I have served with the forces for a short period and the cadet forces for quite a number of years so Remembrance Sunday is always a time for me to reflect on the sacrifice others have given to ensure our continued safety.
I took my children Catherine and Finlay to the Poppies in the Moat display at the Tower of London recently; even though there were thousands of people there it was well worth the effort.
When we arrived the first building that took our breath away was the Shard. I had never been up close to this ‘blade of glass’ and it sure is stunning. While we walked around to the Tower we stopped to look over HMS Belfast, the ship I worked on for many years as a Sea Cadet instructor. Nowadays I do not attend the ship evening sessions as I live too far away but I still teach cadets on weekend courses doing adventure training.
It took us a long time to get over Tower Bridge due to the sheer number of people and the small alleyways. The slow shuffling was well worth the wait as the sight of all the poppies were amazing. I would have loved to have been able to just sit there and reflect but the sheer number of people moving around me (and the kids wanting to see more) made that impossible.
Each of these 888,246 poppies in this display represents one person from the British and Colonial forces who died during the First World War and is truly an awe-inspiring sight.
I took a couple of shots and then I made them black and white in Photoshop but kept the red in each picture. This is the part of the display that is called ‘The Wave’. The picture I took of it does not do this piece of artistic brilliance any justice and if you can get down to see it then do so.
The other picture that I played with is the one with the waterfall of poppies. We waited a long time to get to the corner where the trees and bushes were. I placed Catherine and Finlay on the wall and slowly stepped back before taking the shot but I could not move far because of the throng of people around us.
While I am writing this I am listening to a song on television from the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance called the Shores of Normandy by Jim Radford. Jim was a 15 year old galley boy working on a tug maneuvering the blocks of the Mulberry harbour into place on D-Day. His song is beautiful and recounts what he saw that day as he watched the storming of the Normandy beaches. I know this display represents those British and Colonial deaths in the First World War but truly this display represents far more to me.
Once we had finished we came across some members of the Parachute Regiment selling poppies. I introduced myself as an ex-Para and asked this sergeant if he was happy to have his picture taken with the kids and he was happy to oblige.
Then we were off sightseeing at all the strange buildings in the city centre. We ended up at the Monument and Catherine asked if we could go up. I had never been up before – the kids climbed all 311 steps without stopping for a break once.
The views from the top were brilliant looking over St Paul’s Cathedral, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge.
The display of poppies is to be dismantled on the 12th of November but the section known as The Wave will be around until the end of the month before going on a national tour.