Monday, June 4, 2012

The Diamond Jubilee Flotilla

I arrived in London on Sunday June 3, 2012 day 2 of 4 days of celebration of the Queens Diamond Jubilee.  My flight arrived at 6:30 in the morning. My friend picked me up at the airport whisked me home where I was treated to a “Jubilee breakfast” prepared by her husband.

This included a large platter of delicious English bacon along with sausages, scrambled eggs, baked beans, toast yogurt and fresh fruit.  We were spared the indignities of fried bread.  Though my friend’s husband is from New Zealand and freely admits to being a Republican, the table was decorated with union jacks in the Queens honour.

Then 6 of us hopped on to the tube and along with almost the entire population of London headed to the Thames in central London to see the flotilla go by. When we arrived at Waterloo Station, the area was heaving with people already.
This is the view looking back at the people coming out of Waterloo station at about 11:30 and the event was not scheduled to come by this part of the Thames until 3:30.  This was not a good place for anyone with a fear of crowds.
We walked around a little and spotted a rise in the grass a little back from the banks of the river, which were already about 6 deep all along. So we staked our claim and set about waiting.

The crowd was in a festive mood and did not let the rather damp cool day dampen their spirits.  We got to know those around us rather well as we waited for the spectacle. We had picked up some provisions, sandwiches and wraps as well as some cans of gin and tonic, and pimms! Any way this is the view we had of the river.

As you can see not exactly expansive but really it was more about being there.  After a long but not unpleasant wait the boats started to come by.  When the Queen and family went by there was a great roar and a sea of red white and blue.

We watched as hundreds of row boats, boat with bands on them and the Dunkirk boats went by, and then the rain started in earnest.  So we decided to head for the train before the crush got too much.  We walked through the now pouring rain to Lambeth North a few blocks behind Waterloo, which as suspected was not too crowded.  Later we heard of many of the stations on the North Bank being closed due to the crush of people, and felt a little smug with our quick get away.

When we got back we watched the spectacle again on the TV where we learnt a little more about what we saw from the comentators and got a much clearer picture of the Flotilla.  But I am glad we went in and were part of that massive crowd, after all it is the only Diamond Jubilee I will ever live through and there is something about actually being there.

Below is a view looking through my periscope given out by one of the radio stations it actually did help looking over the crowd, especially for someone who is only 5’2”

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