Ever-since I can remember I have been a fan of the Royal family. I have to say now, from the outset, I am not representing the whole of Pickwell in this blog post! I think the rest of the team feel warmly towards our monarchy, but really it is only me who has the level of excitement that warrants a whole blog post.
It is no wonder when you see how I was raised...my mum was ever so fond of a home-made hat.
This is me, in 1977. It was the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne. Our village celebrated with a street party. As you can see, I had a GREAT time!
In 1980, the village all turned out again, this time for the wedding of Charles and Di. This is my sister. Despite my mum's best efforts, I'm not convinced she felt at home in that strange ensemble.
I mean, it's no wonder I get so excited about the Royal family, it was ingrained in me right from the start. So when I heard that The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were coming to Braunton (a village just up the road), in the wake of the terrible flooding there, you can imagine my excitement.
My friend Sarah and I were determined to get there to see them. Sarah's husband Pete Cox was the official photographer for the visit. I'll point him out later.
We could see the crowds as we approached in the car.
It looked like everyone was waiting in anticipation..
Which was a relief because we were late and we thought we were going to miss them.
As we walked from our parked car towards the village, a policeman said 'Watch your backs ladies, you're about to be run over by the Royals!' As I turned, I saw a very smart car heading towards us..
and THERE THEY WERE! Even though I was holding my camera in my hand, all I could think to do was drop it and wave madly (and in a slightly unhinged manner) into the window straight at Camilla. I thought that was bad, but Sarah said she found herself jumping up and down...I think I came off lightly!
It must have looked terrifying to poor Camilla to have these middle-aged women leering in at her. I'm not sure we painted Braunton in the best 'first-impression' light. Afterwards I was so cross I didn't get a picture of it. I think it was the shock.
The sleek black car pulled into Caen Street and we heard the crowd cheer and applause as Prince Charles stepped out...
and there he was! (not sure where Camilla was at this point, possibly trying to get over the weirdo's she just saw in the car-park?)
Flanked by security, it looked impressive.
I didn't think they looked that scary. In fact one of them could have been my Dad, and he's got muscles like a sparrow's knee caps.
You could feel the electric atmosphere in the crowd. My heart was beating in my chest.
He started to head straight for me! I did wear my bright blue hat, in a hope he would be drawn in my direction.
I struggled to get through the crowd.
This lady was my final obstacle, but she was moving for no-one, hat or no hat.
So this was as close as I got,
Before he moved away :(
The car moved along very slowly behind them the whole way down the street.
As it passed by the school children, they noticed they could see their reflection in its black, shiny body.
The girls found this to be most entertaining,
and the boys started an entire silly face-pulling and dance routine. It was hilarious to watch.
I took a picture of the driver because he had a spirally white ear piece, that reminded me of Jack Bower.
There were so many cameras and microphones.
Camilla is in the red coat (in case you hadn't noticed).
I recognised quite a few of the photographers from our weddings.
They went into five shops along the road and met some of the worst-affected flood damaged businesses.
The Gulf Stream Surf shop boys looked very pleased to have met Prince Charles! This shop is the place to go for the best board shaper in North Devon. Steve got his 'fish' board from here for his 40th Birthday Present.
Next stop, the Newsagent.
I was quite pleased with this pic!
You can see Pete Cox (Sarah's husband and official photographer extraordinaire) in the background here, in a smart grey suit! Prince Charles and Camilla went in and out of the shops,
While everyone waited patiently for a glimpse
and occasionally they would cross the road to the crowd and say a quick hello.
I really felt the whole village had risen to the occasion,
with the great turn-out of people,
the decoration and the welcome notes everywhere.
This one was in my favourite 'home' shop, Kittiwakes. Despite being devastated by the river water, they have cleared it all up, totally refurbished and just launched a beautiful new shop.
The stationary shop even had a revolving crown in the window!
The end of the day brought a last highlight. I spotted the wonderful lead singer of the Military Wives Choir! The choir all live at the Army base close to Braunton, and one of the singers used to be in our cleaning team, so we have been following their progress with excitement.
This was Pete's favourite picture which he felt summed up the day. Prince Charles had commented that he loved her hat. (That's the last time I wear that blue hat, I'm getting one with plaits for his next visit).
Great work Pete