We parked in the Westfield Centre so we could use the DLR from Stratford to reach Island Gardens, the last stop before Greenwich, since we felt we would be in the best position to get shots of even the moored craft. In the early part of the morning the one missing ingredient was sunshine. Also we found only four vessels moored up, just across from us, in front of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.
Upriver from us was moored the vast floating town, the Cruise Ship, Europa, which was soon approached by a Fire tug as it loosed its moorings to depart. We had walked out of the DLR station across the road, passing the entrance to the Foot Tunnel to Greenwich, before finding ourselves a spot by the railings. To give myself a solid platform to support my camera and long lens (once again the Tamron 150-600mm!), I extended the monopod to the ground, and fastened a bungee tightly to these railings, and set the camera in the quick release adapter and adjusted the height to suit my eye-level. I then slung the other body with my standard zoom lens around my neck; I was ready for most situations now.
Colin reminded me of the ball dropping at midday, but in fact it was one o'clock, and we were unsure whether that was Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or British Standard Summer Time (BST) – turns out it was 1pm BST! But we set alarms for each hour from 11.00 BST, and due to our chatting, very nearly missed the crucial correct time! Fortunately, a man nearby who had learned that we intended to capture this event, broke in to remind us of the time, just as it began its slow climb to the top of its pole!
The mist slowly dispersed, but the sun was vary late to arrive, but there was quite a lot of more general activity, including the arrival of the Royal Barge, that had carried the Queen and Prince Philip on the occasion of her Sixtieth Anniversary – there were rowers, but that was for show, as it gently motored against the tide! The public soon began to fill the space at the railings, and we learned that many of the Tall Ships were moored elsewhere, at the O2 Arena and Canary Wharf, though soon they began to arrive between us and Greenwich, though sadly not under full sail, so not as regal as offshore at the Isle of Wight or Falmouth.
We broke off for a snack lunch under the trees in the park, before I gathered my gear and began walking beyond the gardens in an easterly direction, and as we set off the sun finally burned off some of the cloud cover to give us a pale blue sky, and it became warmer.
Along the way we met and chatted to other members of the public and at one stage were hailed with: "Aren't you going to photograph an Eighty-Nine-Year-old Man on his Birthday?" I turned around and fired off a shot as I replied, "Certainly!" Then turned the camera around to show them the shot and handed the trio a card so that they could view it once I had created the gallery – they were thrilled.
A short while later, a bit further along the path, we spotted a female beachcomber, and I soon managed a shot or two as she searched the foreshore, as we came along that part of the beach she had come back up to the path,so we were able to enquire as to what she had found, and I was able to own up to taking photos, with ease as the husband said: "We spotted you earlier, and said I think that chap is photographing my wife!" It was said with such charm, I took the opportunity to show all three of that party just what I had captured. The lady had been collecting portions of bricks and tiles with French names moulded in the fragments, and before we parted finally and headed back to the DLR, we both helped to add to her collection.
We got directions from the husband to Crossharbour and took our return trip to Stratford and home, having had a thoroughly enjoyable day by the river.