The Trooping of the Colour was such an outstanding day out, we decided to take a trip to London to see the Remembrance parade at first hand. This turned into a real holiday of two halves and some parts will definitely not be repeated! The trip down was hot and uncomfortable on a very busy Virgin Train. Someone sat in our pre-booked seats, First Class ran out of food and water and one of us, for the first time ever in over fifty years, actually felt travel sick! Still, ever reliable Premier Inn gave us a comfy bed for the night and a good breakfast. The following morning, time to take the cameras out for a London photo shoot. As a favour to a close friend, we had agreed to call at Harrods for one of their 2017 baubles. Little did we realise what a nightmare this would be! Christmas land was on the top floor and hard to find, packed full of people and products and then, once we had successfully purchased afore mentioned bauble, we couldn’t find the exit – anywhere. Cue 25 minutes of wandering round Harrods trying to escape in very hot conditions all wrapped up as it’s cold outside. Not pleasant. We escaped onto the streets to crowds of pre-Christmas shoppers and busy traffic. This set the pattern for the whole day, which was finished off very badly in a restaurant (which shall remain nameless) leaving us sat without service at our table for over 30 minutes and then very ungraciously serving us after a gentle (!) reminder from Chris. Still saved us having to tip. So, Saturday night, I lie awake wondering why we had bothered spending money on this. Being positive people, we woke the next morning fresh and relaxed and determined to enjoy the Remembrance Sunday experience. We decided to have an early start visiting Wellington Barracks, where we were lucky to be in time to see the troops massing in readiness. Course we managed to pick the wrong gate to wait for them to leave, but after a quick run down the road, we both managed to get great positions to capture the soldiers leaving the barracks. The day just got better and better - we watched the gun salute at Horse Guards Parade, experienced the two minute silence and bugle Last Post and then joined the crowds to cheer on the parade of veterans. It was a freezing cold day and we both have nothing but admiration for the people who took part in the parade, who must have been stood in the cold for over 3 hours. We saw at close quarters the Kings Troop Artillery, several Victoria Cross holders and line upon line of proud marching veterans. It was both humbling and patriotic and many a group marching proudly back to Horse Guards bought a tear to our eyes. We will definitely repeat some parts of this trip but I doubt you’ll see us with the famous green and gold bag again anytime soon!
One highlight of our 2017, was a last minute invite from Vicky at the North West Reserve Forces and Cadets, to attend this year’s Trooping of the Colour as their guests. Vicky works tirelessly to encourage businesses and organisations to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and support the crucial work our reservists, and their employers, undertake. Despite the problems a last minute invite to an event with a strict dress code entails, when your wardrobe is mostly populated with Fat Face, Joe Browns and White Stuff jeans and jumpers, we didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation – a once in a lifetime experience. Neither of us had ever imagined we would ever attend such a prestigious event, be metres away from the Queen and Prince Phillip, sit in glorious hot (very, very hot!) sunshine and witness the best of the UK’s Pomp and ceremony at first hand. Chris took all the photographs that day and what a gallery it produced. Why not come and have a look at his work by clicking here? After the ceremony, we were treated to a balcony view of the aerial flypast and a champagne lunch at the East India Club. Our companions for the day were friendly and fun and the walk back to the train included gin den stopovers with our new found friends! Thanks to Vicky and the NWRFCA for an amazing day out. Why not go and see what the Armed Forces Covenant is all about?