Posts Tagged ‘camping on the mall’

What a fabulous event! Kate; or Catherine as she is now to be known, the Duchess of Cambridge looked absolutely radiant, just as every bride should!
I feel as if I have truly fallen through the rabbit hole, it was surreal! The Pomp! The Pagentry! The Ceremony! The Horses! The Traditions! The Colours! The Music! The Troops! The Flags! – only the British can do Pomp and Ceremony like the British! ūüôā

royal wedding soldiers marching by

Pomp and Pagentry on The Mall

Who would have thought when I sat in front of my TV that day back in South Africa in 1981, and watched the wedding of Prince Charles and the soon to be Princess Diana, that in just under 30 years time I would be in London and at the wedding of her eldest son; Prince William!
To say that I am thrilled and exhuberant to have been part of the fantastic event would be a total understatement. I could probably use every descriptive word in the dictionary and it still wouldn’t describe the fun, the excitement and the sheer unadulterated amazement I felt at being there.

royal wedding on the mall processional route

two very excited people, on The Mall waiting for the fun to begin

Earlier in the month, in a moment of what can clearly be described as madness, I had decided to join the hundreds of other people who would be camping out on the Mall for the Royal Wedding.

my place for the Royal Wedding

You may recall, (or not), that I went along to mark this ‘spot’ a few days before which was great fun.¬† Of course when I did arrive at The Mall on Thursday evening, the whole area was already filled with people camping out –¬†¬†note to self: take leave from duty when these events occur! In other words, there are other people just as mad who get there early too!!

royal wedding, crowds camping on the mall

you gotta get there early

So, there I was, rucksack strapped on, the pop-up 2woman tent that I had purchased the day before in another ‘moment of madness’,¬† (I am not safe with a credit card when I get excited about something!!) in one hand, a bag of food in my other hand and my stomach churning with excitement, wandering about looking for a spot to camp out!¬† I was delighted that my daughter had decided to join me for the night and she was to arrive a wee bit later.

royal wedding, camping on the mall

our 2-woman pop-up tent prior to being popped-up

The Mall was a sea of tents, and camping chairs, plastic ground sheets, and thousands of people either already set up or just milling about. And dust!!!  Without further ado, I set off to find a reasonable spot and chanced upon a row of ladies who had already set up their chairs right against the barrier. There was a space behind them with a clear view of The Mall in front, a good view of Buckingham Palace and most importantly a good view of the balcony where the couple would appear after the ceremony! And hopefully for a kiss!! In the event we got two, and in the event I missed both coz by the time it happened we had crowds of people in front and many were up on shoulders and that was that.

royal wedding the couple on the balcony

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace - a sea of heads below

The souvenir vendors were out n force and we had people selling flags, badges, buttons, hats, scarves and two enterprisng young ladies on Barclays Bikes selling t-shirts

royal wedding
enterprising vendors selling t-shirts; getting around on Barclays bikes

One thing is for sure, the Barclays Cycle Hire were making a roaring trade, I saw dozens of bikes being used that afternoon and night!    I set myself up behind the ladies who were from Somerset, got to chatting to folks around me and leaving my bags with the ladies in front I went walkabout for a bit. Not too far mind, I had a spot to keep!  If you moved away for more than a few minutes, your spot was gone!  My question about where to go to the loo was answered as soon as I arrived.

royal wedding on the mall portaloos

portaloos for a party

 There were people from all over the world, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, America, Japan, Germany, Poland and UK citizens from all corners of the country. I saw Piers Morgan being interviewed, I watched reporters reporting, I got to see David Cameron go walkabout,

royal wedding, david cameron

David Cameron on The Mall, being interviewed by Tim Wilcox

but I missed William and Harry’s walkabout near Clarence House. In terms of distance it is a 5 minute walk, in terms of the night I could just as well have been on the moon….it was impossible to get anywhere near the place.
Soon my daughter arrived and we put the tent up!¬† Now here is the thing, there is something I learned over this episode; a pop-up tent ‘pops’ up a lot easier than it ‘pops’ down again!¬† After numerous fruitless attempts on Friday morning to get it back in the bag, we gave up, strapped it together and that was that!

royal wedding, camping on the mall

a fruitless attempt to pop-down the pop-up...........

¬†I was almost happy to see the back of it,¬†however, since it did cost ¬£60, I didn’t just toss it!¬† ¬†But it was a great little to tent to sleep in (probably what saved it’s skin), and in due course, at about 10pm we snuggled in, sleeping mats rolled out, sleeping bags spread out and hallelujah my daughter brough a couple of pillows along! All the comforts of a 5-star hotel and we had a view like none! ūüôā

royal wedding camping on the mall

settling in for the night.

By this stage we were covered in dust, The Mall sidewalks are after all sand and grit, and despite repeated washing of my hair when I got home the next day, I can still feel grit in my hair.¬† My pores, despite a real scrubbing under the shower still feel clogged. The sand got in everywhere, and by the time I got home Friday night my clothes, the tent, the sleeping bags, my rucksack and my trainers collectively contained at least 90% of the Mall’s gritty sidewalk!

dusty tents on The Mall

The excitement on the night was palpable.  It never ceases to amaze me how at these events people who are total strangers get chatting and laughing together, the normal British reserve is no-where to be seen. Reporters from different countries and TV Stations were roving around, looking for interesting people to interview.  And by interesting I mean the people that were dressed for the occassion.  There were Brides, a Queen Victoria, ladies in hats fit for a Queen, Union Jacks disguised in all manner of items; painted on faces, hats and t-shirts.  We had scattered sing-songs, hundreds of flags waving about and the atmosphere was electric.

royal wedding, on the mall for the royal wedding

do not press my button.........

I managed to sleep for about 3 hours between the hours of 1am and 4am through the noise, the shouting, the tramping feet that constantly kicked and knocked our tent, the lights, the shouting, the singing and the occassional Porta-Potty truck!  We had Police milling about keeping an eye on the crowds and may I say that I was totally impressed; no aggression, no fighting, no bad behaviour and everyone was in a very jolly mood.
We woke really early the next day, and my very clever daughter went off to find us some tea and breakfast.¬† Lesson #1 dont bother to bring food next time….just buy when you are there! Never has a cup of tea tasted so good! And the croissants even better.¬† We also had red-velvet cupcakes for elevenses!!

royal wedding, buckingham palace

very early the next morning

By 7am the crowds had swelled to enormous proportions, we had unsuccessfully packed up our tent, packed away our accoutrements and got ready for a party. The air was electric and in no time at all the party got under way.  Wills and Kate went walkabout, The Queen walked by and waved

royal wedding camping on the mall

the 'Queen' goes walkabout

and The Mall looked like something out of Glastonbury.

royal wedding camping on the mall

the crowds at 7am the next day

We had Pomp and Pageantry like you cannot believe.  The Police were out in force, armed Police, yer man Plod and the Metropolitan Mounted Police, in regiments and groups all there to Protect and Serve!

royal wedding, metropolitan mounted police

The Metropolitan Mounted Police

They also took no truck with disturbances and if you didn’t obey instantly when they told not to climb into the trees……… !!!!!
As the hours went by, the excitement rose, cheering and clapping, flag waving and music, helicopters, marching soldiers, mounted police, armed police, people pushing and shoving allwanting the best vantage point they could get….¬†and then the Procession began…….

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