plEAsurable ~ wedding celebrations

What a gorgeous day it has been today (Wednesday) – sunny, dry and with a chill in the air –  it was identical weather on this same date November 14th ten years ago in 2008 for my younger daughter’s wedding day.

She married at St Mary’s Church just off the main square in the small market town of Masham, North Yorkshire.

This is me on the left with my mum and sister – all of us lookng a bit younger!

The wedding bouquets were made by a florist in a tiny shop in Bedale and were absolutely beautiful – deep, rich Autumn colours.To save on costs we added in a few bunches of our own courtesy of the cheap bouquets sold at the local Co-op the day before, together with a bunch of Hypericum and eucalyptus from our local market stall!  These were used to fill the jars we hung on the railings and Shepherd’s hooks in the Church grounds.Luckily my daughter wanted a home-made country look for her wedding so we were able to work to quite a tight budget.

We made the confetti from a mix of honesty seed pods, hydrangea petals and pressed montbretia petals, this gave us the vibrant oranges and the honesty is so light it makes wonderful confetti.  The mixture was then put into cellophane bags (collected from those used to package birthday cards) and decorated with a natural raffia bow.We used a professional photographer that was both fun and willing to take a mix of formal and more informal shots.  He certainly kept all our guests entertained with his humour and he took us all for a wander around Masham capturing some very unusual scenes – these are two of my favourite – in the telephone box on the left and outside the Bah Humbugs shop.The reception was held in the local town hall and once the formal pictures had been taken outside the church we all walked round in procession to the venue led by the bride and groom – no need to hire any cars.  Local friends, neighbours and shopkeepers from Masham came out to cheer the happy couple.As the town hall is not considered a normal wedding venue these days we had to hire in tables and white linen cloths from a local caterers and we added the plain orange napkins.  The chairs were supplied with the room but were rather shabby so one of biggest expenses was the hire of the Lycra chair covers and organza bows but this made all the difference to the room and the locals said they had never seen the town hall looking so good!

We had to lay all this out ourselves the evening before the wedding – we had loads of helpers and whilst we were busy moving and laying and tying and draping the local amateur dramatics society were rehearsing their muder mystery play on the stage.  It was a bit bizarre!

The centre pieces we made ourselves too – we bought some inexpensive large hurricane vases from Ikea and filled them with tiny dried pumpkins and a pillar candle.  Around the base we placed a ring of twigs picked up on a few country walks then soaked and twisted into shape.The favours were in plain calico bags decorated with pine cones and dried ferns with hand written craft labels.For the pew ends we bought rustic twig hearts and added a natural raffia bow.We had a wonderful and fun day finishing with a rousing Ceilidh with music by The Applejacks.

This weekend the whole family will be gathering for a celebration to mark both their tenth wedding anniversary and the birth of their second daughter.  We are a family blessed.

 

 

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mEAndering ~ out and about at my favourite gardens

Another scorcher yesterday – I have spent everyday this week and last with so much suncream plastered onto my skin in an attempt not to burn.

We decided to ditch the gardening and go and visit someone elses!  We went up the road to my favourite gardens on the Stair Estates at Castle Kennedy.   DH’s granddad used to be the head gardener here for the late Lord Stair from the late 20’s to early 60’s and DH lived here for a while with his mum, dad, granny and granddad in the head gardeners house.

The old castle is a ruin but quite atmospheric and stands in the most beautifully kept gardens between the White and Black Lochs.  We visit often when in Scotland and have seen many changes over the years but overall it is much the same now as it was years ago.   It is such a favourite place that my elder daughter held her wedding reception here in 2016.

We put up a marquee beside the old castle (which was built before the 14th century) and of course the equally old tea room.

It looked really pretty at night with the rows of candles in jam jars and fairy lights  placed along the open window ledges and in the bushes.

 

It was a really magical place to be even though that marquee took some decorating – looking back I am not sure how we managed to do it all.

The quaint tea room in particular holds fond memories for us.  We have photos of it through the many years we have visited.  It is no more than a rickety old pavilion style hut similar to the ones found on a cricket pitch.  At one time painted dark green but more recently was given a fresh coat of National Trust cream.

Tea Room

The floor inside tended to slope a bit more with each passing year and if you looked closely the legs on the tables had been expertly adjusted to keep the top level mainly by fitting different sized wooden blocks to the underside of the legs or even sawing bits off.  I always enjoyed my afternoon teas there on a slant.

So this dear little ‘tea hut’ had to be part of the wedding – we thought of it as an old friend and so was guest of honour. We decorated the outside with bunting and our guests had afternoon tea served on the picnic tables outside.

We heard from various staff that the new Lord Stair keeps threatening to pull it down and build a Visitor Centre – if he does I will cry.   I am always nervous on our first visit of the year and wonder if it has had the chop so what a surprise we had today when we found it has had a makeover during the winter months and very subtly done too.  They have managed to keep all of its old charm whilst giving it a new lease of life and a disability ramp.  And more importantly a reprieve.  Notice too it has now got a smart new litter bin!

Tea Room

Inside the floor has been levelled and the old Lino replaced with new wooden flooring.  The side entrance has been blocked up and the painted benches round the walls removed – but all in all I approve even if I miss the wobbliness.

Tea Room inside

Castle Kennedy is famous for its rhododendrons, the round Water Lily pond (which covers an area of 2 acres), the Monkey Puzzle Avenue and the beautiful walled garden.

Lily Pond

The Stairs now live in the ‘new’ castle built in the mid 19th century at the lower end of the gardens you can walk as far as their own private lawns surrounding the castle and get a good view of this magnificent stately home complete with fairytale turrets.  With its modern Victorian plumbing it must have been quite something in its day.

 

For all the grandeur of the place one of my favourite ‘hidden from view’ places is this abandoned old potting shed – it is round the back of what was the old greenhouse just inside the rusty iron gate marked private.  I must have a photo from 2009 which looks exactly the same – maybe just a bit more on the lean now!

Potting Shed

Walled Garden

The walled garden is spectacular in summer and it is here that we go to do some sketching – I tend to draw and paint the flowers – DH will often attempt the castle – but then an architect cannot go wrong with a building to draw.

We had the initial drinks reception in the walled garden – a place where we have many pictures of the girls in earlier years with the same backdrop!

This is a glimpse of me from a previous year sat sketching on my little stool like the garden gnome!

mmm…a bit rusty…certainly need more practice but I enjoyed myself and it was pleasant to be immersed in something for a while that is non too strenuous.

And for one time only I will leave you with a picture of me (with my brother and sister at my daughter’s wedding) – I’m on the right in my posh frock and bonnet!

Back soon x

dEAr diary ~ the best of Italy

Firstly, welcome to my readers and followers – both new and old friends – and many apologies to blog friends for my lack of comments over the last few weeks.

I am finding now I have time to comment that I cannot comment on the usual sites I visit.  The open ID option on the drop down on blogger does not seem to be available  – only the Google account – and I am locked out of this at the moment – has something changed in blogland?

So much news to tell.  I will begin in beautiful Italy at the wedding in the park.

The wedding was amazing.  We gathered beneath a canopy of trees in the tiny local park located off the main square by the town hall in Cornedo.  It was a beautiful hot sunny day and we were glad of the dappled shade.  The bride and groom arrived together in a classic white sports car and walked hand in hand along the carpeted path strewn with rose petals to the little ceremony area in the centre of a gravelled circle edged with canvas chairs for the guests.

The marriage was conducted in Italian and there was a lot of cheering and clapping throughout by the Italians.  Afterwards we mingled and chatted amongst the guests, taking photos and admiring the dress and flowers then we drove up into the surrounding hills to this restaurant for the reception.

The views surrounding us were stunning and we relaxed outside on the terrace shaded by the large canvas parasols and ate delicious Italian style canapes from paper cones.  Eventually we were called inside to the dining area and began the twelve course menu.

We grazed our way through one dish after another of the most wonderful Italian food – food for the Italians is very important  and each dish is served and savoured separately with everyone taking breaks here and there between courses.  Part way through the bride and groom played an Italian style Mr and Mrs game outdoors and we even had a walk up to the local church and back before returning to our seats to continue eating!

Afterwards, we danced outside in the twilight to live music and the groom  joined the band to sing to his bride…so romantic.   Their first dance ‘I want to be like you’ from The Jungle Book was certainly different and entertaining and set the scene for a great evening.

The next day we moved from countryside to city.  Vicenza, is packed with history, artifacts and imposing buildings that once belonged to the wealthy merchants and nobles.  Shopping here is certainly an experience – stylish shops and bars line the main thoroughfare.  I was tempted to buy on a few occasions.

We spent our time exploring down the narrow winding streets where the grand ‘palatial’ buildings towered above us.  The main square of the  Piazza dei Signori is home to the recently restored Basilica Palladiana – this was a shopping mall in its time selling luxury goods.

Our apartment,  Le Dimore del Conte, is housed within the 15th century Palazzo Sesso, the building immediately behind the statue above on the Piazza del Castello. To the right is the unfinished building Palazzo Porto started by Andrea Palladio, the 16th century architect, and originally commissioned as a replacement for the less grand Palazzo Sesso.  Quite a curiosity, the building was never completed and remains in this part finished state today.

Life in Vicenza has a casual air about it.  Plenty of time to read the paper, walk the dog or both at once!   Plenty of time to sit and socialise and watch the world go by.  The Italians certainly have balance in their lives between work and play.

Parco Querini

After 3 days in Vicenza we moved on to stay in the old historical part of Mestre just outside Venice.  Staying in Venice itself was unfortunately just too expensive for this trip but the tram is so easy to catch from Mestre and it takes you across the water in a matter of minutes.

If you have never been to Venice then add it to your list as a must – it is such a magical place – like entering onto a theatre set.  It is, of course,  essential to do the touristy spots such as St Mark’s Basilica  and the Doge’s Palace but then move out to the less popular streets not far away and there are many hidden treats to be found that show aspects of the real daily life for Venetians.

 

On the last day we took a boat trip down the Grand Canal and out to Murano and Burano – fascinating Islands in the lagoon.  Burano in particular is very interesting  – it seemed a place that might be quite bleak in the winter and is maybe why the houses are painted such bright colours.  They are fisherman’s homes so quite small in comparison with the affluent homes of their rich cousins in Venice itself and a much more down to earth place.  The ladies here are quite proud of their lace making and entice you into their little shops dotted along the canal side to admire their handiwork and watch them at work.

After a whole week of sunshine and high temperatures this was the only time it rained – but the drizzle and the umbrellas only added to the atmosphere.

All too soon it was time to come home…back to the turbulent world of work!

More of my new in my next post.

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