Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Civilly Wedded

Will and I were first married in the Tunbridge Wells' registrar office at the Mansion House. We had to since we were not members of St. Nicholas in Sandhurst (where the blessing took place).

This was the day that Will did not see me beforehand, so he was surprised when I walked into the room. He had seen this dress though, and not the other, but Saturday, we were old married people so he saw me getting ready for blessing.

But the morning start was not so hot.

I slept in the barn with the single ladies, getting to bed late because of the minor vehicle crisis my brother and dad realized we would have on Sunday too much luggage, too many people, not enough spaces in cars to get folks to the airport. Crisis adverted, I went to bed closer to midnight than planned. I tiptoed into my room, to crawl up a steep ladder to a very high bunk bed in a very dark and very hot room. I brought a flashlight with me.

Then, I felt the roof was going to fall in on me and so after an hour of me turning on and off the flashlight, hoping not to disturb anyone in the room, and finding that the roof was still just an elbow length above, I got down. This time, even more slowly than I crawled up. I was going to sleep on the couch.

I was laid on the couch for about 5 minutes-- in my clothes, as I had forgotten to bring my pjs from the house--and then thought that there were beds for more guests joining us on Friday. I will go sleep in there, as they will never know. So I felt my way over to the where the beds are, only to think that there was a light switch along the wall. Yup, found it. Flipped it. The light bulb popped and then there was the power down sound.

I blew the enture barn's electricity and water supply (electric water pump, so one flush and you are done). It was 1:15 am at this point.

Rebecca was awake upstairs and she realized that something was wrong when she couldn't flush the loo. So we met up, flipped fuses in three different closets on two different floors, only to be joined by Mom and Dad. We four than flipped the same fuses before. We went outside-- them in barefeet, me in my shoes-- and found another fuse box and flipped those switches. Nothing.

At this point it is 2:00 am and it will be light at 4:00 am (yes, England is that far north). We say sod it and go to bed, thinking we can deal when it isn't dark and we don't have to be walking in sheep dung in the dark looking for more fuses.

At 6, I wake up (yes, in the bed meant for other guests) and start trying to figure out how to get water and power back to the barn. I wander around the grounds trying to find someone to help, only to wander over to find the gardner (who is supposedly the only who can help) leaving in his car at 6:30 am. This is not good.

I wander back to the barn and meet Darren, who saved the day: he found the unfound fuse box (on the back of the house, in the sheep pen that I did not find at 2 am because I am was not willing to go back in that dark corner in the middle of the night), and flipped the fuse. Water and lights were back.

Now, at 7 am, all is well and now my alarm went off to get up to get ready for the day.

But the rest of the day went really well. I walked down the aisle with my Dad. Mom and Dad presented me for marriage. Will and I exchanged giggles and vows and rings. We signed the marriage certificate, our witnesses signed the certificate, and the little kids signed the commemorative certificate. We were photographed and walked back down the aisle, as Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham.

It was very exciting and lovely and everyone was pleased, me especially as the day didn't start off well. But it certainly ended in a fairy tale.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Double Did It

William and I are married! Twice. We did a civil ceremony at Tunbridge Wells and then the next a church blessing, with a reception. I have lots to tell, lots to show. But in the mean time, here are two shots for you to enjoy....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It Begins

William and I realized the other day that with my family descending on London en masse tomorrow and then all of us caravaning down from Heathrow to Etchingham, we *might* want to make a pre-clan arrival trip down to the Lodge, as we wouldn't have enough room in the rental cars for us, them, and the luggage. And word on the street is that they are bringing massive amounts of luggage with them. Plus, we remember what we brought with us.

So, a quick day trip to Etchingham was planned.

Andrew not only let us take the car down, but he then took us to Costco (and yes it is exactly like a Costco in the US) on the way there, and then he graciously took a bus and train back home.

So, before we even left for Costco, Will and I had filled the entire back of Andrew's BMW station wagon, or estate car as they are known here. We had two suitcases, loads of bags with wedding favors and presents to hand out, flower girl dresses, civil ceremony dress & suit, Will's wedding suit, and The Dress. Then we were off to Costco.

Now, Will stayed in the car (we gave him the keys and had a window down for him) whilst Andrew and I shopped (and admittedly, snacked as it was lunch time and Costco had samples out).We got the stuff for Pimms cups (lemonade, cucumber, lemons, and oranges) and non-alcoholic drinks (Coke, Diet Coke, Water, Sparkling Water, Beer... oh wait, I said non-alcoholic). Andrew added his own list: toilet paper and paper towels, which were coming along for the ride.

About an hour and half later, we emerged with two huge trolleys full of stuff. We managed to squeeze it all in, just.

Andrew had to walk to the bus stop instead of us dropping him at the train station, which, as you can see from the photos, was also absolutely necessary, as there was not a single extra bit of space for him. But at least you know we have the important stuff: Pimms cup and beer and loo paper!

Dipping Adventure

Andrew. Lori, William, and I had a dipping adventure the other night. Not *that* kind of dipping, you dirty birds, but with chocolate. And again, not even *that* kind of dipping adventure. My, my, where are your minds?

Anyway, it was this kind of dipping adventure:

with dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, and caramel chocolate.

As you can see, we had marshmallows, fudge squares, oval shapes with a nut inside, peanut brittle squares, cardboard-like waffle crackers that were rubbish without the chocolate. Note Andrew's face when tasting one plain:

Yum, stale bland deliciousness, but add some chocolate and it is out of this world good!

And then after we rotted our teeth out with the sweetness and when into a diabetic coma from the sugar overload, Andrew wowed us with his chocolate artistic ability:

He calls it: chocolate insect, dipped. I am sure that the Tate Modern will be calling any moment.

Better than Baseball

Yeah, you heard me. Cricket is better than baseball.

Will and I went to the Semi-final games of the IOC World Cup of 20/20 Cricket. We saw England v. Australia women's semi-final and the West Indies v. Sri Lanka men's semi-final.

I not only enjoyed myself and the 7 hours of fast cricket, but I understand it! I saw the English women successfully chase down 163 runs with a few balls to spare. I saw several batswomen and men get their 50s, and one Sri Lankan batsman almost get a century. I saw a Golden Duck. I witnessed a total collapse of a team in the West Indies. And I saw crazy fans. It was a fun and entertaining day.

Canterbury Cathedral

Will and I made it to Canterbury Cathedral, or our 4th UNSECO site for the trip. We feel pretty cool about ourselves.

The high street of the village is sweet and full of leaning building, old pubs & free houses that housed the pilgrims that came to the town in the Middle Ages. The pilgrims' journey is forever remembered in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, with a variety of English folks from various background making the pilgrimage to the cathedral to pray at the shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket, murdered in 1170 at the cathedral by some lords thinking they were fulfilling Henry II's wish to "rid him of this troublesome priest."

The cathedral is the burial place of the Black Prince (Henry III's son) and Henry IV, one of the few kings not buried in Westminister Abbey in London. It is also the seat of Anglican church, called the Anglican Communion. It's formal title is Cathedral Church of Christ at Canterbury.

The cathedral was begun in 597 by St. Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great to England to convert them to Christianity. Since then, there has been a church, abbey, hospital, cathedral all on this site. It is spectacular.

I gave Will a little English history lesson too, as he didn't understand why there was a candle where the shrine of Thomas Becket was, since Henry VIII destroyed it when he dissolved the monasteries. English history is not his forte.

the cloisters

the candle lit where St. Thomas Becket's shrine was.

The weavers' house, some of the oldest buildings in Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral

No visit is complete without our portrait

The windows and spires of the church

Site where Thomas was murdered

The aisle

The remaining water system for the church

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Higher Learning

We went to Oxford University and had a wonderful tour by our friend Leigh, who is getting her D Phil there (finish that chapter, girl! You can do it!!). Oxford was stunning in terms the old buildings and bizarre as the town of Oxford looks like any other English village. It was exam time, so we did see students walking around in white bow ties and robes, as well as white, pink, and red carnations to let everyone know what level of tests for which they are sitting.

The Bodleian Library and ceiling. Bodleian is part of the oldest part of the university.

The Radcliffe Camera, the science library and, from the top, a stunning view of the school and village.

Leigh's office window in All Souls College (the smaller window above the bay window)

A lovely street in Oxford

Christ Church College,
This is where Harry Potter eats...

After the tour, we went to the Old Parsonage and joined my boss for high tea. It was a lovely day in the city of learning. For a brief second, I wanted to be a student again.... but that passed when I thought of sitting for exams or actually writing a dissertation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blenheim Palace

On our way home from the west, we made a stop at Blenheim Palace. It is the home of the Dukes of Marlborough and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The house was a gift from Queen Anne to the first Duke of Marlborough for his victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. The palace has been made a UNSECO site (and you know how we love UNSECO sites! Blenheim is the third one this trip and we are going for four with Canterbury Cathedral.) because of the architecture and the gardens, which are amazing, especially the rose garden. It was stunning and we had lovely weather. It is a must go and then you can go to Oxford, like we did.