As disappointing as this is, it’s been another two week plus interlude between posts. But it is been an eventful two weeks with the end of the semester (and I’m working once more over break). Projects and papers were finished and turned in, and my one final was finished on Wednesday. More importantly was spending as much time as possible with my housemates over the last week. Friday was the Fall semester graduation and we were all there to see our housemate and another friend receive their diplomas. This housemate is pursuing her PhD in Borneo where she will be researching clouded leopards for the next 5 to 7 years. And although she is moving to a new and very exciting stage in her life, it was still hard saying goodbye Saturday morning, even if it is just for now.
However this post is here as a continuation of the last one. Yes, the next festivity of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Similarly, it was written the weekend of the Diamond Jubilee so let’s jump right in, shall we? Monday, June 4th…
Continuing the jubilee calibrations, I went into London again on Monday for the concert being held outside Buckingham Palace that night. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to view it there as tickets had run as a lottery system for residents of the UK and were picked long before the weekend. But there were screens placed around London such as the Mall, St. James’s Park, and Hyde Park, where we would be watching it live from.
Amanda and I were to meet Betsey and her friend there, so we got off the train at Victoria and decided the weather wasn’t too bad, so we walked to Hyde Park from there. Yes, that was a decent walk for those of you familiar with the area…and probably close to half of it being in Hyde Park itself. The park is huge, I assure you! We entered right about in the middle and ended up picking the correct half to turn towards simply because we thought we’d check out the Princess Di memorial.
I have to say, the memorial is rather calming. It is a circular structure with water running through it in a constant flow. We made our way around the large pond in this section of the park after decided to check out the tents on the other side in hopes we were heading to the screening area. Even if we weren’t, it was a really lovely walk. The trees were full of leaves again and flowers of many shades and varieties popped up everywhere.
When we reached the tents, it was another ten minutes to get to the entrance where the main stage was. However, they would not be letting people in until 5 pm and it was about 1:30 when we reached the entrance. It then was the opportune time to pull out my picnic blanket, bought for the occasion, and unpack some of the food we brought – the idea was to have a picnic type day in the park until the concert. Since there would be four of us, we figured we could to take shifts holding down the fort if there was something we needed to get or go do around the city. You see, we weren’t sure how many people would be there early and we wanted to get a good spot – thus, the idea of holding down the fort.
Two hours after Amanda and I arrived at the screening spot, Betsey and her friend arrived to find us napping in the slight drizzle that had started. I’ll spare you the details, but basically what ended up happening was that we only saw them for about ten minutes before they left again. They had plans of their own and there was some miscommunication between us – it happens.
Still, there were some things I’d found at South Bank the previous day that I wanted to go back and buy, as well as have Amanda (as a fellow foodie) check out the street food festival previously mentioned/explored (see earlier post). So we decided to risk leaving, packed everything up again and went to the nearest tube station. We only hoped a huge influx of people didn’t swarm in when 5 rolled around, for we would not be back by then.
Arriving back at the Waterloo station, the first order of business was taking advantage of the Starbucks frappaccino happy hour. Then it was back to the festival center to use the restrooms, purchase a tea tea towel for myself, and check out the food festival again. Amanda grabbed a fresh pirogi to go, and then we stopped into a nearby bookshop so I could buy a few more things for some friends and a little Diamond Jubilee key chain for myself as a memento of being here for it!
By the time we got back to Hyde Park, we had just barely made it to Marble Arch before the Central Line was being shut down. It was about 6:30 as we made our way through the entrance, and though many more people had shown up we still managed to find a good spot big enough to spread out the blanket. The stage had three big screens set up and we found ourselves toward the left, with a clear view of that screen as well as the center (well, until people stood up in that area to dance and cheer!).
Once again, there were so many Union Jacks being waved around, people dressed up in the colors, flag decorations, hats, a few tutus here and there, masks even! When 7:30 rolled around and the concert began. And it was awesome! Robbie Williams with the drummers and trumpeters of the second battalion of the Coldstream Guard opened up with a rendition of “Let Me Entertain You”. The Queen Victoria Monument had been turned into a stage and it was fantastic. Those lucky enough with tickets were inside the walled off area near the monument and Buckingham Palace. There was a Royal box for the Royal Family as well.
The Mall was packed with people watching on screens. After each performance, one of six or seven entertainers would give a short bit and introduce the next performers. That night we saw the likes of Robbie Williams, will.i.am, Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran, Alfie Boe, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Madness, Paul McCartney, and more! If you’re interested, follow the YouTube link in the videos and you’ll be able to watch some of the other great performances of the evening.
Paul McCartney brought the concert to an end, and at that point, everyone watching in the park was on their feet and singing along. As he sang “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”, the other performers and comedians came back on stage. Then the Coldstream Guard trumpeters were back and up came the Royal Family, again to many a cheer. Prince Charles addressed the crowd, thanking the performers, the technicians, Gary Barlow who set the whole thing up, and the support from everyone watching.
When he mentioned the regrettable fact that Prince Philip could not be here and that perhaps with a loud enough cheer he could hear from the hospital, everyone cheered their hearts out. Somewhere (and I mean it literally could have started at the Mall, St. James, or where we were in Hyde Park) someone started a chant of “Philip, Philip” which caught on around the city. Following this, he gave a sincere and touching thanks to his mother, the Queen, for all she has done for the British Commonwealth and her people, leading a nation for 60 years.
Following that, there was a mighty rendition of God Save the Queen and then the Queen herself lit the final National Beacon of the thousand that had been lit throughout the Commonwealth. The Queen placed a diamond in the trigger to start the flame of the beacon outside the Palace. This beacon had a flame 6 meters high to represent her six decades as sovereign. Immediately after the fireworks started, which, we could simply turn around and watch them in the sky rather than on the screen, we packed up and headed out.
We had a train to catch, after all! And it was the last train going back to Brighton for the night…so we really did need to be on it. The journey back was certainly an adventure. We had to walk a ways to get to the first open tube station, only to find that there was straight route from there to get back to Victoria Station. We ended up getting off in a somewhat shadier neighborhood (or so it seemed at the time at 11:30 at night) and then figuring out a route from there. We had 12 minutes before the next underground train passed through and would get us to Victoria eventually. In those twelve minutes we managed to run over to a small pizza restaurant and use the restroom then book it back over with a few minutes to spare.
It was a somewhat nerve-racking ride as we truly raced the clock to get back to Victoria station. You’ll be happy to know, I’m sure, that we did just barely make it on the train after running from the underground section to our platform. Luckily, we’d taken that route quite a few times now and knew exactly which platform and how to weave through the people. Even luckier was that we somehow managed to find two open seats together in the correct area of the train. This train was packed with people.
Some I’m guessing returning from the same festivities we attended, while others, still, were returning from the Coldplay concert. As the last train back to Brighton, we had to make various stops along the way and then disconnect at one point (I was sitting there thinking “please let us be on the right area of the train, please let us be in the right area!”) before getting into the Brighton. Unfortunately, the train from Brighton to the University of Sussex stops running at midnight, and we had missed that mark by almost 2 hours. So thus began the 20 minute walk to the bus station that still ran in the city this late in which we knew for sure we would be able to get back to school.
At the bus station we ran into an interesting character who tried engaging me in conversation…but I had no clue, not one single idea, of what he was saying. I tried to be nice and nod my head at the appropriate times as Amanda inched us away little by little until we stood up and said sorry we have to go. “Go” meant taking a few steps away from the benches. But he left us alone after that and the good thing was that the bus stop was surprisingly nonempty, so we ourselves in no immediate danger. Our bus came soon after, and as with the bus stop and train, it was surprisingly full.
By 3 or 3:30 am I was back in my room, happy but exhausted. We both wholeheartedly agreed that though it was a long night, it was so very worth it to stay right through the end of the concert. Once again, I was struck by a sense of awe at how lucky I am to have been able to witness such an eventful time in England.
And with that, readers, the second day of festivities was a success. I would be going back to London the next day to check out some of the museums I hadn’t gotten around to seeing yet – namely, the British Museum and the British Library. But that’s for another time, as I’m sure you’d like to get on with your evenings or mornings! I do hope the content of this post makes up for time it has taken to post it.
Oh, and one last thing, readers! My blog broke the 2000 views barrier since my last post and I want to thank everyone who reads and follows my blog. You guys really do put a huge smile on my face, and I only hope I’ve brought some of that to you. Thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…