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The Wedding and a Covid Dash

I have been very lucky this year, spending most of my time in beautiful French Polynesia, experiencing fantastic scenery, great sailing, diving, snorkeling, fishing, cycling, walking, daily swimming, meeting new folk and enjoying fabulous friendships. However, the top highlight for me this year, (and one of my top three proudest moments ever), was back in the UK, set in the beautiful autumn clad Cotswolds among close family on Sunday October 18th. - The Wedding of my son – Christopher to the lovely Rachel. Despite Covid and the UK governments best efforts to make this day a truly challenging day to arrange; on a fresh, dry, autumn day Rachels father, Chris, proudly led a radiant, truly beautiful bride into a “Stone Barn” only a few minutes late!. Christopher, looking very dapper, extremely happy and only slightly nervous, was keeping his 12 guests entertained and in order!. Meanwhile on a $20 webcam, friends and family from around the world were zooming in to watch. Pat, the guitarist was playing some brilliant familiar guitar music, with tunes that caused us to smile with memories of family sing songs, events and videos.

As the doors opened, and the stunning spectacle of Rachel and Chris(senior) arm in arm emerged, a beautiful moment was created. Rachel looked fantastic, Emma was looking beautiful as bridesmaid, and Christopher was waiting anxiously. This moment, with the coordinated colours of Rachels gorgeous outfit combined with the setting, beautiful flowers, suites, ties, hankies, shoes and music, along with the knowledge of how hard it had been for Chris and Rachel to arrange this special day, caused a huge lump in my throat and an enormous smile.

The day was brilliant. Chris and Rachel had booked this day at the Stone Barn 3 years ago and I can see why. The Autumn colours were fabulous, the Stone barn, (which looks like a kiwi corrugated iron shed from the outside), was a hidden gem that kept reinventing itself throughout the afternoon to create different settings and experiences – all covid compliant with close family and a few lovely close friends. There was the formal wedding ceremony barn, the autumn garden for champagne and very tasty hors d’oeuvres, the beautifully dining area with a backdrop of one of the countries largest BBQs and very scrummy food, then back to a candle lit stone barn for the first (and only) dance, – beautifully executed by the very happy couple and to finish - cake cutting with a relaxing evening in the gently lit warm barn area .

I could go on, as it was a fantastic day made very special by the intimacy and obvious attention to detail that Rachel and Christopher had thought of. The best bit was been there in person to see the joy of two fabulous, obviously in love, very happy people on their wedding day.

We spent five weeks in the UK, two in isolation just north of Burnham on Crouch. A surprising ok experience thanks to home delivery service and a number of inside based computer projects we had been storing up, along with a huge list of spare parts to order and have delivered.

It was also my first visit to Burnham on Crouch, Johns Uk base and where he grew up. This explains his love sailing, a small town with at least four sailing clubs and home to many a world champion. His sisters kids all reeling in world dinghy sailing titles quiet recently and his uncle proud to show us his 1956 Olympic bronze medal from Melbourne. Quiet a trip in those days, taking 3 days to get there by plane, and his “Sharpie” dinghy spending so many weeks exposed on the deck of a ship in the sun that all the planks had shrunk and it had enormous leaks. On arrival in Melbourne he had to sink it upto the gunnals to re hydrate it – no time for practice, just bail it out and straight out into the event. It was also fabulous to stay and get to know his lovely mum who made us so welcome – thank you.

We headed north to the Lake district for a great weekend with my mum and sisters family. Emma had been isolating at Malcolms (close by) and we celebrated the end of her isolation with a spectacular walk together, good food and a needed midnight soak in my sisters hot tub.

The week before the wedding the family hired three traditional Cotswold cottages (complying with the rule of 6 fully), and utilized zoom every evening for some kind of “Christopher and Rachel challenge”. This enabled the extended friends and family to join in on Wedding week activities and revealed some great talent: –Malcolm truly excelled at taking his cloths off!, Emma was Queen of rustling up outfits – well done Chris and Alice for styling them so well, Luke – you are a waffle duvet king, Sheena & Nick; just fab contributions from the Powe clan and thank goodness for Chris and Rachels friends – Colin, Erin, Sam, Becca, Matt who all provided at least some competition to James and Emily who are THE quiz champions. As for the Willis family – what can I say? producing that wedding dress surprise was a trump card. During the day we also had challenges - one even ended up with good trout for dinner!

Following a fun packed week in the Cotswolds I managed to pack in a few days with my mum, sister and John in Wales by the sea. We got out of Wales the day the lockdown was brought in, what timing ! It was great to spend some time with Mum and see her enjoying the sea view, our company and sun.

Sadly our last few days came around too quickly, with covid test to do, spare parts to muster and John having to had over his boat to the new owner, it just flew buy.

Now we are sitting at Paris airport, waiting for our flight to Tahiti. France goes into lockdown just as we leave, the UK appears no longer united, Brexit chaos looms and Covid gloom seems set in for the winter. I feel so lucky that my mind is just filled with joy of been with family and especially of having the privilege to be part of that very special day where two lovely people who looked radiant, very much in love and became the new Mr & Mrs Lamb in style. An inspiring heart warming memory. THANK YOU Chris and Rachel.