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The Year of the River

In the Chinese calendar, 2013 was the Year of the Snake. Personally, when I look back on 2013, I’ll think of it as the Year of the River.

Why? Well, it seems that in 2013 dear old Father Thames has been busier than ever. In this year alone three new bridges have been proposed across the Thames in south west London. One from Battersea Square to Imperial Wharf, one from the new Nine Elms development to Chelsea and finally, Joanna Lumley’s bizarre but beautiful garden bridge on the Southbank. It’s typical, you wait 75 years for a new bridge across the Thames in south London (the last was Chelsea Bridge in 1937) and then three come along at once! But perhaps we could argue that the unity Londoners felt in the epic party of 2012 has spilled over into desire to have closer physical links between north and south.

Then there’s The Mayor’s Thames Festival which was a bigger and grander affair this year than ever before. In fact ever since the Queen’s Jubilee Regatta, the Thames has emerged as a focus for celebrations, as though we’ve rolled back the clock 200 years. I’m half expecting the Thames to freeze this winter and then we’ll all be out with our skates and stalls on the frozen river like some scene for a Canaletto.

Everywhere you look on the Thames these days, it’s bustling with activity - river boat services, barges, sailing schools, people treasure hunting on the banks (indeed even as I write this i’m preparing to go to an engagement party on Battersea Barge moored at Nine Elms). In 2013, it feels as though the Thames has redefined itself not as a line dividing Londoners, but one that connects us.

From everyone at T&L, a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Jon Watt is editor of the Clapham & Battersea and Fulham editions of Time & Leisure Magazine.