I am just back from a long weekend in London.
It was planned last September when my friend Karen managed to make a booking to stay a night in A Room for London - a project created as part of the Cultural Olympiad by Living Architecture and Art Angel - a small, exclusive architect designed space, perched high on the roof of the SouthBank Centre overlooking the Thames. Inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness the building was shaped like and named after the small river boat that sailed up the Congo in his book, the Roi de Belges.
It would have been an amazing enough night but Karen had, unbeknown to us at the time, managed to book the one day/night when the Thames was going to be more than just its usual self. The day when the Queen's Diamond Jubilee pageant was going to sail down the river, 1000 boats to celebrate 60 years on the throne. A sight not seen for over 350 years.
Whilst the weather was typically British i.e. cold and rainy......just mention the word barbecue and within 30 minutes the weather is bound to have changed.....it was still an amazing view! Can you see Big Ben and the London Eye in the background. Looking the other way was the National Theatre and St Paul's Cathedral and of course in front of us for over 2 hours were boats of every shape and size!
The Gloriana - made especially for the occasion powered by a team of rowers which included Sir Stephen Redgrave (British Olympian who won gold medals at 5 consecutive Olympic Games in rowing) and Sir Matthew Pinsent (another British Olympian who won goldmedals for rowing in 4 consecutive Olypmics) and Afghan/Iraqi war veterans.
Some of the hundred or sow rowing boats, canoes, dragon boats and gondolas that made up the pageant.
Boats manned by Sea Cadets - 55 of them!
Some of the 700 "little ships" that took part in the evacuation of British soldiers from the beaches at Dunkirk in 1940.
RNLI lifeboats from across the years.
The Queen's boat!
More to follow.