Day 85. Achievement 22: visit the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace park

I’ve left you hanging for ages.  Sorry about that.  Have been a little but busy with work and also with a pub quiz I decided to take on.  It’s at the Tabard, next to Turnham Green station.  Wednesday, 8.30pm, with 2-for-1 on curries.

It was a very pleasant day on Sunday, so Man In Shorts and I decided we’d storm up Crystal Palace museum and park.  The visit to the museum was brief.  After hiking up a steep hill to get to its front, which my calves are yet to forgive me for, a locked door (and signs) suggested we went back into the park and used the actual entrance on the other side.

Having complied with the request, and nearly accidentally stumbling into a child-infested fun fair, you can probably imagine the utter delight when a sign on the actual entrance apologised for the museum being closed.  Dodgy central heating, apparently.  If only they had a website on which they could put such information, saving people an hour-long journey across London…

Crystal Palace museum


After a moment of quiet reflection on the museum’s steps, it was time for a gentlemanly saunter around the park.  I was able to point out anoraky things (like the purpose of the sloping wire hanging from the side of the transmitter mast*) and Man In Shorts was able to pretend to care.  Not that he did, you understand.

The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre provided an interesting diversion. On an Astroturf pitch, swathes of foreign gentlemen were engaging in some sort of ball game.  I’m no sports expert, but it seemed to be the same as football — with the crucial difference that handling the ball seemed to be permitted.  If any learned readers know what they might have been playing, do let me know.

Adjacent to the foot-and-handballers, a small racing track was populated by a couple of enterprising young chaps with radio controlled cars.  These were no Tomy efforts; they whipped around the track, engines going like agitated two-stroke garden strimmers.  And either the chaps were smashed or these things are difficult to control.  Motoring expert Man In Shorts couldn’t credit either driver with having a ‘consistent racing line’, nor with keeping the cars under control.  All I know is that the cars were noisy and weaved about the track a lot.  Maybe they were just warming up the tyres, like on F1.

Radio Control

Two stroke

Another diversion came courtesy of an ice cream van.  £1.50 for a 99, in London, in mid-October, was too much for me to resist.  Shorts was quick to note my wandering accent.  He says I got all ‘working man’ when talking to the ice cream man.  But I was the one with the ice cream, not him, so accepted both moral and actual victories.  In my head.

The ‘Dinosaur Park’ opened in 1854, some years before Origin of Species was published, and its theory of evolution shocked and outraged the simple Victorian folk.  Renowned scientist Richard Owen and sculptor Benjamin waterhouse Hawkins headed up team that took visitors on a journey through prehistoric time.



Bromley Council and the National Lottery have funded the restoration of the park and an Audio Trail.  At each of ten points around the dinosaurs, there’s a different bit of audio to listen to.  Shorts assures me it’s good fun.  It’s free to download at

Shorts with sound

Shorts enjoys the Audio Trail

Despite being able to see south-of-the-river from my window, it’s not a place I usually visit.  It’s probably thanks to the apocryphal tales of taxi drivers (…’south of the river? at this time of night? you’re having a giraffe…’) and also that there are very few reasons to actually go there.  Similarities with Leeds increase once you spot petty misbehaviour (some young chaps had jumped the fence and were gayly romping around with the dinosaurs) and the after-effects of a joy-ride.  Quite how one drives an Escort van into the middle of a wooden bridge, in the middle of a public park, is quite beyond me.  Considering the intense heat caused by a vehicle fire, I reckon the bridge is doing well to remain standing:

Burnt van

Ahh, south London.

More photos, as always, on Flickr.

(* it radiates Radio 4 on 720kHz and Spectrum 558kHz.)

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