What about the weather?

Digging channels and building dams in the sand on the beach has always been a favourite pastime for our boys at the seaside. They also enjoyed tunnelling in a friend’s back garden, until the passage got so deep and long it was turning into a small mine. But the day before the wedding I wasn’t expecting to see them on their knees, plastered in mud, examining the route of a drainage channel diverting water around a marquee in the Shropshire hills…

If oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure, then our son and his new wife have made a fine start to married life. Just five days before their wedding on Saturday they heard torrential rain had turned the field where the marquee would be pitched into mud. Their Festival style wedding reception was sounding more like Glastonbury every hour.

After an emergency journey from London to a very wet Shropshire to assess the damage they decided to go ahead in the hope the location could be salvaged. Two days before the wedding we arrived at the farm to help hoist the marquee and bang in pegs. The view of the Long Mynd hills was spectacular as the sun appeared at last. Although the forecast was mixed, there was hope.

Like every wedding there were a mountain of tasks to be tackled from arranging tables to cleaning toilets and stringing up lights. Later that night as we sat enjoying a home cooked meal we listened to the rain on the conservatory roof. Everyone was picturing the field and the marquee.

On Friday the sun came out and it was all hands on deck cleaning chairs, laying out plates and pouring water into jugs of flowers. The attention to detail and eco-friendly planning was evident in everything from the bamboo plates, each with a guest’s named soldered into it, to waxed wood cutlery bound with handmade pottery medallions with an initial on. The only thing we needed was for the weather to be kind. As forecast, the clouds gathered after lunch and the boys decided digging a trench around the marquee was essential to save it from being flooded. It wasn’t long before the ‘highly engineered’ trench was a fast flowing stream as the rain descended. The bride-to-be could be seen gazing out through a flap in the tent as water bounced off the canvas sides and ran in rivulets across the field. Everyone was praying for sun. But could it possibly dry out by the next day?


It was time to leave for the church rehearsal. The digging brothers, who were the groom-to-be and a best man, were caked in mud from head to toe. All around their posse of digging friends leaning on spades began to laugh.
“I better wash my hands,” said one. His brother looked uncertainly down at his now brown jeans.
“Are we Ok going like this?”
Even if your father is the vicar, the answer is ‘No’.
Fresh clothes were borrowed from a faithful friend and they arrived at the church in slightly unconventional and ill fitting outfits, which included climbing trousers and board shorts.

We do believe in miracles. The morning of the wedding the sun was shining and the field had dried out enough to be transformed. A band of willing friends, along with the groom, his best men and ushers, charged around tossing grass clippings and hay in the air and generally having fun (without mud).

The field that was brown turned green and within a couple of hours it looked like the most wonderful country wedding reception venue.  Hay bales and fire pits were scattered around and pots of flowers and pretty lanterns lining paths of straw completed the scene.

Some hours later when the flower power Morris Minor chugged up beside the marquee and the new Mr & Mrs Farmer stepped out there were cheers and tears of joy as the bride saw the transformed scene for the first time.

 ‘Real love’ may be about weathering storms together, but sometimes that’s easier to see after the clouds have parted and the sun has broken through.

car flowers

Footnote: This blog isn’t aimed to thank everyone who helped make the day a success and there were so many of you! Neither can I cover all the highlights from moving and hilarious speeches to the service, the sermon and the flowers, but I must mention the members of Popup Opera who gave an amazing performance in the church – it was funny, it was beautiful and it was epic. Please do support this very special team and go to a performance soon https://www.popupopera.co.uk






paper boats and bunting

Today I have ‘wedding withdrawal symptoms’ which sits uncomfortably between my perfectly manicured French nails and the pastel decorated invitation positioned on a ledge above the fireplace. I can hardly believe that just six months ago, after a surprise engagement announcement at New Year, we were discussing dates and venues and now it’s all over.

The wedding day, rather like Mary Poppins, was ‘practically perfect in every way’, which is a little surprising considering…

After flying in from Cyprus in the early hours of Saturday morning, we arrived at our adopted home for the week. This was a spacious, country house, surrounded by the beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside – rolling hills, cornfields and green hedges. Every morning when I woke up it was a delight to roll up the blind and see blue skies (most days) with the garden and fields beyond bathed in that gentle golden morning light.

But less of the mesmerizing view, because there was work to be done, scones to be baked and decorations to be prepared. I had volunteered myself to make 50 scones, which didn’t seem too bad until I realized baking in someone else’s kitchen can be tricky. It also helps to read the recipe properly. After a long hunt for kitchen scales (hard to find when you don’t know what they look like) and even longer working out how to put the mixer together, I had two trays of scones laid out ready for the oven. Glancing down at the recipe on the ipad, I suddenly saw the word ‘sugar’ leap out at me from the page. Sugar indeed! I hadn’t added it…but not too late to put all the carefully cut scones back into the mixer and add the sugar, roll them out again and carefully lay them out on the trays again…several hours later and sort of miraculously scones eventually appeared from the oven. They were a little like ‘Sellafield scones’ – absolutely massive and odd shapes, but hopefully not radioactive. Never mind, I let them cool and put them in the freezer…hoping everyone else baking for the wedding had created scones with less stress.

The next day there were paper boats to decorate, polo mints to thread on strings for lifebuoys, cocktail sticks to fix onto mini flags and a pile of orders of service to be strung together. A talented team, laden with craft skills, made light work of this, while I hovered between assisting with lunch, making coffees and excitedly hugging the bride-to-be in my patchwork dungarees.

The day before the wedding we headed to the reception venue, via the flower people, where bunting needed to be hung, and tables decorated, jam jars and driftwood had to be unpacked and arranged. At lunchtime there was a rough picnic, while everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Amidst cake and tea later that afternoon, there was excitement in the air and everyone was hoping the pile of umbrellas in the corner were just a precaution. Late that night, the delayed arrival of the bride’s elder brother on his motor bike, was the icing on the cake and we were all set for the big day.

On the morning of the wedding, after a stroll to a local lake and a delicious family brunch, the house started filling up with bridesmaids and photographers. Everyone needed, hairdryers, mirrors, ironing boards and cups of tea all at the same time, and just when I thought it was safe to jump in the shower, there was a call that the flower people had arrived. Meanwhile, while I ran around the house in search of nail varnish, there was shouting in the garden, where the recently showered ushers were attempting sweaty acrobatics and summersaults on the trampoline. I now have it on good authority that the clock really does speed up on the day of the wedding…the hours between 11am and 2pm disappeared in a flash and suddenly we were helping the bride into her stunning dress, fixing on the veil and before I knew it, I was watching her walk towards me down the aisle with her father. It was wonderful, perfect, special and all ran smoothly from the paper boats and bunting to the tea, scones and pimms on the lawn.

car wedd

But today, I’ve got the post wedding blues. The planning and preparation is all over and the bride and groom long gone to a secret destination. My Mother-of-the-Bride day is done, so I suppose it’s time to shake out the dungarees and get back to work. It’s not all about the wedding anymore, but that very special time with family and friends has left me pining for ‘home’ and green fields and England.

New year hats

Four days into 2014 and no resolutions broken… mainly because I didn’t make any. I thought the year would hold enough challenges for me without adding in any more.

And sure enough before the old year was over the first challenge arrived with the news that our one and only daughter is getting married. This puts me in line to become a real live mother-in-law, in the not too distant future. How on earth has this happened? It really seems like yesterday that I was discussing the risks of her taking the bus into Nottingham to shop with her school friends. Before too long I could well be knee deep in flower arrangements and shopping for hats…

If there is one thing I’m particularly fond of it’s hats. My colourful hat boxes are currently in store with various favourites crammed inside – some looking a bit dated, others slightly crushed and a few just plain wonderful. Here in Cyprus I’ve been enjoying the sunny variety, with an old leather cowboy hat making an occasional outing and my favourite crumbling straw hat being thrown in the back of the car on any trip from beach to town. This became so battered over the first few weeks here that I had to invest in something more decent, one that didn’t have huge holes and moult straw crumbs over the floors of shops and cafés. Now I am the proud owner of a smart boater, purchased in the capital. Much as I like the hat, I’m not convinced it’s wedding material…I am thinking something with a peacock or a parrot on top might be just the thing. Surely, the whole point of the Mother of the Bride (MOB) is to make her hat (and possibly outfit) a talking point of the day? I’m very interested in thoughts on wedding hats and what works best. Suggestions on a postcard please, or just comment here.

In terms of outfits for the big day, I do have something rather amazing that was a surprise Christmas gift. I’m only concerned that it could be little hot, depending when and where the wedding is. It has a safari feel about it and completely transforms me and most of all it is so comfortable. Shoes could be an issue though and I really don’t know which handbag would tie in best, but with built in headgear there should be money in the budget for those. One thing is for sure it could be a first for MOB outfits and I really think it might start a new trend. There’s only one word for it….’weddingonesie’ here we go 🙂