My sister made one of her seasonal London day trips today. We had a great time together with a topical cruise down the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich narrated in traditional style by one of the crew. I grew up and worked here for quite a while when I was young, but I was surprised to learn quite a bit from it . We then looked over the Maritime Museum and had lunch in the little cafe there before getting the boat back . It amazes me how you can think you know a place yet have missed a very obvious facet of it.
I’d not really thought much about London’s history from the point of view of the river, but really the river began it all in the first place!
Some fun Thames facts for foreigners.
- I know its spelled Thames but it’s said Tems (how we cringe when we hear its name mispronounced).
- Though originally a beautiful pure river teeming with wildlife it became so smelly (due to its use as general sewer and dumping ground) that Parliament was unable to function for the stink (that’s when the London sewers were created). Happily it’s now once more one of the freshest rivers in the world.
- From the river you can see “Traitors Gate” the notorious river entrance to the Tower of London (few ever made it back out).
- With London’s old muddy clogged roads, the river was once the fastest way to get around and abounded with small craft ferrying folks here and there.
- The previous London bridge (there have been five!) was found to be sinking in Thames mud so was sold and transported to the USA.
- A river cruise is a great way to see London passing lots of famous landmarks, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Shard, St. Pauls, and Big Ben, to name but a few.
- The Thames is a tidal river rising several meters, so the current changes in different directions throughout the day (making it tricky to navigate).
- Pirates were once executed by being chained to a post against a wall of the river for three tides.
- The Thames police were the first British police force (even before the Bow Street Runners).
- On the celebratory opening day of Tower Bridge the bridge failed to open and the first ship crashed into it.
- These are just a few items to wet your appetite. So if you are ever in London take a cruise. You can go anywhere between Henry VIII’s Hampton Court in the west to the Thames barrier in the east on anything between a speed boat and a leisurely wine and dine dinner cruise. It’s all great fun!
I find my joy of living in the fierce and ruthless battles of life, and my pleasure comes from learning something, from being taught something.
—August Strindberg (1849-1912), Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, and painter
I don’t know as I’d say I find joy in the “Fierce and ruthless battles of life.” I’m not at all keen on those lol! But finding pleasure in learning – yes! I’ve always loved to learn (though my teachers might think otherwise!) I was the child sneak reading an encyclopedia under the desk during class. We didn’t have the internet back then but I joined a library at age five and never had my head out of a book from that time on (wonder I wasn’t run over!). But my learning wasn’t limited to books as I became more socially confident I found in every individual a world of fascinating memories and information. I loved home schooling my kids discovering the fascination of science along with them (hardly taught in my all girls school). As I aged and matured I began to add wisdom to my list of topics finding its gems in those “fierce and ruthless battles” aforementioned .
Have I stopped now? Of course not! That would take all the fun out of life!
This statement is so profound one has to let it really sink in. It just makes sense of everything. Where love is, there is God, where God is there is love. It makes no difference the race, the religion, the theology, if there is love there is God too, if there is no love the laws, the doctrines, the works are no more than husks.
“God is a spirit” and “God is love.” This speaks of real love of course the kind that is more concerned with another than itself (not the selfish possession of another Hollywood can tend to hoist on us sometimes.) Love, pure, unconditional, sacrificial love, a touch of God’s spirit, the confirmation of our being made in His image. We know how to love and be loved. We don’t learn it. Babies just love, small children love and need love to thrive.
He could have been a God of war, of power, of justice and legality instead He is love and as His children we are blessed.
When confronted by the statement, “I don’t believe in God”. I ask, “Do you believe in love?” and smile to myself.
Focus on an object—a flower, a tree, a cloud—and take in its wonder.
(Photo from a friend in China)
It’s that time of year when we take in little things, a clump of snow drops, a budding branch and yes, blossom. We notice less when summer throws her abundance, but now, yet in winter’s grip, we see.
I notice the pale blends of brown in the reeds against last years darkened foliage, I watch the cheerful robin with his daily splash of red across my path. I note the places the sun reaches, where the daffodils, already dressed for spring, wave brilliant heads, while their country cousins hide in scarce formed buds.
A month of anticipation, of small beginnings, a month to notice things that might pass us by.
Like trees we must bend with the winds and gales of life. If too rigid we’ll break and come crashing down. Learn from the trees, be flexible, but rooted deep in the earth. This is true strength.
I heard it again yesterday, passed on by my daughter. “He said you’ve always had such strong faith.”I sure don’t feel that way. I know my weakness. If I have strength it is in leaning hard on Jesus.
Resting, sick, (again sigh!) looking at the trees sway outside my window today, He spoke to my heart.
“See,” He said, “like the trees you must bend, move with life. Your roots go deep, no need to fear a little wind, learn to dance in its embrace.”
For years I’ve hardly ever been sick, I’d learnt to resist and fight it. Everyone else got sick but me, hardly never! I’d nurse my coughing, sneezing grand-kids through colds and flu and fevers, secure in the knowledge that I’d not get it myself. Now suddenly three things one after another (thankfully all minor – but somewhat shaking my too rigid belief that “I wont catch it.”) It’s not just my feeling poorly. I realized I must have developed some pride (rigidity) – “That doesn’t happen to me. I don’t get sick.” Yes it can! I realised abruptly.
Looking at the trees I understand. My strength is in my roots, they enable me to sway, but if I become too rigid in any doctrine and lose my flexibility I can be uprooted. Help me Lord to keep my roots wrapped tight in the embrace of your words, but help me sway, stay flexible, open to the winds and currents of life. Let these minor ailments blow through my branches taking with them any old dead twigs or branches that are no longer needed. Help me feel the exhilaration of your presence, in sickness and in health.
It is not the level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. Both attitudes are within our power. … A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy, and no one can stop him.
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008),
There is so much in this wonderful world to learn about, new skills, new perspectives, new ideas, new places, new cultures, amazing creatures and phenomena, old wisdom, new technology, even more exciting everyone has something they can teach you! Become as a child and absorb it all like a sponge!