Happy 4th of July in England! The Proms...
Trip Start Dec 17, 2008
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Our local Proms event, The Proms on the Close, happened to be right in our neighborhood on the grounds of the lovely Clifton College where the “well to-do” send their children from all over world to attend the prestigious boarding school. I couldn't resist doing a little research on the place. Per the 2008 rates, it would cost just a measly 8,500 pounds per term to send your child there. There are three terms per year so at the current conversion rate, that’s about $14,000 per term, or $42,000 per year… and that is just to send your child to what we would call high school in America. Yikes! It is a beautiful school though… and we are fortunate to have it right in our neighborhood. The grounds are impeccable, as are the gorgeous circa 1860s buildings that served as a stunning backdrop for the event. But, I suppose at the rate of admission, the grounds should be impeccable!
This is no ordinary bring a blanket and bring your own alcohol type of event. First of all, you CAN bring your own alcohol. In fact, you can drink alcohol in most public parks in the UK which is very nice for picnicking. But this is more than that. People really go all out for these events. There are tables and chairs, some even with candelabra, table cloths, and real china. Families bring flags, balloons, and lanterns, and the like to provide a demarcation to their little piece of green and blankets and folding chairs dot the landscape and as the start of the even draws closer and the crowd gets more tightly packed. There are summertime drinks – champagne, wine, and the quintessential English summertime drink, Pimm’s and lemonade. The drink is a mixture of Pimm’s liquor and lemonade over ice and garnished with strawberries, cucumber, orange slices and a sprig of mint and is a staple of summertime affairs in England. It makes for an excellent tasty beverage, especially once you get to the tasty bits at the bottom of the glass.
Having no idea what to expect, Mike and I got there super early and were rewarded with an excellent spot. We saved grass area for the rest of our group that soon started to trickle in – Nathan, Stell and their son, Rhys, Stell’s folks, Lesley and Rich, Nathan’s folks, Diane and Paul, and new friends Lynn and James with their son, Joel. We had a big party of 12 with enough room even for the tots to frolic.
After we all got our beverage of choice in hand, we settled in for an evening of lovely music, lovely company, and bit of British national pride. It is customary to tote along a British flag or two in order to participate in the culmination of the evening, what is really the interactive part of the event. The orchestra plays well-known national pride type songs like Rule Britannia for the second half of the concert. Everyone joins in singing and humming along, waving their flags. Mike and I couldn’t help but join in, singing like they were our songs to sing. We even had American flags to wave courtesy of Nath’s mum! We were treated to a small fireworks display during the last couple of songs. We got our fireworks on the 4th of July!
Ever since that night, I’ve been humming the robust words, “Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!” It was a memorable 4th of July... It was our first 4th spent on foreign soil!