Postcard from London no.1


Stock photo by pstutorialsws at deviantART, photo of Thames by me
Let's suppose I'd be writing a postcard home. Right now, at this very moment. It would probably go something along the lines of the following:

Dear Mom, Dad, Bro, Grandparents,

London is big, it holds wayyyyy to many people, the housing conditions are some sort of a joke and it's messy. And humidity sucks, so say my knees.


Yep, I'm one of those people who don't like London. I don't like the amount of time I have to spend commuting, the fact it is one big overwhelming concrete jungle and that it's so packed. That getting out of it takes almost two hours. I also can't stand the weather which is fully capable of changing every 30 minutes or less. I don't like the humid climate in general which contributed to me strarting to experience pesky knee pains. Seriously, even -25°C during one winter holiday in Finland didn't mess with me that badly.

Then I started to ponder. I can talk hours and hours about it being the capital of the worst weather ever out there, but there must be some redeeming qualities about London. It can't be all that bad. Besides, it's quite universally known that you need some bad qualities in order to distinguish the good ones. Without darkness there is no light or whatever they say.

So, instead of doing another top 5 or 10 things about London that I hate, I decided to make small series called "Postcard from London". I will talk briefly about things in London that I do like and mostly won't don't appear on touristy sites with countdowns. Oh believe me, I've been there. Saw plenty of countdowns describing how cool London is. The thing is, I don't really feel that the reasons stated there make me blisfully happy that I happen to live here now. Thus the idea of making my own list. Of the things I do like. To keep a slightly better attitude. Because there are couple of things I actually like.

Frankly, I was thinking about starting this series about my favourite market... But that one would be too obvious. Let's leave it for another post. I want to start with my unexpected favourite. Which are... (insert dramatic drumroll here) All the waterways!

narrowboat London Canal UK

One day I was straying in the Camden Town area and I went alongside the canal, just to see how far will I get. I end up going to the very end of the route and back to Camden. As it turned out, this was a tiny bit of a much bigger waterway called Regent's Canal. I did mention before in a blog post that I have special place in my heart to all ponds, lakes, seas. Now I apparently have to add waterways to the list. Thankfully, there are many of those on british soil, so I have plenty of canals to check out.

narrowboat London Canal UK

And also I realised that the first time I've ever heard about canals was while reading Phillip Pullman's 'Northern Lights' (aka 'Golden Compass' renamed after that awful movie) as a child. Aside the fact that I was probably a bit to juvenile to grasp deeper meaning of it, I remember quite vividly heroine of the book, Lyra was often playing with other children along the waterways in Oxford. As a less than 10-year old kiddo I couldn't really picture the canals and how the heck anybody could live on the boat if it was a canal, something small. And boat being something rather big. But, since I was internet impaired back then I never acutally managed to check it out. It was pretty amazing to see it after all those years with your own eyes.

But, let's get back on tracks, because I can talk about this book for hours. Canals are usually more quiet places, away from all the hustle and bustle of streets. I think this was the most important factor that influened me in becoming a fan of waterways. Coming to London from a way smaller Wrocław was like jumping in deep lake. I never thought about need of silence and wanting to get away from the crowds in my whole life. Sure, Wrocław can be crowded sometimes, but not that heavily that I begun to experience slight social phobia. So, for the sake of my own precious sanity, I had to find a place to chill.

narrowboat London Canal UK

narrowboat London Canal UK

narrowboat London Canal UK

duck London Canal UK

narrowboat London Canal UK duck nest

narrowboat London Canal UK

Other reason was the absolutely adorable narrowboats. As I managed to figure out, many of them are regular homes to various folk. You can even rent a room in those if you are lucky. And what captured my heart is how they adapt that little to no space to their lifestyles, likings and needs. It's exactly the same as you'd arrange your portrait collection above the fireplace, but, well, your fireplace being a boat. I've seen many of those narrowboats during my walks alongside canals, but none of them was identical. Same as you don't see two identical living rooms.

narrowboat London Canal UK coffee table

narrowboat London Canal UK rooster bell decor

narrowboat London Canal UK dachshund statue

narrowboat London Canal UK wekkingtons decor flowerpot

narrowboat London Canal UK flowerpot decor garden mini

narrowboat London Canal UK flowerpot mini garden

That I think makes the canals even more cozy and welcoming, like a funky neighbourhood. But, well, on water! With plenty of ducks and swans around instead of pidgeons and ravens.

narrowboat London Canal UK skull googles decor

narrowboat London Canal UK chimney

narrowboat London Canal UK dorian gray stained glass

narrowboat London Canal UK stained glass narrowboat London Canal UK flowerpot decor

Another concept that crossed my mind was simply how awesome it is to be able to move around with your home. Being just limited by the shore line of the canal or river. This kind of vagabond lifestyle made part of my wandering heritage [note]My great grandfather was of Hutsul ethnic minority which lived a semi-nomadic lives; and my grandpa made his career around travelling as a pro-driver. Can't just ignore that![/note] boil a bit and realise how much I miss just that - traveling. Not just being somewhere else, the process of getting there. That's the best part. Sadly, for now, walk by the canal has to be enough.

seagulls waterway canal london

seagulls waterway canal london raven

moor mooring post london canal

To sum everything up - as I've mentioned, I love to chill near water. One friend even joked that I might be one of the genuine frog people that live in Innsmouth ;) But I just can't help it! Every time I come up with new ways that proximity of water relaxes me. So, this time I came up with a boat analogy -yes, I'm currently mooring in London. But I feel somewhat uptifted, knowing that I can hoist the sails and just go.

Now admit it, you didn't expect me to segway from simple walk to Paolo Coehlo style quotes, eh?

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