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What I love about Docklands

05 Nov 2017

There’s no place like home

By Stella Barber

I have been away from my apartment in Docklands for three and a half weeks and have necessarily thought a great deal about what makes a place home.

Being a migrant for me, and I think for many, means we don’t feel we totally “belong” anywhere. We are floating between two cultures and two lands.

Yet, as I have been travelling, I have seen that most cities are very much the same in terms of the people who inhabit them.

In every city there are ear-budded teenagers glued to their devices, harried mothers dealing with tantrum throwing children, spellbound lovers arm in arm, bearded baristas steaming our morning lattes, early-risers walking their dogs which often seem to be smaller versions of themselves, street vendors with something vital for sale, pigeons on the lookout for some tasty scraps, panting joggers with pained expressions on their ruddy faces, too-loud talking businessmen sealing a deal by phone, exhausted commuters jostling for seats during the after-five rush hour and, sadly, many sleeping rough under bridges.

All of these people can be spotted whether you are in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Rotterdam or Docklands and in all the smaller towns and villages that make up a city, a country, a place on this earth we share.

It’s perhaps then not the people that change a place, for we will find friendly people and grumpier types anywhere we go. Wherever you find yourself there is always someone willing to show you the way when you are lost or recommend the best place for a special meal or the tucked away cafe that does the “best coffee”.

What maybe sets each place apart are the structures for which they have become renowned. Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St Pauls, the red buses and oh so many more are quintessentially London.

The majestic Edinburgh Castle is instantly recognisable on the hill in Scotland’s beautiful capital. The Erasmas Bridge and inviting Markethal are but two of Rotterdam’s treasured landmarks.

I have explored these and so many more on my travels but the most treasured memories I have of my trip are associated with the water, which always calls me home.

The crashing waves on the secluded beach I enjoyed during my Poldark-sites trek to Charlestown on the Cornish Coast; the sleepy little village called Frinton-on-Sea; where there are no pubs, no concreted car-parks, no rush hour but there is a sandy beach and stunning sunrises to rival any in other more famous resorts; the busy port at Rotterdam with its magnificent bridges, often architectural masterpieces; the Water of Leith that divides the city of Edinburgh; the green-algaed water that eases the boats slowly through Regent’s Canal in East London and London’s own Docklands on the famous Thames.

In each of these places and many more, water provides the setting for relaxation and inspiration – wherever one might travel.

And as I took in the sites and breathed in the aromas of each of these places I was reminded of how much I enjoy my home on the water at Docklands.

My trip was stimulating, exciting and at times exhausting and I know I will want to travel again very soon. But for now, all the stimulation, excitement, joy and water views I need are here, at home, my home in Docklands.

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