How privileged does one feel to be in London this long weekend? Oh so very.
I had been looking forward to the last week for an absolute age, ever since work informed me that I was one of six who would be representing it at the Buckingham Palace Garden Party and then going on to find out that London would be turned into one giant street party yet again. Get the bunting out, the Brits are going to be happy for a weekend!
The Garden Party was absolutely amazing. I don’t have any pictures from when the Queen was in there, or of the cakes but we did sneak a couple at both ends of the afternoon. Here’s one of my colleague S and I as we were leaving work:
Where do I start here? After consuming the BEST cakes I have ever had in my entire life, seriously, fit for a queen… we waited for the Royal Family to make their way through the Palace grounds to the Royal tea tent. I saw the Queen then but it was very much a case of stretching my neck into ridiculous angles to do so. We gave up and went for a walk around the gardens instead. I’m not the world’s biggest gardening fan but the gardens blew me away. According to Friend I, Buckingham Palace holds London’s largest private garden. The flowers have this incredible smell, not like the shop brought Kenyan roses but their own distinct and very strong smell. Many of them even have names based on the Queen’s life, for example, the William Rose and the Golden Jubilee Iris. I’m sure I saw a Charles one in there too.
We saw people walking around with ice-creams in their hands so went to look for some. On our way back to find the rest of our colleagues Friend I and I were wondering why the crowd had suddenly split into two. We stood by a Beefeater (ahem, I mean, Yeoman Warder~) and got a prime spot. The Royal Family were making their exit and we ended up being three feet away from Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Kate (who had so much make-up on, and put us off our ice-cream as we both felt the urgent need to go on a diet after seeing her tiny waist), Camilla, Charles, Edward and Sophie, Prince Michael of Kent and the rest who we had no idea were, the men all in their tails and top hats. The Queen actually made eye contact with us and Kate smiled our way. It was probably one of the most surreal moments of my life seeing them all. Everyone was clapping for the Queen as she walked past, tiny yet standing so tall, holding so much respect from everyone around her. Just beautiful.
After that we made our exit through the back entrance out onto Grosvenor place. Like bouncing out of the Rabbit Hole, it was back into the real world, suddenly outside the Palace walls London life was going on, commuters were on their way home, our feet were throbbing. A much needed break was required in the Goring Hotel of course, which is where we finished our magical afternoon with a glass of champagne.
Needless to say, I had some interesting looks as I made my way home back through the City…
Then came the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on Sunday that most of us will surely only ever see once in our lives. It was the largest event ever held on the Thames and even in London’s rainy grey which basically turned us all into drowned rats it was still spectacular. We ended up escaping the crowds after being stuck amongst millions at the Tower of London and watched most of it from The Narrow in Limehouse where we could see the BBC coverage of it, Pimms in hand, while keeping an eye on the river for when the boats were making their way towards Docklands.
On Sunday night, Mr Man and I dressed up in our finery to attend Simplicity Restaurant’s Jubilee Dinner which as always was just gorgeous but with that extra feeling that we were celebrating something rather special. I love this restaurant (definitely my favourite in London) as the owner is so down to earth yet the food that comes out of his kitchen is beautiful. He said that every dish served that night was actually around during the Queen’s coronation, it’s just become much more modern. I was glad for some British classics and think Simplicity just gets better and better. Such a jolly evening and the perfect way to really celebrate British food.
And then there was the Spitalfields Street Party yesterday. It was SO BUSY. Though it was still threatening to pour with rain and the cloudy gloom was there, give the Brits something to celebrate and they really go the whole way. I wish there was more of this.
Love or loathe the Royals, no one can deny that Queen Elizabeth is an incredible example of someone who has kept calm and carried on throughout modern day history, showing a work ethic that few people could emulate, let alone well into their 80′s. I think she’s exquisite and I highly doubt many others could command the respect that she can, deservedly so.
And to that I raise my cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge to her. Thank you for the extra bank holiday, the magnificent cakes and wonderful time at your Garden Party, and the great excuse to adorn our East End Abode’s balcony with bunting. Your 60 years of dedication to your job and to the Commonwealth is just incredible.