When one of my closest friends, Sonya, announced that she was getting married this September in the UK.… I had no option but to attend! Wild horses couldn’t stop me from celebrating her big day!
My very capable and dear husband Mac took care of the kids while I flew off for nearly a week. Oh what bliss!
Arriving at Heathrow Airport, I took a taxi cab through London to the station, for the connecting train ride to my hometown, Southend in Essex. My cabbie took me past immense Hyde Park and fabulous hotels just in time to see the “Changing of the Guard” at Buckingham Palace. I didn’t see the Queen, but it was heart warming to see the throng of people standing outside the palace… oh those royalies! Tucked in the back of the cab I was chuffed that for once the traffic and my timing were perfect!Ensconced comfortably in the train, with a British mag on my knee, the miles flew by to my old home Southend on Sea. Home to the longest pier in the world, this Victorian seaside town lies right at the mouth to the River Thames and is famous for its colourful bathing sheds.
After a day or so visiting family and friends, enjoying walks on the windy beach of my childhood, I went on to Cambridge, the famous, historic and bustling university town where the impending nuptials were to take place.
The bride and groom, Sonya and Sam, had recently bought a beautiful farm-house called “Eagle Mill” about 30 minutes from Cambridge in Houghton, dating from Saxon times. They plan to convert part of the property into a bed & breakfast.
The grounds full old barns, an apple orchard and cherry trees made a magnificent setting for the reception held in a beautifully decorated tent or marquee as we call them in England. The groom is currently serving a year-long contract in Afghanistan as a consultant so Sonya handled much of the preparations on her own. Another close friend, Samantha and I had the task of being ‘official photographers’ for the event.The marriage took place at St Mary’s, which services both the village of Houghton and nearby Wyton, an old church which dates back to the 13th Century in the heart on a postcard pretty cluster of thatched roof cottages and ubiquitous English village pubs. Guests gathered at the ‘The Three Horseshoes’ pub before wandering across the village green to the church for the beautiful service. It was quite a squeeze to get 140 guests into this old church, truly was standing room only!
‘Begosh and Begorrah’ but the wedding was splendid! Sam the groom, a charmingly handsome Irishman was supported by a large group who’d tripped across the Irish Sea to England. In true Irish style they were up for a jolly good party, ‘to be sure, to be sure’!
I loved the personal moments that made the day truly unique. A talented neighbor collected apples from the Sonya and Sam’s orchard twining them into flower arrangements encircling each church pillar. Sonya surprised Sam, who’d had a profound experience hiking to Base Camp at Katmandu, with a beautiful Tibetan wedding reading.
After the ceremony we hopped on buses for the short trip back to the farm. At the fabulous wedding breakfast Sonya surprised her new husband again with a troop of Irish folk singers! As only they can, the gorgeous Irish contingent took the floor with gusto. What followed was an authentic and hilarious Riverdance experience!
Later, 80’s Music, a near cult like religious experience for the Essex crowd, (that’s me and my old friends) had us rocking the night way! Just when I thought the evening couldn’t get any better, a small truck rolled up, honking its horn, serving ‘fish-n– chips’ for the late night snackers and stayers! I was in Essex girl heaven!!
In true British fashion, we all gathered next day at the farm to feast on roasted pig, before bidding a fond farewell to our new Irish friends as the wedding party broke up and we all headed off in many different directions.
I flew home with sore feet and a happy heart thrilled that my Sonya had such a gorgeous wedding day!