Raise your hand if you’re going to the Olympics this summer.
No, I’m not going either. I was never a big fan of London. I went when I was fifteen as part of a group of high school students seeing all of Europe in 23 days. It was one of those break-neck-speed bus tours with 32 adolescents and five adults wondering why the hell they volunteered for the job.
London was our first stop, and it was also my first experience with jet lag. I don’t remember much except I slept through a Shakespeare play at Stratford-on-Avon and hoped no one would rat me out to my theatre teacher back home. London was grey, there was never any sun, no ice in any of our drinks, and the tiny room three of us were crammed into smelled of mold and World War II. Plus, their bacon looked weird. As a fifteen year old, you’re capable of judging an entire country based on their breakfast foods. Cooked tomatoes and baked beans in the morning?
It just seemed wrong.
But then my husband and I went to England, and I fell in love with the city. Maybe it helped that we weren’t traveling with thirty-two sleep-deprived teenagers with raging hormones. Maybe it had to do with a friend of my husband’s (Steven) – an actual Londoner who showed us his hometown, and some wonderful places we never would’ve found without him.
Lock & Company Hatters – Founded in 1676 (London)
As a recovering agoraphobic, I had told my husband not to count on me walking all over the city. Making my way along crowded sidewalks with thousands of people I don’t know is not exactly on “My Favorite Things” list. But I forgot to tell Steven, and he had other plans. Maybe because he was such a great tour guide, or because he knew the city so well, he actually got me out into the streets and walking all over London. And yes, I did cross the Millennial Bridge – something I had sworn repeatedly I would never do. Here’s a photo from my p.o.v. that I took as evidence.
And here’s an actual picture of me (part of me) on the bridge.
That’s my terrified face.
London is now one of my favorite places.
But that’s not the secret I want to share with you – the one I want to keep just between you and me. It’s what I found in London – a place so special that most people don’t even know it’s there. It’s not on any tours, or in most books about what-to-see in London. You have to look hard to find it. You certainly won’t see it while sitting in one of those double-decker red tour buses that circle the city. But it’s there – winding its way, just north of central London, snaking unseen by those only visiting the city.
They call it Regent’s Canal, and instead of writing about it, I want to show it to you – with a little help from some of my photos, some video by viagensimagens.com, and Kate Rusby, a wonderful English singer.
Here’s why I’m sharing it with you:
Sometimes we get so busy doing our Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London tours in life –all those chores, obligations and responsibilities that we have – that we forget to do something just for ourselves.
For no other reason except it’s not in our schedule for the day. It’s our Regent Canal moment – beautiful, relaxing, and something that makes us feel good just by taking a journey that doesn’t get us anywhere.
Sit back and enjoy it. It’s all yours.