London

Under the bridge

London is full of surprises. Sometimes, these surprises are hidden away from prying eyes, behind walls and high fences. But, just as often they are in the most obvious of place, in broad daylight for anyone to see. Providing they look of course.

The Palace of Westminster is just such a place.

On any given day, at any given moment, the streets around the Palace will be crowded with visitors, all taking exactly the same photograph of the famous Big Ben clock. Hundreds of identical photographs taken at the same identical spot, on the bridge overlooking the river.

But within just a few meters of that spot are some steps leading to a tunnel running under the bridge. Follow those steps and you will find the view from under the bridge, bring with it a brand-new perspective on this most famous of landmarks.

Often, that change of perspective is all that is needed to bring new light, and new life, to the things we thought we already knew.

Empty Streets

Have you ever noticed how the world never seems to slow down?

Everything always seems to happen at a breakneck speed. There are never enough hours in the day; never enough time to feel we are totally in control. If only we could finish that last job, we think to ourselves, we will finally be on top of everything, only to have that feeling snatched away when we realise there is always one more job to complete, always one more task to undertake.

An ordered existence constantly seems so tantalisingly close and yet always just out of reach as we find ourselves trapped in the chaos of every day life. And yet, there is order out there. We just have to go out and look for it.

Wandering the deserted streets of London, at 5am before the rest of the world stirs, is a surreal experience. In just a matter of hours these very streets will be packed to bursting point, as huge crowds of office workers who adhere to the rhythm of the corporate world which tells them when to arrive, when to leave, when to eat, and when to work.

But before that hour, just for a short window of time, the city belongs to whoever wishes to claim it. It becomes an oasis of peace in the heart of chaos, a private playground for anyone wishing to follow the beat of a different rhythm.

The truth is, the reason the world never seems to slow down is because we choose to live our lives at that speed. And there is nothing wrong with that. Many people enjoy the exhilaration of life at that speed. But every now and again, it is worth reminding ourselves that it is ok to slow down occasionally, so we can enjoy the empty streets of our lives.

Memories

I have lost count of the number of times I have found myself standing on this very spot, staring up at Big Ben. It brings back so many childhood memories, as I remember the feelings of wonder and excitement, as I waited for the famous bells to chime.

Many years may have passed since those childhood days, but the those feelings are just as strong as they ever were.