My aunt and uncle live in Bardsey, a village just outside of Leeds, a city about 3 hours north of London. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I love spending time there and visiting my family. They live in a house on a quiet street that backs up to a horse field, and all you can see for miles is just green fields, with stone walls. It pretty much fits every stereotype Americans have about England, and I love it!
My brother and sister just recently started new jobs, so it was just going to be me, my mom and dad for the trip over. It took me 18 hours to get ther from the west coast, but well worth it, of course :) So, I get to JFK to meet up with my parents to fly over to the U.K. - and imagine my shock to see my brother standing there with them!!! It was the BEST surprise, he ended up having a week off before he needed to start his new job, and so my Dad worked his magic was able to get my brother a flight with us last minute so he could come along as well. I'm sure my face was priceless when I first saw him, I was so happy because I don't get to see him very often either. The only thing missing was my sister - wish you could have come Kate!!!!
Fast forward to the wedding day! Vicky and Rob had their ceremony at St. Edwards church, at beautiful, old Catholic church in a little village called Clifford. The bride, of course, looked absolutely beautiful - amazing satin dress with beading, full-legnth veil, just amazing. And the hats!! The hats were incredible. The best was the mother-of-the-bride's, in my opinion. A custom-made "fascinator" - a word I had never heard of until this wedding came around. They were married by the Bishop in a beautiful ceremony, with a full choir in the balcony. And in the midst of all of this, my brother became quite possibly the most important person to the wedding, besides the bride and groom. Somehow, the guy who came on the trip last minute was suddenly helping out with last minute wedding details, riding in the car to the church with the wedding party (I wasn't), riding to the reception with the Lord Bishop, and was the most popular wedding guest on the dance floor. The location where the reception was held had a strict 80-guest limit, and so John became know as "81", the guy who shows up with less than 24 hours notice, but is the life of the party. Of course. Typical John. This whole part was officially labeled as "Johngate".
Once they took off in their get-away car, we made our way to the reception, which was held at a place called Harewood House. The "house" is really what I think the English call a "stately home", and what we could call a palace, there's no other way to describe it. The house was built in the 1700's, and the Queen's cousin and his wife currently live there. It sits on acres and acres of land, has gardens, a courtyard, library, and a gallery, among other things.
When we walked into the main hall, there was a string quartet (I think that's first time I have ever been to any kind of event with a real, live string quartet), and the champagne was flowing! Pictures, chit-chat, more champagne, and we moved into The Gallery for dinner...it is an amazing room filled with priceless art and antiques. I have to say, I probably had the best company in the whole room :) And it was actually pretty fun being the only American at the table...I have decided that just about everything sounds better, and smarter, when spoken in a British accent.
The FAMOUS cupcakes...
Hats! Hats! Hats!
My cousin, the beautiful bride
Vicky and "81"
In England, the father-of-the-bride gives the main toast. Then the groom speaks, and then the best man. All wonderful, funny speeches, just perfect! At this point I should say that this was the 2nd time on the trip that I had Yorkshire pudding, and I absolutely LOVE it now. I can't believe I waited all this time to try it, but it's my new favorite! Apparently very easy to make, so if someone wants to whip that up for me...that would be great, thanks.
From The Gallery we moved into the Courtyard for music, dancing, cupcakes, and bacon sandwiches. The deal with the bacon sandwiches is, they bring them in late at night, I think to balance out all the wine, beer, champagne...you get the idea. Just what the English do, I guess. And of course, I was a big fan. I also learneda tough lesson - NEVER steal someone else's bacon sandwich AND cupcake in the same night!! :) There was a live band that was fantastic, and they even played "Sweet Home Alabama", so we loved that.
It was an amazing day, and fabulous night, and just quite the fairytale...I really can't be bothered paying attention to all this Prince William & Kate business, I really just feel like I have already seen it all done right!!
While we were over there, we of course had to cram in a few of our favorite English activities...Rob took us to a Leeds United game - I have been to college football stadiums that seat 100,000 people, and the 30,000-seat Leeds stadium was the loudest place I think I have ever been. We also went on a pub crawl, which is always a good thing.
The pub down the street from my aunt and uncle's...the oldest in England (that's what they all say)
Leeds, Leeds, LEEDS!
Such a wonderful trip, was so hard to leave...already thinking about when I can go back! Up next...Whidbey Island for Thanksgiving!! Looking forward to my aunt, uncle and cousins coming down from Fidalgo Island, which is up in the San Juans - just beautiful. Love that my whole West Coast family can get together, I am so fortunate to have them just a drive away!! Happy Thanksgiving!