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I spent this weekend enjoying the company of friends and family, in beautiful surroundings.
My oldest and best friend got married on Saturday, to a lovely bloke. I've know J for over 20 years, and her shiny new husband for nearly 10, and couldn't be happier that they they have now married.

I travelled up to Derbyshire on Friday - it was a lovely day, bright sunshine, getting nicer and nicer as I went north!

After arriving, and settling into my luxurious hotel room (in this beautiful hotel, originally built in 1652, and which has been an inn for at least 200 years), I met up with my friends, and J's parents, all of whom were staying in the hotel on the Friday night, and we spent the afternoon catching up, running errands, and all had dinner together.

On Saturday, I had some spare time while those in the wedding party were doing hair and nails and the like, so went for a walk around the village - it was not quite such a beautiful day as Friday, but the landscape is absolutely stunning (Chatsworth and Haddon Hall are both just up the road..)

And then of course the main event. I met up with other friends  at the wedding venue, (another very nice hotel).

Everything went smoothly - there was a ceremony, and photographs, and laughter, and food, and dancing, and laughter, and more food, and time with friends, and a very happy married couple.

It was a lot of fun.

On Sunday (Another gloriously sunny day) I drove to Manchester to see my Brother and his girlfriend, and catch up with them (and eat out at a superb tea room!) all of which was delightful.
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Over a year ago, I went to the amazing Gig and Art Show which was one of the rewards for Amanda Palmer's Kickstarter. And through a newsish friend I met on twitter and at that gig, I got an invitation to one of the Kickstarter House Parties, which took place on Saturday.

Mary Wollstonecroft
And Oh, it was fun. It was held at Newington Green Unitarian church, which is a very long established Unitarian (formerly Dissenters) church, dating back to the early 18thC. Mary Wollstonecraft was a member of the congregation there, and there is a graffiti portrait of her outside. It was also the first religious establishment n Britain to refuse to carry out any weddings, until gay people have equal marriage rights with those who are straight. So, all in all, a good and welcoming venue!

I was a little later arriving than I'd planned, due to First Great Western's inability to stick to their own timetable, but fortunately the party started a couple of hours before Amanda was due to arrive.

Amanda (and friend)

I wasn't quite sure, at first, whether I'd found the right place, but when I went into the building and the first person I saw was an incredibly elegant woman in an evening gown, FreakAngels tattoo and bottle of champagne in one hand, I knew I must be in the right place.

I only knew 7 or 8 of the 40 people at the party, (well, that's all I knew when I arrived. Later . . more than that!) While we were waiting for Amanda to arrive we did all the things you do at parties, chatted, drank, ate, founded a new religion...

The religion will be rolling out worldwide as soon as we can think of a really good acronym and a reliable source of communion absinthe. I think. I was enjoying myself too much to remember the details.

The Grooms await their Bride
There was music, too, even before Amanda arrived. Clara (our hostess) and several other guests had brought instruments and talents.

When Amanda arrived, she spent a little time mingling, then we all drifted through to the church. And around that point, it was decided to hold a ninja wedding, for three of the house party guests, Thomas, Meta and Aurelien.

With help from flower-girls, ring bearer, holders-up-of -the chuppah, photographers  and such, all  recruited from the guests.
Presenting the rings
(In case you are wondering, the chuppah was an (approximately) 70 year old, one-eyed fox fur stole named Nick (after Nick Fury).)

While the vows were being written, the rest of us sang some hymns (All Things Bright and Beautiful, and 'We Will Rock You', but not Bohemian Rhapsody,)

Amanda in the Pulpit

The Bride was radiant, and the vows were beautiful, and there was much love and laughter. I felt it was a privilege to be there.

Amanda and Meta duetted with 'What a Wonderful World', then, like all the best wedding, there was more partying.

We were treated to a fairy tale, and then Amanda played and talked to us, about love, and music, and her visit to Palestine, and then sang to us,  including 'Coin Operated Boy', 'Map of Tasmania' 'Vegemite', and a candlelit rendition of 'Hallelujah'.

And more mingling, and conversation, and hugs. And people sitting on other people's shoulders (well, if we're honest, mostly people sitting on Random Dave's shoulders) That one may have involved more absinthe, in at least one case.


 And, well, FUN.

The party ended all too soon,although even the clearing up stage, being in such good company, was more fun than the average party. (admittedly, the average party does not involve mugs of champagne)

I know that some of the other guests went on, later, to the White Mischief Hallowe'en Ball. I would have loved to go, but one must (occasionally) accept one's limitations, and I've sadly never really mastered the art of going without sleep, so I ended the evening asleep in a rather dull hotel, rather than partying with beautiful zombies and vampires.

And feeling very grateful that I had the opportunity to go to such a great party. Thanks again to Amanda, for coming to play to and with us, and to Clara who organised it all, and trusted us all to come, and pay our share.

 I think (and hope) that Amanda enjoyed it too.

(My full photoset is here ) Another nice thing which happened at the part was that Hijo told me that there is an article in this week's New Statesman magazine about amanda's relationship with her fans, which includes a photo from the London Kickstarter show.. which was a nice way of reminding me of where this whole party started..)
marjorie73: (Default)
I stayed in Devon for a couple of days after the wedding, hanging out with various family members, which was fun.
 Having poured with rain for the wedding, and on Saturday, the weather improved and Sunday turned out to be sunshiny, almost as if it were properly summer!

I took the opportunity to play more with my new camera, taking pictures of flowers and leaves and baby frogs. And then, of course, on Monday I had to come home (and face a disgruntled cat, who assures me he was starved and mistreated during my absence, although he seemed to be looking very well on it, so I suspect he may have been lying to me.) and on Tuesday it was back to work.

This could have been a bit of a come down, but happily my Aunt S, who lives in the frozen north, had decided to make good use of the fact she'd travelled south for the wedding, and she came to visit for a couple of days, en route to visit other friends over the bank holiday weekend. It's been fun having her here, and having someone to cook and eat with, after work, although as she wasn't here for the weekend, I couldn't go out and play with her!

On Friday, I found that my parents' Local Paper came out, (and that it has a website!) including a story about K's wedding and the ringing afterwards. Which was nice, although I think it's a pity they didn't use a group photo, as the entire band was made up of family members, which they seem to have overlooked..
marjorie73: (Default)
I arrived in deepest Devon on Tuesday night, to help prepare for my sister's wedding on Friday. The weather is pretty poor, with lots of rain, but other than that, things are good.

My sisters and their respective partners, plus my step-niece-to-be all arrived on Tuesday and by the time I got there, were all busily engaged in making origami flowers. This is the first time my (younger) sister's boyfriend has met us en masse, but he hasn't panicked and run away yet!

On Wednesday, the party was augmented by my brother and his girlfriend, so we now have a VERY full house (my parents are sleeping in their caravan at the bottom of the garden!)

As lots of both extended families live quite a distance away, several of them have come down early and are incorporating the wedding into a summer holiday, and on Wednesday morning my cousin S, with her husband and 2 children arrived at the house to see everyone, and then E and her partner, and I, joined them for a trip to the local zoo, which is very small, but fun, especially if you have the foresight to take a 3 year old child with you!

I also enjoyed playing with my new camera, to take pictures of some of the animals (and of course of the 3 and one year old cousins...)

In the evening we had the rehearsal for the wedding, and discussions about how and where to take pictures if, as seems likely, it pours with rain.

Today has been entirely taken up with preparations - the hall has been decorated (with a nautical theme) tables set up, (much consultation of the plan required) wine and soft drinks ferried to the hall, flowers collected, crockery and cutlery laid out, and many, many other things! My mum finished constructing the cake (which has delicate icing 'sails' all around it)

The ladies of the party had their nails done, in relays, and there was a last minute dash to pick up the buttonholes, and then the evening was spent making the bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids.

It's been a long day, but I **think**  everything is in hand. (except of course the weather, which is out of our control. We have emergency umbrellas.
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I may have mentioned one or twice that my sister is getting married soon - and this weekend just got was her hen party. Since getting while wearing L-Plates and a veil isn't really K's style, we went for the more sedate and civilised option, of going to a hotel with it's own spa for the weekend. Which was nice.

As well as several of K's friends, both my Mum and K's future mother-in-law came, as did one of C's sisters and her daughter,so it was an opportunity to get to know them better, too.

We went to the Isle of Wight, K's home. Most of the weekend was rather grey and rainy, but as we were mostly sitting in the hub tub and chatting, or sitting in the sauna and chatting, or having manicures or pedicures or facials or massages, so the weather really wasn't a major issue.

After doing the spa day, we did tease K a little over dinner - my sister E had set C a quiz, and K had to guess what answers he'd given (we judged that she got enough right to be able to go ahead and marry him!).We also brought various little bits and pieces to talk about how we knew her.. which was also fun - one friend, who went travelling with K, brought a world map with stories about some of the more interesting events of their travels, the friends who work with her had prepared a story, with visual aids, in the style of the ones they make for the (special needs) children they work with, about her wedding, and so on.

On Sunday morning, those of us who didn't need to rush off too quickly went for a short walk in Shanklin, making the most of the weekend's brief sunshine, then K, E and I, with my mum, had a very good pub lunch before heading home.

It was a nice weekend, and I think K enjoyed herself, which is the main thing. And now it's only a month to the wedding!
marjorie73: (Default)
My sister is getting married in August, and some time ago, I, perhaps foolishly, agreed to make one tier of the cake. Mine is the bottom tier, which means it is BIG - 12" x 12".
All the ingredients

I woke up early this morning, and headed out to buy ingredients.. the recipe calls for almost 6lbs of dried fruit, as well as 9 eggs, over 1lb of butter, and a fair bit of brandy. All of which turns out to be quite heavy.
Brown paper and string
Once I got back to the house, I started on the weighing and measuring, and also on what turned out to be the trickiest part of the whole enterprise, the lining and wrapping of the tin. It had to have two layers of greaseproof paper inside, and two layers of brown paper outside.the purpose being (I assume) to provide some insulation so that the outer extremities of the cake don't burn while you wait for the middle to be cooked. For the same reason, you sit it on a pad of newspaper in the oven, and make it a little hat out of greaseproof paper to wear after the first hour or so of cooking.

I've never made a christmas/wedding cake this large before. In fact, I don't think I have ever made this kind of cake on my own before, and although I have been party to christmas-cake making at home with my mother, I haven't done that for about 10 years. So I was a little bit nervous, especially as the recipe I am using has quantities and timings based on round cakes (up to 9" Diameter) whereas I was making a Square cake (12" square) I spent a lot of time last night doing calculations, and looking through my recipe books for similar cakes, to work out how much of everything I might need - at one point, based on volumes and the 1969 Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, I was up to 17 eggs, but I decided that was probably excessive, and would need a taller tin.

Actually making the cake probably took about an hour, and the actaul mixing is surprisingly hard work (physically) there's a lot of resistance in all that butter and sugar and flour and black treacle.
for size reference: the mixing bowls are each 12" across

However, the mixture ended up looking pretty much how I expected it to look, which is always a good sign, and when I ladled it all into my carefully lined and wrapped tin it filled it without having any left over, so it looks as through I got the quantities about right.

After a little over 3 hours in the oven, the cake seemed done.

It will be spending the next few weeks carefully wrapped in paper and then foil, being fed a spoonfull of brandy once a week, before it is brought out to be covered in marzipan, after which my responsibility will come to an end, as I am not going to ice the cake - I believe my mother is going to be doing that, for all three tiers.

I may cheat and buy ready to use marzipan, instead of making it, depending on how much time I have. That wouldn't make me a bad person, would it?

The colour scheme of the wedding is blue and white, and the decorations are nautically themed (K&C met through sailing). I believe that the plan is to have sail-based decoration on the cake - something similar to this, although I think without any people.

Which reminds me - I don't think I shared the lovely invitation - each one was individually hand-made by K - the love-knot is made with real string, which is a nice touch.

And as it turned out that this June day has been characterised by torrential rain, and occasional hail, I feel that the decision to stay indoors and bake a cake was a good one!
marjorie73: (Default)
This weekend was a bank holiday, and I had pondered whether I  might be able to meet, and perhaps go sailing with, my sister and soon-to-be-brother-in-law, but it turned out thet they weren't going to be home, so instead I arranged to go to Devon and spend the weekend with my parents.
And it then turned out that both of my sisters were planning to do the same, so it ended up with all 3 of us (plus K's fiance, C) being there for the weekend, which was lovely.
It traditionally pours with rain over the august bank holiday, and this one was no exception - I drove down after I finished work on Friday evening, and the drive was NOT fun - lots of very heavy rain, standing water, and, of course, the kind of drivers who don't realise that rain makes a difference to driving....

However, once I arrived, there was food, and wine, and company, and lots of catching up to do.
On Saturday there was more rain, and then during the afternoon all of us other than my dad went in to Barnstaple to look at possible dresses for E&I to wear in out role as bridesmaids, and for my mum to wear in her capacity of mother of the bride. We didn't buy anything, but we did quite a lot of trying on. (actually, most of it was getting my mum to try stuff on.)
On Sunday, K&C went to church (On the basis that it seems only polite to go occasionally, to the church where you wish to get married) while the rest of us had a nice long lie-in, then we headed out in order to meet up with my uncle and aunt, who live just down the road from my parents.
We all met up at the  Hunters Inn,where we had a pub lunch (and some rather nice beer) followed by a short walk down the valley to Heddons Mouth.
The walk takes one along near the little river, down to a tiny, pebbled beach, framed by steep cliffs.
It's beautiful - and after a wet morning, the sun came out, and the sea and sky were both blue and white and windswept and beautiful.

Walking abck up the valley, the younger half of the party crossed the river using stepping-stones, and the older half stayed on the same side of the river they started on, and walked back that way - until we met up at a small, Billy-Goats-Gruff style bridge, and walked the last stretch back in company.
It was a very nice afternoon.
In fact, it was a very nice weekend, despite the rain.


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