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London Calling

An Audience with Her Majesty

sunny 20 °C


As a New Zealand citizen currently residing in Britain we were eligible to be in the ballot to be a guest of the NZ High Commission at one of the three Royal Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. Sunny informed me of this so we both submitted an application, putting each other as our guest.

I got drawn.

It also meant I had to get a suit.

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here


I watched the shadow of the train silently glide over the grassy fields where a dog played with it's owner. A murder of crows are startled and take flight. The train leaned into the corner, the parallel tractor lines cut through the field of shining rape seed and swept past the village with white hatted old dears bowling towards the jack.

I went down to the smoke on the Sunday to catch up with a few friends. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of London - too big, too busy, too dirty, too unfriendly - but Sunny had a great flat in Hammersmith which showed me a different side of the city I hadn't seen before. Above a rowing club on the Thames with a beautiful riverside walk and more importantly some great ye olde pubs dotted along. Check out The Dove next time you're down to see the smallest pub room in world (allegedly - although Norris McW's signature was there to prove it at the time) and where Rule Britannia was penned.

I caught up with Nikki the next day for lunch, before a quick meander around the Natural History Museum and then met up with the others in great little comedy night I found under the Phoenix near Oxford Circus. Dee & Danny, Droo and Nikki & Charlie joined Sunny and I but as we were invited to sit at the front, we also got picked on a little. Grrrr. Superb night though - sometimes a bit hit and miss as they were trying out new material for their Edinburgh shows. Jack Whitehall was on and he'd recently been exposed the previous day by the NotW for doing "deadly drugs" up in Manchester the week before but he shrugged it off and put in an outstanding show.

Some bobbins news was that a comic genius died that day. RIP Chris Sievey - Frank Sidebottom - Little Frank. He'll be sorely missed. You know he will. He really will.


Sunny got her nails done.

I had a pint.

We got suited and booted and set off in the blistering sun towards Buckingham Palace. Sunny looked divine and inspired me to splash out on a new tie to match her dress. The underground was like a sauna. I not a big fan of wearing ties and this tubular oven made it worse.

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here

We went to the back door of Buck Pal as advised as the front can get busy but I think everyone followed this advice. Once past the security checks we strolled around the gardens. It was quite surreal, it reminded me of what a park may have looked like in Victorian times with everyone in their Sunday best, nobody running and nobody sitting on the grass. The average age was quite high I'd say. Reckon even I was in the lower 10%.

Wandering through to the main garden the queues at the tea tent were bigger than festival queues. There were actually cucumber sandwiches without the crusts. Brilliant! They had other stuff though so I filled up my plate and had the obligatory cup of tea. To be honest, I actually wanted a cup of tea. Tea on the lawn at Buck Pal. It was so so hot during the day - I feel sorry for those Beefeaters in all their garb. I saw a few old ladies being tended to by the St Johns. The Queen arrived and sat in the Royal tent. The Army and RAF bands alternated at each end of the garden playing funky swing tunes, although they only seemed to last five minutes and by the time we'd wandered over to one, they stopped and the other started - come on guys!

We wandered into the palace and spoke to one of the hands there who said there is up to 8000 guests here and last year it leathered it down and everyone tried to cram into the palace - yes, cram in - they only open a couple of rooms. These guests included politicians, mayor and mayoresses, military staff, members of the public who were either nominated for helping a charity or community and then guests of an embassy. One did feel that we were probably the less deserving to be here.

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here


When we went back out everyone was lined up and four deep. Liz and Phil were going walkabout. We saw Prince Philip easily enough but all you could see of Her Maj was her yellow hat hovering around. We backed off from the crowds and a gentleman with a top hat approached us and asked if we wanted to chat with the Countess of Wessex. Of course we do. "Who's the Countess of Wessex?", I thought, not really down with the royals. After being placed on a certain spot in the line she was taking, we told the usher who/where/why/how and then he introduced us. "Good afternoon your royal highness" we were asked to say and we duly did. After a couple of minutes of talk (which was mainly - yes we're from NZ, no not originally, yes we met there, no we're not partners, yes we both came to UK, no not together, yes we both work for NHS, no not together, in separate cities - phew!) - she moved on. Rivetting stuff.

I went to get a glass of water, came back and Sunny was talking to another top hatted fellow. I walked briskly over to see if I was missing out on something and said the same who/where/why to the usher. I had no idea who we were meeting and then Prince Edward was introduced to us. "Good Afternoon", I said. Whoops! Similar small talk then "Cheers". Whoops! Not really down with this lingo either. He seemed alright though, not as posh talking as I imagined. Oh and she was Sophie, his wife. Ahh!

We wandered round the gardens some more - the area is a lot smaller than I thought - I guess I was thinking more Balmoral or Blenheim but I suppose we are in centre of London where land is at a premium. Sunny snook her camera out a few times and chatted to chain of office wearing mayors - she was in her element here. Nearer the end, most other people were switching on their phones and snapping away. So rude. There were also lots of plastic cups left on the grass around the gardens. I can't believe the crassness of some people, they get invited to somebody's house and drop litter. Tcha!

And that was it. It was ok. It was an experience and unique at that, but I didn't think it was terribly exciting. All rather staid. However, it was an important piece in the three day trip to London in which I thoroughly enjoyed the time, places and people.

--see bigger, better, brighter photos: here


At the end we went out through the palace and through the front gates to the gaping mouths of the tourists at the fences taking pictures. Felt very VIP-y. We then crossed over the road and met up with Dee and Droo for a feast of a picnic in Green Park before catching my train back.

I took my tie off.

The three quarter lit moon bounced off the darkened fields to produce a hazy jade veneer finish. Lumps of sheep appeared haphazardly along the way with jet black hedges inking the outlines of the quadralateral meadows.

Posted by suggs69 05:23 Archived in England Tagged events

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