At around half
-past four, without everyone — including two spaniels — loaded aboard the boat, it was time to take the ferry down to the Double Locks for the evening's event. I'd originally planned to rollerblade, but A, who was supposed to be helping me knock the rust off my technique, suffered a wheel failure whilst practicing and we decided — to my intense relief — that there was insufficient time to train for it. Fortunately, the boat right was so lovely that I wasn't at all bothered at not winning the crazy transport challenge.
Monica keeps a close eye on Dasher, who has yet to settle down after pulling poor Stuart hallway along the quay. Meanwhile, in the background, Tessa looks after Blitz — who wasn't at all keen on the whole boat thing...
Sailing down the river, with Lucy, ever glamorous in her shades, in the bow seat.
The bride, in a pair of Audrey Hepburn sunglasses which perfectly complemented her dress, carefully disembarking...
With everyone safely ashore, the spaniels pulling their way through the pub and leading everyone in the direction of the marquee and where there were jars of sweets for every guest and a big tiered carousel of cupcakes. We mingled around for a while, with people taking the opportunity to enjoy the tea and little cakes available on each table — poor Ceri, who is coeliac, had to ask someone else to eat the last, tempting little piece of millionaire's shortbread to prevent him from eating it! — while the newlyweds and the dogs went off for photos by the canal. An event that took rather longer than expected, prompting the best man and the usher to suggest that people sit down ready for the speeches after bride and groom's return.
(On Saturday, those of us at post-run brunch finally discovered the whys and wherefores of the delay. The original plan had been for the guests to mingle and chat while the photographer was working, and moving to sit down when the couple returned; but I think by that point everyone, especially those in absurd-but-fashionable footwear, was only too happy to sit down and take the weight off their feet.
Meanwhile, out of sight by the canal, everyone got ready for the photoshoot. Unfortunately the spaniels, who both adore water, plunged themselves into the canal — Blitz, misjudging the green pondweed, going in face first. While P hauled them out, covered in weed, D shouted at photographer to keep going in case anyone fell in! Once the dogs had done their stuff, they were sent home in the care of their friend Floppy's owner, while the photographer finished up and the couple returned to the party as if nothing had happened!)
The speeches were excellent and memorable and brief. The father of the bride engaged in a very funny, knockabout routine with his identical twin as he warmed up and got over his nerves, before ending with a very heart-felt comment. P was gracious and thoughtful and got a huge cheer when he mentioned his new wife, while D said that although she'd written a speech, she'd had a glass of prosecco before the ceremony and completely forgotten to bring her notes with her! Olly, the best man, was noticeably nervous and broke the ice by mentioning it upfront, before talking about the groom's failings — the worst he could manage was to throw some doubt on P's taste in movies! — and finishing, in excellent time, with a couple of good jokes.
We then had a nice period of chatting and mingling — it was warm enough to sit outside, so I adjourned to a picnic table with Lucy, Alice, Peter, Janine, Monica and Jaco and caught up with everyone while waited for the hog roast — barbecued halloumi for the non-meat-eating contigent — with plenty of very good chips and lots of lovely salad, and crackling for the carnivores. With the food ready, we returned indoors, where Lucy joined the table, and wolfed down our suppers. The girls gave me a fair amount of crap for going back for seconds of salad — Ceri backed me up, saying that he tended to snack after having a veggie supper — before losing their moral authority by going back for more themselves!
Once everyone was fed and watered the band — The California Calling
— got set up ready to go. As per wedding tradition, the bride and groom had the first dance.
There was a minor false start when the initial piece of music cued up turned out to be the right song, but the wrong version: Donna had wanted a poppier, shorter version. She duly retrieved her phone, the band connected it, she resumed her position, and then they realised she needed to re-enter her pin so they could play the music! But eventually, the married couple got down to strutting their stuff on the dance floor:
(Phil said afterwards that they'd asked Alan & Cate and Peter & Janine — all very good dancers — to come and join them on the floor, but when they gave them their cues, they all grinned back and let them carry on with their wedding dance!)
With that, the band kicked back into their first set — Andy was impressed by how together they were — and punched out a whole load of classics. So classic, in fact, that even I knew them — although it took me an embarrassingly long time to recognise Livin' on a Prayer
and an embarrassingly short time to remember the words!
A memorable evening was made even more so with the addition of lots of soap bubble tubes — Monica was impressively adept at blowing bubbles — which proved a big hit with one of the bride's nieces. The same niece was also impressed by the length of my hair — I felt this strange tugging & a little voice told me to stand up, before telling me, very seriously, that the longest bit came down to the very bottom of my back. She also proved to be very taken with Alice: at one point, Lucy ordered me to rescue her, but, given my total lack of dance moves, A, quite understandably, stuck with her new friend with the bubble-popping moves!