This week's throwback Thursday takes us back nine years, with a post from 13 October 2008.
… we are back! And what an enjoyable week-and-a-bit it was.
Clare’s father arrived a couple of days before we left, to give him the chance to settle and, of course, to spend a bit of time with us before our departure. We left home just after 9am and reached the tunnel in plenty of time to catch our train – largely because, as a result of the earlier fire, trains were running less frequently than is usually the case, and our departure had been put back by an hour. We arrived in Folkestone just after 8pm and settled into our hotel for the night. The following morning, Friday, we had our first full English breakfast for a couple of years (OK, that’s not entirely true, we can do one at home but without genuine British bangers and no black pudding). A relatively gentle drive with a two-hour stop in Cardiff for a look around the shops brought us to our destination, Craig-y-Nos Castle, just south of Brecon. What a terrific place to have a wedding! It is claimed to be haunted, and ghost hunts take place regularly. I don’t believe in ghosts but then, as has been said before, the only people who don’t believe in ghosts are people who have never seen one!
Sceptical to the end, I didn’t go on the ghost hunt. I gather they didn’t see anything. When we were in New Jersey a few years ago we went on a whale watch. We didn’t see any. The guide said that was the first day he could remember not seeing one – a fib, Groundhog Day syndrome or recurrent amnesia? Parallels? I am cynical – you draw your own conclusions.
I can say with certainty that there are no bats in the castle – we went out after dark with our trusty bat detector and detected nothing. It does work – we regularly track a pair of bats near our own house.
We met up with some of our extended family the day before the wedding and at the wedding and reception. Brother Tony was there with his family en masse, Sister Wendy was there with husband Phil, and sister Sue with husband Den and two daughters, one of whom was to take a leading rôle in the nuptials. We don’t all meet up too often, although Sue and Wendy and Phil have been to stay with us. It is good to get together.
The wedding went extremely smoothly. The bride and groom (pictured below) and many of their friends are goths (apologies if that is not the correct designation, but I hope you know what I mean), and this was apparent in so many ways. Not only in their mode of dress – which seemed to my untrained eye to be reminiscent of the mods whom I aspired to join in the 60s …
… but also in much of the presentation of the wedding. Interestingly, there was no traditional wedding cake (or, if there was, I didn’t see any of it!). Instead was an arrangement of scones enhanced, if you will, by a pair of figurines far removed from the conventionally attired bride and groom figures, but true to the preferences of the happy couple. As you will see above, however, Emma, the bride, was beautifully dressed in a wedding dress of which any bride would be justifiably proud – and the groom, Matty, was not so shabby himself!
We stayed at Craig-y-Nos for the night on Saturday and, on Sunday, set off for Plymouth, where eldest daughter Miranda lives with her husband. Crossing the Wales/England border close to Bristol, we couldn’t pass without popping in to see friends in the Forest of Dean, where we were treated to a superb Sunday roast. Thank you, Shelley and Paul. It was good to see you both.
The weather was not good, but at least stayed mostly dry. We arrived in Plymouth and spent a very pleasant, relaxing evening with Miranda. Monday morning we took a walk around Plymouth’s Barbican where I saw something I hadn’t seen for ages – a proper scooter, complete with lights and mirrors. That took me back a year or two, I can tell you!
The weather forecast was predicting a reasonable afternoon and evening and a wild night – that’s wild as in windy, not wild as in partying! We purposed to venture to the cabin that Miranda and her husband own on the south Cornwall coast, and attempted a barbecue. The cabin is well down the cliff, accessible only on foot – about 300 yards of scree-like slope, every bit as steep as a flight of stairs. Easy going down, but difficult climbing up if you are both unfit and laden!
Here it is, marked by the arrow.
The weather forecast was, as usual, kind of right in places. The wildness started early, and the barbecue didn’t happen. Nonetheless, we had a great time and, to prove the point, here we are with Miranda and (blind) Jack Russell, Ben. We weren’t saying ‘cheese’, we were saying ‘fish and chips’. Ben joined in with a little howl.
We then went on to spend a couple of days with friends in west Wiltshire. Leigh and Stacey had stayed with us about eighteen months ago, and it was good to see them again. It was nice to see how well son Ryan is developing and daughter Sophie, who was only about eight months old when we last saw her, is turning into a smashing little girl. A very pleasant couple of days.
Our last stop before coming home was with Clare’s family for a couple of days. Clare’s mother and sister have adjoining properties and, although most of the children have left home, we were fortunate that their sense of family meant that as many of them as could do so had come home to share a meal and some time with us.
A picture not seen too often these days – four generations of females – Mary [now, sadly, no longer with us], her daughter, her daughter and her daughter, although not necessarily in that order.
One other thing we did whilst in UK was to kit me up for my latest project. Having decided that I needed to stretch myself a little (that was before I learned about the major work lined up for me by The Hawk Conservancy Trust), I determined to do something I couldn’t do at school. In the second year of Grammar school, pupils could opt to learn a musical instrument. I chose the violin, but there were no places left so I plumped for the cello, which I studied for two years. That was 45 years ago. Now I have a desire to make amends and try the violin (OK, it might have been Wendy practising on hers whilst she was here that got the idea started, but it was there, below the surface, anyway). I am not aiming to be the next Vanessa Mae – although if I could start a group and have Bond or Escala join me that would certainly be a result!
No, my aspirations are more folk fiddle. Anyway, here it is – pristine and, so far, unused. I’ll let you know how I get on, but just don’t expect me to do classical stuff. This is for enjoyment, and my goal is to join in jamming sessions, not to join an orchestra.
I am going to close now, and settle down with Music Theory for Dummies then Violin for Dummies. Wish me luck!
2017 addendum – I never got anywhere with the violin, as the onset of arthritis in my fingers rendered it too darned painful.