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London is a favourite holiday spot. Here’s a beautiful account of our author’s trip to this picturesque city and how she found comfort in the new land.
I was dizzy with excitement as we were visiting my sister’s family for the first time. The only thought which bothered me was the cold temperature – would I be able to manage? Would we fall sick? Will my daughter find it difficult to sight-see in such a freezing climate? I badly wanted this trip to be smooth and happy; however I could not ignore these anxieties.
The travel time from Dubai to London was too long for my daughter who was as restless as the mustard seeds spluttering in hot oil! When we landed and stepped out of the Gatwick airport, a sudden blast of cold wind tore at us. We had never seen such big raindrops in our lives. You can imagine our state at minus 2 degrees celsius! My hands and face became so numb that I couldn’t smile or talk. I was as cold as frozen iron. I thought I had turned into a statue when I realized that I could see my breath!
We were staying at my sister’s house which stood by the Thames River. The water flowed by innocently with a thin delicate mist dancing over it. When the mist joined hands with rain, it created a masterpiece. Each ripple shimmered as if God was writing on the river with a silver pencil. By this time, I started enjoying the brightly coloured warm clothes which we wore – boots, leg warmers, gloves, scarves and hats.
We visited the usual tourist spots. One such morning when we stepped out, we were in for a beautiful shock. I saw popcorns floating or were they white fairies or sprinkles of white dust? Suddenly, I realised it was snow! It was falling on the trees, on the road, on me. I stood with my arms outstretched, sticking out my tongue. Snowflakes landed politely on me, swirled around my legs like pet cats do and then landed softly without a sound on the road. I was giggling and smiling like a child let loose in a candy store. Everything around me looked bleached in white. Time stood still. It was magical.
By lunch time, the sky cleared and I could see soft rays of sunshine, and by tea time, it was raining. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My friend said, “London weather is as unpredictable as a woman’s mood.” He was right!
London has innumerable castles and historical towers. On one side, the city is bursting with offices, schools and streets always full of busy people and on the other side these iconic castles and towers stand so proud and unbothered by all this rush. Such a contrast – like the black and white of the eye!
The most unforgettable place was Guildford, a small county on the outskirts of the city. When we stepped out of the Guildford train station, I thought I was inside a fairy tale book. There was a small stream trickling by. It was drizzling and there were huge trees with shining leaves as green as a fresh capsicum! The trees had such huge hollows; it was big enough for me to get in. Between the trees and right above the stream, was a small arched bridge. I would never forget this image. It was a page right from Enid Blyton’s classic books. The cold silence here soothed us, refreshed us. A very orderly row of ducks walked towards the stream and one by one, very obediently they jumped into the stream. My daughter went near the ducks to feed them but the ducks were very shy and waddled away.
We never forget our ‘first-time’ memories, do we? I will never forget the first time I saw snow, the proud castles and towers, the chattering tube trains and the very picturesque Guildford County.
But one thing that was conspicuous and captivating was those red bricks and white windows. All the houses and blocks were built with red bricks and all the windows were white. Despite the numerous changes in the city, this aspect was striking. A sense of motherly strength, it gave a comforting energy. And to me the red bricks and white windows meant a homely welcome and warm hugs in a new city. The cold stopped bothering me. We did not fall sick. We had started to enjoy the chill weather. It was exciting to dress up in beautiful winter accessories.
On this holiday, we shed our home-skins and returned as newly polished shoes. And I learnt that it is better to let go of those annoying little fears before a holiday and simply enjoy each day as it comes!
Image of Thames river via Shutterstock
Archana was raised in Chennai and lives in Dubai.She was a banking professional for
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