Monday, June 4, 2012


Much to report!

First, being a very long four day Queen's Jubilee weekend, my boiler has decided to not make hot water. This is ever so slightly frustrating. Service people may not come for a few days. I am considering taking a bath like they did in the centuries before hot water, by boiling it on the stove and carrying it up to the bath. I wonder how long it would take?

In other news, Queen Elizabeth II has now been on the British throne for sixty years! There are lots of things happening to celebrate, including street parties and parades and concerts and a gigantic picnic in Hyde Park. On Saturday we held a barbecue in our back garden where people dressed up in Hugo Boss suits and red heels and pearls (not all on one person) and toasted the Queen whilst surrounded by bunting. The weather actually turned warmish for a while, and the sun came out and everything. The barbecue fell over at one point (this is what happens when you let the boys handle the barbecue) and the fire came out and sat flaming on the ground, but we put it back in the barbecue and there were no other incidents apart from people over balancing and destroying the back fence.

Yesterday was the Thames Pageant, when a thousand boats sailed/motored/rowed seven miles down the Thames. I was very lucky to know a friend who works at the National Theatre, which was having a barbecue for all its staff and their guests on their many balconies. We got a nice spot looking over the river through some trees, and sat on our chairs with our Pimm's while the boats went past. First off was a boat with church bells on it (though you couldn't really hear them ringing for all the crowd noise), followed by the Gloriana, a beautiful rowed barge that looked like it could have come from the sixteenth century. Unfortunately I didn't get a good photo of the Gloriana, but here's one of a gondola rowed by Italian gondaliers. I'm not sure why they are dressed like smurfs - I saw quite a few people dressed like this so there may have been a particular reason behind it. Most likely not involving smurfs.

There were row boats and canoes and kayaks and an ancient waka that had come from a museum in the the Netherlands. I was very excited by the waka (Maori war canoe) and kept pointing and yelling 'waka!' but nobody really knew what I was talking about. The pointing meant I didn't get a very good picture, but here is the picture I did get:

Observe the umbrellas. It hadn't quite started to rain yet, but it was well on its way.

It wasn't long before the cheering increased and the royal barge came sliding into view. I clicked away madly (while watching the barge itself) and hoped I'd get some good pictures. I was pretty resigned to not seeing the Queen as I didn't think I could pick her out and didn't know what colour she was wearing, but the boat itself was very impressive - all done up in red and gold. It wasn't until I got home and looked at my pictures on the computer that I realised I'd caught a picture of the Queen! So here it is, my impressionist photo of the Queen and Prince Philip, and what I think might be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Kate is wearing red, the Queen is wearing white).

As the royal barge went past, the National Theatre pulled up banners and ribbons and giant screens, and Joey the puppet horse from War Horse the musical ran along the top of the building and reared. I did get a picture of this, but this coverage by TV is much better and gives you a sense of the incredible skill that gives life to Joey.

Your brain just doesn't process that it's not a real horse. Apparently they've introduced Joey to a real horse, and the real horse got pretty freaked out.

They'd closed the Thames barrier, which is like a dam that stops the tide coming in and allows them to control the depth and flow of the water. It was amazing to see the river so calm. I also heard a rumour that if anything bad happened, one plan was to open the barrier and then the royal barge would zoom right out of there.

I think that would make a good movie.

It was raining pretty hard by now, so we went inside and collected our chocolate brownies and watched the television footage. Then we remembered that the band from One Man, Two Guvnors was doing a gig outside, so we braved the downpour to see if they were still there. They were! Soaked to the skin, but still playing to the crowd of umbrellas and flags and people with their hair plastered to their scalps. They started into Hey Jude, and everyone was na-na-na-ing and having a great time in the freezing rain. The atmosphere was amazing.

(Their suits are actually maroon. That's how soaked they are.) So that's been my jubilee weekend so far. How has your weekend been?

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