Despite a quick trip to London being a giant detour in my travels, when a great friend of yours gets married, things like this must be done and I was thrilled to do it. Plus, who doesn't love an English wedding (hello fascinator!)?!
I arrived in London at the civilised hour of 9am on Friday morning. Unfortunately on the flight over I did not have much sleep at all (the girl next to me spent the entire flight trying to spoon me through the seat - lucky me!). Even though it was incredibly awkward, and I was far too polite to push away her advances, I didn't mind too much as I had been reassigned my seating to a bulkhead (hello legroom!). Of course, in typical Mel fashion, this reassignment was not without a bit of drama. A very long story short, my initial assignment was being sandwiched between an Orthodox Jew and a regular Joe who was hell bent on retaining his aisle seat (understandably). The Orthodox Jew for religious reasons would not sit next to me (and clearly the regular Joe would not move), and unfortunately the plane was basically full. After a bit of a scene, the frazzled flight attendant finally was able to secure me a seat at a bulkhead close by (of course I was wishing for first class!). I´ll take what I can get!
Arriving in Essex was also not without adversities on the train. Fortunately, I managed to stay awake getting to the Liverpool Street station on the tube, however, the train to Marks Tey was another story. I completely passed out only to wake up just as the doors were opening at Marks Tey some 50 minutes later. My heart jumped into my chest, and you have never seen me move so fast with all of my bags. As you can imagine, a transition under duress is never smooth. I did manage to get off the train and through the doors before they closed, but one of my bags broke and my things were sprawled all over the entrance to the train and platform. I must have made quite the ruckus because the conductor soon came out to see what the commotion was about. They stopped the train and I collected my things. A short while later, and Liz (aka Breezey) was honking her way through the Marks Tey carpark. Gawd, I missed her!
Breezey is a great friend of mine from the touch rugby team that I used to play on in Bermuda. She was one of the first girls that I made friends with on the team and is also a fellow Big Four alumni (we shared war stories during our busy seasons at work...brutal! And I am pleased to report, we both made it out, alive!). She and her fiancé, Gareth (affectionally known as Gav-larrrrrrrrr by yours truly) moved back to the UK over a year ago, and of course I was really missing her. As fabulous as Bermuda is, it´s really tough when your best mates leave.
It was all systems go at The Vineyards (their property and the setting of their fabulous wedding). I could not believe how many bodies there were involved in the entire operation! But already I could see that this was going to be spectacular. I quickly ditched my bags and rolled up my sleeves and got right to work. I met the Maid of Honor and we were off, rolling napkins and organising place settings. An hour or so later, we were finished, and I was zonked. Nap time. I passed out for a good couple of hours in preparation of the evening ahead.
That evening there was a barbecue at their home (brave, I know) for a few of the people who had travelled in for the occasion (namely Gareth's relatives from Wales, an aunt from Dubai and the Bermuda crew). I was particularly excited because it would be the first time in six months since I've seen Hicksie (and her partner Dusty). For those of you who don´t know Hicksie, she is my best friend from Bermuda. We both arrived on the island at a similar time and became fast friends after joining the local touch rugby club and sharing a ravenous thirst for a good bottle of Sauv Blanc (or four). Not long after and we were attached at the hip ever since. I cannot tell you how amazing it was to be reunited with her again (if only for a short while). Friends like these are very few and far between.
As expected, the party at the house shut down relatively early, however, in typical Bermuda fashion, the three of us were sure to keep it going at the Holiday Inn in Colchester, finally closing down in the wee hours of the morning after a few too many ciders (and kahlua´s...seriously, who´s idea was that?!).
The wedding itself was spectacular and such a wonderful reunion. As much effort and stress that went into having such a large event at their home, it made the experience that much more personal. It meant so much to be part of Breezey & Gav-larrrrrrrr´s special day and meet all their friends and family. Lots of music, dancing, exquisite food, and like any good wedding, the booze was flowing. My kind of party!
As you can imagine, after such a large wedding, Sunday morning was not too fresh. With some grease in my belly, I bid farewell to the Walters and the Hickseybalds (two nights is not enough!) and hopped the train to London to meet up with Erin and Gareth (more Bermudian friends) that I was staying with. They have a fabulous flat right near Notting Hill, so was a fantastic location for me to buzz around the city and do the rounds meeting up with friends.
On Tuesday, I met up with Ros and Hugh at Cafe Boheme in SoHo for drinks and then went to Pizza Pilgrims for dinner. The pizza was absolutely outstanding! We had a short wait before we could sit down so made the best use of our time by having a drink at The Toucan (for the Guinness enthusiasts among you, this is a must, apparently the best pint of G in town!). It's a small dive bar, but cosy and boasting seven taps of Guinness! Sounds like a winner to me. As usual with Ros and Hugh, our dinner was full of lots of laughs. They were also able to give me some very helpful tips for Guatemala as they had travelled through Central America two years prior.
Wednesday was a bit of a hectic day. I had planned to go out to St. Albans (about a twenty minute ride from St. Pancras) to catch up with my friend Ross, his girlfriend Gemma, and to meet their lovely six month old baby, Jack. They took me to The Waffle House, a local hotspot, for lunch and I had my first taste of a savoury waffle. It was delicious! Definitely recommend a visit if you are ever there. Who knew hummus and avocado was so good on a waffle?! Jack is such a gorgeous baby. Very happy and smiles all the time. So lovely to see them.
Following lunch, I headed back into London to meet up with some more friends for drinks and dinner. We met at the Prince Regent Pub and had a gorgeous meal. Again, it was another evening filled with laughter and I had the pleasure of catching up with Sasha, Joe & Alex (as well as Erin & Gareth) who I had not seen in years! Good to know that even after all these years, our friendship hasn´t changed.
The next morning was an atrociously early start for a 7.30am flight out of Heathrow. But despite the ungodly hour, I was beaming. I was finally beginning my trip to Central and South America...a new chapter was unfolding and I could not wait to see how it plays out.
Hope this finds you well, wherever it is in the world that you are.
PS Big thank yous to all my mates in London, you never cease to amaze me with your generosity! And to those of you who I didn´t see (there never seems to be enough time!)...see you next time! And I really hope to see you all in Aussie one day...
The Hickseybalds looking very glamorous on the walk to the church from L&G's place. It was about a 300m walk down the road - perfect!
You know you're at an English wedding when you find people playing cricket outside the church! Funnily enough when I was back in the UK for my friend Sam & Greg's wedding, there was croquet!
The stunning bride and her Dad, Malcom.
Just Married! And apparently cruising down the aisle far too quickly for me to snap a pic without it being a bit blurry...my apologies!
Hicksie & I outside of the church.
Outside of the church.
Throwing confetti on the happy couple!
Where it all happened...such a beautiful location.
Now the party starts!
The outside barn bar! They impressively made it themselves...
Posh porta-loos. Ridiculous to take a photo of these I know, but they were so bloody nice! If only all porta-loos were like this!!!
Inside the main tent
Dusty was our chief carver...and as expected, he had most of it on his plate!
The Three Amigos! Dusty, Hicksie and I. I really miss these guys!!!
First dance! L&G have some serious moves!
Another beautiful pic of the Hickseybalds...two very relaxed looks.
The Tower of London (had to be a tourist at least once).