It’s amazing isn’t it how much time we spend thinking about, planning and travelling abroad for holidays and trips. It’s all about where we can get the cheapest flight to or the most exotic beach destination. Last weekend, however, I discovered something so beautiful and the best thing about it was just how close to home it is. I’ve lived in Chiswick, London for over six months now (many more to come hopefully) and much to my flatmate’s dismay, I’m ashamed to say that until this weekend I had not yet made it down to the river at all. The River Thames is right on my doorstep and snakes through the whole city, and I’ve admired it many times – from afar, from the top of the London Eye, from rooftop bars and buildings, from riverside pubs in Richmond, but I’ve never followed its banks to the district I now call home.
Well, on Sunday it was a beautiful day: cold, crisp and bright. One of those days where the wind is so bitingly cold it makes your skin hurt, but the sky is so bright and blue that you just can’t help but want to be outside. So I donned my warmest gear and ventured out on an afternoon walk. No sooner had I left my flat than a full and unrelenting hailstorm appeared from the sky, so heavy and sudden that within seconds I was covered in what looked like tiny white polystyrene balls. But I was glad I persevered and made it through as by the time I made it down to the river banks it had cleared again.
There were some beautiful scenes along Chiswick Pier, a picturesque promenade where stunning terraced houses lined the river on one side of you and tiny fishing boats, rowing boats and house boats dotted the shallow blue waters on the other. And whilst the odd person jogged, cycled or strolled by with their dog or pram, what I mostly noticed was just how peaceful it was there. Maybe it was the fact that few people were as mental as I was to venture out on a walk for the pleasure of it on such a cold day, but I do find that water brings a sense of calm to a place, its very existence seems to dilute even the busiest of places.
It’s so important to get out in the fresh air and closer to nature where possible, and I find that I really appreciate the chance to clear my head in this way – especially living such a hectic London life. There are plenty of simple ways to achieve this. Take the scenic route instead of the road, opt to walk home from work instead of jumping on the bus or the tube, find the nearest park, botanical gardens or river to where you live, even if it’s just for an hour on the weekend, or a quick change in your weekday schedule. What I’m trying to say is – you don’t always need to go far to explore new things – be reminded that you can find it much closer to home than you might think!