The Joyous Month of June
(My prize pink and lemon striped roses.)
June just happens to be my favourite month of the year. The weather is usually hot, there are flowers bursting forth with much gusto in gardens all over the countryside, roses are in full bloom (my all time favourite flower) and fetes, fairs and days filled with summer activities are a plenty.
And this year there has been the Diamond Jubilee. What a weekend it has been of parties, festivities and rain!
(I loved all the flags and bunting that adorned so many streets and houses – fabulous!)
Here at the studio the dressmakers have been sewing like crazy for weeks getting ready a host of bespoke dresses for garden parties, riverside lunches and evening dinners to mark this auspicious occasion. We have had ladies attending marvellous events up and down the country, not to mention in London and on the river to celebrate the Queen’s sixty year reign.
(Queen Elizabeth II looking gorgeous!)
Did I attend any such events? Well now, let me tell you about my own little adventure in seeing the Queen on Sunday as she sailed past on that most glorious barge – The Spirit of Chartwell.
( The spirit of Chartwell – beautifully bedecked in flowers )
My Dad, being the fervent historian that he is, convinced me that it was an event I simply had to be part of. Such a spectacle had not been seen for 350years and unlikely to happen again this century, so be part of it I would! As no invitations had landed through my letterbox for a party on a riverside balcony or anything else as remotely luxurious, I was up bright and early on Sunday morning cooking a hearty breakfast and making a pile of sandwiches to get us all through the day – and what a fortunate foresight it was that I had prepared – for once jammed into those crowds it was impossible to move, and it turned into a very long day!
( And the crowds went mad…)
Sunday the 3rd of June was cold, rainy and miserable. I found myself at Barnes station along with what can only be described as the rest of Barnes – kids, parents, grannies, pushchairs, picnics – all determined to get on a train. Alas the trains were jammed full as they rolled into the station…one after another packed to the rafters. In scenes reminiscent of time I spent in China in the late 1980’s a few people were shoved with much force onto a carriage – but the situation was impossible.
(Packed to the rafters in China)
After hours of pushing and heaving the only solution was to catch a train in the opposite direction and go way back to the start of the line to then get on a train to go back into central London. Hours later I arrived at Waterloo station with my squashed sandwiches, having combated claustrophobic conditions, screaming children and irate people all exhausted at the mere travel into town.
(Waterloo train station – was nearly impossible to move.)
More pushing and heaving went on for hours on the banks of the Thames – standing in the rain being shoved, trod on and squashed. But the mood was jovial, the camaraderie great as people all weathered the conditions for what seemed like an eternity. Friends were made, life stories swapped, laughter abounded as minutia filled the hours of waiting. Kids climbed trees and were hauled down by Bobbies on the beat, young men regaled stories of heroism in similar situations whilst swilling endless cans of beer, their stories getting bigger and better with each pint, women secretly whispered that their legs were getting tired, and old men peered through their binoculars at young ladies going past. Oh it was all happening.
(Braving the rain….)
And then the boats at last came. Some regal, some tiny, some rowed by men in costumes, and some by women in fancy dress – they all went past with great flourish and much aplomb. Bands played with great gusto and the crowds cheered.
Suddenly, the mighty Chartwell appeared – it was breathtaking in real life – huge and impressive with its gold bow and flower decked tiers. The Queen waved and we waved back and cheered and clapped. The hours of being squashed like sardines in a tin seemed like nothing. It was all worthwhile, just for those few minutes of seeing with ones own eyes the splendour of history in the making.
(The queen resplendent in white.)
I will not bore you with details of the wet bedraggled trip home that took hours, nor of the battle it was to actually get off the train on my return to Barnes station – the feeling of being part of something great buoyed up the tiredness of the day.
(Love the legs girls!)
On Monday, Barnes was a buzz with street parties. Ours was fabulous with the neighbours all cooking up a big barbeque and chatting for hours. The spirit of the day was evident with all the good humour, laughter, kids tearing about and lots of raucous singing.
(Despite the rain all the neighbours had a jolly good time!)
The women gossiped as always about what the royals had been wearing and I secretly lamented the fact that none of them were remotely near a size 14 and would therefore never need to pop into our studio for a dazzling new outfit! The Queen, I have to say, looked fabulous. I loved her white sparkly outfit and hat and thought it suited her perfectly.
(The Royals aboard the barge. Knitted by some very clever local knitters and spotted in my local knitting shop!)
I can’t resist telling you about one neighbour who had a little too much to drink and insisted on singing at twice the volume of everyone else, completely out of tune and approximately three beats behind everyone else. I am sure you can picture the scene! It had us in a complete state of giggles just watching him for in general life he prides himself on being a very proper gentlemen who wouldn’t put a foot wrong, but yesterday, he seemed to be overwhelmed with the joie de vivre of the day and let go, much to the amusement of most of the neighbours!
(Whoops – hope it wasn't me that was tiddly and singing out of tune – by the look of this pic it could have been! – actually, I cut the fellow that was, out of the picture – he may not have like being identified!)
To end this fabulous weekend I would like to wish the Queen many more years of fabulous reign. (Not rain though – we need sunshine)
So back to my love of June and all it entails. There will be bike rides and picnics along the river, a day at the races, lazy afternoons with friends soaking up the sun and garden parties that make the most of the long warm evenings surrounded of course by all those fabulous sweet smelling roses.
I love old fashioned roses – the big full blousy type that you can poke your nose right into and take a deep breath of a heady, almost honey fragrance. The bigger, frillier and more scented they are the better – with their velvety petals and depth of colour and character! I have them in my garden climbing all over walls and fences, up trees – over gates – wherever takes their fancy. I’m not one for keeping roses under control for they remind me of women – the big bouncy ones who are vivacious, curvaceous and full of verve, making the most of opportunities and life!
Nothing like doing the impossible ladies and climbing the odd tree – scaling an impossible wall and peeking over a gate! Then again, just lazing in the sun and doing nothing is sometimes jolly good as well!
Enjoy Summer ladies – and enjoy wearing all your gorgeous new clothes – I know you are all going to look stunning!