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Jun. 18th, 2017

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A young guardsman collapsed in the heat. I only know this from newspaper accounts because the TV cameras very cleverly avoided showing the incident.

It must be foul having to parade in 80 degree heat wearing headgear designed for the Crimean winter.

Those bearskins! Victorian soldiers were actually expected to fight in them. Crickey!

The ceremony itself goes back to a time when flags served as rallying points for soldiers scattered on the battlefield. The "trooping of the colour" was about parading the regimental flag in front of the men so they knew what it looked like. I didn't know that before.

The wonderful gold uniforms worn by the mounted musicians have hardly changed since the late 17th century, the silver kettle drums were a gift from William IV, the household cavalry wear uniforms Queen Victoria would have recognised, the shiny guns being pulled behind the limbers were fired in anger during the Great War...

Time is defied, informed that it doesn't actually apply in situations like this. That's what we mean by "tradition". And let's throw a little anachronism into the mix- Victorian bearskins and red jackets but modern automatic weapons. The Queen is in her twentieth century granny gear, the Dukes of Edinburgh and Kent, Colonels of Regiments, wear top hats...
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Queenborough was celebrating something yesterday but I didn't like to show my ignorance- and proclaim my outsider status- by asking what it was. The high street had been closed to traffic and people were selling bric-a-brac on makeshift stall outside their houses; we bought two second-hand soft toys and a dolls house. There was a flower festival inside the church, And people were walking around the streets in 17th century costume, interacting with the public. My best guess is they were celebrating (if that's the right word) the anniversary of the Dutch raid on the Medway in 1667. I'm saying that because a lot of the buildings were flying tricolours and they weren't the French one.

We hadn't gone because of the celebration (whatever it was) but because we like going places we've never been before. Queenborough had a prosperous past as a port at the juncture of three rivers- Thames, Medway and Swale- and was the site of a magnificent round castle, built by Edward III for Queen Philippa and raised to the ground- so nothing visible remains- by Oliver Cromwell. The High Street is mainly 18th century and opens - or would if there weren't a nasty concrete sea wall blocking the view- onto the mud flats and waters of the Thames Estuary. We came home and- as we usually do when we've been somewhere we've liked- looked at house prices.

This is Queenborough Hard. The 17th century-type ship is flying the Jolly Roger and the Dutch tricolor. It may be a fixture or it may be part of the celebrations.



Here's Queenborough's early 18th century Guildhall.



And here's the Creek. Remember it was low tide on a very hot day. Edward and Philippa's castle once towered over this view- deterring foreign invaders and local runagates- one of England's great lost buildings. Channel 4's Time Team dug up the foundations in 2005 and were greatly impressed.

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