Friday it was the River Severn - today it was the Thames. Friday I was there, enjoying lovely summer weather; today I was not there by the Thames, I was glued to the TV watching it, the incredible River Pageant for the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen, Elizabeth II. And the lovely summer weather? Gone. Rained on her parade, sadly. But if you saw it - wasn't it magnificent!
So, Friday - LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) decided we needed a day out. I think he thought I needed to be prized away from my ukulele for a while. I suggested Bewdley, (Worcestershire), a favourite day-trip destination from both of our childhood days. It was remarkably quiet; not too many tourists - but the shops all had attractive displays themed on the Diamond Jubilee. After all, 60 years on the throne is not to be sneezed at. The river, prone to flooding as is the whole of the Severn, is very low just now. After stopping for a coffee, we drove on to Arley, just a mile or two up river. There's not much there; a small hamlet with a large riverside estate, it has a railway station on the Severn Valley Railway, and a pub. Maybe there's more than one pub - but on Friday we saw one. And they had been putting their bunting out in preparation for a weekend of celebrations. A beer and a sandwich there, and off for a walk along the river bank.
It was so beautiful along there.... no-one else about, and just the birdsong in our ears. We sat just taking it all in for about ten minutes - ten minutes of pure heaven, while the birds in the woods sang their hearts out, the bees buzzed, and the little dark blue dragonflies coursed up and down, hunting. My father loved that river and I have deep ancestral routes in that area. A feeling of belonging in that landscape.
Today, the Thames and the Queen's River Pageant. A thousand boats in procession to honour the Queen. Among the celebrities in attendance was Richard E Grant, who recited Wordsworth's lyrical ballad "On Westminster Bridge" .... "Earth hasn't anything to show more fair..." but as it spoke of a silent city in the early morning, it just didn't fit, somehow - not for me. The words that kept going through my head were those of Ray Davies, the lyrical balladeer of the Kinks, the famous London group of the 60's; "Waterloo Sunset", written about the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge in the heart of the city. "As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise...."
So I am now going to sit and play it.
Richard G's Ukulele Songbook is a darned useful site....