Thanks for popping in! I have been beavering away for two days, getting the demonstrations prepped for Sunday’s TV show, 3-5pm. Have been dying to settle down with a cuppa, and tell you all about the Coronation Tea Party we attended on Wednesday! But I really had to bank the demos first, and make sure I know what I’m doing on the day! Now the boxes are loaded, the producer notes have been written, I am off the hook, and can share the day with you good people !
And what a fantastic day it was too! Dave and I walked 13,000 steps on Wednesday (and my brand new Emma Hopes were perfect. Like a pair of comfy slippers!)
We took the train from Tunbridge Wells to Charing Cross. Just a Cheap Day Return. We stuck out quite a bit, Dave in his smart black suit and tie (one of Dad’s), and me in my posh frock and hat! The ticket inspector started the banter with a “Ooh I say! Nice hat! Somebody’s off to Ascot!” “Actually, we’re going to the Palace to visit the King!” was our smiling response. Well impressed he was…
The sun was already up and out to join us for the whole day too. How lucky were we !? The city was buzzing! They were cleaning the fountains and polishing the brass, so to speak, and the Coronation vibe was palpable.
Had a quick cuppa and a bite to eat in St Martins Crypt Café at Trafalgar Square. Great place if you want a coffee (and a quick potty break)! Their apple cumbles are the best!
Then we walked down the Mall to the Palace. If you’ve never been there, Pall Mall as it is called, is a huge, long straight avenue, lined with trees, which starts at Trafalgar Square, takes you through Admiralty Arch, and then straight to the front gates. That’s when it hit me. What is actually happening in London this weekend!
Preparations? I talk about prep all the time, right? This has been YEARS in the planning. Security levels were high, but not intimidating, and folks were chipper. We went through security, but it was very kind, if you know what I mean.
We then waited a little while in front of the Palace gates, before being allowed in. Here we met a smashing couple from Dudley, Pat and Bill. What gorgeous people. They just exuded goodness. Bill was 85! The same age as my parents. It was such a big affair, quite overwhelming, so the four of us stuck close together the whole afternoon.
We got talking about why we were there. For 30 years, Pat has filled 100 shoe boxes each year, for children who have nothing, and Bill covers the boxes with Christmas paper. It’s a year round project. Apparently it’s a big thing, although it was new to me.
Barb: “What do you put in the boxes?” Pat: “Paper, colouring pencils, pens, a tennis ball, toothbrush, cuddly toy - just anything that a child would like” Barb: “How do you get all the things for your boxes?” (thinking donations, business hat on, etc) Pat: (bit confused by the question) “I buy them” Gulp. Dave and I looked at each other, smiled and nodded. “We should be able to help you there, Pat.” Pat: “How so?” Dave: “We have a warehouse full of colouring pencils, pens, paper, etc.” Barb: “We also have an amazing crafty community who knit and crochet little safe toys!“
She was so moved, she wept. Dave quickly gave her a tissue – and we all had a hug. There you go! We went to the Palace, and we met two very VERY important people: Pat and Bill from Dudley. And that was before the gates even opened! They were such humble, lovely down to earth people. To me, they represented what the Garden Party was all about: a coming together of working class people, who try to do good in their communities. A real fanfare for the common man.
Then, at a little before 3pm, the Buckingham Palace gates were opened, and we strolled in. All the while, I was seeing all of this through YOUR eyes too! The people who got us the invitation. You’d have blimming loved it. See the famous balcony? And blue skies…
Round to the right and through the Garden gate at the side, through to the gardens at the back.
Check out this dapper chap!! 6ft 7 inches tall!
We were right near the front of the 8,000 strong. That’s a lot of people being recognised for doing good deeds, isn’t it? We hear so much negative and bad in the world; the Garden Party to me was about a celebration of GOOD.
Here’s a beautiful shot of the back garden! And Dave, of course. Didn‘t he look smart?! He got asked if he was security too! Men in Black…
40 acres of breathtaking gardens. You’d never believe you were in the middle of London!
It felt surreal to be in the company of the Kind of England and his family. We certainly saw him at a distance, and Camilla. But neither Dave nor I are people who feel the need to shake his hand or be acknowledged by him. It’s enough to be in his garden and in his company. There were lots of members of the royal family there, which made the occasion very special indeed. But it was the thousands of guests milling around that impressed me. Thousands of good deeds, of people who are trying to make a positive change in the world.
It was certainly a perfect place for people-watching! What a wonderful catwalk of colour and beautiful outifts. And you knew that everybody had togged up for the event of a lifetime. Lots of top hats too.
And lots of people just strolling in the gardens, like us, soaking up the atmosphere and the sun. It was warm!
We had a lovely selection of sandwiches too, with tea. Super tasty. All very English, like ham and tomato, egg and cress. We sat with a couple of elderly ladies from Cardiff, who were Macmillan helpers. You see? Packed with goodness.
The 3 hours went so fast! Before we knew it, the time had come to say farewell to our new friends. I think Bill had had enough by then too!
But he was kind enough to take a picture of Dave and me – which had us in stitches… Look at the length of our legs!! Like a hall of funny mirrors!!
And that, my friends, was that. We strolled back through St James’ Park, enjoying the banter and the swans and the tourists piling into London for the Coronation tomorrow. When the sun’s shining, there’s nothing quite like a Garden Party at the Palace!
I’ve been thinking about that afternoon a lot since the event, and I think I will for the rest of my life. It was such a privilege to be part of it. Such an honour to be invited. That’s it. It’s the fact that other people thought we were worthy of an invitation. The moment I will NEVER forget is opening the envelope in hospital, to say we’d been nominated. Turning point.
When you are there, and you are in a sea of people all championing good deeds, that’s pretty humbling, I can tell you. Very special indeed. So thank you again for making it happen, whoever you are x x x
Quote for the day?
Barb x x x