(Newest entries first)
August 31-September 2, 2007
Old stomping grounds in the New Forest
If the weather hadn't been so miserable during our trip to Yarmouth a couple of weeks ago, we probably wouldn't have gone camping again this year. But a dry but cool forecast (which proved accurate) convinced us that we should have another try with a couple of nights in the New Forest with Brian, Sarah, Lucy and James, plus new camping converts Maurice and Jacky.
The site was Hollands Wood, where we have been before - but so long ago that Holly couldn't remember much about it. Sean wasn't with us. We left him home alone because he had to work (at the County Ground, serving chips and burgers). This experiment in the containment and management of teenagers proved successful, despite Julie's worries.
We arrived on Friday evening to discover that incredibly hard ground - really, really solid - meant that the others had already invested in 'super pegs' before we got there, and bought some for us. Anything less than these special steel pegs, driven in with a lump hammer, would only scratch the surface of the ground.
After the traditional pre-prepared curry on the first evening, we decided to do Beaulieu on Saturday. Although this was at least my fourth visit to this attraction - where the main attraction is the superb National Motor Museum - I can't see myself ever tiring of it. There are pleasant grounds, a monorail, the stately home and the abbey (mostly ruins) and a good shop where we bought a nicely kitsch tile with a VW van design. In the evening, we went down to Lymington for chips on the harbour front - very nice, though not quite enough vinegar.
After packing up the tent on Sunday morning we had a look round a car boot sale where I bought a yellow buoy for £1* - and if you think that's strange, there was a box of pigs' ears for sale (not sure what you can do with them apart from give them to your dog or try to make a silk purse out of them). Then we went into Lyndhurst, a cheerful but busy little town where we had a nice cup of hot chocolate and ice creams, before driving home.
A weekend of fairly simple pleasures, which, after all, is exactly what camping is all about.
*What am I going to do with my buoy? Put it next to my other one.
Even if I wasn't somebody who gets hopelessly attached to inanimate objects and can't bear to ever chuck anything away, today would be a bit of a milestone or the end of an era, depending on your preference in cliches.
Tomorrow - all being well, but we've still got our fingers crossed - Julie's mum and dad's old house, 28 Jefferies Avenue, gets sold, and its new owners move in.
It marks the end of a difficult period since Julie's dad died in May last year, when the old family home, through necessity, had to be let go of. This is sad enough for me, who has been going there for more than 20 years, but even more difficult for Julie and her brothers, of course. There is the added complication that we still live in Jefferies Avenue, although we have no reason to drive past the house, which is at the end of the cul-de-sac, only walking past it occasionally, when we use the alley to reach Cricklade Road.
The sale has been most difficult of all for Julie's brother, John, who lived there for the best part of 50 years. Fortunately, he found a new flat for himself - and a really nice one - at Churchward, which he moved into before Christmas, and after a lot of hard work by various members of the family but especially Julie's brother, Steve, and his wife Lynne, we managed to spruce 28 Jefferies up for sale.
It should have been sold three months ago but a couple of timewasters tried to wangle us out of £15,000 at the last minute. This was because we have always been very keen not to sell the house to property developers - mainly because Julie's dad was absolutely against the idea. A few years back, next door was bought by a developer who then cut the garden in half and wrote to neighbours, asking them if they would like to sell half of their gardens so he could put up flats. Julie's dad was really put out by this, so we decided to prevent anybody going against his wishes if they bought the house.
Our solicitor, whose blood group is undoubtedly vulture, couldn't quite believe it when we said we wanted to put a covenant on the land to stop the buyer from dividing up the garden. "Somebody could make some money out of this," he told us, "so it might as well be you." The estate agents also missed the point completely when they got an enquiry from the very same developer that this was all about, and asked us if we would sell to them. We had made it as clear as it possibly could be that we would not sell to them under any circumstances nor at any price.
Feeling quite proud of ourselves for our moral stand - and totally unanimous in what we wanted to achieve - we were therefore pretty upset when the first 'buyers' used the covenant against us. Their solicitor came up with some cock and bull story about the possibility of the house being devalued if there was building work on adjacent properties, and used this to try to get us to lower our price by £15,000. You've never seen a house go back on the market so quick, and if they had then come back and said they were prepared to pay the agreed price (£185,000) after all, we would probably have told them they had missed their chance. We were particularly put out because if somebody had offered us the full asking price (£190,000) in the meantime, we'd have been honest enough to say no, because we had agreed a sale.
Worst of all was the point that the covenant was there to try to prevent building on adjoining properties, so it was ridiculous to suggest it would be detrimental. The only conclusions we could draw were that either the so-called 'buyers' (whom we never actually met) had some connection with the villainous developers or were too thick to understand the covenant. Or - our final conclusion - that they were a particularly loathsome species of pond life, and that they and their slimy solicitor were surely made for each other.
There is a happy ending in that the people who have bought it - whom Julie's brother has met - seem to be a genuinely nice family who fell in love with the garden and who, when their solicitor tried to throw some obstacles in their path, told him to go and take a legal jump. He has been trying to throw spanners in the works for the last month, presumably to justify his immorally high fees, but to the buyers' credit, they were keen to move in. Finding out that the buyer is a railway and model railway enthusiast - which is extremely appropriate given Julie's dad railway connections - and that he even plays chess, completes the picture of them as more or less exactly the kind of people we wanted to buy it.
So, come tomorrow, it should be mission accomplished - our mission being to make sure that a house that was a lovely home for one family for half a century, is, as far as it's possible to ensure, a lovely home for another family for a long time to come. In the end, the sadness and the sentimentality of it has been made more bearable than any of the family could have hoped by the way the story has turned out. We even clubbed together to buy a fairly expensive bottle of champagne to leave in the house for the new owners.
In a world where there often doesn't seem to be anything remotely resembling justice, it's great that the two 'buyers' of 28 Jefferies Avenue - the timewasters and the actual owners - will end up with exactly what they deserve, all thanks to the Freeman family's moral stand, which is one they (we) can be proud of.
I've just finished Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, which, I have to say, was brilliant.
Bryson is so popular that you can't help thinking, in the back of your mind, that he therefore can't really be any good. Most things that are popular these days turn out to be utter crap - and vice versa. You only have to look at Harry Potter, which everybody and his dog adores. After dutifully reading half of the first book to see what it was all about and feeling ashamed that I've seen two of the films - one should have been enough to tell me how bad they were - the only conclusion I have been able to come to is that Harry Potter is a load of old drivel.
So it's a surprise to find that Bill Bryson: a) can be really good, b) is consistently good, as I've discovered from reading most of his stuff, and c) writes what I call 'accurately'. This is not in the sense of being correct or true but in the sense that I once heard an international master chess player use the word to describe one of his moves. It was a very simple and fairly obvious move, but exactly the right one to win the game, so was therefore extremely powerful and efficient. Bill Bryson's sentences are all like that.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid not only had me laughing out loud but had me creased up, unable to read to Julie and the kids the passage that was making me laugh, until I calmed down, about ten minutes later (it was the first reference to Milton Milton).
We actually went to one of his stage shows last year, which mostly consisted of readings and it was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, but the book was anything but.
I am pretty amazed at just how disappointing The Bees' first album, Sunshine Hit Me, has been.
As described earlier, I have been listening to their three albums in the wrong order. I was instantly taken with album 3 (Octopus) and fairly impressed by album 2 (Free The Bees). But with the exception of one track, Sunshine Hit Me didn't impress me at all.
In fact, if I had heard that one first, I wouldn't have bothered listening to the others - and there is a moral there. Fortunately, the experience has brought a kind of order to my world which comforts my simple brain no end because, if you put the albums in the right order, you can see how the band has progressed. It also means their fourth album is going to be amazing.
Thinking about what I wrote about Sean's drumming exam yesterday, it was a bit remiss of me not to say anything about his (and my) teacher, Paul Ashman.
In the excitement, I forgot to say that he always makes drumming fun and has always been a keen supporter of Sean - and teachers don't often get the credit they deserve.
Some very good news today as Sean received the result of his Grade 6 drum exam that he took on July 18.
He passed with distinction - the highest grade - and thoroughly deserved it because he worked hard for it.
He had to play five pieces, which each received glowing praise from the examiner. Comments included: "A confident presentation of professional performance level, with effortless continuity", "fluent techniques demonstrating a high degree of stylistic awareness and tasteful dynamics" and a string of similar accolades. There wasn't a hint of anything negative, which left us wondering how he managed to only score 90 per cent!
Being a sort of drummer myself, I can appreciate how difficult it is to drum to this standard. I've scanned in part of one of the pieces he played to give some idea of how hard it is, but that's only one small piece out of five whole songs, which have to be played at speed - some of them very fast. Sometimes people think there is nothing to drumming because good drummers make it look so easy, but as far as I'm concerned, this sort of thing isn't hard. It's impossible.
Sean is now aiming to take Grade 8 in December, which is very ambitious, so soon after Grade 6 (he's skipping Grade 7). This is the furthest you can go if you are learning part-time, and if he passes, we believe he will be the first drummer from Kingsdown to do it.
So it was quite appropriate that after a couple of weeks of not having any drums in the house because of our building work, at the weekend we made room in the lounge by taking an old settee down the tip and set up the electronic drum kit we bought a few months ago (as pictured). Called a Roland TD12, it can play all different kinds of drum sounds. In my hands it's a toy, but in Sean's hands it's a serious piece of kit. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until the extension is finished and it gets its new home before we plug a speaker into it, so at the moment we have to listen to Sean whacking it apparently tunelessly, though it sounds fantastic through the headphones.
The last of the official 2007 family celebrations took place today as we all went down to Ringwood for my cousin John Titchener's 60th birthday party.
John was always much closer to my older brothers and we don't see him that much, but he and his wife Sheila made us very welcome and seemed touched that we'd made the effort to go down - even though, of course, it was our pleasure. They generously paid for everybody to have a meal at the St Leonard's Hotel - which was extremely impressive - my brother Ron made a speech about old times, and then there was a disco, where the three daughters of John's neice, Nicola (who is my first cousin, once removed) - Jade, Laura and Carrie - stole the show with their dancing.
We've really got into the habit of family knees-ups, with all the weddings and things this year, and this was another memorable night. Now we're all wondering what we can organise for next year...
There are some additions to the arty-farty bit of the website - ie, three photos (all from Yarmouth and all previously seen), a panorama of the rollercoaster at Yarmouth and one re-acquired artwork. In each case there is now an option to just see the recent additions instead of having to go through all the old ones (scroll down for the links).
Nostalgia is what it used to be
The weather was absolutely dismal - especially for camping - but we didn't let that spoil our nostalgic trip to East Anglia, which was mainly centred on Great Yarmouth (although we were actually camping just south of Lowestoft, at Kessingland).
It was a return trip to a site where we had been with Brian (my brother), Sarah, Lucy and James a couple of years ago, but this time new camping converts Maurice (another brother) and Jacky came with us, and we also met up with Ronald (yet another brother, so that's a whole line or "Bingo!" as they say in Yarmouth) and Jenny, who stayed in a B&B nearby for a couple of nights.
The main idea was to re-trace childhood family holidays at Yarmouth, although for our party these were essentially different memories of the same place. Me and Brian were too young to remember the original visits to Yarmouth in the early Sixties, only getting in on the act in 1969 - we were there when man first landed on the moon - and then independently of Maurice and Ronald in the late Seventies.
This meant that when we tried to find the site of the old South Denes campsite where we had stayed in the early Sixties, I had no memory of the original, my memories coming from the still existing North Denes site.
Me and Brian had returned to Yarmouth in recent years anyway, and in fact our kids were making their fourth visit - so they've now got their own nostalgic trip to make in 30 or 40 years' time, having been there at least as many times as we did when we were young.
The things they will enjoy most in 2037 will certainly be a visit to the Pleasure Beach where the rollercoaster (or 'Big Dipper' as it was known in our day) is the main attraction, being easily the best fairground ride on the planet. We weren't allowed to go on it in 1969 (when I was eight years old) although, by today's standards, it seems remarkably tame. But being a genuine wooden rollercoaster that's fast, bumpy and oozing charm, it's worth going on again and again.
After arriving on Sunday afternoon, we warmed up our homemade curry and strolled down to the pub just outside the campsite. Then, on Monday morning, we had breakfast in the sunshine, but that was the last we saw of blue skies as the greyest August days since records began set in. It was literally as dark as a December afternoon.
Monday's nostalgia mania at Yarmouth had to be conducted in the pouring rain - a visit to the rock-making shop and then the waxworks (almost untouched since the Seventies, including Starsky and Hutch and Yuri Gagarin looking conspicuous among the sporting heroes); the cheap shops in Regent Road; bingo and the get-the-balls-down-the-holes-to-win-the-horserace game on Britannia Pier; a visit to Joyland for a ride on the incomparable snails and the Tyrolean Tub Twist (my picture of Maurice on this, above, was taken by accident while I was trying to capture Julie, Lucy and Holly in the tub behind us); dinner in a good value cafe/restaurant; and last but not least, doughnuts on the prom.
During the day, I also sloped off on my own to indulge my unorthodox interest in the history of the herring fishing industry (especially in East Anglia) with a visit to the Time & Tide Museum. It didn't stop raining until tea-time, and then started up all over again in the evening, but we didn't really care.
Tuesday was our day for keeping our promise to the kids to spend ages at the Pleasure Beach, although the adults also joined in with most of the rides - all good value at £16 each for an all-day wristband. We went off to explore the South Denes, late afternoon, but the kids each got seven hours of solid entertainment before we finally walked back down the prom to go back to the same cafe-restaurant we had been to the night before.
Tuesday night was spent cowering in our tents and wondering whether 'tent' was about to become another name for 'hang-glider' as our campsite was buffeted by winds strong enough to actually damage our tent. We awoke grateful to not be airborne but greeted with the most miserable grey skies. Even Southwold looked grim as waves lashed the pier, but we walked into the town where some of us enjoyed a fascinating guided tour of the lighthouse which these days is powered by three torch-sized halogen bulbs that can be seen 30 miles away.
Then we went on to Lowestoft where we stopped in a proper tea shop (I had 'Earl Grey Blue Flower'), then Maurice bought some bloaters - once a speciality that was closely associated with the area - and we were held up by a ship that passed through the harbour drawbridge. In the evening we all went off to Pizza Hut before returning to the tents for a quick nightcap to take our minds off the weather, which was wet again overnight, although the wind had dropped a bit, now being a mere gale force 6.
With greyer than ever skies in the morning and more rain coming in, thoughts of stopping off somewhere on the way home were finally extinguised, so we all parted, agreeing that it had been a great weekend despite the weather. Naturally, the sky turned blue and we were reaching for the sunglasses before we turned off the M25.
There are loads more pictures.
While we were away, the weather at home was, of course, bright and sunny, but we don't feel the least bit miffed about that because it means the builders have made steady progress with our extension. And it looks like they will be able to complete the job without ripping the drum room apart, so at last we're beginning to see it not as stressful but even quite exciting.
This cheered us up and - once we got over a worrying couple of minutes when Elvis was missing, before I discovered him cowering behind the settee, obviously upset by the builders - we put the tent up in the back garden to begin the drying-out process. Then we heard some more good news. My nephew Stuart's wife, Mel, is expecting again. Hopefully their second child will arrive at the proper time because his/her big sister, Millie, who's now two, was so premature that she almost re-wrote the record books.
Not Richard and Judy's Book Club
One of the intentions, when I started this blog, was to keep a record of the books I have been reading. And one way of doing this was with the 'Now reading...' icons on the left.
That's all very well when you've got a couple of books on the go, which normally happens, but over the last couple of months I've been too busy to do much serious reading and the ones I was trying to read - Tommy by Richard Holmes and Ghosts of Spain by Giles Trimlett - were pretty heavy going... which is why they've been under 'Now reading' for so long. I've managed to finish Ghosts of Spain at last, but Tommy is going on the back burner while I read another couple of (hopefully) more easy-going efforts.
In fact, I've managed to read another book in-between because it was in the bathroom and more suited to reading one short chapter at a time. This is the prequel to Far From the Sodding Crowd (which I've already mentioned) and is called Bollocks to Alton Towers.
It's all about off-the-beaten-track tourist attractions which seem naff on the surface but turn out to be little gems, and is not only very affectionately written but also very witty - but in a modern style, as the four authors are regular contributors to Viz.
Anyway, it's so well written that I'm going to get the sequel, which I only briefly borrowed and didn't get time to read properly.
Meanwhile, back at Ghosts of Spain, I bought this because I've always been quite fascinated by Spain and its culture and history, even though I've never been there. As the book also particularly promised an insight into the Spanish Civil War, which I decided I didn't know enough about, it sounded good.
But it wasn't.
Trimlett is an ex-pat who now lives in Madrid and knows the country intimately, so it misses the lightness of a travel book. And it's a warts-and-all look at Spain, so dwells on drug problems, immigration, terrorism, political corruption and other delights. What he doesn't seem to realise is that virtually every country in the world has the same sort of challenges/problems - and I, for one, was more interested in what makes Spain different, not what makes it the same.
Finishing it was a bit of a chore in the end, especially the last 60 pages which I read after meeting somebody who used to live in Spain but has now moved back here (but is originally Zimbabwean). She managed to sum things up in one minute, explaining how Spanish people are making up for being scared to say anything during the reign of Franco (which ended in 1975), by now being loud and go-ahead. Basically, the country is rapidly modernising, having been in limbo for 40 years.
This is something that the book spent more than 400 pages not really getting round to saying. Worst of all, it was a book that should have made me more inclined to want to go to Spain myself, but, if anything, has put me off.
Arts and crafts
Holly has just finished an excellent arts and crafts week at the University of Bath in Swindon, along with Lucy (her cousin). She spent the week making some puppets and then, along with the other kids on the course - some of whom were there for performing arts - did a puppet show, directed by professionals. I was too busy at work to get there but am told it was remarkably good.
At least I got to see the puppets, which they naturally brought home. Holly thoroughly enjoyed the week as she is keen on and pretty good at anything arty. And, amazingly, it was all free.
It was 20 years ago today
Yes, as The Beatles once sang, it was 20 years ago today - the day I got married.
We celebrated the anniversary not with a romantic meal for two, as you might expect, but with an Indian for four in Old Town. Well, we couldn't not take Sean and Holly. However, we are off to Amsterdam for a long weekend next month - our first proper trip away on our own since the kids were born.
Twenty years sounds a lot, but we are mere novices in our family, where long marriages seem the norm. Next month (I've just worked out), myself, my three brothers, one sister and respective partners will have been married for a combined total of 147 years!
If I really wanted to be soppy, I could say that my own decision to get married all those years ago was the best I ever made and that I couldn't have chosen a better bride in Julie, and I could point out that if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't hesitate for a second. That would be really, really sickly.
This is a picture of Holly at Milletts Farm, where we went last Friday, on our way to visit relatives in Didcot.
Milletts Farm is a garden centre with a nice little craft shop and Pick Your Own - or as I call it, All-You-Can-Eat Fruit.
It's a bit of a moral dilemma, wondering whether eating as many as you put in your punnet constitutes stealing, but then surely everybody does it, Your Honour. Anyway, it's surely built into the price (£5 a kilo for raspberries, which me and Julie picked, while the kids went for strawberries).
The day out was the culmination of a so-called week-and-a-bit off which involved a lot of clearing out of the garage, ready for the builders to arrive. It was worth going out just to have another go on our own sat-nav, which we have finally got around to buying. This has instantly made it to my list of greatest inventions, alongside the likes of the iPod, Macs and the internet. I thought it would spoil the fun of navigating and maps, which obviously appeals to my male brain, but it actually makes it even more interesting. The irony is that the only voice we can have on our sat-nav is female.
Our time off also included going to see Shrek the Third - my first visit to the cinema this year - which I thought was good, even though it lacked the really good one-liners of the previous two, and Donkey, the real star, was underplayed.
My musical discovery of the millennium so far is certainly The Bees (called A Band of Bees, for some reason, in America), whose third album, Octopus, I have been playing to death over the last few months.
It was so good that I decided to buy up their previous two albums, even though the prospect of having to listen to and appreciate them in the wrong order is against my nature. Despite being naturally untidy - Julie never tires of telling me, as if I'm going to change - I obsessively like to have things in order in my brain. I also had to approach the second album in the knowledge that it couldn't possibly be as good as the third - and in this case, it isn't.
However, the really good ones on Free The Bees are almost as good as the really good ones on Octopus - it's just that there are fewer of them. The best is undoubtedly Chicken Payback which used to be on some advert or other on telly. There are various versions on YouTube because it's easy to make a video set to the music, but we love this one... (keep your eye on the monkey, right at the end).
Now I am taking another step back to their first album, Sunshine Hit Me, which surely can't be as good as numbers two and three...
Here comes our 19 nervous breakdowns
Work started on our new extension today, so if we look especially stressed over the next few weeks, that's why. We've spent the last three days clearing out the garage, going down the tip and squeezing tools, scrap wood and all kinds of other things into every square inch of the summer house. The drum kit and our trailer, which is full of camping equipment, are in storage.
We are having an extra storey built on top of the garage and part of the kitchen, which will mean drastic things happening to the soundproof drum room that I built, which fills half the garage. "The more I look at it, the more I'm thinking the whole lot might have to come down," said Des, the builder.
We've already got over one potential disaster as the building inpsector was a bit concerned when he discovered we have an inspection pit in the floor of the garage. It's only a couple of feet deep - but if it had been twice as deep, it would have meant that the whole of one side of the garage would have needed underpinning. "That would have cost megabucks," said Des - as if the whole thing isn't already.
We have up to three months of this, which is the estimated time it will take for the building, plumbing (a new boiler with a completely new central heating system), electrics, plastering, etc. - but does not include therapy and recouperation in a secure mental institution.
I took some pictures so I could do a before-and-after. Here's what it looked like before the builder started digging big holes with his pneumatic drill...
Tonight was a night of pure football nostalgia as most of the Carter family gathered at the County Ground for the Swindon Town Legends match. This was a reunion of most of the Town's best players from the 1980s and 90s, in aid of the Prospect@home appeal.
The family had booked two tables in the executive suite, so had the added enjoyment of a leisurely time before, during and after the match - and the match itself was thoroughly entertaining. Some of the players looked like they still had the ability to play professionally, and put on a show of neat skills - especially former Arsenal and England star Paul Merson (pictured below), who was a real class act. He has no connection with Swindon Town but put himself out to play - and really turned on the style. He is a real example of somebody giving professional footballers a good name - as did all the genuine Town legends who played.
There was a good turnout of over 4,300 - although it doesn't look like it on the photos because they only opened one stand.
All the old favourites were there, including Jan Aage Fjortoft (pictured below, doing his famous aeroplane goal celebration), who scored a hat-trick, and the likes of Colin Calderwood (pictured below, signing autographs), Shaun Taylor and Chris Kamara. I even knew a couple of people who played part of the match - Ian Howell (boyfriend of my niece Claire and brother of golfer David Howell) and Adver editor Mark Waldron.
And I had my name in the programme too, having designed it. I completed it a week ago, at short notice - and was pretty relieved when it printed up well.
The original plan was for Glenn Hoddle to be one of the team managers, but he couldn't make it. Fortunately, the greatest legend of them all, Lou Macari (pictured below), did make it - and I got him to sign my programme after the match.
The only disappointment was my attempt at action pictures - my little camera just wasn't up to it, but I did manage the ones below... My brother, Brian, got some much better photos.
There was even a bit of excitement on the way back to pick up the car at Brian's house when he spotted some intruders in Lainesmead School. After about half an hour of staking them out, the police arrived exactly a minute after they scarpered.
We made the most of the day after Glyn and Laura's wedding by having a jolly family outing to Beer in Devon (a second return for us). The plan to visit the magnificent Beer Caves was shelved because it was such a nice day for hiring some deck chairs and doing not much on the beach.
There is also a panoramic picture of Beer.
Glyn and Laura
The 2007 wedding hat-trick was completed today by Glyn and Laura in Taunton - our third superb wedding of the year, a third lovely couple tying the knot and, during the wettest summer since Isambard Kingdom Brunel was in short trousers, even our third sunny wedding.
This one also had several firsts for me - the first wedding I've ever attended that wasn't on a Saturday (it was Friday), the first that was carried out by a lady vicar, and the first at which the guests were ferried to and from the church in vintage buses - which was an excellent touch.
As Holly was one of three bridesmaids, the wedding actually started the day before for us as we, along with our mum, travelled down to Somerset to stay in a B&B. We had a semi-stag night with homemade curry and various beers at the Three Horseshoes and, in the morning, we got Holly to Glyn and Laura's house on time for whatever it is that happens to bridesmaids on the morning of the wedding.
Then we got to the extremely posh Mount Somerset hotel, the venue for the reception, and boarded the buses, which made their way to what will certainly be the tiniest church at which I will ever attend a wedding. Glyn jumped in too quickly with his "I will" - and knowing Laura as we do, and knowing what a great couple they make, I don't blame him. Then it was back to the Mount Somerset where the food was suitably posh and very tasty.
For the third time out of three, everything passed off not only without a hitch but with plenty to remember - and there was still another bonus to come, to round off the day, as the four of us had a room at the Mount Somerset - the wedding party having commandeered the whole hotel. We liked it so much that we overslept in the morning.
The best of my photos are below, and there are also the now traditional extended highlights.
Aside from the main pictures above, there has to be a little section dedicated to Holly because seeing her as a bridesmaid added a helping of pride to the big day for us. It was not only her first time as a bridesmaid but the first time she's worn a pretty dress this millennium. We were a bit worried how she would take to it all, but looking great and carrying out her duties very well, she naturally brought a tear to Julie's eye...
Mark and Maxine's wedding
Richard and Carla's wedding