Wednesday, 6 June 2012

June Jubilee

Ah Britain.  Any excuse for a party.  I suppose I am a royalist, though not a die-hard one, but who could complain about a four day weekend to celebrate our queen's 60th year on the throne?  Surely the holiday alone is enough reason to support the monarchy!  As well as a much needed break and time to get some personal work done, the Jubilee has awakened in Loughborough that community spirit I enjoy so much.

My Jubilee biscuit

Our house began the weekend with a very British tea on Saturday.  It was a bit of fun but we take our parties very seriously and all the necessaries were there; scones, cucumber sandwiches, sponge cake.  Meanwhile in London there's been plenty to see and I spent a lot of Sunday watching the flotilla on the Thames from my sofa at home.  A friend of mine was on one of the boats but I've yet to spot him.  The weather was also very British, by which of course I mean it rained.  Grey skies gave way to drizzle, and drizzle gave way to full on showers, but still the banks of the Thames were lined with folk waving flags.  I don't think our defining national trait is a stiff-upper-lip at all, I think it's just plain old stubborness.

On Monday night around 4,200 fiery beacons were lit across the UK and Commonwealth, and Loughborough's was one of them.  My house only found out about this very late in the day, while sitting together to watch the London concert.  There was a lot of dithering and umming-and-aahing as to whether or not we would go but in the last half hour we had a sudden burst of energy and dashed out of the house.  I'm very glad we did.  Even though it was just setting a few sticks on fire the atmosphere was excitable and festive.  A surprisingly large number of people turned out, ranged over the outcrops in the 10pm twilight of British summertime, and when the beacon was lit there was cheering and a raucous rendition of 'God Save the Queen'.


People stayed around for a good while afterwards just messing about in the moonlight taking photos, having fun.  There was something about the fact that we'd all made the effort to be there, together as a town, that was lovely to see.  And as a country too - from our hill we could spot the lights of half a dozen other beacons in any given direction.  A line of flickering flames stretched towards us from Leicester, Twyford, and Queniborough, and then away from us again towards Shepshed, Coalville, and Clifton.  Beacons have a long history in Britain as signal fires to pass on messages and warnings in times of trouble, but these days they're more a declaration of unity.  We were part of a chain, a network, that spanned the entire country and beyond.  That in itself was marvellous.

For Tuesday, the final day of festivities, Loughborough held a Picnic in the Park.  (I didn't realise that Queen's Park where it was held, was opened to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1899.  How appropriate!).  My church Open Heaven has a parents group, giving mums and dads help and time off when they need it, so while they passed on fliers and got to know our neighbours I spent my day with some other talented ladies painting the face of small squirmy children.  Fortunately thanks to my time with Spinoff I know what I'm doing and it all went really well. 

My friend Dan
When my shift was over I went to check out the rest of the activities.  As usual there are sights to be seen, smells to be smelled, and lot of fun thing to do.  The first thing I did was go speak to Transition Loughborough.  I've been learning a lot over the past few months about the economy, resource issues, sustainability, system collapse and local responses.  Transition towns came up as part of that so even though in my current position there's a limited amount I can change about my lifestyle, every little helps and it was interesting to see what schemes the group already have in place that I could get involved with.  I saw Maypole dancing, Scottish traditional dancing, drumming, choirs and bands, and the very amusing Witty Look unicyclists.

There were games to play. biscuits to decorate (I drew a picture of Her Majesty on mine), art tables to play with, and stalls to peruse.  Being Leicestershire half of the food stalls smelt deliciously of curry, the perfect meal on a grey and blustery day.  This craft stall below houses the handmade creations of the infinitely talented Amy Allwright.  An ambition of mine is to become a cook worthy of one of her beautiful aprons.

The clouds threatened us all day long but not a drop of rain fell until 5pm when the Picnic ended.  I trundled off home to be fed a delicious meal by my housemate Emily, who was cooking for our final Come Dine With Me.  Her stuffed squash starter was the best of the three by a mile, and I especially enjoyed her trio of desserts which included a lovely light banofee pie.  I thought I didn't even like banofee pie - it turns out that the problem was that the previous pies had not been made by Emily.

1 comment: