A trip to the Palace

The Palace
The Palace

Yesterday saw a very exciting event for the Hypher family – we went to Buckingham Palace for my dad’s OBE investiture!

It was an amazing day – we all got dressed up (my dad was in tails and my mum wore a hat!) and we got to walk through the front gates of the Palace with tourists taking our picture (we think they thought or hoped we were royalty!). We then walked through this big courtyard, and walked up the same red-carpeted steps that Kate and William did after their wedding. Once inside we had to check-in our bags and cameras, and then I used a very posh loo (as captured on camera and posted to Twitter by judo silver medallist Gemma Gibbons).

By this time my dad had been whisked away with the other recipients for a briefing. In the meantime my mum, sister and I walked through a beautiful gallery towards our seats, where a string quartet were playing all sorts of lovely tunes. While we were waiting we read our investiture programmes from cover to cover. This was more interesting than you might think, as it included lots of info and history, plus someone on the knighthood list was called Robert Williams and we got excited that he might be none other than the Robbie Williams.

At 11am on the dot the ceremony began – Prince Charles came in surrounded by lots of helpers, and before long the first people were being called up to receive their honours. We soon discovered that it was not the Robbie Williams after all, but a different Robert Williams (who was wearing cowboy boots!).

It was much like a school prize-giving, except it was Prince Charles giving out the prizes. When it was dad’s turn we were on the edge of our seats, wishing we could hear what Prince Charles was saying to him! They seemed to be having a long conversation, and towards the end dad did a little swooping motion in the air with his hand, which made the three of us burst into laughter (quietly of course, because we were in the presence of royalty). We had no idea what the swooping was about, and must have baffled the entire room too!

The courtyard
The courtyard

I’ll never forget meeting up with dad again at the end of the ceremony. He said to my mum (on the brink of tears): ‘Thank you for getting me here. I wouldn’t be here without you’. 

We then waited around for quite a while for the official photography. It was freezing cold in the courtyard, but we did see a real-life celebrity – Armando Iannucci OBE (plus the cowboy-booted Sir Robert Williams again)!

After the photos had been snapped we hopped in a cab. The friendly cabbie asked what we’d been doing at the Palace, and congratulated my dad when we revealed he’d just got an OBE for services to charity. Some people have asked my dad if he wished it had been the Queen conducting the investiture instead of Prince Charles, but I think this way was perfect – an OBE awarded by one loving father to another 🙂


Adventure London

Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum
Night at the Museum

As much as I love the movie Night at the Museum – starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams and none other than the wonderful Dick Van Dyke – this blog post is actually about something else. It’s about an actual night that Alex and I spent at an actual museum! The Natural History Museum in London to be precise. The experience was aptly named Dino Snores for Grown-Ups (presumably to avoid a copyright lawsuit from 20th Century Fox, but a great name anyway I thought)!

The night in question was 19 January 2013 and we arrived at the museum at 7.30pm – long after the regular museum punters had been kicked out. The short walk from the tube to the museum had left a dusting of snow on our rucksacks, and I was feeling slightly apprehensive that the promise of adventure and excitement would soon fizzle out, replaced by a miserable night of shivering on the cold floor of a drafty museum.

Museum campsite
Our campsite

Luckily we arrived to a warm welcome from the Dino Snores team, and while Alex set up camp in the incredible Central Hall (behind a pillar by the ticket desk – the spots around Dippy the Diplodocus had already been taken!), I headed to the bar to grab us a couple of glasses of champagne, which we drank listening to angelic harp music from the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra’s Cecilia Sultana de Maria.

Before long it was time for dinner – a tasty three course meal with our fellow campers. Then it was time for a quiz about the museum and all things natural and historic. Alas our table didn’t win, but it was fun nonetheless!

And then the real fun began. We saw a brilliant and hilarious presentation about insect sex (which included slides of a fly that has a giant penis in relation to its size), and then to continue the bug theme, we took part in a midnight feast with edible-insect tasting (conclusion – they taste yuck). Next we checked out Treasures, showcasing 22 special exhibits chosen from 70 million specimens and artefacts. My favourite was Audubon’s book The Birds of America – definitely something I would buy if I ever have a spare £7million! After that we took a look at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition – the perfect place to walk around feeling overwhelmed at the talent of the world’s finest wildlife photographers (some of whom are children!). And then it was time for the pièce de résistance – a turn around the Dinosaurs gallery! At 2am!!! With a glass of wine!! And (no offence to children) no children! This was something people normally just don’t get to do, so it was awesome!

Central Hall
Happy campers

By now the all-night natural horror movie marathon was underway, so we started to watch a movie about piranhas (I think it was called Piranha). But before long we were starting to feel pretty sleepy (it’s not often we’re awake at such a late hour after all!), so we headed back to our ticket desk campsite and curled up for some sleep. 

Five minutes later (or so it felt!) we were woken by the sunlight streaming through the roof, the muffled sounds of hundreds of happy campers, and the mouth-watering smells of bacon and coffee. After we’d scoffed down our tasty breakfast it was time to head out into the real world again. And so at 9.30am we walked down the steps of the Waterhouse Building into a peaceful, snow-covered London. There were a few people walking along Cromwell Road as we left, all somewhat confused to see a bunch of bleary-eyed twenty-somethings, with rucksacks and sleeping bags, emerging from a museum that wasn’t supposed to open for another half an hour…