Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Mission Impossible 3

Went to see Mission Impossible 3 last night. A couple of hours of enjoyable tosh, although they seemed at points to have run out of ideas - eg when Ethan Hunt breaks into a high security building to steal a thingy, but you don't see how he does it - he just appears again a couple of minutes later, having nicked it. And you never find out what it actually is. Could they not have come up with something?

Pleased to see Simon Pegg providing the British geek contingent though, and as far as mindless films go it ticked pretty much all my boxes.

Although can I just say to Redruth cinema - half an hour's worth of adverts (and two trailers) is too bl**dy long! Especially when the place is full of small children, they're going to get bored before the thing starts! I know I was. At least until we got the Pirates of the Carribean trailer, anyway. Can't wait for that...

Monday, May 29, 2006


Went to see Mirrormask last night, at the Falmouth Arts Centre. Glad I'd bought tickets the day before, as this enabled us to stroll smugly past the long last minute queue into the street.

It was a mixed audience, from grandkids to grandparents, but the vast majority appeared to be art students - and the place was absolutely jam-packed (last night of a three-night run). Waited somewhat nervously to see what kind of fidget level we were going to be subjected to, as the initial noise level was such that you couldn't actually hear the adverts, but I have to say, I don't think I've ever been in a more silent audience once it kicked off. (This apart from the girl next to me, who gave a hysterical giggle at the beginning of each new scene - regardless of what was on screen. Once I'd decided to think of her as one more peculiar creature from the film, this became less irritating).

It's got a bit of a slow beginning, but once it gets going, it's fabulous. Part Labyrinth, part Tanith Lee's Red Unicorn, with bits of Legend thrown in, only all rather weirder. (Was also chuffed to recognise Stephen Fry's voice as the Librarian). Visually stunning, I think is how this can best be described, with a very strong cast. And if the plot structure is basically Labyrinth, that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's A Gas

A letter arrived to say that the gas people would be sending a man in to give us a new meter, as their records showed ours was of a type out of date.

This, unfortunately, necessitated clearing out the under stairs cupboard. It's surprising how much tat you can wedge into a cupboard, you know. Enough to completely cover the floor of the kitchen when all laid out, it transpires. And why, exactly, was I keeping a carrier bag full of polystyrene packing pellets? And several carrier bags full of, er, carrier bags.

Anyway, having been given a day (naturally no projected time, just a whole working day), we installed one set of parents and went off to work. Upon return, I expected to find some new snazzy digital contraption or something, but no - it's exactly the same as the old one, just cleaner. I feel cheated. Particularly as, having initially congratulated myself on making so much room in the cupboard by throwing out rubbish, I now keep coming across boxes that I hadn't put back in yet.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Boxing Clever (Or Not)

A line in an email to one of m'colleagues:

"Thank you very much for all my birthday goodies - it was like Pandora's box."

So - she gave you all the evils of the world? how mean!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The First Great Western Blues

So, there I was, Monday morning, first day back at work after two weeks off. Rock up to the station at 08:00, to discover - no trains. For TWO WEEKS. Not only this, but the rail replacement coach went at 07:30, meaning I'd missed it by half an hour, and the next one scheduled would mean not getting to work until 10:00. Not good.

So I speed walk down to the town centre to get a bus. Which I then watch pull out and pass me nary a minute shy of the stop. GAH!

Reader, I had to get a taxi. Twenty-two quid to Truro station. Mmph. Although fair (fare?) do's* to the driver, he quoted me that and then turned off the machine when it reached it, even though we were still stuck in traffic a few minutes (and therefore several quid) away.

So I get out the taxi and see the bus to the hospital pulling out across the road and motoring into the distance. GAHx2.

Turns out you can walk Truro station to Treliske in just over 15 minutes (for those unfamiliar, this is quite a long way, and up hill. Usually takes me 25 minutes, and I walk fast at the best of times).

Oh, and did I mention it was raining on me?

So anyway, fast forward to yesterday (which is an odd sort of phrase) and we get on the coach to come home again. Coach won't start. Coach very much dead.

They do, surprisingly, have a replacement, but this is an ordinary town circular bus with very very hard seats. And then there's an accident on the main road home, so we are stuck in traffic for AGES. And all the while the person in the seat behind me is sniffing, wetly and loudly, ALL THE WAY HOME. Ick.

Today the bugger starts, which is an improvement, but when we've oh-so-nearly made it to the final stretch (and just after I've started wondering why we've come this way instead today, which is far bloody longer), an accident just ahead of us blocks the whole road. This means the driver reversing a big coach a long way down a twisty road** in the wrong lane, past the queued traffic and then driving ALL THE WAY BACK to the previous station, to take the other road (the way we should have gone in the first place). And this time I had someone talking very loudly on a mobile right behind me all the time.

So, what's going to go wrong tomorrow do we reckon?

-- --
* Should that apostrophe be there? I can't decide. These things worry me.
** Into Ponsanooth, from the Treluswell end.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Mummy’s Curse? He’d probably just been charged £6.50 for a crap exhibition

Last fry-up of the week, followed by a trip back into Dorchester to look at the Tutankhamen exhibition. Now this is supposedly recreating the treasures from the tomb with authentic materials and techniques, but the whole experience was incredibly badly put together. There was no soundproofing between displays, so while you were trying to listen to one explanation it was drowned out by a bewildering mix of the music from the foyer and the "dramatic" bit from ahead., and this was the case all the way through. The displays were ordered in a very odd fashion, meaning that introductory passages were situated beyond displays referring back (forward?) to them, and there were walls' worth of printed text to read. And of the things pushed on the leaflet: "the sights and sounds and SMELLS of Ancient Egypt" - well, I'm sorry, but the only thing I could smell was the stench of fresh paint, so I felt thoroughly sick by the time we came out.

Having recovered ourselves somewhat with a good ketchup-y burger and a dubious pasty (you can take the boy out of Cornwall...) we traveled east to the very nice town of Wimborne Minster. I wanted to see the Chained Library in the Minster, and for once our luck was in, and not only was it open but it was only a donation of 50p to see it. Up a spiral staircase (this day was definitely looking up) it was staffed by marvelouslyly knowledgeable and entertaining elderly lady in definite Margaret Rutherford style.

Back into the sunshine for a blackcurrant ice cream and onwards for the last stop of the day - Kingston Lacey stately home. This was the house that the lady of Corfe Castle and her family moved to after the sacking of the castle in the Civil War. Impressive carpets of bluebells on the Lime Walk, and the best (strongest) cup of tea we'd bought all week in the teashop!

Stopped at the Hare & Hounds (actually open!) for a pint on the way home, to round off the week in appropriate style.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Escape to River Cottage

First port of call today was West Bay, which was known as Bridport Harbour until at some point the Railway decided they wanted it to sound a bit more resort-ified. Walked round the harbour wall (bought chips) and then onto the beach, below the spectacular East Cliff which rises steeply from nothing on the shingle beach, a sheer sandstone face facing the sea.

The plan for the afternoon was to take a walk through Netherbury village and along the footpath by the river Brit for a pint (or two) at the Hare and Hounds at Waytown (about a mile and a half away by road). This was somewhat curtailed by the discovery that the pub was shut (what is it about Dorset pubs and shutting in the afternoon? Do Cornish people just drink more or something?).

Still, it was a lovely walk, with bluebells and wild garlic filling the hedgerows, and, AND, we found River Cottage, as in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage (well, until a couple of years ago anyway). I'd worked out it had to be round here somewhere, on the grounds that he once canoed down the Brit, and it's only really deep enough from here, but still, turns out to be right where we're staying! Well, I'm easily pleased. Got jumped on by the large, scary (and fortunately friendly and reasonably well behaved) dog of whoever's staying there now. Remind me why putting on a clean white top was a good idea?

Back at the cottage, the weather still being spectacularly summerey (saw an orange tip fritillary, not seen one for years), we spent the afternoon in the garden with cheese and chutney baps and a bottle of champagne. Who needs pubs, eh?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Two Go Adventuring Again

After another heart-clogging fry-up, we headed east to Purbeck, destination Corfe Castle. This was the inspiration for Enid Blyton's Kirrin Castle, complete with jackdaws on the tower. In the appealing stone-and-slate village of Corfe Castle is the tiny Ginger Pop shop, which sells various period trinkets and Blyton books, as well as running children's Blyton-based activity tours. Didn't find anything to buy, but was pleased to recognise the lady behind the counter as the one I'd seen when the company was on the telly...

Corfe Castle is what you might call a 'proper' castle, complete with battlements and towers and moat and, you know, castley stuff. A favourite haunt of King John, it was finally captured and blown up in the Civil War, after the Lady of the castle held out in two sieges until betrayed from within the castle. Sadly the main keep was cordoned off, as some of the masonry had become unsafe (blame the Roundheads, presumably).

The weather was the hottest it's been, like the height of summer, and the castle had at least two school parties visiting - groups of small children kept scuttling past, earnestly discussing the merits of short vs longbows, or doing enthusiastic impressions in the garderobe...

After emerging from the castle, we took a trip on the Swanage steam railway which runs from Corfe Castle (actually the first stop is three minutes further up) down to Swanage (about 20 minutes away). Lovely to see the castle emerging from the surrounding hills on the way back, and then to alight amidst the steam and go for an ice cream in the sweltering heat, then pop into Marbler's teashop for a toasted tea cake and lemonade (or Dorset apple cake & ice cream and tea). Very Enid Blyton, I felt.

A brief stop then in Wareham, which appeared to be largely shut, but we acquired petrol and cash and did have a very pleasant half of Badger (what did they do with the other half, I want to know), in the Old Granary Pub by the river.

"Where is it we're going? Dumbledore?"
Bit of a geology field trip on the cards next, as we made our way through the army ranges ("Beware: Sudden Gunfire. Tracked vehicles: 20mph limit") to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door (avoiding the half hour walk between by discovering that the car park ticket was valid at both sites). Spectacular scenery, where the cliffs have variously buckled or eroded at varying speeds to produce the circular cove and blowhole at Lulworth, and the sea arch at Durdle Door.

Walked down the steps to Man At Arms beach - the sea was calm as a millpond, and beautifully clear - but I wouldn't fancy swimming off this coast, as the shore shelves alarmingly steeply into the water.

Stopped off in Bridport on the way back to pick up fish and chips, which were very nice, but came with the most spectacularly slow service - the usual thing of lots of people behind the counter getting in each others' way and talking all the time but not actually getting on with serving the customers.

Huge thunder and lightening storm as we were going to bed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"St Augustine's Well." "Is he? That's nice."

Cerne Abbas was the first stop today, reached through lots of little lanes and villages - crossed a ford, saw lots of bluebells under an avenue of massive beech trees, and saw a bullfinch. Driving down into the village, had a marvellous view of the Giant - better than the one from the 'official' viewing area, which is too far down the hill to get a good angle. Took some photos then wandered through the village in search of a pub for lunch.

Ended up in the Royal Oak (pint of Fursty Ferret), all timber framing and wooden benches and cushions - very nice food too, if a bit pricey - I had a steak pannini with cheese and caramelised onions (which came with crisps and a large pile of posh salad, bits of which I even ate) and Chris had a cheese Ploughman's, which came with four huge lumps of different cheeses and its own pot of Royal Oak relish (Gooseberry and Coriander. Errr.). The barman spent most of the time we were there wrangling on the phone with Orange who had sent him a phone he hadn't ordered, then said they'd bill him for cancelling it. Then billed him anyway. He wasn't overly chuffed...

Took some pictures of Cerne Abbas village, which has a collection of wonderfully picturesque old buildings, and was mysteriously deserted - decided we'd obviously slipped into an episode of the Avengers...Had a look at the ruins of Cerne Abbey, then walked through the cemetery to St Augustine's Well, which is a very pretty, tranquil spot.

Drove back to Bridport via the main Dorchester road, and spent some time looking round. Nice little market town, with some good shops including a fishmonger with fresh local catches - bought some mackerel - several greengrocers - bought local purple sprouting broccoli - and bread - bought a farmhouse loaf ("Which one's that then? Do you know how much it is?" Er, no, because you're the one working here?).

Back at the cottage, wrote out some postcards - there's a postbox conveniently opposite the parking area - collections 9am daily.

Monday, May 08, 2006

"As in Maid-in Taiwan?"

Raining in the morning, so got up late and did a big fry-up. A local cat (we shall call him Stumpy) came to visit us, grey tabby with a white bib, big ears, golden eyes and missing half its tail. Very friendly and ran in as soon as I opened the door, rolled around our feet for a bit before wandering out again.

Finally headed out around midday for Dorchester, and by the time we arrived the sun had come out. Spent a couple of hours in the Dorset County Museum, which is centred on a purpose built Victorian hall. Collections of archaeology, wildlife (you can't beat stuffed animals in a local museum, love em. No, really.), local civic history, some local mosaics, literary (including a recreation of Thomas Hardy's study and bits relating to John Cowper Powys). A proper museum, with copper-plate handwritten yellowing signs and everything. Fantastic.

Wandered up the main shopping street afterwards, buying essentials like washing up liquid and a bath mat and proper sized bowls, and loo roll (did I mention we only got one? And I don't think that was complete). Went into Waitrose, on the grounds that I'd never been in one before, and acquired some very nice Danish pastries.

Next stop was nearby Maiden Castle, the largest Iron age hillfort in the country. With Neolithic origins, it was occupied into the Roman period with a later temple being built up there after occupation had moved down to what would become Dorchester. It covered an area bigger than 50 football pitches, with massive ramparts with complicated staggered earthworks at the east and west entrances.

The museum earlier had a lot of material from when Sir Mortimer Wheeler excavated here in the 30's. Walked all the way round the ramparts, the weather was the clearest it's been for days and we could see for miles. At its height, the hill fort controlled an area larger than modern Dorset. Lost my handkerchief to a gust of wind, very breezy up there, and with fencing to stop the sheep grazing the top falling all the way down there was no way short of a long walk and a steep climb to get it back!

Back to the cottage through the narrow local lanes for tea and biscuits (one thing about a wedding reception, you end up with a large amount of confectionery to work through). The place still smells odd to come back to, so I'm trying a combination of fresh air and Nag Champa incense - assuming I don't set the smoke alarm off of course...Stumpy came casually wandering through the open door for another visit. Big Waitrose burgers and Abbotsbury relish for dinner.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"For £7.50, I want swan-in-a-bap"

A beautiful morning, and we had coffee and toast in the garden, where we were visited by a friendly robin.

Drove to Chesil Beach, a huge bank of pebbles stretching along Lyme Bay to Portland. Walked up the slope to look down on the sea, and all along the shore in both directions were groups of fishermen. We walked along the coast path to Abbotsbury Swannery, which is located on the Fleet, the brackish lagoon behind Chesil Bank. With a history going back hundreds of years, it was mentioned as a source of food for the medieval monastery there, but the mute swans have probably been nesting there as long as the Fleet was there to provide a food source. Had very good coffee and fruit cake in the cafe, the cakes are made on site.

It was nesting time, and everywhere as you walk through are the swans sitting on their huge nests, regally ignoring you. Lots of other wildfowl mingling with the swans, mostly mallard and moorhen, but we saw a black swan, and shelduck.

There is a list posted of birds spotted on the site in the last few weeks, and the signage is very good all the way through, updated with the latest info. As well as display on reedbed management and history, you can see a bouncing bomb, as tested on the Fleet and dredged up a few years ago! Wandered through the gift shop (bookmark and chutney) and back to the car (saw several kestrels on our way there and back again).

Drove out to Portland and the lighthouse at Portland Bill. Hadn't realised how big the headland was, there are whole towns on it. Bit of a grim feel to it, although how much that was due to the now once more grey and cold weather is debatable. Had a look at the lighthouse and Pulpit Rock (saw a wheatear). The landscape has something of a Blake's 7 set feel to it, what with the hewn rocks and the MOD enclosure. We attempted to buy some tea at the Pulpit Inn, but having let us order drinks (halves of Ringwood) they stiffly informed us that that was all finished and they were closing in 20 minutes (4pm). Bet Avon never had this problem.

Drove instead to a viewpoint overlooking Weymouth harbour (I think, it was very foggy) and had a cheeseburger and a bacon roll from a van, freshly cooked and tables to sit at. Who needs a roof, eh? Drove down into Weymouth and through the centre, but at 20 to five on a Sunday there wasn't a lot of point in stopping, so drove back through Bridport.

Very pretty villages in this area, and saw one of the other cottages we'd considered (in Burton Bradstock), but it was right next to the main road, so definitely made the right decision where we are. Back to the cottage for tea and cake. Cooked pasta for dinner, and watched Top Gear and Supernatural. Sorted.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Greengrocers' Apostrophe

Woke up to a glorious morning over the beach, and tea and coffee delivered to the door at 8am. Down to breakfast at half past, where we were the first ones in, so got to sit in the window looking out over the sea. There was a choice of cereals and fruit to start with, I had one of the posh yogurts, in a little glass pot, blackcurrant and very creamy. We were given big glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and cafetieres of coffee (they do do good strong coffee here!). We both went for the English breakfast, avoiding the mushroom option, and me the black pudding. Very good (especially the sausage), although as we commented later, a restrained plateful. For £320 per night, I want both halves of the tomato, please.

Checking out around 10:30, we were driven back across the beach and released from the holding pens. Had decided we would 'do' Lyme Regis en route, as we didn't have to be at the cottage until 5pm, although sadly the weather closed in until it was rather grey and cold and slightly rainy. Rather pleased with one roadside stall that we passed though, which promised "Potatoe's", "Straw-berri's" and "Beding plants".

Arrived in Lyme Regis where they are undertaking massive restructuring works on the foreshore, to strengthen and protect from the storms that blow in. Watched two big tipper-ships shuttling back and forth from a larger ship out at sea and dumping masses of shingle for the JCBs. Recognised the harbour as the launch point from the Three Grumpy Old Men in a boat series with Craig Rich, Chris Denholm and Ron Bendall, which I'd forgotten.

The tide was in, so we couldn't walk along the cliffs and look for fossils, so went into one of the fossil shops and bought one (a local ammonite). Big on fossils here - the street lights are wrought iron ammonites.

Had a rather lardy ice cream from a stall on the front, allegedly cherry and kirsch, but more like lard and er, lard really.

Found a good second hand bookshop (good in the sense of lots of higgledy piggledy stacks and staircases and piles of books and bric-a-brac, all with twenties music playing over the top, although not so much in the sense that didn't find anything I wanted to buy).

"It's all gone a bit Midsomer Murders"
Drove from Lyme Regis to Bridport, where we stocked up on basic provisions for the week in the Co-Op (gotta love these little local suppliers). Still a little early to get the key to the cottage, so drove past the turning for Netherbury and went on into Beaminster, which is very pretty, and had a pint of Copper Ale in the Red Lion.

Later, found the cottage which stands by itself with a secluded garden full of blossom. Bigger than it looked from the pictures, comprising living room, kitchen and bathroom downstairs, and one bedroom with sloping roof upstairs (and random garotting steel bars across the roof space).

Now, the location and the building were wonderful, but the execution left a little to be desired. I'm not one to complain, as you know (heh), but: a used cake of soap in the shower; no washing up liquid provided and dirty pan lids and scissors; a very odd (and, it turns out, persistent) antiseptic smell (possibly the air freshener I've unplugged, possibly not); exposed carpet tacks on the stairs (ow); no soup bowls (which meant two goes with weeny cereal bowls at dinner, which was soup). Also, appalling china (doll, teapot houses, hundreds of ornamental plates) and plastic flowers everywhere. So, tomorrow, we must purchase incense, washing up liquid, a tin opener and a bath mat. But, as I say, the cottage and garden is worth it all.

Had chicken soup and crusty bread for dinner, then collapsed to watch Dr Who and NCIS before turning in. Very eerie howling from outside as soon as we'd turned the light out...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Burgh Island

Departed Falmouth around half 12, having disposed in various ways of around 6,000 sausage rolls and other assorted debris from the reception. Got to Bigbury-on-Sea around 14:45, having been instructed when to arrive to coincide with the tides. We had to ring the hotel to inform them of our imminence, whereupon we were given the code to the car park, and someone was dispatched to fetch us. As the tide was indeed out, sadly we didn't get to ride on the sea tractor, being transported across the sand instead in a landrover (driven by Trevor).

The girl at reception was very friendly and helpful, and pleasingly dressed in a kind of twenties style tunic effort. We and our bags were taken up in the lift (rather cramped, only just room for three people and two bags), it did have one of those pull across gates though. Tipped the porter (£2, he seemed happy with it). Nearly all the staff are foreign, are they cheaper or just politer? They were all very, very good.

Our room was "Fruity" Metcalfe, on the second floor. We had a balcony, overlooking the beach, and you could see pretty much right the way round out to sea. The bathroom was massive, almost the same size as the bedroom itself, decorated in pink and black, and with one entire wall taken up with a huge mirror. The bed was fantastically comfortable, with lovely white linen embroidered with the Burgh Island logo, and sliver and purple cushions. The room had a complimentary box of chocolates (handmade, very nice, if you wanted another box of 8 (or it might have been 6), it was £8.50!).

Once settled, we wandered out again to explore the island. Lots of rabbits scuttling over the lawns and cliffs, and masses of violets in the grass. Passed the tennis court and the helipad, but disappointingly no corpses or Belgian detectives (although there was a pleasingly cross looking Major type arriving as we went out the door). Back at the hotel we had coffee on the terrace, looking out towards the Mermaid Pool, a natural sea-water bathing pool in amongst the rocks.

After a bit of a rest and a chance to plan out some trips for the following week, it was time to dress for dinner. Down to the Palm Court Bar under the Peacock Dome for cocktails just after 18:30. I had a Singapore Sling, which I've always wanted to try, and which was fabulous and Chris had a Sidecar. We were presented with a plate (actually a slate!) of canapes: tempura fish with tomato and chilli salsa; some sort of sushi roll with rice and avocado; a chicken crouton, oh and two random radishes, complete with leaves and root. All very nice though, and we sat by a fountain playing in a pool tiled with peacock mosaic patterns.

Then it was through to the ballroom for dinner, which comprised:
[I] Loin of rabbit with garlic cream (you could watch them frolicking over the cliffs outside in the meantime)
[C] Seared prawns with chorizo and broad beans - both dishes served with a choice of breads, we went for the honey and almond.
[I] Pan fried John Dory with capers, pine nuts, tomatoes and peach cream.
[C] Seared venison with sweet potato stuffing and baby veg
Raspberry Sorbet - sweet and soft and very raspberry-y. Served with three fresh raspberries, only bum note being that one of mine was mouldy. Very restrained and didn't flick it at the waiter, as he was very sweet and attentive, frequently popping up to pour water or wine or brush off the table. Coffee followed, with caramelised strawberries and physallis.

Returning to the room, we found that maid service had been in to close the blinds, turn down the bed and leave us bottles of water. The bathroom was stocked with REN shampoo, conditioner (although no shower, so no way of washing your hair with it!) and body wash, candle and matches and even Burgh Island embroideretowelingng robes. Went to bed with the window open, and the sound of the sea, now at high tide, swirling round the rocks below.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wedding Day - Brought To Account

"It's all gone a bit Challenge Anneka"
Up at sparrow-fart, on the grounds a/ that there's still lots to do and b/ if I fall asleep again I might not wake up in time. A cake to ice, a bouquet to tie, a reception hall to set up and decorate... Anyway, the last minute ivy headdress seems to work well, with the bits I couldn't work into the posy.

Get to the hall to discover a note on the door, to me, saying "I waited until 09:20, call me at home when you arrive." Well, that's very commendable, but I'd booked it from 10:00, and had the letter to prove it! Not a terribly good start, especially with only 2 hours before I was being picked up, but hey, there won't be many there that would be terribly surprised to see me get married in combat trousers. Possibly some surprised that I don't...

So the caretaker arrives and lets us in (I've acquired a James by this point), and we start shifting tables ("how do you want them?" Oh, you, know, casual but, er, structured"). Run back up to the house to collect some stuff (like tablecloths), cursing the fact that I'd completely failed to bring anything down on the first trip.

Back to the hall (this is quite a steep hill I'll running up and down with this lot, and not particularly close) and Chris(tine) arrives with the helium balloons. We put out jam jars of daffodils and with the purple, white and green tablecloths and napkins it's all starting to come together and look well impressive. A final trip to the house with Chris' car to load up the beer and cake, and the hall's ready. It's sometime after 11:00 and by this point I'm desperate for coffee.

There then follows what is possibly the swiftest bridal change in the history of bridal changes, I don dress, boots, earrings and ivy twist, and bonza: one bride, no waiting, coffee hasn't even perked yet.

There then follows half an hour of me pacing about and downing black coffee (ok going to the pub the night before probably wasn't advisable. Or maybe it was just the sixth pint that wasn't) and James ("official wedding henchman") smoking furiously on my behalf.

"You'll like this. Not a lot."
Emma and Alec arrive to drive me to the Registry Office, which for current purposes is situated in the Falmouth Hotel. Although this is at the side away from the car park, so you have to park on the seafront and walk up the road in full regalia, feeling like a prize tit. We meet Matt outside, so I'm able to walk in surrounded by circle of cohorts. This makes me feel somewhat less edgy.

We'd encountered the Registrar (looks like Paul Daniels) and Assistant Registrar (looks like Pauline from the League of Gentlemen. BIG glasses, and big on pens) before, so were somewhat prepared for them, and I THINK their antics were designed to put me at ease, but I could really have done without it. Plus, Paul (I will never be able to remember his actual name, and was in fact faintly surprised during the ceremony when he said it) was getting crosser and crosser with guests wandering in through the french windows of the ante-room where I was waiting - the fact that there is no parking near the entrance and it is not remotely well signed didn't seem to impinge. He did his best to convince me to go for the longer option with regards to phrasing, despite the fact that having previously agreed this, it would have confused matters somewhat - and despite this being an option they offered in the first place. He also kept wandering in and asking me if all our guests were there yet - how should I know? I'm not in the room you irritating little man. Why don't you ask Chris, who, presumably, is in there somewhere, and will be able to tell you if anyone is missing? Which I finally suggested to him, after the third time he asked me.

Eventually it was time to go in, which gave our Mr Daniels a second chance to have a crack at me, about the speed at which I was walking. Is there a law against punching Registrars?

The ceremony then proceeded, as these things do, and finally it was official, we'd done the ring thing, the register was signed, and we could venture out for photographs round the water feature. And I think Mr.D had only managed to irritate me three more times in the preceding ten minutes.

"Bind and twine"
From the hotel, we all convoyed our way to the hall, where it was fizz all round, take delivery of the fragrant tray of 50 pasties from the Choak's man and round up the guests that space had meant we could only invite to the handfasting.

Lead by Lawrence drumming and a Celtic piper (Jenny? I didn't catch her name, but she'd been press ganged to great effect by Steve, who was officiating) we headed a procession out into the sunshine and across the field by the hall, to where Steve had set up an altar and was waiting for us under the may blossom of the hedge. It struck me then, what a completely different feel this had to the earlier part of the day. All the tension and nerves had gone, meaning I could really enjoy this, whether it was knowing the person carrying out the ceremony or more than that, but it was fantastic. Feedback from everyone afterwards was very positive too, especially as the majority had had no idea what to expect!

The guests followed us in a procession up the field, and then stood behind us in a semi-circle, while we knelt, facing each other, across a broomstick. Steve, officiating, then declared the purpose of the ceremony, called on the local spirits of the place and the Old Ones to be welcome and to witness, and then bound our wrists together as we repeated after him the handfasting charm. Finally, we jumped over the broomstick together, symbolic of the leap into a new life. After that the mead cup was passed round, between us and along the line of guests before to the accompaniment of pipe and drum we made our way back to the hall.

"Let the Feasting commence!"
Pasties, beer, cakes, and all manner of titbits provided by the guests were devoured over the next few hours, as people had a chance to relax and to catch up with each other and to meet others they'd only heard about! With several people staying to help us tidy things up and away, we had the hall returned to its pristine state in time to return the key, whereupon we took ourselves up to the Boslowick Inn to continue the celebrations. We weren't that late home in the end, as we were fairly exhausted by this point - on the plus side, no need to cook dinner with all those surplus pork pies...


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Days to Wedding: 1

Now it has to be said there would be worse days to get a migraine (tomorrow, for starters), but I could really have done without having to make a cake without being able to see the recipe due to all the whizzy lights. And for this to be followed by the cake tins I bought especially so both halves would be the same size leaking all over the oven, necessitating the mixture to be bunged into one big tin that I now have no idea how long to leave in for. And to manage to drench myself with the shower attachment while cleaning the bath. I thought I was done with three things, but I just a/ burnt the fruit loaf I was toasting and then b/ frisbee'd it down the garden only to watch it sail over the fence into next door. All this means tomorrow should go well, yes? Or I want my money back...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Days to Wedding: 2

...and the weather keeps switching wilfully between summery sunshine and wintry cold wind and rain. Tonight's drizzle obviously co-inciding with the first barbeque of the season, for Chris's brother's partner's birthday (still with me?). I think the rest of them are still sat there getting damp, but (sadly) we had to leave as Chris had to go straight out again for his stag do. So if anyone's in the vicinity of Mabe tonight, and find a chap stripped naked and tied to a lamp-post...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Days to Wedding: 3

"Unite and unite, and let us all unite, for Summer is a-come unto day"

The 1st of May, and it was a glorious day in Padstow. Following the Red and Blue Osses round the narrow back streets meant we got a better and longer view than previously when we've tended to stick to the main areas, which are crammed shoulder to shoulder. Still plenty of opportunity to check off the traditional list of coffee, pasty, ice cream and chips in between times though...