Monday, 27 June 2022

Wimbledon fortnight


Decorations outside the Ralph Lauren shop on Bond Street. Wimbledon fortnight starts today, opening to a capacity crowd for the first time since 2019. I haven't got a ticket this year so will be glued to the TV watching all the action. Of course, Wimbledon is not without controversy this year as unlike the other Grand Slams it has decided to ban players from Russia and Belarus because of the war in Ukraine. I know one concern was the use of propaganda by Russia if one of their players won the championship. However, I do think they could have come up with an alternative such as no presentation of trophies to Russians or media interviews. But then sporting events have to be at the bottom of the agenda when you consider the suffering going on in Ukraine today.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Not the Chelsea flower show

Sloane Square went to town this month decorating streets and shops in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and the return of the Chelsea Flower Show at the end of May. There was an Autumn Chelsea Flower show which I attended last November which I wrote about  here. After three years the show was back on at its usually spring time slot. I wasn't there but I did go  and have a look at Sloane Square.

Many of the displays used fresh flowers which had started to fade by the time I visited.

 Hope you enjoyed coming seeing what's happening on the King's road in Chelsea this month. Sharing with Through my lens

Sunday, 12 June 2022

ABBA Voyage


Last Sunday I went to see the ABBA Voyage concert.

My friend and I had tickets for the dance floor rather than seats. I wasn't sure what to expect with this virtual concert but it was incredible. I have never experienced anything like it. This is a description from the BBC website:

'To create the spectacle, the band performed in motion capture suits for five weeks, with 160 cameras scanning their body movements and facial expressions. Those became reference points for hundreds of animators and visual effects artists to create avatars of the band in their heyday. Affectionately known as "Abba-tars", the characters are not 3D holograms - as everyone involved in the production is at pains to point out.Instead, the characters appear on a massive, 65million pixel screen, with lights and other effects blurring the boundaries between the digital elements and the "real world" in the arena.'

There was a live orchestra and singers and I found it hard to believe that I wasn't watching the real Abba in concert except that they haven't changed in 40 years. It needs to be seen to be believed. Because of the technology needed for it to work, the concert takes place in a specially built arena near the Olympic Park in London. I believe it will be on show here for the next couple of years. I imagine there will be similar concerts around the world if this one proves to be successful.

No photography was allowed but I did take a very quick photo on my phone which is not very good. here is a link to the official trailer:

Monday, 6 June 2022

Street parties

As part of the Jubilee celebrations, communities all around the country celebrated with street parties. Roads were closed to traffic and tables were set up for everyone to enjoy a feast of food. Usually people brought food with them to share as well as food provided by the organisers and the community group. The party my eldest grandchildren attended had a live band as well as lots of fun games for the children and adults.
Red, white and blue decorations were everywhere. I spotted this unusual one in Mayfair. It has to take first prize for originality.

I was in Mayfair last Friday and came across this street party which  had an open invitation to everyone. The tables were beautifully decorated with plants and flowers.
Entry was through this flower arch.

There were lots of places to buy food along the street and take your place at one of the tables.

There was also a food market on the street in this deconsecrated church. There was a wide variety of food and drink available. 

I was there with my daughter and we had a great time together.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Platinum Jubilee

  Yesterday, the 2nd June, was the beginning of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Seventy years on the throne is something to celebrate and yesterday the celebrations began with the Trooping of the Colour. In the Middle Ages each Lord or Baron flew his banner so his followers could distinguish him in battle.These flags became known as 'the Colours'. During Queen Anne's reign the number of Colours per regiment were restricted to two. The role of the Colours was to rally the troops during a battle so it was imperative that the soldiers recognised their own Colours. Hence the need to display them regularly. This was done by parading the troops and an officer marching along the ranks holding the 'Colours'. Trooping the Colour is believed to have first been performed after the monarchy was restored during the reign of Charles II (1660-85) and was used  to mark the official birthday of the sovereign. The Trooping of the Colour is an annual event and since her accession the Queen has always been present. Sadly this year she wasn't able to be there to take the salute, which was performed by Prince Charles instead. This year it was the turn of the 1st battalion Irish Guards to Troop their Colour.    

 I arrived at The Mall, the road from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, before 8am but there were already thousands of people there. Many had camped out overnight to get a good view of the procession along The Mall. 

I brought the grandchildren into London to look at the flags etc a couple of days ago as I knew it would be far too crowded for them to see anything on the day.

They did see the Changing of the Guard though (which happens daily) and so got a little idea of what was going to happen.

I imagine these gentlemen in their top hats and tails would be viewing the ceremony from one of the VIP stands rather than the side of the road.
These ladies were dressed for the occasion.

St James's Park which runs alongside The Mall was also filling up quickly with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the troops.
As the crowds were about 10 to 12 deep lining the Mall I decided to just walk around and soak up the wonderful joyful atmosphere. This is the first real celebration we have experienced since 2019 and people were making the most of it.

Many of the guards who were not involved in the procession today were on duty helping with security and chatting to the public.
After wandering around the park and chatting to lots of people I decided to go to the other side of the park on Birdcage Walk and see whether I could get a glimpse of the troops leaving Wellington Barracks. There was hardly anybody there and I was easily able to watch the guards getting ready to leave.

The first of the guards to leave turned right which meant they were not part of the procession but were going directly to Horse Guards Parade.

I could see one of the bands getting ready to leave.
I wasn't sure which way the band would be going.

I wonder how many times the band has practised leaving the barracks whilst marching, playing an instrument and turning the corner!

This was the first band to leave the barracks so I assume would be leading the procession down the Mall.

All in perfect step with one another.

Other regiments of the guards followed.

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery also left the barracks.
The guns will be used later in the day to fire a gun salute to the Queen.

One of the many mounted police that were on parade.

I could still see lots of guards waiting to leave the barracks, but they were exiting from another gate which I couldn't access. I was happy that I had seen a little of the procession. Those guards on horseback and the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Princess Anne who were also on horseback would join the procession to Horse Guards Parade from the Palace. I decided I would leave the area and find a quiet cafe for a short while before returning and hopefully see the fly past. Leaving was easier said than done as I was going against the flow of human traffic. I still am not sure how I managed it but I got across the road, through the crowds and eventually made it to St James's Park tube station where I took the tube to Sloane Square. The station and its surrounds were dangerously overcrowded and as I arrived at Sloane Square I heard that that St James's Park station was now closed as was entrance to St James's park. Phew I got out just in time!

After a reviving cup of tea and a sit down I made my way back via a circuitous route on the underground to The Strand. I knew I would never get anywhere near The Mall. I was hoping to get to Trafalgar Square but that was also full. The whole area was closed to traffic as throngs of people were still coming into London on trains into Charing Cross.

I found a place to stand next to these colourful gentlemen and didn't have long to wait.

The 70 aircraft taking part in the fly past over Buckingham Palace flew over the Strand and then it's a direct line to the Palace where the Queen was on the balcony with other members of the Royal Family.

This was my favourite section of the flypast.
And finally it was the Red Arrows that completed this amazing display.

Although I didn't see the Royal family or the main procession I am still glad I went and I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and camaraderie of everyone I spoke to today.