An English Wedding

April 3, 2013 § 5 Comments

Fields around Aldbury

Fields around Aldbury

We awoke on our last morning in Cambridge with a faint feeling of panic.  Outside, gentle snow flakes were flying weightlessly on a soft breeze.  The grass was already white and we had yet to get to Aldbury for the wedding that day. But somehow the roads remained clear and all about us on our journey the world lost its colour becoming a soft silvery blur as we sped our way to our lovely accommodation in Tring, Pendley Manor, a grand old Victorian set in extensive gardens.

Pendley Manor in Tring

Pendley Manor in Tring

The church is over one thousand years old with a a big square tower and built from flint stones.  It is surrounded by the haphazard tipping of falling tombstones, their sandstone surfaces illegible from the winds of time and now dusted in white.  Dainty daffodils dip under the weight of their snowy caps and the air is fluttering with delicate flakes wet on our faces and momentarily gorgeous in our hair.  It is freezing cold and careless of our good looks we pile all our woollies on over our costumes, taking off the dainty heels and pulling on the snow boots.

The ancient church at Aldbury

The ancient church at Aldbury

I don’t think anything prepared us for this wedding.  I still feel the sound in my chest, like my body is empty, like it is a drum that is reverberating.  I feel the song that is more terrible than a song, so deep I tremble, so high and rich, so immensely full, I am immersed, surrounded entirely. An amazing operatic choir, all friends of Melanie and Alistair’s, gifted the day with such a blessing.  Even during the hymns when we all must sing, so overcome, I could not, for all about us amongst the guests not even in the choir, were other great voices filling the little church as though it were a stage to hear only beauty.  Yet for all that what we saw and felt was extraordinary, even theatrical, the wedding was natural and relaxed with the greatest of fun and joy spreading over the faces of our friends as they buoyantly left the church to make way to the village hall where the celebrations were held.  Absolutely beautiful.  A day to remember always.

Mel

Mel 

Through sleet or hail or snow

Through sleet or hail or snow – photo by Olof Williamson

Giving away Mel

Giving away Mel – photo by Olof Williamson

Bridal dance

Bridal dance

We returned to Aldbury the following day, our preview of it the day before too enticing. It is completely picturesque with all the buildings fanning out from the village square complete with its duck pond, (or should I say ducking pond), and original stocks, its very old rickety houses in wattle and daub and thatched roofs, its narrow little roads winding out of the village through the hedgerows to the farms beyond. We walked in the fields that were signposted ‘Public Footpath’, and found ourselves climbing styles and  skirting sheep in the crunchy snow.

The DUCKing pond and ancient Stocks

The DUCKing pond and ancient Stocks

Aldbury hedgerow

Aldbury hedgerow

We stayed a couple of days in the area before heading home, eating in little country pubs, having warm English beer and great hearty roasts, meandering along waterways lined with smoking narrow boats, even conjuring ownership of one of these to prolong our time in merry old England…

Walking on English public footpaths.

Walking on English public footpaths.

Which narrow boat will we buy?

Which narrow boat will we buy?

Shona on the Grand Union canal

Shona on the Grand Union canal

Thanks Mel and Al for a couple of gorgeous wedding photos we stole from fb 😉

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