Friday June 1st

My rhododendron is in flower.  It’s always rewarding to think one’s plants have survived the heat, (or the cold, or anything else).  My Mimosa is still looking a bit spindly; about 3ft at the moment.  My miniature pine tree looks in better shape – though it’s only 6 inches tall.

Saturday June 2nd

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations have started officially, although they are in fact well under way; already the television has been showing programmes with a royal  theme to them, from the film  ‘The Queen’ starring Helen Mirren, to original footage of the Queen and Princess Margaret as children playing in the garden at Sandringham.

Bunting is everywhere in the towns, and street parties are being held throughout the country.  In Chichester there was a Gala procession, with an imitation royal car (with imitation royal passengers); other 1950’s cars & bicycles; decorated prams; massed bands including, of course, the bagpipes; two regimental cannons; a model of the Royal Yacht,  and jubilant floats representing local schools, clubs, etc.

In London, a river pageant is planned, which will take place on the Thames tomorrow.  The Household Cavalry are riding along the Mall, rehearsing for the ceremony due to be held on great day, which is Tuesday 5th.

Sunday June 3rd

While street parties continued throughout the UK, at 1.30pm the River Pageant began.  A flotilla of over 1000 boats processed down the Thames.  Seen from the air, the long stream of boats of different sizes all sailing down the river, with the view of London in the background, was called by one commentator, ‘a Canaletto Moment.’ It recalled perfectly those famous paintings depicting almost identical scenes.

The flotilla was led by a small launch, which carried a specially constructed wooden belfry with 8 gleaming brass bells. All the boats which followed – whether man-powered or engine-powered – had to maintain the same speed of 4 knots.

After the launch came the royal row-barge, ‘Gloriana’, again specially built for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, but named after Elizabeth I, who was known as ‘Gloriana.’  Two former Olympic gold medallists, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent, led the rowing team, although the wind – and afterwards the rain – caused the river to be hard to row.  Indeed, later on some of the smaller rowing boats had to be towed by the larger ones.

Following them both came 43 narrow boats, sea kayaks, canoes, 20 barges, a gondola, a catamaran, a small hovercraft, a paddle steamer, countless racing boats, flying all the commonwealth flags, dragonboats, rowing boats, pleasure boats, tugs, working boats, viking longboats, steamboats, lifeboats, fireboats and passenger boats, all decked out in red, white and blue for the Jubilee, bunting, coloured paper, flowers – and anything that could be used to decorate the boats.  Towards the end came 42 of the ‘Little Ships’ which had rescued soldiers from the beach at Dunkirk, during the Second World War.

Towering over them all, though, came the royal barge, the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’ carrying the Queen and the royal family.  The main two-tier superstructure was surmounted by a pavilion with red carpeting and red velvet upholstery, and gold pillars, where the Queen and her family were.  Huge arrangements of flowers decorated the pavilion, all carefully put in place by a professional gardener, the appropriately named Rachel de Thame. The whole thing looked like a lavish film set, and was in fact built by a filmset designer.

Both the Queen, aged 86, and the Duke of Edinburgh, aged 90, remained standing during the whole 3 hour procession down the Thames to Tower Bridge.   The royal barge was then moored, just past the bridge.  All the boats saluted as they went past, using sirens, trumpets, horns, or really anything that could make a recognisable salute.

Finally came  ‘The Edwardian’, carrying the London Symphony Orchestra, and singers from the Royal College of Music.  Their barge sailed slowly past, playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, ‘The Sailors’ Hornpipe’, ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God Save the Queen.’  The orchestra was under cover, though the singers, who put on a brilliant performance, were soaked by the driving rain.

But this is England!

Monday June 4th

Part of the 4-day Diamond Jubilee bank holiday.  The street parties went on – these were held everywhere in England, including one in Downing Street.  They were also to be found in other parts of the world, and there was even one in Antarctica.

The main Jubilee celebration on this day was the pop concert in the evening outside Buckingham Palace,  There was some classical singing, though most of the performers were well-known pop-singers,  including Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Tom Jones, and Sir Paul McCartney.

After the concert The Prince of Wales, on the balcony of the Palace – now floodlit in red, white, and blue –  gave a short speech  thanking the Queen for her sixty years of service to her people and to her country.  Although the speech was only in few minutes, in a long weekend of celebrations, it was very fine, and described by the Prime Minister as the ‘Diamond moment.’

Beacons had been lit, across the country and round the world, to celebrate the Jubilee.  Following upon the Prince of Wales’ speech, the Queen lit the final beacon, which itself was followed by a splendid firework display over the roof of Buckingham Palace.

Sic Transit Gloria Monday.

Tuesday 5th June

The day began with the service at St. Paul’s, where the Queen gave thanks for her 60 year reign, and aftewards the bell-ringers began ringing changes for 3 hours.  The Queen then went to a reception at Mansion House, before processing to Westminster Hall for lunch.  Here a Diamond Jubilee window had been specially commissioned for her, ready to be installed there.

Next, came the procession to Buckingham Palace, via Admiralty Arch, alongside St. James’ Park and down the Mall, which was lined by cheering crowds waving union jacks and dressed in red, white, and blue.  One of the banners read ‘Elizabeth the Great.’  Some of the people had slept the night just to be able to catch sight of the Queen as she rode past, in the red and gold 1902 State Landau.  (If it had been wet, the covered Australian State Coach would have been used, but the Queen braved the elements, despite the wind and the few drops of rain that had started to fall).

It was always nice to know how much the Queen enjoyed the different parts of the celebrations.  As a result some people tried to work it out by carefully observing each one, becoming experts in ‘Queen smiles.’

Eventually, all those who had been lining the processional route walked down to the piazza in front of the Palace, led by a line of police and mounted police.  These huge numbers in turn joined the crowds who were there already; hardly a square inch of tarmac remained, that wasn’t covered by the thousands of people who had travelled there.  Many came from Commonwealth countries, or other countries across the globe, all coming to see the climax of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with the Queen and the royal family coming out onto the Palace balcony – the words of the National Anthem instead of being ‘God Save Our Noble Queen’ nearly became ‘God Save Our Global Queen.’

Finally, there came the flypast.  This was made up of a Lancaster bomber, flanked by four spitfires, with a Hurricane bringing up the rear.  Then the Red Arrows flew overhead trailing red, white, and blue smoke in the skies above.

The Queen said afterwards that the whole Diamond Jubilee weekend, with people showing how much they valued her, had been ‘a humbling experience.’

Wednesday 6th June

Something of an anti-climax after the last few days.  A backlog of people to ring up, as all offices had been closed for the 4-day Jubilee weekend. Had to email Kodak about my new printer which wasn’t behaving itself.  Kodak were very helpful, I must be fair.

Thursday 7th June 

Running round like a mad thing, getting everything ready for a dear friend, Delia Hardiman, one of my brother’s parishioners from Jersey, who was coming to stay on the Saturday evening.

Friday 8th June

Still running round, as had to to prepare for travelling to London and meeting Delia on Saturday morning at Southwark Cathedral.  

Saturday 9th June

Nice sunny weather, unlike last Saturday.  My brother Nick is made a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre (KHS) in the Cathedral.  During lengthy meal – with speeches etc – at Lincoln’s Inn met fellow parishioner Liz McCombe, who may be made a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre (DHS) next year. 

Returned with Delia to Chichester.

Sunday 10th June

Had lunch with Delia at Chichester Cathedral restaurant, prior to her flying to St. Petersburg,  leaving me with the less exciting alternative of  remaining in my flat.

Monday 11th June

Rain again.  Wonders will never cease. 

Tuesday 12th June

The rain has brought floods everywhere.  Felpham, Aldwick, Bracklesham, and Worthing.

Wednesday 13th June

The sun came out for a time, which was extra welcome for me since I had started a cold.  My blog is giving trouble, as I can’t edit it, or update it.  Had email from Catholic Bible School to say that they are flooded out, too.

Went to the bank to remake my will.  And sign it – very important.  These things have to be done.

Thursday 14th June

Saw some wooden toys on sale – they cost a fortune these days.  My father made a toy train for my brother – 55 years ago – out of blocks of wood tied together with string.  It probably brought much more joy, than a shop-made one, being a “personal” toy.

Friday 15th June

St Richard’s Day.  Our annual Mass in the Anglican cathedral. The first one was arranged was by an earlier parish priest, Canon Fogarty, back in the 1970s, or the late 1960s; it was the first Catholic Mass to be said there for 400 years.   

One of our priests, Fr. Paul Turner, gave a good homily, with a potted biography of St. Richard.  Apparently he came from a farm near the town now known as Droitwich.  Then he had endless trouble with Henry III, who wouldn’t even allow him a presbytery.  Times have changed.

Saturday 16th June

A wee scots lassie called Martha Payne started a blog of her own, showing pictures of the school lunches that the school prepared each day for the children to eat.  She then gave each meal marks out of 10, and commented on them.  She also included an appeal for the charity ‘Mary’s Meals,’ which gives children in Malawi a good meal each day.  She managed to reach £2,000.

Argyll and Bute County Council got to hear about the pictures of the school lunches – though they probably didn’t hear about the charity fundraising – and banned Martha from taking anymore pictures, and Martha had to go and see her headmistress.

Meanwhile, the BBC, and some influential people, got to hear about this.  It was broadcast on the radio on ‘Today’ , there was a public backlash, and Argyll and Bute had to reverse their decision.   The fund for Mary’s Meals shot up to £24,000.

Sunday 17th June

Martha’s fund has reached £78.000, a figure which continues to rise.  Mary’s Meals are thrilled with the response, and are able now to provide meals for over a thousand schoolchildren, plus afford building a shelter.

Monday 18th June

My cold is on the way out, and so is my rhododendron, or at least its flowers. 

And now one of the hinges on my oven door has broken, and cannot be repaired.  Well, it  is 16 years old.  

Still, some things are working out.  Our holiday arrangements are back on track.  I had booked our hotels with a debit card – so far so good.  Then I later had to renew the card, but the hotels needed to be informed of this.  The was a slight problem, involving me having to prove that I was who I said I was – which incidentally I am – but it’s all OK now.  At last.  Had KSC meeting in the evening, though we were exiled from the Parish Rooms where we usually meet, due to them being double-booked.  Such is life, as my brother likes to say.

Tuesday 19th June

Little Martha’s fund has climbed to £90,200.   What would Mary’s Meals have done, without Argyll and Bute County Council!

Wednesday 20th June

Spent day deciding on type of new oven to buy.  Have finally decided on a Panasonic flatbed combination oven.

Thursday 21st June

Rain again.

Friday 22nd June

Fish day.  Went shopping, remembering to buy sandwiches for to-morrow (Saturday).

Saturday 23rd June

Carmelite Third Order outing to St. Martha’s Convent, Rottingdean.  Started with Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, which turned out to be a First Holy Communion Mass, as well, and so the church was packed, with smartly dressed children and their families everywhere.

Then a quiet day for the seven of us at the convent, including listening to a CD of sayings from St. Therese.

Sunday 24th June

Our own FHC Mass. 

Monday 25th June

Martha Payne’s blog appeal for Mary’s Meals has now reached £108,000.  Even I donated my two-pennyworth.  New oven being delivered today.  Stayed all day to

Tuesday 26th June

Well, I thought it was ‘today’ – i.e. Monday – I’d stayed in all day wait for the delivery people.  Will do the same today – Tuesday – when the electrician is coming as well, to disconnect my old oven.  Am having cold food and microwave meals in the meantime.

Martha Payne has had a school kitchen in Malawi named after her.

Wednesday 27th June

Went for my weekly arthritis exercise class, led by an enterprising lady called Juliette.  Had to explain to my cleaner what a broken, obsolete oven was doing in the middle of the kitchen floor, and said  that it is waiting to be taken away.

Thursday 28th June

Took the bus to Southsea, to buy new sheets at Debenhams, as an alternative to ordering them online.  With my free buspass I can do this.  Passed magnificent statue of St John the Evangelist, waving his right arm and beckoning to everyone to come to church.  Or, in this case, the cathedral named after him.  Had tea at delightful cafe in Osborne Road, called ‘Like a Tea-Tray in the Sky.’

Friday 29th June

Sts.Peter & Paul

 Went to see doctor.  Nice man called Dr. Burkes – I missed his first name. Then went to Mass.

Saturday 30th June

Stayed in for man coming to take the oven away.  He never came.

Sunday 1st July

Stayed in again.  Wrote two poems.

Monday 2nd July

Had to pay someone to take it away, which they did.  At least it makes the kitchen bigger.  Wrote another poem, ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell.’  The title was good enough for Handel, so why not for me?

Tuesday 3rd July

Martha Payne’s blog has now raised £110,400.

Wednesday 4th July.

My brother Nick arrived at the flat at 7am, after sailing on the overnight ferry from Jersey and arriving v. early in Portsmouth.  The weather was wet, miserable, an unpromising.

Thursday 5th July

Visited old friends, Jeremy and Margaret, and another long term friend, Marielle, at Jeremy’s farm at Ditcham, near my – and Nick’s – old school, in lovely countryside, half of which Jeremy owns.  Had terrific lunch – the whole day was terrific – then sat out in the garden in boiling hot sun, having coffee.  Even the chocolates melted.  It never rains but it shines, in England. 

Then went to concert ‘The Sixteen’. Beautiful singing, although ‘The Sixteen’ turned out to be ‘The Eighteen’ (we counted).

Friday 6th July

Back to grey skies. 

Saturday 7th July

Went to Port Solent to meet Debbie.  Were given guided tour of her flat-to-be, so in fact it was a guided tour of her show-home.

Furiously packing, to get everything in for holiday on 9th.

Sunday 8th July

Should have been Open-Air Parish Mass, but rain stopped pray, as it were, and Mass had to be inside.  I didn’t go to the barbecue, though I expect that was inside, too.

Monday 9th July

Belgium here we come!

Norfolkline ferry.  No decent seats, on a 2 hour crossing!

Arrived at last.  Drove along bumpy Belgian road.  Arrived in beautiful Ypres.  went to Menin Gate ceremony, which seems to change each day, and is led by different army contingents, usually small – 4 or 5 people.

  1. Delia Hardiman

    Well done Richard for creating and keeping up your “blog” – hope you’ll be able to write up your holiday too as it would be good to hear about your visit to Belgium. Glad holiday arrangements all back on track! I’m leaving this reply but not really sure how it works or who sees it?

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