The Queen visits Wells

   8.16pm. A lovely day, much better than was forecast. I got up at 4.40am, worked on the 1947 Diary, took Freda a cup of tea as usual; we had breakfast early, drove to Wells, parked at Mary’s and made our way to the Market Place, through almost deserted streets. When we arrived outside the Town Hall at 7.30am we were the first spectators there, but the Town Clerk (who talked to us for a few minutes) and Mayor and officials, and a large Carnival float had arrived earlier. “You can’t bring that in here, the Queen is coming,” someone had told the driver, so the Town Clerk told us. We went for a walk to the Cathedral Green —which would soon be closed to the public for the Queen to hear singing outside the West door by the Cathedral choir and to see dancing by hundreds of schoolchildren on the Green.

   Eventually we took our places on the corner with people gathering behind and to each side of us. The Queen and Prince Philip, after spending the night in the Royal Train (at Norton Fitzwarren perhaps}, fulfilled their engagements in Taunton before flying by helicopter to Wells, then transferred to the Daimler limousine. It pulled up a few feet from us, and the Queen stepped out, slowly and very carefully, directly facing us, so that we could see right through. No one except the assembled officials had a closer view of the Queen. An hour later she walked so close to us that we could have shaken hands.

   Suddenly [getting into the car, her back to us], she [turned &] looked me straight in the eye, and as though to say, “Nice to see you again,” gave me a little nod, which I reciprocated. It was a strange, mystical experience. The Queen left for Bath, and we headed for the Good Earth café, where we had a delicious lunch of quiche and salad, followed by trifle. We sat with Mrs Dix (URC).



An excellent day at Watchet

   7.43pm. No meeting today as Mary was unable to come. I worked in the office as usual before breakfast. Later we set off for Bridgwater, shopped at Sainsbury’s, then had cappuccino coffee and doughnuts there. We then drove on to Watchet, where there is a new marina. We visited the museum, enjoying especially the geological exhibits, then walked back to Granma’s Bookshop, where I got a fine copy of Monty’s [Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein] A History of Warfare with slightly damaged dustwrapper for £5, and also found a Charlotte M. Yonge book The Dove in the Eagle’s Nest for Freda, who also got George Eliot’s Felix Holt the Radical.

   After this we walked along the Esplanade to find somewhere to eat our salad rolls. A lady said we could have her bench as she was just leaving. She was depressed because her 43-year-old daughter Edwina had for 20 years been on drugs and alcohol and had ruined her life. I told her we would pray for Edwina and that God was totally in control. She brightened up. Did I really think so? She was an agnostic because her father had gone to Spurgeon’s College and then revolted against his upbringing.

   After lunch I took our books back to where we had parked, then joined Freda at the station where we looked at the flowers and waited to see the next train arrive from Minehead. To my great delight — for I had spoken earlier in the day about my desire to see it — it was drawn by 5553, double-heading with (tender first) 7820 Dinmore Manor. 5553 was the last locomotive to leave Barry scrapyard, in 1990, after nearly 30 years. It moved under its own steam for the first time at Tyseley on June 28th. It is now in immaculate condition, a great sight.

   Our next venture was to explore the old West Somerset Mineral Railway line from the West Pier as far as the Paper Mill. We had just passed under the railway bridge when the BR Standard 4MT, 80136, steamed by, ex- Bishops Lydeard. After this we went to several places — tea gardens — to see if we could have a cup of tea outside, but all were closed. So I returned to the car to fetch ginger ale and flaky pastry with chocolate filling (purchased at Sainsbury’s) and sat on the station platform again. This time we saw the DMU arrive from Minehead, and having seen the Park Royal set earlier in the day, ex-Bishops Lydeard, it was the fourth train we had seen.

   We arrived home a little before 5pm after an excellent day. We watered the garden after tea; it began to rain soon after we came indoors. I also cleaned and repaired the dustwrapper from Monty’s book. I got his Memoirs from Williton a year or two ago.

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webwork by Jim Nagel at Abbey Press, Glastonbury — this edition published 2007-06-30