Thursday, July 02, 2015

A Country Wedding

Invited well in advance, we had time to frame a gift picture from the “Ship Shapes” series and buy rail tickets to a family wedding near Christchurch in Hampshire.
            Arriving at Waterloo Station, we were surprised to have our voices drowned out by the noise from an Um-Pah band from Munich. Just why they were playing on an English station concourse was a mystery that remained unsolved. But it did make rail travel somewhat more interesting.
            A panorama of top-hatted and morning-suited men, and women in skin-tight dresses with disk hats perched on the side of their heads and shod in the highest of heels, appeared also to be on their way to a wedding. But no. We learned that they were heading for a day out at the Ascot horse races.
            After a leisurely journey picnic of foie gras and then cheese and pickle sandwiches – both downed with cold white wine and then red, we reached our harbour-side hotel. Here we were installed in a pokey room, where the window led directly, and at arm’s length, on to an unadorned, stucco-faced wall. Some action was needed.
            Moreover, The array of electric tumble-switches was so complicated that even help from a hotel receptionist failed to solve all the problems – one being scorching heat in the internal shower room cubicle and this room’s inability to extract air.
            Margreet, being Dutch, unlike the English who tend to exert stoicism and acceptance in life, arranged that we would have a far nicer room for our second night’s stay.
            We strolled around the verge of the tidal Christchurch Harbour, that was pleasantly clear of the usual kiss-me-quick seaside adornments.
            An unusual sight was to see off-shore dredgers lifting sand from the sea bed.
            A winter storm had swept a quantity of sand along the coast and away from its original and rightful position. This sand was being reclaimed, and returned to where it belonged.
            Unaware of the reasons for such an operation, it seemed, to the casual observer, to be a rather expensive way to reverse the course of nature.
            The noon wedding in our hotel was conducted by a Scotswoman who, in her address, mentioned “our country”. Presumably, now that our two countries are redefining themselves, she meant Scotland.
            There was a break before the “wedding breakfast” at three o’clock in the afternoon. And after the three course “breakfast” there was a rest gap before evening disco dancing in the hotel’s basement. This was a huge success with the children of the wedding, who had been acting and dressed for a smart occasion and could now, at last, go wild with much noise and acrobatic dancing activities.
            It was here that we wished the bride and groom well, said our farewells to family, and were able to retire and sit by our new room’s balcony/window to watch darkness fall over the harbour, and to sip wine left over from our railway picnic.
            Fading evening light, seen through the branches of an ancient cedar tree, and with gulls moving silently inland from sea water at dusk, we relaxed after a well-ordered country wedding that had a charmingly parochial Hampshire/Dorset flavour to it.