Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Whale

I am staying with my sister and her family in White Rock when we get the immediate news that there is a humpback whale that has washed up on the local beach.
 We arrive at the beach and there are crowds of people heading down to see the whale.
 There are field trips of kids, families, business people, reporters, First Nations, and the police.
 We get closer and see a huge crowd of people, but can't see the whale over their heads.
 It is a small young whale.
 The police describe how they are waiting for a hover craft to drag it back out to sea to decompose.
 CBC News is there reporting the event.
 Flowers have been laid on the whale. The Semiahmoo First Nations group were there much earlier. These are their traditional lands and they have held a ceremony for the whale earlier in the morning. There is a woman circling around the crowd burning sage.
 The eye of the whale is closed.

 I circle the whale again and learn that this young whale was caught in the nylon cord that was discarded in the ocean.
 I hear people saying it is amazing and all I can think of is how sad it is.
 There are cuts where the rope has dug into the skin of the whale.
 People are saying it got caught in the rope, couldn't swim free and starved to death.

We leave the scene behind.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Diamond Jubilee

 I managed to get last minute tickets to the riverside Jubilee festivities on Sunday in Battersea Park. This is the only riverside park along the Thames that the procession goes past.
 Two hours before it starts people are lining the banks and staking out their position.
 I head for the Albert Bridge side of the park.
 I wander all the way to a corner and manage to get 2-3 people from the front.
 It quickly fills in around me as I wait.
 There are all sorts of people of all ages. Unlike the royal wedding where it seems that everyone in the crowds surrounding me are foreign, everyone here seems to be British.
 Across the river is docked the royal barge. What a stroke of sheer luck. I had no idea it started here. I knew the young royals would be alighting there, but thought a boat would just stop for them.
 Many royal guests begin to arrive, walking the dock to the barge.
 I use my telephoto lens to capture them, but even blown up I don't know who they are. The Middletons and royal cousins are all on various other boats.
 Then the guests all come off the barge and stand on the dock. I don't pay attention to where they go after that.
 Shortly after a speed boat comes along the river carrying the queen (in white) and Prince Philip. The blurry bits are people's heads and flags bobbing in and out of my vision.
 Her boat pulls up along side the barge and she alights.
 Then comes the royal paddling boat (I am sure there is a proper name for this). This is originally what I thought the queen would be in.
 Several sea cadet or navy boats went by. There was one Canadian one among the all the British ones.
 Then it really begins. All the paddle boats begin to come down the river.
 Pretty soon they are everywhere and it is a fantastic sight to see!
 I am standing to the right of Albert Bridge (which is closed to the public) facing north.
 All the boats in the flotilla bear the maroon flag which you can see here. I suppose if one doesn't they may be suspiciously removed. There are police everywhere on land and on the river.
 I love some of the boats. I even saw a Venice (Venician?) gondola.
 And then there in the distance is the Canada flag.
 Now I notice the Canadian boat, which I was hoping would pass by on our side, managed to maneuver its way really close to the royal barge for passing. Cleverly done! Nigel, watching at home, texted to say there was a Canadian dragon boat in the parade. But this one looks like a traditional canoe to me. I think there are a few Canadian vessels. You can see the royal golden box on the barge with all the royals there.
 Let's zoom in a little closer on the royals and see what the Canadians see.
 A little closer. Not a bad lens for being across river, but a bit blurry at this close range. Sorry Wills, I cut you off!
 The royal guardsmen?
 The royal barge then pulls out and a lot of barges started following with loads of people, followed by wooden boats, followed by yachts. Hmmm. Are these all bankers, I wondered. So anyone wealthy enough to have a nice boat can take part? What I was expecting were the big galleon ships that the papers have been talking about for the past few weeks. I learn that these are all anchored at Tower Bridge where the flotilla ends. They are all too tall to go under the various London bridges.
 Wait a minute, I only just noticed as I was posting this who was on the boat above. Here is a cropped in version. The River Thames is so big and wide that you really can't see much detail other than the boats going by. You certainly can't tell who is on the boats. I had to confirm to all the bystanders around me that Kate was in the red and Camilla was in the grey. They were small blobs across the river. (info was being fed via text from Nigel who was nice and warm at home watching it in much better detail on the telly).
 I get a bit bored at this point and begin to walk behind all the crowds. Here you can see the river and the boats.
The last boat to come through has the London Philharmonic Orchestra on it and then moments later the heavens opened and we are drenched. We are at the beginning of the river route, so those at the end have another 2 hours of rain to endure. I head for the train along with thousands of others to finish watching at home (from a hot bath).
The rest of the weekend is filled with more festivities. The big concert in Hyde Park the following day is broadcast on television. (We are at a Coldplay concert). The Jubilee is a big 4 day long holiday here and each day different streets around us are shut off and big street parties thrown. This is happening all over the country. Unfortunately it poured for a lot of the weekend, but that doesn't seem to stop people coming out in the thousands.
Congratulations on a very popular 60 year reign, our Queen Elizabeth. God save the Queen!