The wedding of Catherine Bell and Christopher Nichols

Wed 18th April – My first morning walk in a T-shirt. OK I still need wellies for the ankle-deep mud but it’s sunny and warm and all’s well in the world.

So Thursday 12th I set off for my flight to East Midlands. I was due to walk my daughter up the aisle that Saturday. I was there in plenty of time and thought little of the full departure lounge but settled down to read. I heard the announcement for priority boarding and continued reading waiting for the main mass to start moving. I hadn’t realised that there was a flight straight after mine and that was what the crowd were also there for. I looked up and there was my flight about to taxi down the runway for take-off. Lounge exit doors locked.

Lets ignore the initial period of panic, the following disbelieving spluttering down the telephone from Delia and being ignored by the Ryanair flight desk. Wifi is wonderful, checking on-line, the next flight I could get was to Manchester, only 3 seats left so I booked, cancelled my car hire and rebooked that too. On the plus side, Manchester car hire was actually half the price. Still not what I wanted.

Landing in Manchester half an hour late (not my fault this time) and an hour faffing around with car hire meant I finally got to Gregynog Hall, the wedding venue, at about 8.15pm. The last half hour’s drive was guess-work as the battery for my tablet/satnav ran out. I did have a backup battery but that seems to just last 10 minutes. The in-car USB socket wanted to run an iPhone app which meant that the dash screen and my tablet had been fighting it out for the entire journey. Anyway I arrived and I had expected that only a few people would be there, it being the night before the wedding; so it was a lovely surprise to see almost everybody at dinner. Everybody being my ex’s-extended family as well as my children: Phil with Becca and his two children – Dexter and Lily, Catherine of course, and Adam come all the way from Brisbane and, with his blonde highlighted hair looking for all the world a surfer dude although a psychiatrist by trade. With Cath and Chris’ friends and his side of the family too there were dozens already here. There would be a total of about 120 for the wedding meal itself, not sure about after.

The next morning it was lovely to be able to wander the grounds chatting with new and old friends and relations.

Gregynog Hall

The gaggle of groomsmen were outnumbered by a flock of 8 bridesmaids who had each been allocated tasks ranging from “hen night organiser” to “wedding meal speaker”. Because of Chris’ masterful (Cath refered to him as groomzilla) wedding planning it all went as smooth as silk. I was privileged to walk Cath up the aisle and managed to do so without treading on her dress – actually not that easy as Cath held my arm and her dress spread out quite a bit. The ceremony was informal with readings and a beautiful song from Matthias, an alto tenor and on the road to being professional. Cath and Chris walked back down the aisle to a violin and piano rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

The food was wonderful and sitting at the “top” table looking down at the grubby hordes was nice. The speeches from best man, bride, groom and the “speech” bridesmaid were wonderfully personal, intimate and funny. The cake, made by Chris’ mother was beautiful, consisting of 3 layers of chai tea sponge with a thin lemon buttercream coating. It had a lovely marbled texture.

After their first dance to Bruce, the rest of the evening went as weddings usually do. I got to talk to many as we all descended into varying degrees of drunkenness. Me not so much because I had to drive the next morning and I went to bed about 1pm leaving many still partying (though the music had long since stopped).

I especially missed Delia at breakfast the next day. All the families were gathering and preparing to leave but it had been lovely to see so many I had used to know so well and to see how their lives and families had developed.

So off to Nottingham where I was due to have dinner with a friend/client and stay in other friends’ house (Mike and Sandra) who were out touring.

A50 closure notwithstanding the drive went without a hitch and I walked from my M&S’ house to where I was to share dinner. I was surprised to find Nick (Sandra’s son) and Grace (M&S’ neighbour). A very pleasant evening ensued. Just as Nick and Grace were about to leave I had started talking about Delia and my Quaker wedding which so intrigued my hosts that I had to stay and explain. Perhaps the fact that being a Quaker was a step on my road to critical thinking and humanism was a little unsettling for them but all stayed amicable. Though as we all drank more and more I think she feared for my immortal soul. I got back to M&S’ place unscathed by lightning bolts and without making any deals at the crossroads.

The next evening I was off to friends in Leicester for another dinner but had to get back early for an early start to ensure I didn’t miss my flight home! Unfortunately, the hire car had some damage – a plastic grill had been cracked. I have no idea how or when it happened and I suspect it was there already when I hired the car. Anyway I had to pay £480. I had used a third-party excess cover at £12.50 instead of the £140 the car hire people wanted to charge. This was to be my first such claim – it seems to have worked OK – the refund is due to appear in my account soon.

Getting off the plane in Limoges and was greeted by wonderful summer warmth. Apparently, although I had left in the cold, the UK was starting to experience a heat wave too. I’ve worn a t-shirt for the morning walks since then.

Something’s missing – 21 April 2018

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that last week Pat didn’t post a blog. This was because he was off in Wales walking his daughter down the aisle. The wedding went well and he will tell you all about it next week. I was meant to fill the void and put a special blog up, but well I was otherwise occupied. Partly with painting (furniture) and also out to dinner with a friend (it was her birthday this week). Overall I enjoyed a weekend to myself (and Siena still got her two walks a day).

For the past few weeks I’ve been painting a huge cupboard (it is in 2 sections) today I’ve finished the second part, which means tomorrow we can move it back into our bedroom and we can get back to normal, instead of having shoes and clothes spread across our bedroom, which I must admit I will be very happy to have everything put back away. I really dislike messiness especially in my house. I will have photos of the completed project soon.

So what else has been missing, well Spring for one thing, it had started to feel like Spring last week and then part way through this week went, sod this and summer arrived! It is wonderful, blue skies and heat. So much so that I even helped out in the garden today and my plan for tomorrow is more work in the garden. I’ve also had to dig out all my summer clothes. I’ve accomplished a very good clear out from what I didn’t wear over winter (it’s all off to the charity shop) but also getting rid of what does fit anymore. I was also selective with what summer items were pulled out as some of them I just don’t wear or are now too big. It’s been a fun thing to do.

I must admit it is hard planning the garden and what I want to do with it. I really don’t know a lot about plants and especially ones that are annual. So I do find it a struggle. However now that I’ve figured out that I need the garden to be easy to care for, it is making some of the decision making so much easier. There is La journée du jardinier (translates as Gardner’s day) tomorrow in one of the nearby villages and I’ve been before and it is a good place to buy plants. All I’m really after is some flowers and lavender plants, it will be a good opportunity to buy.

So for now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France.

Four years – one house – 07 April 2018

Last night Pat and I headed off to dinner to celebrate 4 years of living in our house here in France. We went to the same restaurant where we went the night we signed all the paperwork for the house 4 years ago. So this house is now official the 3rd longest I’ve ever lived somewhere and it won’t be long till it overtakes number 2.

It has also raised the thought for me, what makes a house a home. I think for me I’m still looking for the place that I feel “at home”. I think for a lot of people who have moved around a lot that it can be hard to find “that” place that feels like home. I think one of the reason’s I have been working over the past 4 years to modify this house is to help make if feel like mine (sorry Pat). This year I am working to making the garden something that I want it to be and after the past few years of experimentation in the garden I have discovered that I really need a garden that has a lot of colour in it – but that isn’t too much work, because gardening is not a thing I love.

Which leads me nicely on to the next point; I’m starting a new blog – one which will begin next week – it is going to be called “My journey to being fit, fabulous and 50”. For my family members that read this – the baby of the family is going to be 50 in a few years! And one of the things I will be covering in that blog is the thought process of doing more of what I love and less of what I feel I “should” do. However there will always be items that “need” to be done, that perhaps don’t bring as much joy as I would like, but contribute towards the final result. For example, working in the garden gives me something beautiful to enjoy and look at, but the working part isn’t something I particularly enjoy. So keep a look out next week for my new blog – Pat will put a link to it on his musings next week.

And as my picture today, 2 weeks ago I mentioned I was doing 2 small paintings that would be companion pieces here are the finished paintings. The 2nd one, like the first is a copy of another painting (or part of another painting) which was taken from the book “Painting in Watercolour, Florals That Glow” by Jan Kunz.

Until next week, à bientôt – Delia

Weight loss 3.6 kilos (this does include Easter!)
CM’s loss (off waist) 5.5 cm
This will be moving to my new blog.

Easter weekend

OK it’s sunny but it’s cold! Still they’re still forecasting snow in the UK. The inevitable “global warming, what global warming” crowd are out in the media – don’t they know “global warming” is so last millennia, “climate change” is the thing now. And after this bit of the arctic has been pushed south I will be looking closely to see how the Arctic ice cap is doing.

I was reading about antibiotics and yes we all know about antibiotic resistant bugs (don’t I just after my foot infection last year?).  And I had read all about the massive doses of antibiotics intensive animal farming is responsible for – but I was surprised to find out that most of those antibiotics are actually not ones used in human medicine. Yes there are some used for infections in animals but the growth ones etc are not. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of intensive animal farming but the opponents need to get their facts straight.  And another thing – organic produce!  I can buy myself some wonky carrots safe in the knowledge that the pesticides used were total unregulated but at least they’re “natural”.

Well if Delia hasn’t censored that last paragraph, I’ll get back to the point, life in Nouvelle Aquitaine. Good Friday is interesting, there seems to be no acknowledgement of it at all here, life as usual. The separation of church and politics is pretty complete. Of course there is a counterpoint, in that the trains are on strike and I am hoping it doesn’t spread to air traffic controllers for my trip in two weeks for my daughter Catherine’s wedding. The last such strike had me stuck in the UK for nearly and extra week.

It is lovely to have the sun back though, cold wind notwithstanding, the morning walks are much more enjoyable. Siena, reluctant to go out in the rain through her dog flap, she ignores it for her walk. We do have a coat for her which keeps her a bit drier but she doesn’t seem to care.

Mutton. Isn’t something one hears much of but this weekend legs of mutton were on offer, so that’s what we had. A slow (4 hours) roast on a bed of carrots, fennel and cabbage (it’s what we had!) and it’s as good as any lamb I’ve eaten. I hope I can get another “gigot”.

Here’s a prile of photos from the last photo field trip, Site corot – Bill might remember the place.