Yesterday evening, it was looking very much like our jubilee plans were going to be a wash-out. We had decided, last weekend, that as we live within spitting distance of London, it would be criminal not to go in and see the flotilla. After all, none of us is likely to experience another Diamond Jubilee in our lifetimes – and besides, The Boy *really* wanted to wave at the Queen.
But as the week went on, the weather forecast got worse and worse, until by Friday, torrential rain was predicted from morning until night. Two young children, crowds a million strong, and pouring rain? It was beginning to sound like a recipe for disaster, so we reluctantly decided that we probably wouldn’t bother going.
Even though we had a street party (also wet, but on our doorstep, so with refuge readily available if we needed it) as Plan B, I was disappointed. I’m no royalist, but the jubilee is a big occasion, and it felt wrong to let it just pass us by – for The Boy’s sake, if nothing else. Our own parents have been reminiscing about the Queen’s coronation, and I really wanted him to have his own memories of a once-in-a-lifetime event to relate to his grandchildren.
Then, at nine o’clock this morning, with nothing planned for our day other than swimming lessons and the supermarket, a Freecycle email popped up in my inbox, offering a family ticket to the Jubilee Family Festival in Hyde Park. I’m not sure what made me reply; it was drizzling, DH had already taken The Boy swimming, and The Baby had woken in a proper grump. But an hour later, I had the ticket in my hand, and an hour after that, we were on the train, armed with picnic, raincoat and Union flags.
This is unusual behaviour for me. I’m not a spontaneous person, and certainly not where the children are involved. But I’m so glad my (tiny) impetuous side took over. We saw some fab displays (military vehicles, the army PT gymnastics squad, horses, a children’s motorcycle stunt troupe). We listened to some spine-tingling music (the Young Voices choir, Ramin Karimloo). We got some good freebies (two cuddly Andrex puppies, mini Jammie Dodgers and Cadbury’s Fingers). The sun even came out.
Since we got home this evening, I’ve read a few Facebook and forum posts from people who were disappointed with the event. And it’s true that it wasn’t perfect. Some attractions (notably the Disney tent) were so busy, we couldn’t get near it. Food and drink was expensive (£4.80 for a plastic cup of Pimms). The Disney Princesses and Pirates show was also a bit of a let-down; The Boy was expecting to see his favourite characters on stage, rather than people singing songs from the movies – although we didn’t stay till the end, so maybe it got better.
But given that earlier today, it looked like our jubilee weekend was going to be a damp squib, I have no complaints about how we spent our day – happy, in the sunshine, as a family, celebrating with other families. Tomorrow’s forecast is still dodgy, so The Boy won’t get his chance to wave at the Queen, but at least now he’ll grow up with an ‘I was there when…’ story about the jubilee.
And frankly, who can say no to cute cuddly puppies?