I thought that as I started writing this on 26 June it was going to be the first day we were really going to start to relax in 2015. It just seems that we had been “on the go” since Christmas last year with visitors over New Year, a trip to Andorra, an 89 day holiday to Hong Kong & Australia with the cruise back followed by a week in Jersey 10 days later.
Add to this travel mix a re-vamped kitchen, new kitchen flooring, repairs to the outside of the house and of course Flic, our middle daughter’s wedding and you can see why we have been busy and have had to put off planning for future travel for a bit.
Well here we are nearly a month later and we still haven’t stopped. Weddings are always emotional times, especially for the bride and her family and this was no exception as we live many miles away from where she lives with a stretch of water to cross in the travel process.
The bride’s younger sister, our daughter, Mel, had made all five of the bridesmaids dresses so these were part of the cargo we had to bring from the Isle of Man some 10 days before the wedding.
The island’s biggest annual event, the motorcycling TT, was in full swing when we left home at an unearthly 5:45am with a ferry sailing 75 minutes later. After a stop to see a friend in Solihull, we arrived at another friend’s in Fleet which enabled us to temporarily unload much of our car, and have a few restful nights before the busy times that beckoned in the following week.
We did however manage a couple of non wedding related events; watching a one day cricket match at The Oval where, with a few records broken, just short of 800 runs were scored as well as a concert by the Moody Blues in Oxford.
Cricket is perhaps not Sally’s favourite pastime but she enjoyed it nonetheless, especially the Gin and Elderflower presse!
We had seen the Moody Blues twice before, both in the last century but they had lost none of their musical ability and with a strong and loyal following managed to illicit a standing ovation to every song, quite an achievement especially as they are all over 70. (Later in the month they performed at Glastonbury and were among some people’s favourites there.)
Anyway, back to the wedding. Flic and Gary had opted for a bit of a do it yourself function at Reading Rugby Football Club’s ground after the ceremony, so Sally had spent hours making bunting for the marquees as well as finishing off the hemming of the bridesmaids dresses.
Flic and Gary had not of course been idle and all the tables for the reception were meticulously dressed with various themes reflecting the couple’s interests and experiences, Music and Rugby being just two.
After a hot week when all worked tirelessly to dress the tables, fill the marquees with wonderful bunting and set out games for the kids to play with, the day of the wedding was cooler with some rain forecast for later.
Thankfully though, the rain held off for the service, conducted at Mortimer West End Chapel, a somewhat unique chapel attached to a house that dates from 1798.
Whilst the Bridesmaids were taken to the chapel in an old but beautifully restored VW camper van and some other guests arrived in an old Red London Bus, Flic and I were taken in a very old and unique 1925 Oakland 6-54 Open Sports Touring Car which shuddered around every corner being expertly driven by it’s driver whose age seemed to match the car but was probably about 70.
Bridal tradition is that the Bride arrives late so what does Flic do?
Flic was so early at the chapel we had a tour around the adjacent roads much to the amusement of some of the locals, especially on the 4th circuit!
Getting in and out of the car for Flic was somewhat difficult – the cars were not built for modern wedding dresses but get out we did with help from bridesmaids.
Not the walk down the aisle I had expected as on arrival at the chapel, everyone was outside with the groom, best man and minister waiting by the entrance door to the chapel.
A brief few words said outside and we adjourned inside for the legal part of the ceremony.
No bride’s family on the left and groom’s on the right, everyone was seated where they wanted on one side of the ancient chapel.
After the legal bits of the ceremony, we all adjourned outside again for those bits of the ceremony that could be held outside including the mixing of sand, a unique aspect to the ceremony.
Flic & Gary stopped for a few photos before being chugged off to Reading Rugby Football Club for the reception in Maude, the Oakland Wedding car, whilst others made their way the 20 or so miles to the reception by their own transport or on the Red bus.
Some nibbles and Prosecco before the reception and then the fun began. Whilst food was served, the skies darkened and the heavens opened and boy did it rain!
Although the marquees that were were watertight themselves, some of the vast amount of water that fell, seeped underneath to the extent that the seats were sitting in a small amount of standing water and water poured in from the gap between the two marquees.
Speeches, an integral part of any wedding reception had to be delayed as realistically no one could have heard them above the torrential rain.
After about an hour the rain, thunder and lightning had abated we had a few more minutes of external noise from a rescue helicopter circling overhead looking for a poor man who had fallen into the nearby River Thames.
Once the speeches were over, dancing and general frivolity prevailed in the Rugby club’s clubhouse instead of the marquees as a safety measure as the sound system might have got wet in the storm.
First dance was a choreographed dance with a flash mob of singers started off by our daughter, Mel. Gary you did very well in the dance moves – quite a unique first dance!
By now the sky had cleared sufficiently for a few “staged” photos which despite the gathering gloom came out quite well.
The photo booth, the old fashioned sweet bar were hits and the dancing musical entertainment provided by “Lipstick on your collar” lively even to the extent of enthralling our 3 year old grandson, Harry, who dragged the lead (female) singer onto the dance floor for a dance.
The evening is over too soon, everyone drifting away after the band finished their allotted time.
A most enjoyable and memorable evening with two happy people, Flic & Gary who will now have a week off to recuperate ( a minimoon ) with the honeymoon to Hawaii following later.
As for the photos, my camera was borrowed by a number of wedding guests resulting in over 500 photos of varying (but mostly excellent) quality some of which along with many others can be seen on my Facebook page.
The following day, after helping with some of the clearing up, we leave the area and head for our house in the Forest of Dean for a few days with Sarah & Harry (Ali having to return to Jersey on Sunday for work).
More about our few days in the Forest follow in a later blog.