Sunday, 12 October 2014

croyden & london

The first two days were hard. This is the first time I have ever really travelled on my own and that reality, on top of being absolutely exhausted, made for a nasty combination. I was filled with a sickening self-doubt, panic, and a bout of homesickness the likes of which I haven't felt since I was ten years old. I've always considered myself to be fairly independent and self-reliant, so the fact that I was having these feelings at all was jarring.

I didn't bring my camera during my first outing from Croyden into London-- it was raining and I was fresh off a nine hour flight during which I barely slept. I couldn't eat and even after a two hour nap, I was still in zombie-mode. So I settled for taking pictures with my eyes.

England bewildered me. The first glimpses of its countryside from my aisle seat on the plane (how did that happen? I swear I booked window) were of a landscape that was green, lush, and set in its ways. The farmland in British Columbia is still so new, it doesn't sit on the land on the same way that the fields do here. On the train from the airport, I stared in disbelief at the row houses. In London, I felt like I was in an episode of Doctor Who.

I had high hopes for my second day. Instead, I was in bed until nearly five o'clock existing somewhere between sleep and a small breakdown. I finally hauled myself out of the house and went to explore the neighbourhood. I found a mesmerizing suburbia and a trail that led to a bronze-age barrow where ancient arrows had been found. It was beautiful-- twisting trees, seas of fern and oceans of heather, a murder of crows, and a broken tree standing alone like a man cursed. I took photographs. I felt gratitude. The next day I wandered the streets of London, stood in awe beneath the ceilings of Saint Paul's cathedral, clung to a blue fence to avoid the flooding Thames, and got very excited over a section of Roman pavement. I returned to Croyden that night exhausted and excited.

The next day, following a chaotic experience with the London train system and a two hour delay, I was on my way to Scotland.

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