In the weekend, I took a trip out to Windsor to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Muster. This was an event held in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and is the first event in a busy calendar of Jubilee events.
The event involved a parade of about 2,500 members of the armed services along with a flypast involving 78 planes. All pretty exciting. Lots of people were there with their children to take in all the uniforms.
I possibly should’ve stayed at home and watched it on TV, but it just wouldn’t have been the same!
My day started out well but I struck a bit of a hitch when I got to the train station at Slough. There is only a short train ride from Slough with Windsor but on Saturday the whole platform was completely full. With a train every 20 minutes and maybe a thousand people on the platform waiting for a 3-carriage train I thought it might be easier to walk.
About 40 minutes later I got to Eton and crossed the bridge into Windsor. There weren’t huge crowds but enough to make it difficult to get further than the end of the bridge without really knowing either the layout of the town or the route of the parade. So I stood at the back of a crowd about six-deep, waiting.
It was a pleasant wait though. The weather was good – I hadn’t really need the warm coat that I had brought with me. The crowd was agreeable and there was a lot to look at.
Finally there was some action. Some troops started arriving. I’m sure if I knew more about the military then I could come up with a useful description. Anyway, a brief description would be that there were people with the uniforms of the three services, some with guns, most without, some with furry hats, some even with guns and furry hats. There were some bands.
I had a fair bit of trouble seeing anything since as soon as the troops started marching past, the crowd closed in and raised their cameras to block my view. Oh well… I managed to take a fair few photos anyway but the were mostly blurry or obscured by other people.
The troops all took a while to file past. Once that finished the excitement lulled but most people still waited around as there was more to come.
After about half an hour of waiting, there were a couple of police officers on horses who went past. The horses were enormous! Then finally the car carrying the Queen went past. I don’t think I have seen that car before. It seemed to be a Bentley with a high roof and large windows. I managed to see the Queen and Prince Philip but the two photos I took were pretty bad. I took so long trying to line the second shot up that the car was almost out of view by then.
That was worth waiting for but it was a long wait for only a quick glimpse!
Following that, I wandered up to the foot bridge over the Thames. The crowd was all waiting for the flypast. It was to be another half hour wait but I found a couple of nice people to chat to and I got to stand in the sun.
I spent a while playing with my camera. My camera is pretty decent but really struggles to focus at times. When it is dark is the usual time I have problems with the focus but also when trying to photograph planes. Even with a zoom lens they are often just a small speck in the sky and fast-moving. After several failed attempts in the past, I just set it on manual focus and hoped that I wouldn’t need to adjust it that much. I’ve owned the camera for about a year now and am getting better with it but I still need more work on manual focussing.
At about 12:20, the crowd started to notice that the planes on approach to Heathrow had stopped, then noticed a helicopter hovering to the north-west of Windsor, looking to see the planes and helicopters approaching from the south-west.
A few shouts went up from the crowd as a fleet of helicopters appeared. I couldn’t see anything to start with but it didn’t take long before I saw them. I knew they were coming because I saw that everyone on top of a nearby building had their camera phones out, filming.
The display was pretty exciting as wave after wave of planes appeared. The planes making out the shape of the number “60” and the letters “E II R” were unexpected.
And then it was over.
The crowd thinned out and wandered away.
I slowly walked back up to Slough, going through Eton again. It is a very beautiful town. Slough much less so. I did find some lunch in Slough though, before getting back on my train to head home.
All in all, a good day. I took some mediocre photos through the small gaps between the heads and hands of the crowd but it’s always going to be hard during a big public event to get any decent photos.