Day 12 of 80 — Boats

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 12 : Boats

When I first moved to London, I wanted to live south of the River (a controversial choice). My main argument ? If you live South, you tend to cross bridges more often. And bridges are one of London’s best features. Well, they are a side effect of London’s best asset : the River Thames.

So I moved South ; South-West, in Roehampton, just up the hill from Putney. And I discovered something AMAZING : river boats aren’t only for sailors, hipsters or tourists ; there are commuter boats, too !

Indeed, the Thames Clipper will take you all the way from Putney (or Greenwich, in the East) to central London for a mere £7.7 on an oyster card. More expensive than the tube, yes, but with better scenery… and still much cheaper than a river cruise.

That discovery illuminated my first year in London. A couple of times a month or so, instead of the 45 cycle ride into town, I would treat myself to a Thames Clipper journey, my loyal Brompton folded by my side (I needed it to cycle from home to boat and from boat to library, or wherever it was I was going). On a sunny day, I would sit outside, on the deck, enjoying the view, the smell of water, the company of other commuters, and the feeling of becoming a true Londoner.

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