If you're in or near London and haven't been to see The Sultan's Elephant yet I would urge you to go along to Horse Guards Parade this afternoon. I've posted a lot of photos over the weekend but what I'm not sure comes across is the sheer charisma of the elephant and the little girl.
I nearly skived off work on Friday afternoon to watch it all begin (and I really wish I had) but I contented myself with heading into town at 5pm. I came out of Embankment, headed up to Trafalgar Square and then into Admiralty Arch, where I could see crowds gathering. As I reached the corner of the Mall and Horse Guards Road I looked to my left and saw the elephant
It was honestly one of the most amazing things I've seen in my life, and I am reasonably well travelled. I followed it for a while, taking photographs and then went in search of the little girl, keeping an eye open for a suitable dinner location for Saturday evening. I went up past the now open rocket
on Waterloo Place and down towards Trafalgar Square, where I caught a glimpse of her on an open top tourist bus
. I ran to catch up with her and got a few shots as she turned down Northumberland Avenue.
I went back to The Mall to follow the elephant again and bumped into zotz
, who was down for the weekend to steward at the event, and managed to meet up with magfish
. We followed the elephant around for a while, entranced and as excited as children. I got soaked in water from its trunk and it lifted a small truck
full of hay and swung it around as if it weighed nothing. It was a real truck, about the size of Reliant Robin or a Mini, with a driver inside, who later drove off and parked it.
Aideen and I said goodbye to Graham around seven and went for dinner, then back to Horse Guards Parade to watch the puppets put to bed. The girl arrived first, still in her bus, and was lifted out the top with a crane
. They took her shoes and socks off, changed her green dress for a pink nightie, placed her in her deckchair and then covered her gently with a blanket. She fell "asleep"
The elephant wasn't far behind her, getting into position in the enclosure and then kneeling to allow the Sultan and his court to disembark
and be whisked away by a waiting stretch limo.
On Saturday I was back in for about 3pm, just in time for the rain to start. I made a quick detour via Artisan du Chocolat and then Pall Mall to look at the cars the little girl had stitched
to the tarmac with a giant needle and thread
and then met up with Aideen, Kate and Tony. There wasn't much to see at first, it was raining quite a bit and a sea of umbrellas obscured much of the view. The girl and the elephant were resting outside the National Gallery
and we decided to go for a coffee. Everywhere was packed, so we gave up and went to get a good spot to view the rest of the show.
Around 4pm things started to happen. The little girl went for a walk round the elephant while the Sultan's court boarded it, then she was lifted onto its trunk and the procession
We hurried ahead of them to the bottom of Haymarket, where we got a good view despite the umbrellas and then Aideen and I decided to cut round to Piccadilly Circus
and get ahead of it. We got a fantastic position to see it come round the corner and then stayed ahead of it till St James's St, where we found a convenient wall to stand on, giving us the best view of the day, in fact we were so close
that only quick relflexes with my umbrella saved us from a thorough drenching by the elephant.
We left it there and headed off to meet our respective dining companions.Continues.The Sultan's Elephant - my photo gallery.