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London Meanderings via Bicycle

by:Rachel

I stood stock still in the middle of the London street, traffic pouring by on either side of me as I watched John’s back quickly growing smaller in the distance. Me and my hired bike were on our own; well, except for the procession of buses and taxis swishing by on either side of me and then, beyond them, the hoards of tourists taking advantage of the sunny day. It had been John’s suggestion for us to hire these city bikes to move from place to place and at this moment, as I stood frozen in fear in the midst of the city bustle, I was having my doubts!When John was only about an inch tall in my field of vision, he looked back and realised that I was no longer following him; he started to laugh:). I waited for a break in the flow of traffic and then hustled my way across the lanes to the safety of the kerb. One thing that I was sure I remembered from my younger days— from days where I happily rode my bike in traffic—was that I should be by the kerb. But the memories of such bicycle rules have grown fainter with each new thing I’ve learned and, on top of that, I had never ridden my bike on the left side of the road before! Eventually, I caught up with John, and we managed to travel along at a pleasant enough pace on the left side of traffic, sharing the bus lane with the buses whenever possible. And, despite the tight knot in the bottom of my stomach, I was enjoying myself; but I must say, I had the same sort of feeling I might have if I was riding on a roller coaster that hadn’t had a safety evaluation in the last five years!

This all happened yesterday—yesterday which was John and my seventh anniversary. We left ALL the kids with friends, and drove the hour and a half to London. Parking wasn’t an issue as it was Sunday, so we left the van a couple blocks from Tower Bridge and ‘hoofed’ it for a while before climbing on the Tube, then the bicycles.

Highlights of the day included: that first cycle ride we had from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus, finding an Italian gelateria tucked off the main road and eating gelato, the prime rib we both ordered in the tall and narrow Italian restaurant, riding double on the bicycle through Hyde park as we searched for a ‘cycle bay’ to find another one, seeing the rough stone of Big Ben towering above us.

Lowlights:-): Sore feet, the heat in the tube, our second cycle ride when we had frustration after frustration in finding available bicycles (when we DID both get one we experienced the reality of how large a distance the city centre of London spans not to mention the confusion of detours!), darkness falling and the stress of wondering if we’d find a cycle bay with two empty slots where we could ditch the bikes, trying to find a tube or bus station to take us back to tower bridge, and the frustration of the day growing ever later (we eventually arrived home near midnight!).

I’m not as young and carefree as I was ten years ago and I am thankful, so thankful, for uneventful, simple routine:). But I must say, the lowlights mainly involved stress of the moment (like sore feet!) and the unknown (like were we EVER going to get back to the van!). So I can look back on everything the day after, when my feet are only semi-sore, and relish the fun and adventure of a day out in London with just the hubby, celebrating our life together.

9 Responses to “London Meanderings via Bicycle”

  1. Beth Goff
    May 31st, 2011 15:56
    1

    What an amazing adventure!!!! I remember when you used to say to me “I wish I had more adventure in my life.” Well I must say, you’ve certainly had your share since then. Much of your day sounds exciting and very special….just the 2 of you! The scary part for me would be getting separated from each other….well, almost. You can manage almost anything if you’re together. Glad you had such a celebration for your anniversary.

  2. Beth Goff
    May 31st, 2011 15:57
    2

    The pictures are great!!!

  3. Rachel
    June 1st, 2011 03:46
    3

    Yes, I’ve had my fair share of adventures… they usually feel rather stomach-lurching when I’m having them, but they add colour to life! Getting separated would be rather awful, but that’s when having mobile phones is so useful!
    It was a fun day and my feet no longer hurt, so that is a happy thing:-).

  4. Jessica
    June 1st, 2011 14:14
    4

    oh rachel, how i enjoyed this post… a big huge smile on my face! love reading your adventures and feeling like i’m joining you if just for a moment. love you!

  5. Caryn
    June 2nd, 2011 07:46
    5

    Sounds like you had a fantastic day. It’s always great to have some time together without the kids.
    Great to read about your adventures! xx

  6. Bri
    June 13th, 2011 12:46
    6

    Happy Anniversary Dearest. So glad you and John were able to spend the day together alone.

    I still feel sad that we didn’t get to spend our day in London almost 9 years ago….

  7. Rachel
    June 13th, 2011 14:43
    7

    Lol! Bri, it just means you need to come over sometime… we’ll leave all the kids with the men and gallivant about like care-free twenty-somethings:-).

  8. Susana Clancy
    June 18th, 2011 21:27
    8

    Charissa took me to Key West for my birthday and we had the same idea to rent bikes and ride around the island….when I was hopping on the bike I turned to her and said …gee I havent been on a bike since that bike accident where i broke all those bones and landed in the hospital…we laughed but as I started to ride in the very busy traffic, I like you Rachel froze and watched her back get smaller and smaller. But thanks to God I recovered and we had a great ride around Key West. Thanks for sharing that story

  9. Rachel
    June 20th, 2011 15:58
    9

    That’s so funny that we had a similar experience, Susana! Glad you got over your fear, like me:).

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