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A Dorset Wedding

I recently spent a weekend in the depths of rural Dorset at the wedding of a friend and ex-colleague. I well remember that I was writing a bid with L, the bridegroom, whilst Christopher was extremely ill. So I was going into work each the morning, working on the bid, and then dashing off to the hospice after lunch to spend some time with Christopher. L was extremely supportive of me during that difficult time, and took on far more of the bid-writing than he strictly should have expected to. So it was really nice to be able to attend his wedding, and give him some moral support in return.

L now lives in a very rural part of Dorset, well inland from the coast, and organising a big wedding there required a lot of forward planning. It’s by no means a touristy part of the county (though the countryside and little villages are absolutely beautiful) so there wasn’t a single large hotel that they could use as a base for all their guests – who were coming from as far afield as Canada and Australia, not to mention the length and breadth of Britain. But there are a number of pubs in the local villages which all seemed to have three or four rooms above the bar, and the bride rang around all of them about nine months ago, and block-booked absolutely all the accommodation for miles around.

I was billeted in a recently renovated room above the bar of the Fiddleford Inn, which was so completely in the middle of nowhere that my taxi driver couldn’t find it! I was most definitely not impressed when he told me he “couldn’t quite place the village” – i.e. he was lost and had absolutely no idea where he was going! Fortunately, I had the phone number of the pub, and they were able to talk him in. However, it was well worth finding – it was a very pleasant pub, the recently-renovated rooms were very comfy, and the breakfast was good.

Shillingstone House, with the marquee to the left

Shillingstone House, with the marquee to the left

The wedding itself was held in the grounds of the local Big House. Not quite a stately home, but not far off, and with beautiful gardens. There was a huge marquee erected on the lawn, very luxurious wood-panelled portaloos on the drive, and a sort of bower in the grounds where the wedding itself took place. The weather was a bit dodgy – it stayed dry for the marriage itself, then as the bride and groom were signing the register the heavens opened and all the guests made a dash for the marquee. But it dried out in the late afternoon, in time for the wedding photos to be taken in the grounds, and the marquee was so well appointed that the weather was largely immaterial.

The bride has an identical twin sister, who was the chief bridesmaid. They really were astonishingly alike. In fact, the only way I could tell them apart on the wedding day was that one was wearing white, whilst the sister was in a similarly-styled dress, but in pink. Even their hair was styled the same. The landlady of the pub I was staying at said she too found them very confusing. Both the bride and her sister had been involved in organising a pre-wedding buffet and party at the pub on the Friday night, and the landlady was completely unable to tell which one of them she was dealing with!

The last formal part of the entertainment was a really impressive firework display, far better than many municipal displays that I’ve seen on Bonfire Night. I was a bit surprised that they’d chosen to have fireworks – L is ex-army, and many of the guests were currently serving or retired military personnel – and loud bangs are not necessarily a good thing in that company. I was talking to some of them at the end of the evening – one ex-soldier said it had reminded him of a busy night under fire in Sarajevo, whilst one of the women said it was more like being mortared in Basra! But they both seemed more nostalgic than stressed, so I suppose that’s a good thing!

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Megaen | 19 September 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Gillian,

    This is my first post to the blog. I’ve been listening to Librivox for over a year now but just came across Chris, as icyjumbo. He had an amazing voice and I really appreciate how he tried to do character voices. It makes the listening so much better.

    Thank you for continuing the blog. I hope to read back and catch up with everything.

    All the best to you,

    Megaen, a fan in Hong Kong

  2. Gillian | 22 September 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Megaen. Chris really enjoyed reading books for Librivox. I’ve not yet felt able to listen to any of his recordings since he died, but I’m sure I will at some point.