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London's Thames River runs through the middle of the city, past landmarks like Westminster and the London Eye, under Tower Bridge and London Bridge.
The Thames is still a working river, with ferries and cargo barges still plying up and down everyday, creating plenty of chop, especially when the nine meter tide is high. This is the time when showering on my boat becomes a little hazardous, and more than once I've been bracing myself against the wet room wall with shampoo in my eyes as a big wave knocks me sideways.
I live on the Thames, on a beautiful old restored Dutch Clipper called The Onderneming, which means I am at the mercy of every tide and passing tourist boat for anything like a sure footing in the galley. Sleeping at night however is bliss. The gentle rocking is soothing and once you get used to the creaking of the old barge, peaceful.
I used to live in England's South Downs National Park, overlooking the huge expanse of woodland, where I would go running most mornings, watching out for deer and foxes. But when work took me to London I knew I would need to find myself a little patch of nature in the big smoke. Having grown up on the beach in Australia, surfing, swimming, boating, snorkeling, it's always been the thing I have missed the most living in the UK - that London is not on the coast. But the Thames - dirty, grey, crowded - still provides me with my link to the water.
When I come out of the hatch in the morning the first thing I check is the tide, and then whether I've got some visitors floating past. Ducks, geese, swans and coots are regulars, looking for anything me and my boating community might be willing to throw overboard. One of my neighbors fishes for eels, another launches a small sailing boat. I occasionally put my kayak off the side and go for a paddle.
But mostly I sit up on deck every morning, rain or shine, with a cup of tea and my iPad, reading the paper or simply just watching river life go by. Guests have felt sick at dinner parties, not used to the constant rocking movement. My little nieces love to visit for our pirate parties, where they pose under the mast with Tower Bridge behind them.
I never for a second forget I am not floating. The world is always shifting, floating, so for me it's a beautiful connection to shift and float within it.
And even though I have one of the world's busiest and richest cities all around me, I am in a little piece of calm and blue.
- Tania Paschen @taniapaschen
Communications Officer, Global Ocean Legacy at Pew Environment Group
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