After a lot of wondering whether to go to the River Pageant this afternoon or whether to stay on the sofa and watch it on TV, I took a bold decision and headed out in the direction of the Thames. After all, it’s a once in a lifetime event, only down the road and I can be dry and warm when I’m in older, today was a day for an adventure!
I watched the Royal Family arrive on the Royal Barge on BBC1 (helped later for recognising people from a distance!) and thought about going out, then I spoke to a friend on the river bank who told me it was crazy busy down there, but what swung it for me was when I saw that the lovely cast of ‘Horrible Histories’ were hanging out with Sian from the BBC down at Tower Hill. And off I set.
Charles II (from ‘Horrible Histories’)
Almost immediately the long-promised rain started falling and by the time I got to Tower Hill it was pelting down… Umbrellas went up, but some people had obviously seen their fill of the Queen and assorting boats and were heading home. It looked for a brief moment like I might only have a very distant view of a screen on Tower Bridge but then I remembered about St Katherine’s Docks. I’d been down yesterday to see the Avenue of Sail and had had a wander around there so I know roughly how to get around.
Security were stopping people from going down that way but I found a way down into St Katherine’s Docks and then followed a group of people who were making their way around a small chained-off area and along the side of the buildings. To be fair, the sign on the chain was ‘no smoking’, there was no actual ‘no entry’ sign, so it was fair game. We squeezed our way behind huge pillars, past office windows and over gratings. It all felt slightly illegal and a little bit naughty, but the people I was following looked like normal grandparent types so I’d blame them if we got caught… 🙂 We came out on a path I’d been on yesterday and from there it was a short walk to an area fairly empty with a great view up the river under Tower Bridge. I was very happy to have an actual view up close to the river!
a ‘little’ bit of rain doesn’t put us Brits off! ?!?!
Then I wandered a short way along and found a fountain to stand on with an even better view. I turned to my left and what was just up the river from me but the Royal Barge with the Queen and pals standing to watch the flotilla process past – excellent!
This was my spot for the next 2 hours. The heavens continued to empty themselves and the wind was blowing pretty strong, which was all fun and games for my little umbrella. I was glad I had chosen to break in my new wellies and had pulled my super warm ski jacket out from the winter wardrobe for the occasion. I hope my camera will recover from being constantly rained on and wiped dry, it seems ok so far. I wonder if I got slightly more soggy from standing practically in a fountain, but it was worth it for the view.
Highlights were a passing choir, the steam boat and listening to all the boats whistling and the like as they passed the Queen’s barge. People around me came and went and few hardcore followers stayed until the end, but we were just starting to get fed up of the rain and boats when we heard the Orchestra boat approaching. As it passed through Tower Bridge they were playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. In front of the Queen we were treated to ‘The Hornpipe’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ and finally The National Anthem (which always makes me well up..) I was just taking in the wonder of being there and seeing all of this, and fighting with my umbrella which was ready to take off at this point when they finished and right behind me, without any warning, fireworks were set off on top of Tower Bridge.
I jumped in shock and nearly, oh so nearly ended up actually in the fountain behind me. It was so loud that my first thought was that it had been a bomb, but then I recovered quickly enough to film the last bit of the fireworks. In response to that the steam boats near us started letting off steam which was quite impressive. Added to all of this another shot rang out, which I think must have been a gun salute from the HMS Belfast. A fitting end to a historic event.
From my vantage point I got a great view of the Royals leaving the boat. It was very thoughtful of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge to wear such a lovely bright red coloured outfit so that she was easy to spot at a distance. Made my day.
Considering I didn’t spend hours waiting in the damp but just rocked up at 4.30pm, I’d done pretty well in landing a spot with a view. It was amazing to be part of this special day in London history and I chose to brave the crowds, rain and tubes to get there! However, my bag is still totally soggy and I couldn’t sit down on the way home as I was too wet! But then isn’t that just part of being British?! Keep calm and carry on, even when the rain is almost horizontal!
It looked like the Queen had a lovely day and smiled a lot, which was really nice to see. A fantastic afternoon, all in all, and we’re still only half way through Jubilee celebrations. It’s all just so totally Jubilicious!
Congratulations Ma’am! See you on Tuesday. 🙂