You may recall my departure from Cobham England was a "character building" moment with an hour late bus that threw me into a tail-spin to catch 2 trains to my last pet sit in England-West Wickham. Alas, I made it by the skin of my oyster shell.
Located in the suburban area of London, West Wickham predates the Norman conquest of 1066 A.D. (of course).🙄 Here, I had the privilege of pet sitting 3 adorable fuzees while their 2-legged parents enjoyed a holiday. It's so cool to live like a local, conquering an English oven, scolding a British vacuum, or just interpreting public transportation schedules. It sure beats the sterile hotel, restaurant travel routine. Yawn...
Here I learned how to administer Insulin via eye drops to a cat with fur so dense it would intimidate a sea otter. The trick; sit down, place kitty on his back on your lap, gently open his eyes and drop, drop in each eye. I'm convinced "he knew" this was for his benefit. Plus the snuggles and treats helped.
Taking day trips to London were a short train ride; touring The Tower Bridge - a must on my list. Arriving mid-morning, I quickly realized I was under dressed and proceeded to purchase the most dog ugly scarf known to mankind. Don't judge me! It served a warm purpose, then promptly got donated to a Charity Shop.
My trusty host recommended I tour the bridge at a specific time, as this day in particular was a big hairy deal; raising the bridge to allow massive sailboats to pass. Another kick in the teeth for my fear of heights.
As I climbed the multiple levels of stairs, I loved peering out the lead paned windows, fascinated with the architecture. TRAVEL TIP: Never take the elevator-do some lunges, get your booty in shape, and enjoy all the untold benefits of a side route. In the case of the Tower Bridge, you're up close and personal with its raw form, which has been meticulously maintained over the centuries. How very British.
Strolling across the first expanse, I staked out my one foot square of day-tripper real estate amongst the heaps of tourists. Like impatient children, we all perched in a myriad of positions; waiting, cameras cocked and ready, looking down with anticipation through the thick glass floor. I couldn't resist getting horizontal and grabbing a photo via the mirrored ceiling. I received a few eye-daggers of "Crazy Damn American." Yes, I wore knickers that day.
Then it happened. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic stopped, the bridge opened like a blooming flower and multiple sailboats glided under her open expanse. Well, gee Sandi, that sounds kind of sexual.🤣 They made a circular parade of color with cheering crews, and opulent sponsor names fluttering in the wind. The Thames River was a gracious host. A Serendipity-I was unaware that these same boats would be racing in St Tropez France, where I would be pet sitting the following week. Of course, with my air of confidence, I hacked my assets into the "very posh" award ceremony in France. More on that later.
In addition to learning some of the craaazy history about this circa 1886 bridge, you can walk across one span, then circle back on the other, thus taking in the entire view of London's famed skyline.
Of course, during my adventure, I suddenly had to go poop. Yes, you read that correctly! Call it what you wish-a crap, lay a cow pie, a dump, or take a sh*t. What is it with age and receiving 9 seconds of notice for this bodily function? Remember in your youth when you could hold it for hours? Those days are gone, finito! Can I get an "AMEN" from my brothers and sisters over 50? Visualize this little oyster sprinting down the stairs to the nearest bathroom with bulging eyes and puckered cheeks; priceless! Made it just in time.😵 TRAVEL TIP: Don't drink a 645 ounce coffee before a full day of site seeing. I digress.
The entry fee (₤10.60, roughly $15.00) includes the nearby mechanical rooms for the bridge. Full of spinning gears, whistles, and Goliath-sized tools, this area sports precisely painted equipment that moves like molasses, keeping this bridge humming along for over 135 years. I swear you could eat off the floor; spotless. While I'm not an engineer, this place will inspire you and provide a respect for all things Willy Wonka.
After a full day, my brain was spinning with history overload. I strolled with an empty colon and stomach along the Thames River. It was late afternoon with an air of celebration. Hey, someone had the splendid idea to set up a bar along the river; cool! Nothing like "another" pint of Hard Cider to polish off the day. Sadly, on this day, no double decker buses jumped the open bridge. To understand that comment, check out the video above.
Walking from the train back to my pet sit home, I had to, dare I confess, find a bush in the city park to tinkle away that last pint. Shhh...that's our little secret.
As I prepare to leave this extraordinary country, I take with me a renewed sense of just how brief our lives are along with a deeper commitment to live-every-day-to-its-fullest. I hope my stories inspire you to examine YOUR life; to risk, jump, explore, and set in motion your fullest, richest, belly-laughable, OMG I can't believe life could be this much fun mindset.
With that, this little traveler is off to Paris. Until then, Au revoir.