Bunting everywhere. Long lines of traffic in and out of Stroud. Empty shelves at the Waitrose. Endless TV specials about the Royal Family. It must be the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend (celebrating the Queen’s 60 years as Monarch).
I wish I could get more excited about this, but after living here for two years I have decided that I am not one of the 70% who want to keep the Monarchy. I really don’t see the point. In England someone who does not support the Monarchy is called a Republican, but for obvious reasons from my American background, I just cannot call myself that.
I will participate in some of the events this Jubilee weekend but I won’t go so far as to cover the house in bunting. The photo above shows flags and bunting from a couple of weeks ago when the Olympic Torch passed through our village (the torch is there in that photo, but you can’t see it). The amount of bunting has grown since and now Painswick is looking very festive.
Bunting? I had never heard of it before we moved to England. A string of triangles (sometimes small flags) stretched across the front of a house, or above a window or along a wall. You can see some in the photo. You can purchase cheap plastic bunting, or expensive beautiful bunting, or make it yourself. I had planned on knitting some, but then we got a streak of hot weather and I forgot about it. It doesn’t have to be patriotic – it can just be pretty.
A Four-Day Weekend
Usually there are two Bank Holidays (long weekends) in May – one at the beginning and one at the end. This year they moved the second one a week later to the first weekend of June. Then they added a second Bank Holiday for Tuesday. The Royal Family gave us an extra day off! On the news they are already blaming the four-day weekend for the recession, I guess because sales of bunting and flags won’t keep the UK economy going.
The Big Jubilee Lunch
The main day of festivities is Sunday. Our village celebrations start with a church service (of course), then a group photo of everyone in the village in front of the church, then a picnic lunch in the churchyard (bring your own lunch). After lunch the village is providing a Jubilee Cake for everyone. There will be music and other live entertainment and Jubilee medals will be handed out to all school children.
At 3pm the church bells will ring, as part of a nationwide Jubilee ringing of bells across the country.
While the Big Jubilee Lunch is going on in towns and villages across the country, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant happens in London. From 2pm – 6pm over 1,000 boats will parade on the River Thames in London, from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge. It will be the largest flotilla ever assembled on the Thames.
Cold and Wet?
The last time I looked at the weather forecast it was cold and wet for Sunday. We just had a week and a half of beautiful sunny and hot weather. Today it is overcast and colder but still nice. By Sunday the temperature is dropping another 10 degrees F. But, the weather forecast changes all the time here – lets hope for sun!
Beacons of Fire Across the Country
On Monday the big events are a concert in London followed by the Diamond Jubilee Beacons. I assume that a beacon is just a fire and that some are on hilltops. At 10:30pm the Queen will light the National Beacon in London. Then over 4,000 beacons will be lite across England and some of the Commonwealth countries.
The Painswick Beacon is on a high hill just outside of town, but it was decided that the area is too fragile so our beacon fire will be further down the hill. (BBC News – Jubilee beacon will not be lit on Painswick Beacon.)
Let the Diamond Jubilee festivities begin! And then – onwards towards the Olympics!