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Journeys : Aug Sep 2012
and Hyde Park. Wind in our hair and freedom at the tur n of our three-gear handlebars, we tingle our bike bell just for celebration’s sake. Being a lovely day, the park is abuzz w ith pasty English folk soaking up one of their first summer days of the year. There are school groups to take a wide berth past, although their little high-vis jackets and excited mini-pommy chatter help me navigate around them. Folk in suits zoom past at Olympic speed on their bicycles and families frolic about, while lovers snuggle close under centur y-old branches of shade. Cycling past the watery curves of Princess Diana’s Memorial, children squeal with excitement, some entirely submerged in the k nee-deep water that winds itself around neatly-trimmed grass in a gentle loop of joy. With book readers dipping their toes and children chasing a ball bobbing dow n the rapids section, I ’m certain Princess Di is smiling down on the English bliss of this sunny day. Rolling past classic deckchairs filled with more ultra-white legs catching their first glimpse of sun, I notice something that makes me bring Barclay to a halt. Someone has left a poor old picture of the Queen, smiling at her impending Diamond Jubilee celebrations, cr umpled on the ground,. Thinking back to that Tube poster, I pick up dear Elizabeth and deposit her in the nearest rubbish bin. She’s still smiling as Idropherin–andIfeelquitesuresheis going to make my day a little more special as a reward. As I cycle closer to Buckingham Palace, the crowds thicken and the rules begin to change. Dismount here, dodge a group of twenty there – it’s getting hard to cycle Barclay with the same rigour as I had in the parks. Pulling up beside a fluffy-topped guard, standing at his station looking directly ahead at his f luffy-headed mate opposite, Barclay and I slow for a happy snap. Next minute, in the driveway of the sprawling royal residence, three serious police officers mount their motorcycles and a few important handshakes between suited men take place. A handful of others catch on to the action and begin to hover near the entrance. “Who lives here?” a small brave voice asks a policeman. “If you look closely dear, any minute now you’ll see Prince Charles and Camilla come past in their Audi,” the kind officer replies, crouching down beside her, With legs on either side of Barclay and fumbling quickly for my camera, I’m terribly excited at my impending brush w ith royalty, literally one metre from where the car will roll by with its windows down. My first paparazzi photo shoot is just spectacular. First, I take a snap of the wrong vehicle, then get a series of lovely shots of the fuel cap of the Audi, just behind Prince Charles in the backseat. I can’t even blame speed – they race by at about five kilometres an hour. But despite a lack of photographic evidence, I do get a peek at Prince Charles and Camilla and I thank the Queen for her kind gesture. Little do I know that following this, she has one last treat in store. She has quietly arranged for one of my favourite bands – a little one by the name of Coldplay – to be performing at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on the follow ing night. So thank you, Your Majesty – I’ll be forever grateful for doing my bit to clean up your tow n! Destinations Opposite page: Hyde Park; Gren adier Guard at Prin ce Charles’s residen ce. This page: Princess Diana’s Memorial; the Audi; Lond on cab Photos Alice Hansen August / September 2012 17
Jun Jul 2012
Oct Nov 2012