Friday, 26 June 2015

Beating Retreat such an experience.

On June 10 and 11 I was lucky and privileged to dance in the Household Division Beating the Retreat ceremony at Horse-Guard's Parade in London. We did so in costume as we were commemorating the Battle of Waterloo and our section was about the glittering Ball that the Duchess of Richmond gave in Brussels 2 days before the battle. There were soldiers dancing Highland and this too was represented at this year's performance. We were four Scottish Country Dance sets and 4 groups of four Highland dancers. Here I am with my partner in the dance, Lisa and I am wearing a Jane Austen period cotton dress.
Here are some of the  team with the two officers from the Regiment who coordinated what we did and looked after us.
This is Louise who plays the drums and who shared a room with us when we stayed over at Blackheath Barracks.

Bits of the performance which we could watch from the upper windows while we were waiting for our part of the entertainment . We were waiting in a ''holding room'', which was like a cellar, but also had occasional access to windows upstairs.

These videos give an impression of how it all went. It was a fabulous experience, much enjoyed by all who took part.

There were two Country dance sets from London and two from Oxford University, the latter had a ''tall'' set and and a ''petite'' set. Also known as the wild ones as our birling was particularly enthusiastic! I was in that one of course. We danced close to the Royal/ VIP box and were less easily seen from the stands. Hence JJ and the girls did not manage any photos or videos though they did have the grace to come and see it all.

this one shows us walking on at 5:09 , London set with Margaret dancing at 6:43 and Oxford tall set dancing at 8:22.

tiny glimpse of our set towards the very end

Another fun part was the parading behind the band through St James' Park along Birdcage Walk. It was barricaded off and we were inside the barricades with the band marching and playing music while we marched and walked, waved and smiled to people watching, such FUN!
As we arrived at the parade ground we waited a while by the statue of ''Clive''  a chap who once worked for the East Indian Company and some steps. This where these more informal photos were taken.

After our dance there's the battle re-enactment with real canons firing and eventually we parade back onto the grounds behind the pipers to stand for the Finale . The fireworks were all behind us for this part , but we caught glimpses reflected in the windows above.
Then the final pieces of music and we march off behind the band again off the parade ground and back down Birdcage Walk to finish at the Wellington Barracks.
That is where we change back into ourselves again having had a wonderful time at the Duchess' Ball...

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A half day in Greenwich: HOT and so sunny!

For Beating Retreat London 2015 we were allowed to stay overnight in London and I accepted gladly as it would be such an interesting experience to stay over in the Barracks. This is where we stayed on Blackheath. 4 to a ladies dormitory and very comfortable it was too. With a wee kitchenette and lounge included and very comfy bunk beds though there wasn't room to swing a cat in the room itself.
Slept like a log though, from just after midnight to 8: 30 am.
And then on the morning of June 11 I set off to explore Blackheath and Greenwich. Earlier intentions had been to take the ferry into the centre if London but I had to be back in Barracks by 15:30 to catch the bus with all the others and after breakfast and packing up it was already past 11 am.
This did not leave enough time to walk to the ferry , catch it and provide sufficient time in the centre before coming back again.
So I explored at leisure instead. The Heath seemed vast .
See? Grass in all directions.

 Sunbathing gentleman just lying in the tall grass? It was getting warm by then.
 A glimpse of city buildings.
 The vastness of the Heath warranted a map but wearing sunglasses I didn;t realise it was not in focus, sorry.
 The map was near here so I could orient myself on the map I had bought last week, a mini A-Z of London. My last proper thick A-Z was in use in the 1980's, when I lived and worked in London.
 What an expanse of Heath, I had not been expecting this. Church spire of x
 Looking down into the Royal Greenwich Park from the heath.
 Looking back out at the heath .
 The Wolfe statue at the end.
 Tempting but first I went to find the deer!
 Via the flower gardens.
So pretty!

 I was just on my way to those flowers....
 Oh, no what is she up to?
 I'm off for some shade.
 Is that camera lady gone now?
 ''I'm hopping in here for some lunch now''- he was digging and chewing at the flower roots and tubers!
MMM, yummy, these purple ones have tastier roots.
 Lovely tree.
 Hello there, do you have peanuts for me? ( I had sat down to enjoy the view and a banana)
 I'm coming!
 Oh, what is that? Tuna and pasta salad?  That looks like cat -food!
 Maybe not then.
Just one last chance? No?
Look ! There's my uncle.

 So sweet sitting upright with his white chest puffed out.
Then I went and found the deer!

 See there's one there too, to the right of centre. Head and ears visible only.
 Spot the deer.
 See the big antlers to the left of the bare tree trunk? It was too hot they were lying down.
 A wonderful old gnarled tree and then to the Observatory, what a view!

 Walkie Talkie, Cheese Grater and the Gherkin can all be identified.

 See the Shard and St Paul's?

 The I found the Meridian line and here's my feet:
ONE  in the EAST and one foot in the WEST. East is the LEFT foot and WEST is the Right foot.
 as indicated on this wall here:
 Or as a bit more complete picture:

Just one last look at that cute squirrel and there's more about all this a later post.