I had a meeting at The Royal Festival Hall earlier which is a bit of a pain to get to. When I have taken the tube or train there previously, it involves a number of line changes and takes about 40 minutes. So after much indecision this morning (whilst bright, it was very cold), I checked out the Flow app and found a shower venue less than 500m from my destination. So I put on a few layers, packed a towel and a change of clothes and headed out.
It was a beautiful morning, bright sunshine with a fine haze still being burnt off. As I cycled through Kensington Gardens it suddenly struck me how lucky I was. It was a beautiful day, unconstrained by carriages, delays and stale air. Instead I was enjoying a stunning view of The Shard rising up against the backdrop of the London skyline as I cycled past The Diana Memorial Fountain. To my left there was The Serpentine, with pedalos moored up and ducks going about their morning ablutions. To my right a couple of groups exercising with varying degrees of intensity.
My journey continued past Buckingham Palace, down The Strand and Whitehall (I could just as easily have gone past Horse Guards Parade), took in the delicious, unmistakeable smell of melted chocolate as I went past The Houses of Parliament, over the river (through the traffic which was at a standstill) and onto The Southbank before reaching my target venue, Kings Sports Centre, less than 500m from The Royal Festival Hall. I locked up my bike, paid for a day pass (£6), had a shower and went to my meeting about how to raise awareness for a new business.
Millions of people every year, travel thousands of miles to see what I saw this morning. Now contrast that with the last time I made the same journey, but by public transport, I saw the inside of a couple of train carriages, with nothing but blackness, interrupted by the stations, beyond. I had to stand in a crowded carriage, everyone wishing they were somewhere else, surrounded by the smell of cheap deodorant battling body odour and finished the journey sweating and dispirited. I had no memories and no experiences I wished to take with me; it was something that had to be done, a means to an end rather than an end in itself. How lucky I felt to have had a different start to the day today and how different my mind set was going into that meeting.