Arguably the most well known person on the planet is at the same time one also of the least well known. For despite the fact that she's been on the throne over sixty years, for all that time she's managed to keep her true self free from the world gaze, protected as if by the walls of her many castles and palaces.
And it is the Queen that is the subject of the play currently on at the Gielgud Theatre, London, and in particular the weekly audiences (foreign travel permitting) by the current prime minister.
These meetings of just 20 minutes (which doesn't seem that much) are meant to be the mechanism by which the sovereign is kept informed as to the state of her nation, but nothing is really known. Like so much involving her no notes, no minutes, no record, no mention is allowed.
The first rule of The Audience is you don't talk about The Audience.
But that hasn't stopped writer Peter Morgan from imagining what it might be like.
She has seen ten prime ministers come and go, from Churchill to Cameron, and all but two were represented in the play. It's not a historical, linear description of British history, but rather like a memory - the Queen's of course - all jumbled up complete with her eleven year old self and corgies.
And the picture they paint is made up of nine men and one very memorable woman who come for many reasons and get varying receptions but always support.
It was the Queen as the ultimate therapist for those in highest office, who come to her popping pills as the stress gets to them or in the case of John Major, welling up with tears. And they find someone who does know how they feel, who has seen it before and who they can be truly sure will not go to the papers.
Helen Mirren plays the role just as magnificently as you'd expect, following up her portrayal in the film The Queen.
Entertaining but, with a whistle stop tour of the last fifty years of British history, also informative, it was a truly memorable evening.
Couple of news stories caught my eye, all involving circumnavigations of some sort.
First up there was Ben Ainslie competing in the Round the Island race as a tribute to Andrew 'Bart' Simpson - and breaking the record too.
Then slightly longer there's the GB Row Round Britain rowing race that's just started from London, 6 crews to cover 2,000 miles and a prize of £ 100,000 at stake.
Golly, who knew there was so much money in rowing.
Finally all the way round there's the news that London will host the start and end of the Clipper: 12 boats sailing 40,000 miles around the world. It's good to see at least one global circumnavigation sailing race based in the UK.
Wild swimming is all the rage. Forget chlorinated caged waters, head out to open waters flowing freely under the sky.
But there are downsides. In a recent swim at Hampton Court out of 700 swimmers 338 of them got "symptoms including diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting."
Despite improvements Thames water is not known for their purity: over spills of sewage, then there's rats, ducks and cattle all doing their things plus rubbish, which included on yesterday's kayak a used condom.
But that didn't stop this band of enthusiasts brave the risks and cold along the banks of Chiswick.
As part of my media studies course I've got this assignment (mega yawn) to analyse a blog and naturally it was JP's I chose. What an easy target - soooooo many things wrong!!
Let's start with the title "Captain" is that off-putting or what? Makes you think of old fogies like these ones.
Then what's the blog actually about? Focus is key (or so last week's lecturer said) and JP's, like, all over the place!! Biking one week, kayaking the next, then some travel, art, music, bit of fiction and very, very rarely he's off sailing. Epic. Fail.
He should take a leaf out of those blogs that focus on a single type of boat like Lasers or Sunfishes (JP - can you check those are right). At the very least sail your own yacht!!
Be an expert, JP!!
Then there's all this off-putting posts about Buff Staysail where he assumes people have, like, watched his TV show and hence know who he is. I mean - hello!! No one has seen Buff's TV show!!!
JP: don't put barriers in the way of your readers, make it easy for them!! No wonder you don't get the number of hits that others do.
.... particularly when you are in an inflatable kayak on the Thames.
Actually its probably not a good sound when on any bit of water.
This photo is from a previous voyage when both hulls remained fully inflated, because on Monday's trip was focusing more on getting to dry land than recording the view for posterity.
Fortunately it was low water so there was lots of gravel banks on either side of the river, and after a bit of rapid paddling meant was soon inspecting the starboard tube (that being the one that was hissing).
I pumped her up again and then sprinted back to the starting point, all too aware that I was now sinking - a bit like Titanic but with dirty Thames water rather than icebergs.
Then it was back to JP HQ to unearth the repair kit, trying to remember what little I once knew about bicycle inner tube repairs.
The Thames between Richmond and Kingston is pretty idyllic for what is really an urban water way.
There's the lush riverbank with over-hanging trees on one side and brilliant green meadows on the other. It's easy to dawdle or, if you are in a rowing boat, just drift with the current.
This can be rather dangerous as this part of the river is still tidal and at the moment we're close to springs so the waters can be high and fast.
The rowing boat above was struggling, battling back towards the hiring state. But at least the destination was in sight and there was also a PLA boat watching over them. Others, just around the corner, weren't so lucky.
You can see the current around this buoy mid-stream by Syon Park:
That's something that bikers don't have to worry about - or so I thought until I remembered the parts of the Thames Path by Mortlake that flood at high water:
Thanks for visiting my blog.
While I try to use images that I create sometimes that is not possible and so I use publicly available ones from the internet.
If you are the owner of the rights for the image and would like a link to your site or the image removed please let me know.
You can email me at captainjp at hotmail.co.uk
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