Cutty Sark review (May 2012)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
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The Queen opened up the Cutty Sark again last month, after their big re-fit, so I went to have a look today. I saw a program on the telly last week which followed it along from the big fire in 2007, so I already knew that they'd raised it ten feet off the ground. But it's still quite impressive when you see it suspended from the ceiling for the first time.
But first of all, if you're going to Greenwich for any reason, then take my advice and get a boat from Westminster Bridge. Tube trains should be banned to Greenwich because you're missing out on the best bit -- the river ride on a choppy boat. It takes about an hour, and when it's boiling hot weather like it was today you get the cool wind in your hair to cool you down and it's great. So get a boat. If I find out that you went and you got a train, then there will be big trouble. So get a boat or you are missing out on a treat (read about one of my boat trips here).
When you get off the boat the Cutty Sark is literally right in front of you, you can see the mast towering up as you come into dock. They way they've done it is quite good. The whole thing is raised up above the pavement by quite a way, so the deck of the boat must be about twenty feet above you. And then they've got a glass canopy coming down all around it, which is supposed to look like the sea. The idea was to make it look like the boat is sitting in the sea. Which it doesn't, obviously. It looks like it's beached itself inside a greenhouse. But it still looks good though.
When you go through the ticket bit you are straight into the cargo hold. They've got a load of crates in there so you can get an idea of what it must have been like back in the day. And they've got a load of snazzy computer screens too, which I didn't really think fitted the mood, but what do I know. You have to read them to find out the history of the boat, where it went, what it carried, and who worked on it etc. It's interesting enough if you like boats, I suppose. Dotted around the decks are a few cabinets filled with momentoes and treasures too -- things like the original bell and busty lady on the front. The second deck is much of the same, except they've got sacks of wool instead of tea chests.
Let me just say that I'm not especially interested in boats, so most of that was wasted on me. But that's not to say it wasn't interesting. The most enjoyable bit for me, though, was the next level -- the deck. You get to go up top and walk the entire length of the ship from stern to aft (are they the correct words?). The whole ship is rigged up with ropes too, right up to the very top of the mast, which must be about forty feet in the sky. It really is an impressive sight when you're standing underneath it. It makes you wonder how they climbed up the mast to let the sails out. They must have had balls of steel. It's a shame they don't have the sails on these days.
After that, you catch the lift down to the bottom of the boat, where it used to be sitting on the floor. Now they've raised it up ten feet this has been turned into a huge space where you can wander around and see it from underneath. They've got a restaurant and a few more exhibits down there. The best of the bunch is right at the end -- a huge collection of ship figureheads, all lined up in a row and staring out in a very macabre fashion. They've got a viewing platform too, so you can get a proper look at the hull.
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