Thursday 31 May 2012

The River Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant being held on Sunday 3rd June 2012

Up to one thousand boats, a reflection of our maritime heritage, will make up one of the largest flotillas assembled on the River since Charles II ( l660 – 1685), when the procession is estimated to be seven miles long.

The pictorial on the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant site
Moving downstream from their mustering point at Hammersmith Bridge, the Pageant itself starts from the Chelsea Bridge area and once it reaches Tower Bridge the flotilla will, with regimental precision, disperse.

George Frideric Handel (left) with King George I on the
River Thames on 17 July 1717.
(Painted by Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman !819 - 1888)
The flotilla will pass 14 bridges and take 75 minutes to pass any given point ... the Royal Barge will stop at Tower Bridge for The Queen to review the flotilla as each section passes.

A floating belfry, with eight new bells commissioned by the 17th century St James Garlickhythe Church, will lead off the Royal Barge and jubilee pageant, with its peals echoed by other river bank churches. 

St James Garlickhythe Spire
The bells, cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, will then be permanently installed in the Church’s tower.

St James Garlickhythe is dedicated to the disciple St James and is a stop on a pilgrim’s route ending at the cathedral of Santiago da Compostela, Spain;

.... while Garlickhythe refers to a nearby landing place, or “hythe”, from which garlic was sold in medieval times.  The ships coming from France loaded with wine also carried garlic – a common association for medieval wine merchants.

The Church is off Garlick Hill, near Vintners’ Hall, Southwark Bridge and the Millennium Bridge, opposite Shakespeare’s The Globe theatre ....

The Gloriana - to be escorted by Royal Watermen

The Worshipful Company of Vinters (wine merchants) is one of the livery companies (trade associations) associated with the Church  - their trade will be well tested on Sunday!

Another Worshipful Company to participate in the ceremony is that of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen – the Queen’s Bargemaster and Royal Watermen will accompany the Queen as part of the Royal Household’s escort.

We need to remember that until the middle of the 19th century (150 years ago) our rivers were the main arteries for trade, commerce and travel and were ‘policed’ by these watermen – who now operate or regulate the tugs, lighters and launches on the river.
The Spirit of Chartwell being inspected by the Queen

The tradition of Bargemaster dates back to 1215, with the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede – a water-meadow alongside the River Thames, a few miles east of Windsor Castle.

Back to the Pageant ... a privately owned charter vessel, the Spirit of Chartwell has been transformed into the Royal barge.

The hotel barge was designed to evoke the timeless grandeur of the 1929 Cote d’Azur Pullman Express de luxe train – so was already luxuriously kitted out ... with rich hardwood finishes and large panoramic windows ...

... it was also chosen for its size, opulence, safety and manoeuvrability, while has been made to echo the richly decorated royal barges of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Crimsons, Golds, Purples and highlights of Creamy Gold will feature in the floral arrangements – a reference to the Commonwealth, the Coronation and the Queen’s Gold Stage Coach. 

Preparing the Gilding for the Gloriana

Among all the majestic colours there will also be lots of greenery with blues to make it festively ‘pageanty’ and bright.

There will be roses and the scented beauty of masses of sweetpeas – giving the barge a lovely British garden feel.  There will be scented herbs too ... lavender and rosemary.

There will be 90 garlands festooning the Royal Barge, while Shamrocks, Thistles and Daffodils will, along with the roses, represent each of the countries of the United Kingdom.

Royal Sweetpeas
There are eight small remotely controlled cameras placed discreetly around the Royal Barge ... so we will see a great deal and feel we’re part of the whole setting – perfume doesn’t come down the internet does it – pity!!??

Everything has been tried and tested ... with one thousand boats there is going to be a lot of wave and wash.

Ø the Royal Jubilee Floating Belfry will lead off

Ø followed by the majestic gilded royal row boat “Gloriana”, being crewed by, among others, two Rowing Olympians – Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent.

Ø A section of 250 Rowing Boats, followed by Sea Kayaks;

Ø  the Academy for Ancient Music will lead off the Royal Section: royal barges representing Commonwealth countries

Ø Trumpet Heralds on their barge announce Her Majesty The Queen aboard the Spirit of Chartwell

There will be ten sections ... including Little Ships from the Dunkirk rescue in 1940; Dutch Barges – larger than ours; ...

.... 40 Narrowboats – 8 rows of 5 abreast (one of our resident’s nephews is captaining one of these – pictures coming ... I’m promised!) Cornish Pilot Gigs;

Cornish Pilot Gigs
Cruisers – ‘floating Gin Palaces’, ‘Tupperware’ boats, ‘Trip Trip’ boats, Clippers, Hydrofoils and at the end after Tower Bridge the Tall Ships and Avenue of Sail stretch their wings ...

Interspersed and leading each section will be other music barges and two fountain barges ... playing New Water Music, the Mayor’s Jubilee Band, a Jubilant Commonwealth Choir, a Pipe and Dhol band from the Indian sub-continent ...

Westminster Bridge - Lord Mayor's Day
by Canaletto 1746 (detail from)
The London Philharmonic Orchestra brings up the rear – their repertoire has been chosen to chime in with London landmarks – the James Bond theme as they pass the MI6 building, music from The Dam Busters at the RAF memorial, and finally at about 5.30 pm, as the boat approaches the finishing point of Tower Bridge, the National Anthem.

Along the way plenty of boats will be moored as a backdrop to the Pageant – Working Fireboats, Historic and Service vessels, Dunkirk Little Ships (1940), Royal Squadron, et al ....

Royal Banner for HM Queen
Terry’s narrowboat will be moored on Friday 1st June at Lime House, West India Docks until Sunday comes around ... there have obviously been security checks and will continue to be so ... no-one is allowed on the roof of their boats; there is no uniform – just be boat-trip pageant tidy, and adverts are not allowed.

The Thames Barrier will be closed – so there will be no river flow, which will make life considerably easier to maintain a discipline within the procession – apparently there’s an allowance of one boat length between each row ....

St Michael's Mount State Barge
c/o Classic Boat Company
Coincidences happen don’t they ... to round off this post ... the oldest boat on display is the St Michael’s Mount State Barge, which was reputedly built in Cornwall in 1740 ...

I was reading about Cornwall to my mother – she corrected me about  some pronunciation! – but what interested me when reading about St Michael’s Mount, which has belonged to the St Aubyn family since 1660, is that The Lord St Levan has liveried boatmen to row him to and fro ... to his home on the Mount. 

A Skerry  = the speed of a Skiff and the comfort of
a Wherry - racing on the Thames
 c/o Classic Boat Company
Penzance Bay at high tide makes this sanctuary, now marooned away from the mainland, an island – while it is almost certain, that like that at Borth (Uppingham-by-Sea), the whole surrounding bay and Mount were part of a forest.

I have to say this has really helped me appreciate the Nautical Celebration and Royal Jubilee Pageant that will occur on Sunday – I feel like I have done my homework!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Chelsea Flower Show has come and gone ... Time flyeth doesn’t it?

The Royal Horticultural Society’s 2012 Show tested the patience and ingenuity of all contributors to the limit – the two year drought conditions triggering a hosepipe ban in the eastern part of Britain ...

Lupinus Beefeater

... which once announced allowed the heavens to open giving us the wettest April in living memory, together with a particularly chilly cold snap – very unpleasant it has been!

This year was the 99th annual Chelsea Flower Show – though the War years were missed – while it has always been held in the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital bordering on the Embankment along that part of the River Thames known as Chelsea Reach, clearly shown at the bottom in this portion of Stanford’s Map of Central London, 1897 (left).

The first day during which the awards were made welcome the Royal Family, friends and celebrities, RHS members visit on days two and three, then the great British public can come in for days four, five and six – the last day being the day of the great sell off ...
Day six - Going Home!

... when people go home with trees under their arms, the tube becomes full of plants, the buses garner baskets of flowers, and cabs generously allow their fee paying passengers to be accompanied by all sorts ... plants, pots, tools, et al ...  it looks fun, but I’m glad it’s not me!!

The Chapel, Royal Hospital
Chelsea: 1681 - 1691 by
Sir Christopher Wren

In 1913 there were 244 exhibitors, while today there were 550 ... and they are allowed 25 days to put up their Gardens, plant and bring in their displays.

Where in the world would you go to visit a Flower Show ... well Royal Chelsea – the plants should be stars ... all colours of the rainbow were on show ... especially anything queenly or in red, white and blue ...

As usual there were lots of innovative ideas ...


... the Queen’s Corgis in flower format ... Prince William said that one thing he would change when he comes to power will be the corgis ... he says “they’re barking all the time ... I don’t know how she copes with it!”

Chelsea Pensioners starring
with Diarmuid Gavin's
Pyramid Garden
Chelsea pensioners starred with the multi-storey magical Pyramid Garden built by Diarmuid Gavin – he was awarded the Most Creative Show Garden award ... and at 80 foot high (24 m) it’s probably not surprising ...

... it was a 7 tiered garden which features a lift, a cafe, a helter skelter, work studio and greenhouses among its 5,000 plants and trees ... and just towered over the show gardens and flower pavilions below.

David Austen's new Jubilee Rose

Tree bark featured amongst the plantings ... Prunus Maackii ‘Amber Beauty’ features, as did the new David Austen Jubilee roses, Astrantia Major, Mathiasella bupleuroides ...

Astrantia Major

Things keep happening in this little land of ours ... and flowers always seem to fascinate us and amuse – I took a scented red rose from the garden here ... at least it has roses, there’s not much else to pick ... to give my mother some pleasure.

Prunus Maackii

Mathiasella Bupleuroides

Well that’s Chelsea ticked off the list before the rest of the summer jaunts catch me ill prepared ... 

I’ll away to start the next post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday 27 May 2012

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Ridiculous titles – excellent very British films;

Two great fun films ... both very, very British!  Cast with some really well known actors and actresses – such fun to see them all working together – I bet they laughed all the way through the takes. 

Then some views of the West Country lanes I passed through on my brief journey to Cornwall, via Somerset and Devon ....

What a great idea taking a group of ageing “beautiful and elderly” retirees, writing a comedy-drama around them and having it set in India ... to a hotel called “Marigold” ... I just cannot get washing up gloves – marigold variety – out of my mind!

These characters still full of dreams, full of life, perhaps not quite so stable on their pins – but spring chickens in their own minds – the strangers meet up in Jaipur ... and their journey of adventure begins.

Hart's Tongue Fern in Cornish Lane
The British character is at work here ... lotharios, cricket fans, antithesis to foreigners – and they’re in India – hidden talents ... the relationship between the Indian personalities and their expectations of life ...

Checkout this great movie – it’s fun, light, thought-provoking too, seductive in nature as India weaves its spell ... the people are intelligent, funny, curious – the stellar cast give us lots of laugh out loud moments.  Just delightful ... it is charming in unexpected ways.

Another cracked title – but the book has the same name – while the words certainly entrap you ... a very typical British romantic comedy-drama built around a very odd premise ... bringing fly fishing to the Yemen.

But anything is possible with some $$$ ... beautiful film sets, British characterisation excellently portrayed once again – British names ... Chetwode-Talbot ... 

...the reserve of the Brits, the pompousness of British politicians and civil servants, handsome Sheikh ... there are twists and surprising ones at that ...

But – oh I do enjoy good old British humour, sense of hope, ridiculousness of situations we get ourselves out of ... a good looking cast (that’s rather good at its craft too!!) ... some excellent locational shots ...

A Linseed Field in full flower
I love that we get to see parts of our country that we might miss otherwise – and highlight countries we might never get to see – perhaps through a gauzy haze of cinematographic delight ... think Slumdog Millionaire ...

Castles – well this is a Scottish baronial house ... Wikipedia gives their locations – I’m pleased to say ... and then using Morocco for the locations set in the Yemen – but in the film there is a Google earth image showing the deep valleys in the Yemeni mountains.

Ardverikie House - also used as the Monarch of the Glen
tv programme base
I don’t usually go to other main stream films, preferring the more subtle ones that tend not to go on general release ... I rely on our film society to bring us a stimulating range of films from around the world, some sub-titled ... some they bring in to satisfy the overseas visitors in the town – particularly the French: so we get quite a few French films ...

Somerset view

I have just had a quick journey to Cornwall in the West Country to celebrate someone’s life after 95 years – she was able to live her life to the full and died peacefully at home in her sleep.  

I spoke to her 9 days before she died ... she didn't like unpacking the shopping, which she was doing and the ants had returned ... normality of life.

May is a wonderful time to travel in England ... this year some plants are ahead after our very early pre-Spring, some are now making a bold start after our cold and wet Easter, finally Spring is morphing into Summer at a fast rate .... leaves have unburgeoned, flowers are mixing up with their woodland settings.

Bluebells and Wood Anemones

The first part of my journey is the ‘fast’ stretch, then I wended my way overland into the Somerset villages to see a good friend, whom I met in South Africa, and catch up after being tied up with my mother.

Not a long stop – but at least we touched sides again ... and her brother lives here in Eastbourne ... so I’ll see her later in the year.   The next morning I set off for The Eden Project where I could have a walk, a pit stop, and a wander ... before the 2.00pm funeral.

Cornish Lane
A tiny Cornish church, a retired Bishop taking the service, connections with Oxford, said Bishop was confirmed by one of my schoolgirl classmate’s father, who at that stage was a vicar in Oxford, but who also went on to become a Bishop.   Small world of connections ...

A very simple tea afterwards at her cottage, down a tiny lane, with ferns, bluebells, primroses, glimpses of the sea through five bar fences, the cool shelter of the bent Cornish trees in the valley ...
Red Campion and Bluebells

We could only walk there – just about inaccessible by car – beautiful cottage with a folly gate, they had just seen and had to buy!, tiny garden, but flanked with their folly leading into a meadow that they were able to garden as a backdrop to the white cottage.

Brilliant sunny day – lots of tea in the garden – sandwiches thickly filled with cucumber, egg and cress, or smoked salmon – followed by scones, jam and Cornish cream ... I ate too much!

Black Head cove, St Austell
Thankfully I shall be able to visit quite often in the future as Jane her niece has inherited ... I shall enjoy that ... since I came back from South Africa my uncle had very bad diabetes, which eventually took his life, after going blind ... while my aunt I was able to briefly visit in recent years ... she did enjoy life and always revelled in the fullness of things (post here).

Well that is the start of 2012 – it is going to be a mammoth year ... so much is happening – and even I may post short and sweet during the next few months?!

Enjoy the films – they’re very British and just plain enjoyable ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Uppingham-by-the-sea ... Wrap Up!

When I was looking through my mother’s books I came upon this little gem – I had never heard from the family about this episode in the school’s life – so I was entranced to read the book and got hooked.

I thought it would make a good story for a post ... and in the end I couldn’t easily reduce the 47 pages much more than I have ... I also simplified it and kept to the school or calendar year.  I thought I might be able to make it into two posts ... no such luck, and then each post got longer and longer!

As some of you have noted the descriptions are just wonderful and I admit I have plagiarised them for my posts – because Sir John Henry Skrine wrote this beautiful narrative in 1877 for publication the following year by Macmillan and Co.

Bag of Phrases
I also do not have the erudition that is exemplified by the era, the headmaster and the author, Sir JH Skrine: there are many quotations and references in Greek and Latin to poetry, myth and legend, ancient literature, theatre and the arts ... that I wanted to refer to – hence the plagiarism!

I coaxed myself to extract and draft the posts ... many written using Skrine’s words rather than my own; I broke up his paragraphs and italicised some - the exceedingly descriptive phrases he used, or to render a point that I thought was of particular ‘interest’.

Skrine did not have copy and paste!! And his knowledge must have been prodigious to have all these literary references to hand ... I just hit the link?!

A lot of you have noted ...

Ø Exploration for a suitable site done in 3 days, headmaster visited and signed contract, 14 days later the train and 18 carriages had been hired ...

o   the railways had only started 45 years previously ... yet had spread to most mines and ports ... obviously transport around the British Isles was greatly enhanced.

o   The railway line at Uppingham only opened in 1890 .. so everything had to go by horse and cart to Seaton (about 2 miles away)
Steam locomotive

Ø It could be done, without hassle, 135 years ago: a whole school could be bundled up and trained out – it beggar’s belief what would happen today ...

Ø 8 days later – the school boys themselves poured forth from said trains: how had they been notified ... this is not divulged ...

o   The telegraph was becoming available, but certainly wasn’t ubiquitous
o   Telephones were just being invented

A perforated Penny
Red - letters in four
corners and plate 148,
therefore printed
after 1871
o   The Penny Post had come in 35 years previously (1840) ...
§  Did they use letters, or personal messengers, or send the masters out to explain ...?

o   and how about copying anything ... was it done via a letter copying press (James Watt obtained a licence in 1780s), ... or by Notice using word of mouth ...

Ø there was no electricity – so light would be candles or kerosene (paraffin)  lamps;  electricity was being engineered – but it would be another 30 or 40 years before it was for everyman and could be everywhere

Ø cooking would be done on ranges ... gas stoves were exhibited at The Great Exhibition in London in 1851, but it was only in the 1880s that they started to become commercial.   The ranges would have been stoked by coal from the local coal mine. 

Would they have bought ranges in the first place, and then ordered more as until requirements were satisfied ...

o   The Commissariat featured ... fodder could be found, stocks could be provided – even to feed those extra 400 odd souls ...

Ø The absolute trust that must have been inherent here – the headmaster, the masters and their families, the Trustees (because they authorised these major decisions), the boys themselves ... all getting on with and along with their new environment.

The otter
Ø The paths of communication that darted about the country – to the boys’ families; to Uppingham, and from Oxford – where most of the medical information (typhoid and scarlet fever) and support came from – as well as the Old Boys ... the local network.  I bet they’d turn in their graves for our life today ... the web of communication.

Ø Remember what we’re involved in today – is history tomorrow – perhaps in Wikipedia, though this saga isn’t, but the link to the narrative is shown.
Welsh Music 2011

Ø The shoreline reflecting geographical changes; sagas being retold in poetry – eg Taliesen.

Ø Standards were not allowed to drop – concerts were performed, matches were played, theatre was performed ... the boys were looked after in sickness and in health.

Snowdon Lily

Ø Schoolwork was kept up, new subjects appropriate to an innovative headmaster were introduced – archaeological, welsh music, botanical dissections of new creatures and plants – all new possibilities were explored ...

Ø Relationships were formed between school and its new community of strangers – strangers to public school life, to the English too ...  the relationship continues to this day ...

Sign post at Borth

Ø The wonderful description in the 2nd post between Grumbler and Cheerful ...

Ø Sanitary Tom – what a description for the sanitation navvy!

Ø In places I have pointed you to the appropriate page in the little book ... should you be interested in reading the actual account of that particular experience
Merlins - a painting

Ø I found it interesting Skrine discusses bullying and self-governance ...

Ø Connection with home (Uppingham) being maintained throughout ... via correspondence, parcels and those deliveries of prize stems of roses in a tin, fruit and vegetables ...

Ø They had a fairly rough time ... storms, fevers, losing boys ....

Ø Delicious words delivered fruitfully ... “ruth”, “niggardly”, “eygre”, an annus mirabilis ... valedictions on departure and on their return arrival ...

Let us have light old style
Edward Thring an original thinker and writer, was a well celebrated British educator; he raised the school to a high state of efficiency, and stamped it with the qualities of his own strong personality.  He nearly bankrupted himself during the school’s escape ...

These words in the first post “It was like shaking the alphabet in a bag, and bringing out the letters into words and sentences; such as the sense of absolute confusion turned into intelligent shape” – is definitely the way I felt ... lodging phrases and interesting facets into the grey matter as I read – then hoping a story would emerge, that would engage readers.

This is fromAmazon
it is available in various
The whole may be read courtesy Project Gutenberg ... and then you can pass comment on whether I’ve made a good stab with these recitations ...

I’ve loved your comments – it’s great to be able to write posts and then know that others are enjoying the story line ... I’m so grateful for your support.

The aged book is on its way back to my cousin, as the little narrative appears to belong to my uncle – why we had it I have no idea ... and nor does anyone else I guess.

The home that is Uppingham
Still Uppingham-by-the-Sea has entered another realm of its life in the 21st century – first published in 1878, then transcribed into Project Gutenberg in the 20th century, and now posted here in the 21st century ... the narrative continues to amaze and be entrancing in its telling.

(For interest Uppingham’s population in 1886 was around 2,560 – and now 125 years later it is between 3,800 – 4,000 ....)

Gelert - by Charles Burton Barber
(1845 - 1894)
To Dog Lovers, Welsh Lovers, Myth and Legend Lovers ... here is one last story ... before my tale is completely done ...  it is set in northern Snowdonia, some way north from Borth.  Madeleine from Scribble and Edit mentioned the link in a comment on my recent Dog’s post.

Gelert is the name of a legendary dog gifted by King John of  England (1166 – 1216) to  Llywelyn the Great.  As sad a folk-tale motif as you will find ... The Legend of Gelert, within the history of the village Beddgelert.  Other information can be found under Wikipedia.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories