Saturday, 14 June 2008

The Queen's Birthday

I just added it up using Google maps, and the actual ground we covered is about 5 miles, but that's assuming we were walking in a straight line, which we weren't. It also doesn't take into account the stairs up and down, and all the standing in one place.

So here's my version of the story.

The boys woke up at 5:30 this morning, so I promptly straggled into their room and told them they'd better go back to sleep, and did the same myself. At 6:30 William was awake, so I got him up and opened the other bedroom doors as a signal to anyone awake that they could get up now. (The boys actually had gone back to sleep, so that was good.) We did our morning routine, and were out of the house right at 8:00. We had the double stroller, my backpack/diaper bag/purse, Bob's camera backpack, a sweater each, a lunch (two grocery bags full), and over a gallon of bottled water.

Bob bravely drove us (about an hour) down to Epping, which is a nice town at the end of the Underground line, we paid for parking and got on the Tube. One of the many neat things about getting on at the end of the line is that the cars aren't very crowded, so we all got seats. We changed lines one time in London, which means everyone gets up, off the train - mind the gap - down some stairs and up others (the way to do stairs is I go in front of the stroller and hold it up while Bob holds up the back end, and we hope the other children follow us as they've been taught), make sure you're at the right platform, and quick! squeeze through the door before the train leaves. Then down some more stairs and up a LONG flight, and we were out in the sunshine. Yes, sunshine! It was a very nice day, though the patchy clouds did make it hard to keep the settings right on the camera.

So we got our bearings on the street, walked all down the Mall to get a good view on the parade, only to find out that THAT side of the street was for ticket holders only. So we walked ALL the way back up the street, across, and all down the other side. People were about 10 deep all along the road, so we didn't stand a chance of seeing anything. Bob held Taryn up on his shoulder, and I stabalized her, and she snapped some pictures with Bob's camera. Then she yelled, "There's the Queen!!" And I had to remind her to take pictures. I don't think they turned out very well.

Um, I think I'm ahead of myself.... Today is the Queen's official birthday, and there's a big ceremony called Trooping the Colours that you can get all the facts on if you google it. :-) To us, it mostly meant that the Queen and her household guard and horse guard and a band were going down the road.

So they all trooped by, and Taryn got to see it. Then people all started walking away. So we looked at each other and wondered what to do next. Cedwryck had been moaning about needing to use the toilet ever since we got out of the tube station, so I asked a policeman where the nearest one was, but he didn't know. So we got to thinking about what time it was, and which way the parade went, and how many people were still standing beside the road, and we realized that the parade would be coming back down the road later. Everything I read about this thing said there was the ceremony inside the horse guards - ticket holders only - and then the parade back to Buckingham Palace. Nothing ever said the parade went both ways. So anyway, we found a spot with only one row of people against the fence lining the street, and set up camp there. The children played in the dirt and we watched the guards march back and forth across the road. Everybody had an apple.

Finally they came back. First the cannons, heading to Green Park to set up for a 41-gun salute. Then the mounted band. Then a bunch of marching people, then a carriage - not the Queen, but a Prince or two. Some more marching people, and then Queen Elizabeth II. People cheered, and she waved but didn't smile. Taryn said she looked tired. I held the video camera over my head the whole time, and all I could see was what was on the 2" screen. Bob could see, but didn't have a clear camera shot, so he snapped blindly.

Well, now that was over, what next?
Having been warned by a newspaper that there was to be a bike rally in the area - a group of people going on a 6 mile bike ride, stark naked, to protest cars - we wanted to move away a bit.

So we started back up The Mall, and were almost to the end when Cedwryck wet himself. You can't blame the boy - he'd held it for over an hour. So we remembered seeing a McDonald's somewhere, and figured they had a toilet. I had a change of clothes for Ced in the diaper bag, so he and I went inside, down stairs where it was very hot, and got in line. London has maybe 6 public toilets, and each of them only have 2 stalls. 20 minutes later we were in there and got him wiped down and in clean clothes. Then Bob and Riah went down, but that was quick because the boys' room didn't have a line. Then Taryn and Naysha had to go. So Bob and I started making peanut butter sandwiches, and we stood in front of the McDonald's and ate our sack lunch. When the loaf of bread was gone, we walked on.

Through a park, down the side of the Thames, then across a bridge, up the other side of the river, back across another bridge. We passed Big Ben and Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Horse Guards, and some other famous buildings. The route we took wasn't terribly crowded, but as we headed back toward Buckingham there were just hordes of people.

Yes, we went to the Palace and looked around a bit, then across another park to a Tube station. Down more stairs, onto the train for two stops, then a line change. We got the right line, but the wrong train. So we got off again, at the same place as last trip down, got some sandwiches at the Subway, and went back on the Underground to Epping.

Whew! It doesn't sound quite as bad as it feels. ;-) Bob pushed the stroller the whole way, the children lined up behind him, and I brought up the rear, keeping everyone in line and holding Ced's hand. He likes to hold my hand and walk behind me, so I was more or less pulling him the whole time. William was pretty good, but he did have to be nursed a few times. Ella was terrific, and did take a short nap. Taryn was helpful and carried William for me once while I helped lift the stroller.

Twice, at different places, a man offered to help Bob with the stroller so I didn't have to. When we were at the shopping center (where we got Subway) the man at the fruit stand gave each of the children an orange. People waiting for the parade were very friendly and chatted with us quite a bit. We didn't see the nude cyclists. So all in all it was a good day, just very tiring.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you ended the day with a good feeling. And glad that Taryn got to see the queen... have her write about it to help her retain the memory of it. The pictures will help, even if they aren't the best.

Tiring? I can only imagine!
love, mums

Ganeida said...

I'm exhausted just reading about it. I found the London Underground very good & easy to use. So is Paris'. I avoid parades simply because I really dislike crowds.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting day. But, nude protesters? Isn't it against the law there? jc

MamaOlive said...

We aren't crazy about crowds, either, but every once in a while it's worth it.
I don't have to tell Taryn to write about it; she started as soon as we got in the car.
I don't think they have the same "problem" with nudity here that we have. I remember being surprised with the abundance of pornographic material in public view when I was here before.

Ganeida said...

I'm always surprised by the way the Brits trot round in next to nothing in absolutely freezing weather & out here they really get carried away while we're all covering up because of the skin cancer risk. The saying out here is: 'Only mad dogs & Englishmen go out in the mid~day sun'...which says a lot.