It's now a rather more civilised time on a Sunday morning, having had a reasonably good night's sleep - not perfect, but I don't think my body was going to settle for a lot less than what it managed! Yesterday was altogether rather excellent, though incredibly busy from start to finish.
Shopping in the morning turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, particularly with regard to buying some reasonably smart black shoes. I only wanted them for occasional use so was not prepared to spend vast sums of money, and consequently started off at Barratts where I have had good value in the past. But could I find anything I could afford and liked, and - more to the point - they had in my size? Could I heck! So I went on a trek round the entire shopping centre and of course found the situation elsewhere still worse. It seems it is nigh-on impossible to buy "unbranded" shoes these days, and smart shoes in particular seem to be the reserve of those with silly money to spend. So eventually I returned to Barratts in a last-ditch moment of desperation, and somehow - perhaps I had by then adjusted my sights price-wise a little - quickly found my perfect shoes, and in my size. But that all meant that by the time I'd bought Steve and Kath's present, done my shopping, and got some keys cut that Sarah needed, my quick trip into the centre had taken over two hours. And then, dropping those keys off with Sarah, I got waylaid making some running repairs to her back door and then stopping for some unexpected - but most welcome, don't get me wrong - lunch. So after all that, I was considerably later leaving for East Hendred than I'd planned.
And then, of course, I found all the slow traffic queues on the way out to Buckingham in particular, and became increasingly aware that if the AA's estimate of an hour and nine minutes for the journey was based upon getting a clear run, I was going to be late. By some miracle though, I got to East Hendred on time, though - like several others - very nearly went to the wrong church, which would have been a bit of a downer, not realising that Kath's family, who practically own the village as far as I could tell, were devout Catholics. Of course, Kath was late arriving, as is traditional for the bride, so it all worked out fine with ample time to spare, though I did get one of the very last pew-spaces at the church!
The service was lovely, conducted by no less than three ministers from quite different church backgrounds, and the choice of music was excellent too, with a perfect blend of old and new. Many people commented it was one of the best wedding services they could remember, and I certainly wouldn't disagree. It was rather hot in the church though - lots of big stained glass windows, many commemorating Kath's ancestors, making it a bit of a greenhouse I guess! - so it was quite a relief to get some fresh air an hour later. From there we all walked round to the nearby Hendred House, owned by further of Kath's family, where the reception was laid on in a huge marquee in the grounds, a wonderful setting for such a thing.
The reception was top-notch too, of course, with excellent food - not sure what the starter was but it was yummy indeed, followed by what appeared to be guinea-fowl with bacon, and rounded off with the most enormous fruits-of-the-forest pavlova most of us had ever seen - top speeches, especially the best-man double act by Kit and Ben, and then of course the party. I was largely staying off the drink of course, since I was driving home, but the latter wasn't too wild an affair, just good fun, and took us all very nicely up to the time for Steve and Kath's departure. That was rather spectacular, with them speeding off down the gravel drive at Hendred House in a borrowed BMW M3, perfectly synchronised fireworks going off to each side...
But by then they were running quite late, and it really was time I hit the road myself - no gravel sprayed or pyrotechnics of course though - and thankfully got a clear fast run home, taking me about an hour and nine minutes, oddly enough. Overall though, an excellent day, and lots of new people to talk to - people I knew were in a tiny minority, but there were plenty of friendly folk from all walks of life, though I have to say I found the more "ordinary" people a little easier to relate to!