The end of a majestic era

I haven’t written in this blog for quite some time, I been busy collecting experiences to turn into blog post fodder for my merry band of followers.

But before I start to write and publish all the posts I have in my head at the moment, I just need to write this very special post.

This summer I was lucky enough to be a volunteer medic at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but before I write about that due to the death of our beloved Queen I wanted to reflect on my amazing time at the Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014. I was a field of play volunteer first aider for the opening ceremony, the Queen opened the games. My first aid partner, Scott, and I were positioned at stage left at the side of the track with a fantastic view of the performance, which is obviously why we were there, but also of the Queen as she was driven past. We were rewarded by her dazzling smile and a flash of her legendary bright blue eyes.

Up to now I had never given it a thought that there may be any footage of me at the games, but I wanted to double check whether the Queen was in a car or something else. So imagine my surprise when I discovered a Youtube video of the start of the Queen’s journey around the track with me and Scott in position.

This was a truly fantastic night and now that the Queen is dead it was the one and only time I sang the national anthem in her presence and it was an absolute honour to do so.

On Saturday 17th September I was one of the thousands of people compelled to join the queue to see our Queen lying in state. I travelled up from Bristol alone, but shortly after arriving in Southwark Park at the very start of the epic journey I made friends with my fellow queue dwellers, Amy, Emma, Sharon, Steffi and couple Amanda and Scott. Very quickly 7 strangers became friends, I set up a Whatsapp group so we could look out for each other on coffee and toilet breaks, we talked about everything and anything and supported one another for 10 hours as we weaved through the back streets and along the Thames to our final destination.

The first 8 hours went surprisingly quickly, but the last couple of hours in the organised queuing system outside Westminster Hall was soul destroying. We were definitely less animated as we inched along, our feet were numb, our joints were screaming and our backs felt like they were breaking, but we were determined to see it through together as a group. The feeling of relief was immense when we finally got through the security and into hall.

Although we only had 2 minutes to view and walk past the coffin, it was the moving and overwhelming experience.

When I left for London in the morning I had no plan for after I got out of the hall as I didn’t know how long I would be in the queue. Luckily I was rescued by my good work friends who happened be staying in Twickenham for the weekend, they gave me a place to sleep for the night when I couldn’t face arriving back in Bristol in the early hours.

So on Sunday we had a meander around Green Park to look at the lovely floral tributes and the wonderful messages left by children.

It was an amazing weekend and I’m so happy I decided to go and pay my respects to our fabulous Queen. I was so impressed with the organisation, everyone was so friendly and there was a lovely atmosphere. But mostly it was so heartwarming how strangers can become good friends.

Proud to be British

One of the benefits of having to wait for my CRB to be done was having the time to watch the Olympics. For the last 2 weeks the TV has been on constantly and my blog has been temporarily neglected except for the weekly update of my adventures in fat club land.

It’s impossible for me to name my most favourite moment or even moments from the games. I think it’s all been fabulous; all of Team GB’s medals, the opening and closing ceremonies, the support of the spectators and the feelings of pride and elation that seem to be nationwide.

I have watched a variety of sports, some that I don’t normally have an interest in such as handball and judo. But I was glued to gymnastics, I was so impressed with the success of Great Britain’s teams.

It’s so fantastic to see British gymnasts in medal positions now as it’s only been that way for the last few years. Every Olympics since Munich 1972 I have watched the gymnastics competition and I couldn’t name one British gymnast from those early years through to the new millennium, but I could  rattle of a list of Romanian and Russian gymnasts as they dominated the medal podiums for many years.

Ours teams did us proud, the men’s team got a bronze in the team event, only the second time in a 100 years. In the pommel horse final Louis Smith got the silver and the bronze went to Max Whitlock.

But in my opinion the best of all was Beth Tweddle who is our most successful gymnast to date, she has been world champion 3 times and she added to this by getting the bronze medal in the uneven bars with a breathtaking routine.

This medal was the icing on the cake of Beth’s very successful career, bringing recognition to British gymnastics and catapulting it onto the international stage. She deserves every congratulations she receives.

Long to reign over us

What a fabulous Jubilee we have had in our country. To celebrate 60 years of the reign of our wonderful queen, Great Britain came out to party on a massive scale proving why we are called ‘Great’.

I must admit I was a bit of a boring old fart and stayed in to watch it on TV. I was going to go down to Millennium Square in Bristol to watch the concert on Monday night on the big screen, but alas the lure of the sofa in the warm won me over. But I did make an effort on Friday evening with my brownie and rainbow guide units and had a jubilee tea party and I decorated the outside of my house with some flags and bunting.

I thought Her Majesty looked amazing all through the celebrations, so serene and beautiful even in the appalling rain on the barge on Sunday.

A few things puzzled me, however, about the concert; who invited Grace Jones to hula hoop and why Cheryl Cole was allowed to ruin Gary Barlow’s performance with her dreadful singing. But the song Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gary Barlow wrote for the occasion was fantastic and so moving, as was Prince Charles’s speech for his “mummy”. Overall the concert was great and the fireworks at the end were spectacular.

Sunday’s festivities were marred by the Duke of Edinburgh being taken ill, but the Queen looked  elegant and lovely again for the thanksgiving service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but I felt she looked a bit lost without him at times.  The celebrations concluded with the Queen’s procession and the balcony appearance. No one does pomp and pageantry as well as us Brits and it was fabulous, union flags everywhere, horses and carriages, bands and cheering crowds. After the orderly surge of 1000’s of people down the Mall, the main members of the royal family appeared on the balcony and none of the annoying minor, hanger on members that no one wants to see. Although it was cloudy and raining the very impressive fly past took place.

The massive 3 cheers from the crowd and the singing of the National Anthem for the umpteenth time signalled the end of the balcony appearance and I think Britain should be proud of the way we celebrated over the 4 day holiday. I believe the Queen was genuinely moved by the response of her people on this very special occasion and achievement.