Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

The Queen! Hurrah!

on May 26, 2012

This year our Queen has been reigning for 60 years.  What an achievement!  As I have said before, you can say what you like about the Queen and her family, but I don’t think I know anyone who has been doing their job for 60 years; nor do I know any 86-year-olds who are still working so hard.  She deserves our respect for that reason, even if nothing else.

The title of this post comes from an email I received from my sister-in-law a couple of months ago.  My sister-in-law is a person who likes to Plan Things, and the email was a list of plans and information about a proposed family gathering as a naming day for her younger daughter.  This celebration is to take place during the school half-term holiday, which this year will take in the long public holiday to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  My sister-in-law has arranged a camping holiday in Dorset (yes, that is a very long way from where I live and will take many hours to get to, but no, I shall not be camping, we are staying in a B&B*) for the whole week and plans to celebrate other occasions besides the naming day (one of which is Southern Daddy’s birthday, although we won’t have arrived by then).  Each of these celebrations had a separate section on the email, and the Diamond Jubilee was entitled The Queen! Hurrah! which I loved, so I’ve stolen it!

The official holiday to celebrate the Jubilee is Tuesday 5th June, and there are many, many events planned all over the country for the whole weekend preceding the big day, from street parties organised by one or two people up to large scale municipal and national celebrations.   Naturally, the weather will be terrible and everything will have to be cancelled  gloriously hot and everyone will have the wonderful time they’ve envisaged, drinking Pimm’s and eating barbecued food in shorts and t-shirts.  (Actually that had better happen, the celebration we’re attending is going to be on the beach and I already have an outfit in mind!)

The girls’ school is celebrating on their last day of school before the half-term (31st May) with a street party-style lunch and party games, and can come to school dressed in red, white and blue or as royalty (I can’t help thinking there are going to be a lot of Disney princesses in attendance as they usually find an excuse to turn up – favourite character from a book, come as someone magical, etc.  I think there were even a couple on Roald Dahl Day!)  We have yet to decide on costumes, although they have made crowns at Brownies and Rainbows.

As we shall be driving back from Dorset on the actual day of the Jubilee, and therefore a party is out of the question (although parties are usually out of the question for us, as point 2 of this post explains), I had been wondering how we could mark the occasion as a family.  Then, when I was looking for a suitable naming day gift for my niece, it was suggested that I have a tree planted and I came across the Woodland Trust.  I’d heard of them before, exhorting us on the backs of Christmas cards to recycle them all in January, but I didn’t know that much about them.  Reading their website, I was impressed by their efforts to conserve woodland in Britain, not only for the benefit of the environment but also for our own well-being, for the ability to enjoy trees and woodland and to ensure that the quiet countryside we escape to when we want to relax will have variety of landscape.  This is something I really appreciate, having spent a large part of my childhood in a rural area which was almost totally given over to arable farming, with the result that trees were few and far between in many places.

The Woodland Trust also plants new saplings in new, planned, forest environments, and offers people the choice of dedicating a new or existing tree to mark a special occasion or person, in return for a donation.  The advantage of the existing trees is that you can choose from a number of forests and are far more likely to find one near your home.  We, however, decided on a new sapling for our niece as she’s a young child and it seemed more fitting to the occasion that the tree would grow up along with her.  For now she will receive a certificate and information pack, but in 12 years’ time they are hoping the new forest (near St Albans) will be mature, so our niece might one day be able to visit it.  Whilst on the website we noticed that there is also an opportunity to join in the celebratory Jubilee Woods project, which is aiming to plant 6 million trees around Britain to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. There are to be 60 Diamond Woods and hundreds of Jubilee Woods, and people are encouraged to plant trees or join tree-planting events in their area.  If you’re not able to, there is also the chance to donate towards the Flagship Diamond Wood in Leicestershire.  We have donated for two trees, one on behalf of our girls and one for my niece and nephew (Peacock’s children).  We have been promised a commemorative certificate and email updates about the woods’ progress.  And, happily, Leicestershire is about half way between here and Dorset, which means it might be a good place to stop on our way home and see the National Forest where the Flagship Wood is.

If you are still looking for a useful and enduring way of commemorating this special occasion, it might be something you want to consider.  In addition to the certificate, you are given the chance to include your name in the Royal Record (click the link to read about the discovery of the previous Record which marked the tree-planting for the coronation of George VI) which will be presented to the Queen and kept in the British Library at the end of the project.

Just to close, here is another Jubilee-related story:

In 1977, when I was 2 and a half, we celebrated the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.  There was a street party near where we lived (in north Manchester, at the time) and I was taken, dressed as a queen, in a knitted poncho and a cardboard crown, covered in silver paper and with fruit gums glued on as jewels.  I have no memory whatsoever of this day, but a combination of that year’s other events, the photographs and my mother’s testimony leads me to believe the occasion went thus: Peacock had recently been born and at that point would have been about 8 weeks old.  My parents were tired from looking after a toddler and a baby who was not always in the best of health, and took me to the party to be left in the care of a neighbour while they went away for a while.  I was in a foul mood (the realisation that the baby was not going away, as I had expected?) and did not want to join in with anything.  So instead I sat in a corner sulking, picked all the fruit gums off my crown and ate them.  My mother, on discovering what I’d done, was beside herself with terror, as my father had used Bostik on the sweets and she believed I’d be poisoned.  Thankfully, I was fine, although I shan’t be gluing sweets on my own childrens’ crowns, just in case.

Enjoy the Jubilee celebrations, wherever you are!

*My feelings on camping are as follows: it is not a desirable or enjoyable thing to do, but was something I did as a teenager and a student which allowed me to be places I wanted to go to, with the people I wanted to be with.  I am now fortunate to be old enough, and well-off enough, not to have to do that any more.  I do not camp.  There is nothing more to be said on the subject.

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