Wednesday, 26 August 2009

I Would Like to Thank ...

This may sound a little like an Oscar’s speech, but in my final post about the wedding and honeymoon, I would like to acknowledge and thank those who contributed so much to making the whole occasion so special for Jon and I. (My next post will be stitch related, I promise.)

by Euphoric about Hair
Many years ago, Laura told me she “just loves being a hairdresser” and it is apparent that that is still true today. Add to that her skill and knowledge and it is obvious she has earned her status as one of Oxford's top hairdressers and Master Craftsman.

Nails by Forever Young
Elena did so much more than my manicure and not just for the wedding itself. Regular pampering with Elena began as an occasional treat to myself but has become a regular indulgence that I would be loath to give up.

I felt beautiful on my wedding day and I would particularly like to thank Laura and Elena for helping me to feel that way about myself.

Wardrobe by The Bridal Box
I expected choosing my outfit to be a long and difficult process. Dusanka was recommended to me and her boutique was the first place I tried. As I didn't know what I wanted to wear we chatted about what I didn’t want before Dusanka collected together a selection of gowns. I tried on several very beautiful dresses but liked none more than the very first dress she had suggested. Shopping for clothes is not one of my favourite pass times but with Dusanka’s guiding me, choosing my dress and shoes was pure pleasure.

Stationary by White Fire Brides
Choosing the invitations was a long and difficult process. Jon had very definite ideas about what he wanted and it was not to be found in any High Street stationers. Eventually I contacted the Oxford Calligraphers Society, who put me in touch with Lynn. Lynn came up with a designed for hand made stationary completely satisfied Jon’s requirement for something simple but with a personal touch.

Flowers by Faith in Flowers
I'd searched online for a local florist. After viewing dozens of uninspiring websites, I finally found one that seemed to offer something more personal. From our first meeting, I was confident that Melanie was the right choice. We came up with a design for the table floral arrangements at that first meeting, but when we met at the venue to finalise arrangements it was apparent that they were not right. Completely unfazed, Melanie quickly assessed the room and came up with stunning new ideas.

Transport by Nostalgia Travel
We saw a vintage bus in town one day. I said to Jon, “I think we should hire that for the wedding.” Jon said, “I agree.” We don’t usually make decisions that easily! The bus is beautifully maintained, the driver was friendly and professional and travelling to the wedding with our guests was so much fun.

Catering by The Chequers Inn
We wanted the reception to be in the village so that we could walk home after the meal and continue the celebrations in the garden. We also wanted to support the village restaurant but more than this, we knew that Andy is an exceptional chef and would prepare a wedding feast to remember. He and his staff exceeded our expectations.

Cake by My Aunty Ann
I was delighted when Ann offered to make our wedding cake; her cakes are delicious. Ann designed the cake and I was so pleased when I saw how pretty it was. Thank you very much Ann.

The cake stand and vase are the same ones used at my parents wedding. They belonged to my Grandfather who was a master baker. Like Jon and I, Mum and Dad had a simple wedding but Granddad made them wedding cake that could have been the centerpiece of any society wedding. Four tiers, iced in the latest fashion on his silver-plated, mirror topped stand and topped with a vase of carnations and cascading fronds of asparagus fern. It must have looked spectacular. I believe it was the last wedding cake he made, as he died just a few weeks after their wedding.

The fact our wedding day was so perfect is down to these wonderful people. They didn’t simply do what was necessary; they each went that extra mile. It wasn’t their wedding day, they had no vested interest but because they care so passionately about what they do, they wanted to do their very best for us. Thank you all so much.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Honeymoon - day 4, continued

In the morning we would have a little time to explore the streets around our hotel and see a less touristy side of Paris but this evening was effectively the end of our visit and we wanted to do something special. We reserved a table with Bateaux Parisiens for dinner and an evening cruise on the River Seine.

From the moment we were greeted and shown to our table, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Every option on the menu was a temptation and the dishes we selected were beautifully prepared and presented. A singer and three musicians provided musical accompaniment during the meal and dance music at the end of the cruise. As the evening slowly gave way to darkness and Paris is illuminated, the River is the most romantic setting imaginable.

The cruise departs from its moorings just below La Tour Eiffel and sails through the city towards Notre Dame, then passes on the other side of the island to begin the return journey. Before docking we passed by the Île des Cygnes to view the Statue de la Liberté and La Tour Eiffel. The cruise lasts approximately 2 ½ hours but it is sedate and unhurried.

As we walked back to our hotel, we paused to watch the Tower’s glimmering light show - a spectacular finale to the evening.

Merci et au revoir, Paris

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Honeymoon - day 4

During the day, we spent our time hopping on and off the Metro for a whistle stop tour of central Paris.

First stop, Notre Dame de Paris.

After joining the wrong queue we found ourselves viewing the interior of the cathedral instead of climbing the towers. We should have know better as we has also joined the wrong queue at Versailles! After viewing the interior we decided we had had enough of queuing for the time being and gave the 2 hour tower queue a miss.

Jon wanted to see the Basilica. We found our way to Basilica on the Metro but, at street level we could not find our way to The Basilica. A short conversation at the Tourist Information office revealed that nothing (other than a few stones on the platform) remain. Only this column serves to commemorate its existence.

Moving swiftly on as we don't want to be late for this evenings reservation.

We didn't have time to tour the Louvre Museum but as we were passing on the Metro, I insisted that the get off to at least see it.

Back on the Metro, heading for Station Charles de Gaulle and lost in conversation.

Me: "Were are we?"
Jon: "Not sure."
Me: "Charles de Gaulle!".
Jon: "This is our stop, quick."
Me (as doors are closing): "Too late!"
Fellow passengers: good humoured laughter.
Fortunately the next stop was not far from our destination, L'arc de Triomphe.

We had seen the Arch on our first evening but Jon wanted to climb to the top, especially as we had not been up the tower of Notre Dame.

Fortunately, the queues here were not too long as we were running short of time. However, there are 284 steps to climb and I had hurt my knee when I fell over on the first day (I don't think I mentioned this before).

But the views were worth it. From here I think you possibly get the best idea of how Paris arranged.

And you get a really good impression of how la tour Eiffel towers above this city.

Going down was more difficult than going up and I got a real sense of virtego.

At the bottom we paused to appreciate the architecture.

And those who have fallen in war.

We had planned to be back at the hotel by 5.00pm to get ready for the evening. Now it is already 6.00pm. We really must hurry to be there on time for our evening reservation.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Honeymoon - day 3

First stop today was Montmartre. In a romantic city, I think Montmartre is the most romantic location. Paris is essentially flat but the butte Montmartre rises in the North with the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur on its summit and seems to watch over Paris.

If I lived in Paris, I would like to live in Montmartre, with it's narrow streets, steep stairways, cafés and bars.

In the afternoon we headed for Paris' other high point, La Tour Eiffel.

You cannot miss the Eiffel Tower, it literally towers above the city. And it is magnificent!

The views from the summit are breath taking (as is the elevator ride to the summit!) and going all the way to the summit is a must.

But for my money, the best views of the city are to be had on the second floor.

In the evening, we returned to Montmartre to dine at one of the outdoor restaurants. Moules frits and a bottle of Rosé on a pleasantly warm evening, what could be nicer?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Honeymoon - day 2

On route to Gare Saint-Lazare we picked up a ham and cheese baguet and coffee to eat on the train, delicious. Our 30-minute journey afforded us some wonderful views of Paris, La Tour Eiffel and Montmartre. We would be visiting them on another occasion; today we were heading for Le Château de Versailles.

The Palace is just 15 minutes walk from the station, at the heart of Versailles. As well as awe at the splendour of the buildings, I was aghast at the length of the queues snaking around the courtyard. It took over 2 hours to obtain our tickets and entry to the Palace. Had we had the foresight to purchase tickets in advance it would have taken less than 30 minutes. You live and learn! Another lesson to be learnt from my experience is wear comfortable walking shoes. We were walking round the house and gardens for over 5 hours and we still didn’t see everything.

The interior of Versailles is just stunning. Room after room of 17th century grandiose.

The Royal Chapel

The Hall of Mirrors

La Grande Galerie was used daily by courtiers and visitors for passing through and for meeting people but it was only used for ceremonies on exceptional occasions. Can you imagine the balls that were held in this hall with light bouncing of the mirrors, chandeliers and the jewels adorning the attendees. From this picture you can get some indication of just how crowded the Palace was during out visit!

The King's Bedchamber

The decore in this chamber was changed seasonally. That's the wall fabrics, the bed drapes, the curtains, even the upholstery on the furniture!

How do you imagine they keep those feathers so dust free and pristine?

The Queen's Bed Chamber

There was not much embroidery evident in the Palace. The best examples are probably in the Queen's bed chamber but you cannot get close enought to see it properly.

And finally, a little detail especially for Susan. There were many splendid tassels on display, but I thought that you would appreciate these little darlings!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Honeymoon - day 1

Among our friends it has been a long-standing joke to remind Jon at every opportunity that I have never been to Paris. Once we had set the date for the wedding and thoughts turned to the honeymoon, there really was only one possible choice. On Saturday we made our way to St Pancras station and there boarded the Eurostar, destination Paris.

We treated ourselves to the Leisure Select class with its dedicated carriage where we were greeted and shown to our spacious, comfy seats. Diner and wine were inclusive and very good. It was the first time we had travelled by Eurostar and we were surprised by how smooth and quiet the train was. The 21/2 hour journey was a very pleasant start to our honeymoon.

We arrived at our hotel late afternoon and after freshening up headed straight out to explore Paris. To start we simply headed towards the River Seine and arrived at the Place de la Concorde.

From here we took a gentle stroll along the Avenue des Champs-Eylsées towards the Arc de Triomphe and the setting sun.

After dinner I convinced Jon that it was a short walk back to our hotel but by the time we arrived there we were both feeling the effects of a days travelling and a 6km walk around Paris.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A Fairy Tale Wedding

When I was a little girl I loved fairy tales, especially the ones where the heroine got to marry her Prince. I had a 'Cinderella' Ladybird book in which Cinderella went to not one ball but to three and each time her gown was more beautiful than the one before. And of course she got to marry her Prince Charming. Turning the pages of this favourite book I’d wistfully dream of my own wedding day.

Instead of the lavish church wedding with hundreds of guests that I’d imagined, Jon and I had a civil ceremony with only our immediately family and a couple of close friends present. We all travelled together on a vintage coach with the sun shining through its open roof. The grating gears and frequent stalling all added to the fun.

During the ceremony I managed to keep both my emotions and nerves under control and for once did not end up sobbing hopelessly, even when the registrar pronounced us man and wife.

After a splendid meal at a restaurant in the village, we walked the short distance home and enjoyed the remainder of the evening on the front lawn.

Our actual wedding was nothing like the one that I planned all those years ago, but I cannot imagine a better day than the one we had. The day that I got to marry my Prince all my dreams came true and it was the happiest day of my life.

Saturday, 8 August 2009