A wow visit to a reopened Painted Hall

It’s been closed for two years for a major conservation project, and reopened last weeked. I was able to book tickets on the opening weekend through week, and it was truly wonderful. At one point I thought we might not make it down into Greenwich at all as MOH was working (again), but just after 3pm on Sunday he escaped his laptop and we headed on what is a daily walk for me.

It was a lovely day and Greenwich Park was full, which was quite strange to see. I’m so used to seeing it with workers hurrying through and the dog walking community meeting for their daily - or least morning - constitution, that it’s easy to forget the weekend leisure users of the space. And on a sunny day, how that multiplies.

We’ve been to the Painted Hall many times before, in fact we visited with family including a cousin’s American husband the day after our wedding whose reaction was “gee, this is old!” Which of course is correct, it is.

It’s part of the Old Royal Naval College and was designed as a ceremonial dining room by Sir Christopher Wren, and some dining room! It took 19 years to complete the vast decorative scheme, painted by Sir James Thornhill and that started in 1707. He was the first British artist to be knighted and painted himself into the picture, which was pointed out in the new audio accompaniment - so look out for him later.

Previously entry was free, and is now £12 which before we went I thought was hefty. Having visited, I think it’s pretty good value, especially as you can use your ticket to gain entry for a year. That won’t work for everyone but they’re not the only organisation to do that, and it doesn’t stop you visiting, does it.

The entrance is new too, and much more focused. You enter through the Undercroft, now renamed the Sackler Gallery and there’s the obligatory shop and a cafe too. The cafe is particularly welcome as it’s yet another space for food and drink on campus, although despite only going this weekend I’d already forgotten that in the everyday busy-ness of the working day. And this week too, I’ve been less good about taking lunch to work and reverted to popping to the garage for a sandwich rather than trying something a little more social.



Looking up in what used to be the entrance area was spectacular, and only partly prepared you for the wow when you first glimpse the main event. It is truly breathtaking.


A photo really can’t do it justice, but it does give you an idea of how spectacular it is.

Before the hall was filled with large wooden tables, which took up most of the space. These have now gone and have been replaced with cushioned benches down the centre of the space, these allow people to view the ceiling lying down, and if you weren’t aware of that, the following photo could be quite amusing!

Admiring the ceiling is tiring work

And it’s a vast improvement of a mirror that was there before.

I’m not usually much of a fan of audio guides, but I took one and it was impressive. You can dip into and out of the information in a way that works for you. It translates the latin inscription around the edge of the ceiling in an engaging way. It’s been many years since I studied Latin - amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant and all that.

the multimedia guide
The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Earlier I promised you Sir James Thornhill, well here he is with the tools of his trade behind him on the ledge - that’s just one of the useful facts on the multimedia guide.

Sir James Thornhill

It’s definitely worth a visit, and it’s definitely worth visiting Greenwich for. And if you visit give me a wave!

Reflecting on my week #76

I’ve spent the weekend  mostly out and about with a visit to the hairdressers on Friday, the Ideal Home Show on Saturday and visiting the Painted Hall in Greenwich on its reopening weekend, Sunday.  The working week that preceded it was also long and busy, and I learnt that my joint pain is real.  I mean, I knew it was real because I can feel it, but talking to Helen at Actually Mummy it was reassuring to know it’s not just me.

I used my last day of leave on Friday - well the last that I’m taking, I’m rolling four days into next year as I’m hoping there’ll be more holidays.  Although I’ve done little to make the big American holiday happen for June.  I started, it got complicated and then life got busy again.  However we still want to go away in June and yesterday I hit on a new masterplan.  We’ve done walking and cycling holidays before with Inntravel and have never had a bad holiday, MOH had mooted the idea of going to Lisbon when we were talking holidays recently too.  So the masterplan is to put it together - genius hey? 

I think I’ve found a trip that appeals, it’s new for this year and is walking rather than cycling this time.  The overview talks about cheeses, one of the hotels is next to a vineyard and there’s beautiful scenery too.  We can tag on a few nights in Lisbon too, I think probably at the beginning of our trip while we’re still operating at city-speed.  It could be a very cunning plan indeed…

Friday I spent way longer than I expected to in the hairdressers.  The pink, which went in in November, has been replaced with orange (it’s not as bad as it sounds, but I can’t get a good photo yet!) and that involved more bleaching before the colour, hence the entrapment in the salon.  It wasn’t as bad as I make it sound, but nearly three hours is a long time to be sitting in a gown looking less than glam.

Last week I started on my ‘be active, eat well and exercise’ campaign and it’s gone pretty well if I’m honest.  I’ve walked to and from work everyday, even if I didn’t want to as the bus seemed to be at least 15 minutes away, and I’m way too impatient to wait.  I’ve done well avoiding bars of chocolate, though I did crack open a packet of crisps on the day I took soup to work as I was still hungry.

The exercise DVD is getting easier, which is good I think, and I’ve only missed or shortened it on a couple of days which is much better than I expected.  I’ve another week on this level, then there’s a new DVD to master - and one that I’ve not made it to before.  I’ve not tried on the outfit again (yet) but my everyday clothes are starting to feel more comfortable so I’m hoping it’s good news, but I know it’s not time yet to stop and celebrate.  We’ve a few nights out planned in the next few weeks, which will need navigating and they’ll be the celebrations.

I’ll share more about my visit to the Ideal Home Show here tomorrow, but it seemed quite quiet although I’m not sure if that’s because everyone was either marching or avoiding Central London because of the march, or just not at the show for whatever reason.  There were many of the same things as usual at the show, but with a few exciting additions, which for me were:







The Willow Wands are fantastic, I bought three of the small size for £20 and plan to use two of them in our large black pots by the conservatory, replacing the box ball.  One box has already gone and I’ve a feeling a second may not last too long.  The box caterpillar has made it to Greenwich and while we can spray them, I wonder if it’s just a matter of time and maybe it’s time for a change - but we’ll see. 

The highly decorative teak furniture on the Omia stand is imported from Bali and the detail is exquisite, and there’s much more to it than the cabinet I’ve shown, but more on that another day.  Puji also specialise in teak furniture, but have so much more too. They’re a Manchester based company who specialise in sustainable and eco-friendly reclaimed teak furniture, but again more on them another day.

There was only one house as such this year, although it was a modular house that can evolve with families and so was actually two houses.  But it’s a clear trend for the show, there’s definitely less houses than there used to be and while that’s a shame it’s understandable as I’m sure they’re not cheap to make happen.

The good news was that the garden ‘room sets’ were back and the garden section was in the main part of the hall.  I’ll be sharing photos from the four garden room sets, although I’ve less photos of the family fun space.  There was no voting for these spaces this year, but my vote would be for the Upcycled Garden and not because I had a lovely chat with Max McMurdo, the designer and recycler extraordinaire - he was lovely, and happy to chat, despite trying to snaffle his lunch at the same time.



There were room sets galore, the theme was a bit lame this year I thought - royalty - but there were some lovely items in the rooms and I’d be happy to have too. I’ll be sharing more of the all of the room sets, and the garden ones too here, so look out for those.

On Sunday we were off out again, but closer to home. I’d got tickets for the re-opening weekend of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College. It’s pretty much next to where I work and so it was nice to pop along and see what’s been going on in the building next door. And it is pretty amazing, we’d heard that following the restoration there was a £12 entry fee, which sounded steep. However, it’s worth it and you can use your ticket for the whole year which, even if you’re just a visitor, isn’t such a bad deal.

The ceiling takes your breath away, you might have seen photos of it already but I’m sharing another here and will share more later on in the week. It really is a gem and no photo can do it justice, so if you’re ever in Greenwich go along and see it for yourself. And give me a shout, if I’m able to I’ll pop out and say hello.

The Painted Hall in Greenwich

Fog in the park

This year has been a bit of a one for weather, hasn’t it? And it keeps on coming.  The latest instalment was a bit of a pea-souper, or fog if you’ve no idea what I mean, and it made yesterday’s walk to work through Greenwich Park just a little bit more tranquil, and mysterious, than normal.  So much so that I couldn’t help but pause, just for a moment and capture it with my trusty iPhone. 

A view across a tranquil Greenwich Park in Fog
a closer look at the same tree

Somehow the fog makes the trees look more delicate, and more beautiful than they would against the usual morning sky, don’t you think?

Fog in the dip in Greenwich Park

As my route took me through the park I was curious to see how the fog had enveloped it, hugging it’s contours and softening the distant views. 

Trees in the distance and the maritime museum on the right

But, even so, it’s still not what I’d call cold, and that’s something I’ll happily take, but just so you know weather, colder isn’t needed, and nor is any more of your extremes, if that’s ok...