Thursday, 31 May 2012

Rebecca Gaunt of This is Your Kingdom blogs on The Jubilee; Country and City Style Celebration

Between Hannah and I at TiYK, our Jubilee celebrations couldn’t be more different. I will be escaping back to South Devon to celebrate by the seaside in a rustic, sandy affair while Hannah will be dressed to the nines and partaking in some very proper celebrations in the heart of London.

For me, national holidays always mean getting away, and with four long days off it’s the perfect opportunity to whizz down the a303 to my mum and dad’s in Devon where you can’t get away with whizzing anymore and have to adapt to an altogether more relaxed pace. 

This time, however, long, lazy breakfasts, coffee drinking and newspaper reading will be punctuated with a flurry of activity in preparation for our own little part in this jolly big national knees up. 

We’ll be celebrating like most, with a happy gathering of family and friends. The plan is a picnic on the beach. Nothing overly fancy but a really proper picnic, less plastic, more vintage and definitely not a sweaty ham sandwich in sight. Quite a bit of effort will be required, as is fitting of such a grand occasion, but that bit of extra graft is what will make it live long in our memories.

To set the scene, there will be a gathering of wooden deckchairs, my mum’s beautiful vintage umbrella for shade, a table covered in vintage linen and an old wicker picnic basket to set the scene. The lucky thing is that my folks’ place is just a two-minute walk from the beach so this time we will go to the effort of shuttling proper plates, cutlery, ice buckets and glasses there and back. After all, Pimms and fizz just isn’t the same supped from plastic. 

We won’t be forgetting it’s a picnic though and on the menu will be some classic alfresco fare. Home-made sausage rolls and a selection of superior sandwiches – pea, mint and feta, cheddar and my mum’s amazing punchy pickle, plus we’re also rather partial to Nigel Slater’s Jubilee recipe for egg mayo and cumin rolls. 

On the sweets front, we’ll be making the most of this party’s perfect timing and indulging in a much- cherished tradition by visting our favourite PYO farm the day before to gather strawberries and raspberries. They line the rows with straw and the fields overlook the river so you can lie back and feel like you’ve died and gone to strawberry heaven. 

I’m determined to make a majestic jelly using my mum’s vintage jelly mold. It reminds me of my birthday parties as a kid but now it seems only right to make a grown-up version with real fruit. There will also have to be a Victoria sponge to add to proceedings (Hannah being the more experienced baker assures me Mary Berry’s is the best recipe), topped with our own-picked strawberries. 

We’ll be preparing plenty of real lemonade. It was the first thing I was taught how to make in home economics which I have come to rely upon heavily at times like this. It’s sure to offer us the refreshment we’ll need in between lots of sandcastle building (with flags on top of course) with my little one and a bit of pootling about in the rowing boat. 

If the tide is right, a King Canute competition is always great fun. Only this time it will be a Queen Canute competition and whoever manages to hold back the tide the longest with their sand-built damn will win a tiara to wear while they sit atop their creation, surrounded by the sea. 
We’ll end up covered in sand so it’s most definitely a shorts and t-shirts occasion for us, whereas Hannah is putting me to shame and has been planning her Jubilee outfit for months now, having bagged and invite to an event at Somerset House where she’ll be watching the boat pageant from the balcony wearing a full-skirted polka dot ensemble with a big red sash and bows in her hair!

By Rebecca Gaunt, Co-Founder & Editor of This is Your Kingdom - an online insider’s guide to lovely things to see and do in the UK.

Photos: Deckchairs courtesy of Welshdan on Flickr | Strawberries courtesy of Lost Albatross on Flickr | Rowing Boat courtesy of Suswar on Flickr


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