Sep. 1st, 2017

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Busy but extremely enjoyable morning, meeting up with P and some of his group for breakfast at the Jolly Roger. I skipped the full English in favour of tea but the others had big plates of everything — including fruit! — with huge quantities of coffee and toast. Despite a minor mishap — C's gluten-free toast got confused with the regular sort — everyone had a good time and I picked up the GoPro to lug around in my camera bag.

One we were done, P and a couple of the others went to the Double Locks to finish setting up, while the rest us went our separate ways. I walked home, sorting a few chores on the way, changed into my only decent shirt and sole pair of smart-ish trousers, and put on my only real shoes. Scrubbed up, I walked back to the Waterfront, arriving slightly early. As I was wandering round, waiting for the others, I saw a group of guys looking very snappy in white linen suits and with a woman dressed in a bright red dress and jacket crossing the bridge; they really stood out from the usual crowd of tourists.

After three-quarters of an hour at the Waterfront — enough time to allow the groom to have a nerve-settling G&T — we started to make our way up to Larkbeare House ahead of the actual ceremony. We arrived juste as the previous couple were finishing up on the lawn, leading us to realise that decorated Land Rover Defenders where clearly the transport method of choice, for they were about to depart in decorated silver number; P&D, on the other hand, had arranged to be transported by finely matched pair:

As we approached I was rather surprised to see the bride's father standing around outside, having expected him to be busy indoors, preparing for the ceremony. Luckily, as we walked up, I remembered that D's dad had an identical twin and remembered to introduced myself. Fortunately, they were dressed differently so it was possible to tell them apart — although someone mentioned later on that they'd seen them, after telling someone they were twins, one of them had changed jackets and come back to tell the same person that they were actually triplets!

The ceremony was lovely and the Registrar was particularly good, putting everyone at their ease but without undermining the importance of what was going on. A gave the first reading, excellent despite her nerves beforehand...

...then, after a little bit more ceremony, J stood up and gave the second reading...

We then had the vows and the exchanging of rings — all present and correct and the right sizes for the left fingers — the happy couple were officially pronounced man and wife. After the formalities of signing the register — and reenacting the signing in a legally compliant fashion for the photographer — it was time to progress out into the grounds...

Once outside, where, thankfully, yesterday's terrible downpours were but at distant memory, we stood around mingling and catching up while the bride and groom went off for photos in the grounds of the house...

Bridesmaids Lucy and Holly, with one-and-a-half flower girls, two identical brothers, and Cate and Alan in the mid-ground, and Monica and Peter just visible at back.

Lucy, Alice, and Jo looking very chic, despite the lack of compatibility between their footwear and the lawn...

Johnny, cutting a very dashing, while the others share a moment.

Holly and Liam had come down for the day from Plymouth. It was good to see them again, especially with Holly anticipating her first training day at her new school on Monday.


And with that, it was time to slowly walk our way down to the riverside and the Puerto Lounge where pitchers of lemonade and Pimm's where waiting along with plates of tapas and plenty of bread. I caught up with M&J, who I hadn't seen for a few months, and went spent a pleasant hour or two snacking and chatting before it was time to cross the river to the piazza where the ferry was waiting to take us to the Double Locks for the evening event.
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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!


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