You know that friend who you can go for years without seeing, but once you meet over coffee, dinner or shopping it’s like no time has passed? That friend, who you may not want to live with, but you soak up every minute when you are actually together. That friend who you learn something new from each time you’re together, and you never get bored of. That friend, I said good-bye to yesterday. That old friend, is London.
I know, I know. It sounds cheezy. London is such a vast, detailed, old city where there is a constant feed of visual and emotional energy. I now know I don’t want to live there permanently, but I do know it has a piece of my heart, and I will probably be through this city multiple times in my future. Something tells me today wasn’t good-bye, it was “until next time”.
My intent at the start of the day was to rent a bike and ride through Hyde Park. After a couple times trying at the Barclays stations (all throughout London!) and my credit card wouldn’t swipe, I decided just to keep on walking. To my right, was The Orangery, just outside Kensington Palace on the far west side of Hyde Park. It’s an orange brick building, with south-facing windows, that Queen Anne used in the 1700’s as a greenhouse and for entertaining. The whole of the inside is painted white and each table is graced with white linens and a little orange tree as a centrepiece. I decided this was a very happy Plan B and I sat down to enjoy half-past-elevensies!
Hyde Park is one of my favourite places of London, simply because it seems that so much of normal every day life happens there without the hustle of people you find everywhere else in London! Men in tights jogging. Old women feeding pigeons. Picnics. Bird watchers. Ladies walking their dogs, or kids. Part of it is well manicured and spotted with various monuments (Italian Fountains, Princess Diana Memorial), but my favourite part is the untamed acres of Hyde Park. Trails winding through forest and some lone trees standing tall; the whole area beckons the athlete and romantic in me to stay longer. Today, it seemed it was waiting for spring. A month from now, it will look very different.
I discovered another coffee shop on my hit list. Walked The Mall past St. Clarence House and enjoyed a dessert while sitting on the Queen Victoria Monument, watching the sunset over Buckingham Palace. Happy sigh.
Walking over the Westminster Bridge towards the London Eye, I felt like I should be walking backwards, watching Big Ben get smaller and smaller behind me. I didn’t want to say good bye.
I enjoyed fish and chips at an old pub and meandered Covent Garden one last time. Off in the distance I heard a familiar tune, “Home”, being played by a street performer, and I found that ironic. After stopping to take in the moment, I bid adieu to another favourite spot of London, and was off into the transit of the night to take me home to Chelmsford.
I don’t think I can quite justify what this time away in England has done for me or in me. Perhaps one day words won’t escape me. But for right now, my heart is full, and I am ready for home.