An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: West Country travels and celebrating nuptials with friends

Signing the register
Signing the register

Wow! What a week in my household! Said that before, but this one will be difficult to top.

There was a minor frenzy in my world in the days leading up to last weekend (or at least in my fiancé’s anyways...). There was a huge day looming large, not Kate & Wills big day, which I managed to miss all the coverage of (and there was a lot…), but our very own royal exchanging of nuptials and tying the knot. For anyone who has been blessed enough to go down this route, you’ll have a good understanding of everything that typically surrounds these ceremonies – the stress, the panic, the organization, the numerous amounts of input (good & bad) from all around, etc, etc. You’ll also no doubt join me in saying that it’s all thoroughly worth it and as many told me – try to soak it all up and remember it as the day will go too fast. Didn’t seem that way at the time, but on reflection, there were definitely bits that were a bit of a blur.

Posing for photos with the family

Posing for photos with the family

Emotional day….most definitely! The bride was stunning and glowed all day long. The ‘usual’ wedding day stresses eventually caught her off guard just before she made it to the aisle and left the poor girl in floods of tears and a quivering wreck until we got into the vows. I think she enjoyed it.??

The best man did his best to rouse everyone and managed to reign in his speech just in time without going too far and giving some family members, new and old, some serious question marks about what the bride was marrying into. Thankfully I think he eventually managed to relax and enjoy the day once his speech was finally over…at least he seemed very relaxed as the alcohol flowed down his neck (he had previously been too nervous to drink or eat!!) and even made an appearance across the dance floor!

There was the ‘standard’ drunken family / friend heckling during the speeches. There were some flawless moves on the dance floor – some had never been seen before…and probably will never be seen again thankfully. T’was truly a beautiful day and we wouldn’t have changed it for the world!

The short window of opportunity for us to escape briefly for a ‘honeymoon’ saw us fly down toward Cornwall and Lands End. Tough trip after a day celebrating I can tell you. What a drive though! The UK truly has some stunning country scenery, much of which I think is probably forgotten or never experienced by all too many. The English countryside has always been revered and much written about over the centuries and decades by those that were familiar with her. I only wish I’d seen far more of it.

Now, all this said, for a short three day break, the 16 hour round trip was perhaps a little too demanding, albeit it pleasant. At times, the driving somewhat challenging (not because of the hangovers I might add!), especially as we neared our destination (not the many ‘final’ destinations that our borrowed ‘Sat Nav’ took us to – oddly enough all of which seemed to be various ‘golden arches’! I can only conclude that perhaps the ‘Sat Nav’ manufacturers are in legion with this fast food chain!), ‘challenging’ as the roads narrowed and the hedges and bushes closed in on us. It was at times, almost as if the Cornish villages were drawing and sucking us in, dragging us through the minor paths and roads ever deeper into the nape of valley bosoms. It would later come to bare just how unskilled we were at driving in these narrow country lanes as our taxi drivers artfully sped around these roads, never managing to get stuck with any oncoming vehicles as the other couldn’t turn or reverse. What a skill! It was only when left to my own devices to get out and run some of these roads, that I managed to challenge the almighty ‘Sat Nav’ and find us some much ‘safer’, wider and easier roads to navigate around this part of the world (Yes, I was on my honeymoon, but once a runner, always a runner and I’m quite the cranky old sod when I don’t!)

There was dramatic scenery and coastline abound. Many a coastal path to walk, some more daring than others. Most would take you to the next beautiful cove or village along the coastline. Old shipping villages, some consisting of but a few houses and boats, others a little more rustic but heavier populated with a few tea houses serving those lovely scones, clotted Cornish cream, and pasties! There was usually the central community pub, which no doubt served as meeting place and social hotspot over the many, many years that these buildings had stood. Yes, it was easy to picture these places as working villages or even landing spots for the pirates over the ages!

Just to add some of England’s finer countryside scenery to our lengthy drive along the south coast, we took in a little of the New Forest. Acres and acres of lush forest and bush, populated by wild horses, avid cyclists and ramblers and some of the quaintest looking villages sitting on the forest’s circumference. Once out of the country’s towns and cities, there really are some amazing places to lose yourself. Try it sometime!

Quite the week. We really should get married more often!