Hey, I like Bank Holiday Mondays!
Even though it’s in the middle of the summer holidays and thus not really any different from any other day right now, I feel totally justified sitting here at after ten o’clock in the morning, still in my nightie (with a dancing cow on the front – not sure what to make of that!) and having just finished my breakfast. Granted I was up at eight to get Dad up, but I haven’t really done anything since then….. and it’s lovely, it is. On the agenda for today, along with a whole lot of nothing very much, is planning my sermon for my trial service and finishing a long letter to a good friend. Perfect.
We’ve had a wonderful week – an absolute dream. And Dad managed to go – in fact, not only to go, but to thoroughly enjoy his week and be keen to go to the area again some time. I think my proudest moment was to see him stride determinedly across the castle forecourt, swinging his stick and looking so proud of his various progeny. (The hardest moment of the week was handing him over to the care of the airport staff and simply walking away as they put him into a wheelchair and wheeled him off).
The castle was the perfect venue for the wedding and the weather was absolutely perfect too. We met for aperitifs on the terrace and in the armoury before the wedding began – a perfect chance for mingling and getting to know the other side of the family-to-be as well as actually spending some quality time with our own somewhat-spread-out family. I had offered to video the wedding for my nephew and his bride – I was so pleased to be able to do that for them as they had requested no gifts (mainly because they don’t have a home yet and because they would have to transport everything back to the Cayman Islands) and this was a really personal way of giving them a gift I knew they would cherish. There were a few shaky moments when I was videoing with one hand and trying to stop Smudgelet walking in front of the camera with the other….. and a few even shakier moments when I just couldn’t get my hand in my pocket to retrieve my hanky! .. but apparently the video is just perfect – especially the magical moment when a movement caught my eye and I zoomed in on the castle to see the bride peeping out of an upper window to survey the scene.
The wedding itself was, I have to say, the most magical and true wedding I have ever been to, and I’ve been to some amazing weddings (haven’t I, Katie?). There wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the entire time, including the bride and groom and those invited to speak. The two sets of parents were each invited to light a candle together to symbolise the flame from which each of them came – a cause of great anxiety to my sister and brother-in-law who were not really confident of doing it right! – and then later in the ceremony the bride and groom each took the flame from their parents’ candles and joined it onto a candle of their own, signifying the two families becoming one. Their vows were beautiful, and they had included vows which we were to make as family and friends in supporting them as a couple. And in addition to the exchange of rings, the couple exchanged roses as their first gift to one another – a single rose, signifying love and faithfulness – and vowed to do the same on each anniversary, also vowing to understand if the other gave them a rose in order to say “sorry” or “I love you” when they couldn’t find the words. And just to be on the safe side, the minister gave them both the Bible used during the ceremony, with the date of the wedding written inside, just in case my nephew should.. heaven forbid… forget what date their anniversary is! Wow – what a wedding!
Not believing in “finger slices” of cake, they’d ordered a massive and utterly delicious wedding cake – sponge with lemon cream and pure white chocolate! MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I am sure I won’t fit in my wedding clothes any more after fulfilling my auntly duties of helping them finish off the cake.
We got a free tour of the castle (highly recommended if you’re ever that way, though rather expensive if you have to pay)… including an embarrassing and frustrating and wonderful moment when the tour guide asked if anyone could play the piano and everyone pointed to me. I can’t play without music but my protestations fell on deaf ears as I was manoevred over to the most beautiful Bechstein grand piano and invited to play. As my fingers touched the very first key, I was enchanted by the beauty of its tone – but without the music in front of me, my rendition of Mozart petered out after the first half dozen bars… fortunately just before I hit the inevitable wrong note.
The whole week was wonderful. A tiny shepherd’s cottage in the middle of the countryside, with my family all around in cottages big enough for family reunions and joint meals. Meeting my new niece-in-law – possibly the most beautiful person I’ve met both in looks and in character; getting to know my middle nephew’s Kenyan girlfriend a bit better as she becomes more comfortable within the large family environment; sitting on the bed together with my youngest nephew’s partner when meeting her for the first time and sinking into a conversation as though we’ve known each other a lifetime; hugging tight my nephew from the Cayman’s whom I haven’t seen for four years; seeing my boys totally absorbed into this huge and loving family (and seeing Smudgelet fall head-over-heels in love with the bride!); and especially holding my new great-nieces and revelling in their specialness and tininess and sheer gorgeousness (even when crying non-stop!)
I think that was a week of memories that will never fade. Access to photos available to trusted friends on request, I’m afraid, but there’s two which are possible to share… one of the castle location at Culzean and one of the Bechstein.