On This Day In 2003

Looking Back

On this day in 2003 I wrote a short blog post about a very important event in the lives of two of my friends. This was the end of the week during which Fiona came down to visit us in Aberystwyth: the week where she first met Kit in person. And the week where they became a couple.

In my blog post at the time that it had been a long time since I’d seen Kit so happy. Normally a reasonably controlled and sedate young man, his mood this week could be better described as “bouncing off the walls”. He’d had a hard few months of unemployment, and the contrast in his mood was spectacular. I also noted at the time that I’d never seen Kit so loved-up: the closest I’ve ever seen him to that sickening lovey-dovey phase that many new couples go through was at about that time.

Kit wrote about the event, too, in his usual charming style; almost downplaying the significance of this awesome event by starting the post with a deadpan explanation, “Well its been an interesting few days. Somewhat busy too – which explains at least partially the lack of posts.”

Looking Forward

Kit & Fiona married in October 2004, and the same folks who’d been around when they first got together made a spectacular road trip all the way to the North of Scotland for the wedding. They still live in Scotland, and we see a lot less of them than we would like. They came down to Aberystwyth early this year, though, and introduced us all to geocaching, for which nobody has yet forgiven them.

This blog post is part of the On This Day series, in which Dan periodically looks back on years gone by.

Weddings and Secret Gardens

Ruth, JTA and I – later joined by Matt P – went to Jen & Nick’s wedding over in Belfast this weekend, and it was awesome. They’re an amazing couple and it was great to get to be part of their celebrations, to meet the fabulous folks they’re related to, and to drink ourselves under the table. Ruth has already written a little about it, so I’ll just point you in the direction of her blog.

Jen & Nick's Wonderful Wedding Cake - each of the four layers is a different cake, including a layer that's gluten-free and a layer that's suitable for vegans. The sunflower theme was carried through the entire wedding.

In other news, I’ve been exploring OS maps and it turns out that the garden here on Earth is actually about 20-24 feet longer than we’d previously believed! There’s a fence at the “end” of our garden with a concealed mystery gate, behind which is land overgrown and bramble-filled… but a little research indicates that this, too, is our garden, and we’re now preparing to mount an expedition (with machetes!) to explore and conquer this new land. And then turn it into a vegetable plot.

The end of our garden, inset with some of the annoted maps I've been using to find the boundries of the property.

Right: time for lunch and to register with a local GP.

Alice Cooper, Richard & Kathryn’s Wedding, Etc.

A very brief summary of some of the things I got up to last weekend with Ruth:

Nottingham

  • Alice Cooper concert in Nottingham.
  • Absolutely spectacular: it’s amazing that this over-60-year-old man can spend a couple of hours singing and dancing and leaping around and being executed – I was tired just watching him.
  • Great to hear a setlist with a good mix of his older material as well as stuff from his latest album. Vengeance Is Mine was particularly brilliant to see performed live.
  • Support band Man-Raze were pretty good, too.

Grange-over-sands

  • Wedding of my old college friend Richard to his wife Kathryn.
  • He works as a tax inspector these days, and we found ourselves sat at a table of his tax inspector buddies and their (bored-looking, during a brief period in which they were “talking shop”) partners.
  • Think we managed to upset the bride quite a lot (although, to be fair, we were only the messengers): after picking up a slice of wedding cake and returning to the table we presently shared with the bride and groom, Ruth turned to the bride and said “We must have missed you cutting the cake?” She replied, “We… we didn’t cut the cake, yet!” Whoops. Turns out that the hotel staff got the wrong end of the stick somewhere and sliced the cake for them!

Ruth with a large cone of ice cream, at about midnight.

Preston

  • Was nice to see my family. Sarah and Ruth seem to be getting along a lot better than they used to, as well.
  • Preston has a late-night ice cream parlour! How cool is that? (I know perfectly well that it sounds like slang for a drug dealer, as in, “I’m going to the late-night ice cream parlour: want some tutti frutti?”, or perhaps a brothel)

Congratulations Alec & Suz

Alec and Suz‘s wedding was this weekend, and I went along to the wedding reception on Saturday evening, along with Claire, Jimmy, Liz and Simon. We turned up stylishly early, and took advantage of the bar while we waited for anybody else we knew to appear (okay, so there was the bride and groom, of course, although they were generally pretty busy socialising with all their other guests, and a handful of others like Andy and Siân).

All said, the night was amazing. The venue the happy couple had chosen was County Hall, the Marriott hotel across the river from Westminster Abbey and a stone’s throw upstream of the London Eye, which is an amazingly beautiful hotel in a great location. The balance of traditional and modern wedding reception themes was strikingly cool. Oh, and Alec and Suz both looked fabulous, if a little exhausted.

It was great to catch up with so many folks I haven’t seen even remotely enough of late, like Bryn, Matt R, Matt P, Liz, Andy, Siân, and Sundeep, as well as hanging out with folks I still see regularly, like Ruth and JTA. It was also fab to re-meet folks I’d only ever met in passing before (in Aber, like Caroline, or in the bigger wider world, like Simon).

And so we drank and danced the night away to a (generally) great selection of music. Liz has an impossible supply of energy and kept dragging Aber-folk up to the dance floor, and getting down to the bangin’ choons with the old gang filled me with a sense of nostalgia. I’m pretty sure I even saw Jimmy dancing when there wasn’t a girl dancing with him, which is a first, although he’ll certainly deny that ever happened.

Also of note was the hotel’s response to Matt P’s arrival. Matt P turned up late in combat pants and a t-shirt, and carrying a backpack, and strolled in to the five-star hotel, and I’m pretty sure that – as I helped him change into the suit he was carrying, in the gents toilets – at least one member of staff came in to check what somebody dressed like that was doing in their hotel. Fun and games.

There was other stuff. Having travelled as far as London it made sense to do a couple of touristy things, too, as well as to meet up with a London-based potential new volunteer developer for a software project I’m working on, but the wedding reception will remain the highlight of the weekend, and perhaps the social highlight of the year. It’s occurred to us that with QParty last year, Alec & Suz’s wedding this year, and Ruth & JTA’s planned wedding in 2010, that we’re lacking an excuse to get the usual suspects together for any reason in 2009. As it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see a wedding or similar event on behalf of, for example, Andy & Siân, we may have to find some other reason to have a get-together in the coming year. Claire’s looking into the possibility of a group holiday (like the Pembrokeshire fort trip early this year), which is an option, and Matt R proposes Cardiff Is Amazing 2009, a party which (so far) has no more premise than can be inferred from it’s name. Nonetheless, Alec & Suz’s wedding has reminded me how much I miss many of the people I used to spend time with on a weekly basis, and I’m keen to see one or both of these plans come to fruition.

Oh, and – congratulations, Alec and Suz! Have a great honeymoon, and enjoy the rest of your married life together!

Mr. And Mrs. Melton

Wedding was fun. Rain held off, barely, but it was still bitterly cold – who gets married in December, anyway? Piccies (bigger ones – clickies):

Congratulations, Jon and Pat, and all that.

We’re going to visit a few people while we’re in this part of the country, then head back to Aber this evening. Hope Troma Night went well. See you all soon.

A Great Wedding Was Had By All

Bryn, Paul, Claire and I went to Kit and Fiona‘s wedding this weekend. Despite the hideously long drive (almost 11 hours, with driver/navigator pairs driving and sleeping in shifts in order to maintain progress) throughout Friday night – and the equally long journey back on Sunday, it was a most fantastic and memorable experience.

The event took place in Aberlour and Knockando, which is pretty much as far North as you can get in the United Kingdom and still recognise people as being human. It’s actually only about 50 miles from Inverness, where I was born, set in a beautiful string of valleys North of the Grampian mountains.

The service was great – despite a few early setbacks (such as the bride arriving and wondering where the groom was… he hadn’t run away, it turns out, but was with the best man and the reverend, sorting out some of the mandatory paperwork…) – the Knockando church is built in the style of the 700-year old one that stood there until six years ago, when it burnt to the ground. Fiona looked fantastic, everybody sang along to silly Christian verse, Steve didn’t lose the rings, and nobody fluffed their wedding vows. That said, when the vicar who was officiating the ceremony asked Fiona to repeat, “And I promise this in the name of God, the father, the son, and the holy ghost,” she looked shocked for a moment – having just forgotten the first bit – and said, “Umm… help?” to request that he prompted her again. Which was sweet, in it’s own special way.

The reception was held at a lovely hotel in Aberlour – The Dowans Hotel – which, to the joy of Bryn and I – hosted an impressive 80 different varieties of whiskey, including treats like Oban, McAllans, and the very palatable locally-distilled Aberlour. The area is deep in whiskey country and Bryn and I had tried earlier in the day to visit one of the distilleries, without success (seemed to be closed for the winter, despite signs to the contrary, so we instead went and bought four kilos of shortbread, which will keep Paul happy for some time). Kit’s speech – which, as is traditional, spoke of how he and Fiona met – was particularly touching, describing the fascinating story of how they came together, and gave thanks to the project I did for my dissertation, which was in fact what Kit was giving a presentation on (in my absence) when they first met! Steve – the best man – also delivered a good speech: fighting against a moderately-obvious fear of talking to an entire room at once in order to take apart some of Kit’s more obvious flaws, such as his ability to get lose even given a map (he later gave them very carefully-delivered and well-described directions to their honeymoon venue, perhaps just to rub it in).

We ate a great meal, and then took part in several traditional highland dances – embarrassingly, all alien to me, but we soon discovered that the best approach was simply to ask a local to join you in a dance, and you’d soon understand what was going on… or fall over trying. Bryn, in particular, seemed to enjoy dancing with several pretty Scottish lasses, and was actually really quite good (lesson of the day: despite his protests, Bryn is actually a good dancer!). Between the alcohol, the company, and the dancing, Bryn seemed to have a fantastic time – I’ve not seen him quite so happy in many months! Restricted by tight-fitting trousers (I really should have gotten myself a kilt in the Huntley tartan before the wedding) I did a little less well, but still really enjoyed drinking myself silly then whirling around with random party guests.

Kit and Fiona left for their honeymoon in the northern isles (the mad fools!) in style, sent off by a cheer from the hotel courtyard and with tin cans trailing behind their car, and – a few drinks later – we made our excuses to leave, too: we had, it must be remembered, not slept properly since the previous morning, as we’d spent all of the last night travelling up there! Breaking with Scottish wedding tradition, nobody got involved in a fight (although Paul and Steve almost did at one point, and I’m pretty sure that if I’d have worn the Huntley tartan, some long-forgotten inter-clan battle would have begun again after centuries of peace). We retired to our (also lovely) bed and breakfast down in the town, taking turns to carry Claire (who’s feet, squeezed into quite impractical shoes, were hurting pretty badly).

All in all, a fantastic event. I’m really glad that I made it up there to see Kit and Fiona get married, and the party thereafter was wonderful too. Well worth the drive.

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