harvested from some exotic South American plant. Straw nonetheless, which is not the most durable of materials, especially if you are in the habit of screwing up your hat and stuffing it in your pocket. But – wait! – for hatmakers’ ingenuity knows no bounds and it is possible to buy crushable, foldable and roll-upable panama hats! This was what I was after, though I was not after the price which can be in the $150 range.
A moment’s inspiration last night took me onto the Nauticalia site where I discovered that they also sell a roll-upable panama hat for the much more manageable price of £39.95. Moreover it has a wide black ribbon around it where I can pin all the badges that are presently pinned on my old hat. Sorted!
“Don’t bother to wrap it!” I beamed and strode out of the shop, bonce firmly panamaed with my latest purchase. Naturally, I admired my reflection in all the shop windows and scrutinized the faces of passers-by for the inevitable signs of admiration that would surely blossom on their features as soon as they spotted me.
I then noticed that peculiar ache in the back of the throat that indicates that caffeine reserves are running low and it is time to top up. I compared a few cafes and plumped for the organic one, mainly because there was a vacant table in the window where I could sit and be admired by passers-by. The coffee was jolly good so I also ordered a toasted ciabatta with mozzarella, tomato and basil. Yum, yum.
For the return journey I thought to take another route and set off for Greenwich station, intending to catch the national rail train to London Bridge. The station is a fair walk from the centre but as we’re all supposed to walk and get fit I didn’t mind this.
Finding out where to catch a train for London wasn’t the easiest thing. The electronic displays all said “Welcome to Greenwich”, which was hardly helpful. In the end I found out which platform it was and was soon whisked away to London Bridge. I could have got the train to Kings Cross from platform 6 but opted instead for the 43 bus.
I think the hat suits me – no, honestly – even if I do look a bit like the Man from Delmonte. I expect you would like to see a photograph. You will find one here. (Pardon the mess. We never do housework, as you know.)
Even if you are not buying a hat, I recommend a visit to Greenwich. It’s a pleasant town and there’s plenty to see. Saturday is probably the best day as the market is then in full swing.