Month: February 2014

An active week in Santa Barbara – and yes, I am running a half marathon…

Between the game play (Minecraft), the crafting (Rainbow Looming) and all the preschool arts and crafts (baking ginger-bread men, sand play, painting, imaginary story telling and so on…) there’s been a lot of action in the house in California this week. My New Zealand born children have been energised with slightly cooler temperatures and rain (yes, rain!). We took a trip to the the local zoo in Santa Barbara (we signed up for annual membership, since we are here for a year) and spent a few hours enjoying some action, with a touch of animal education – but mostly ‘physical education’!)…

We also visited a fav park – Goleta Beach Park, for a kick around, as well as a park near the Zoo – where we played ball-tag, baseball, climbing and anything that stretched a limb!

Opposite Santa Barbara Zoo park

After my 8km run on Monday (in training for a half-marathon – my first – in May) I was on ‘cross fit’ day – so certainly got my exercise in – in a round about way! Why a half-marathon? Well, I’m turning forty in April, so it seemed the right thing to do – plus I’m doing it for a very good cause (yes, I need the motivation!). Also, the run is in ‘wine country’ – the ‘Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon’… aye, I’m no saint!

Monday's run

Oh and, whilst I’m at it, I did a decent run on Friday too (which was followed by reading Facebook updates of forty something friends in NZ completing a half-marathon in Wellington… which resulted in me signing up to do one – inspiration through Facebook – it’s real!).

Friday night's run

The run on Friday was swiftly followed by a vegetarian curry (thanks hubby and the wonderful curry house ‘Tamira Santa Barbara‘ that made it). Sunday, I should have gone for a run – but had friends around for a pirate shin dig (but that’s another post), in honour of our youngest lass having just turned four (didn’t seem real till we’d celebrated with some ‘Kiwi’ mates!). A pirate shin dig wouldn’t have seemed right without a few drinks to wash down the salty BBQ food.. ahem… (any excuse) so I indulged as any pirate would (given the chance) and set the world to rights (on the running front) on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday were followed with lots of planking, squatting, yoga moves and gentle weights throughout the day – combined with multiple trips up, down, round, square and figure of eight; chasing dirty laundry, plates, children and chaos. And now, Wednesday night, I sit listening to the wonderful (and extremely rare) sound of rain thinking, ‘I really should have gone for a run today as I’m drinking far too much wine!’. Tonight, along with drinking wine, has been a fun one of putting out multiple rain catching containers with Miss 4 (she obviously recalls the drought in Wellington, NZ, of summer 2013, which I wrote about here and here, over at ‘Catching the Magic’), baking gingerbread men (she found the cookie cutters, whilst emptying a large plastic box – to use for rain collecting, and decided baking was the needed… and boy am I glad she did… as I sit here typing, wine fuelled, with the munchies!) and drinking rain water (well, wouldn’t you if it hadn’t rained more than 3 days in six months?!… never mind the water might be polluted!).

So, there you have it. A little post for the week to link up with the lovely active folk over at ‘Country Kids‘ who make the most of the weather in the wonderful UK, whatever it may be, and get out with their children to enjoy a bit of action x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Loved celebrating four years of our youngest daughter being in our lives!

We are so very blessed to have Alice in our family. She has spent her first four years sharing her happy zest for life with us and bringing us all so much joy. There’s been no need to rush her off to kindergarten when we were in New Zealand, or a preschool whilst here in California, as she’s always had plenty of activity in the home with her sisters, neighbourhood friends and family. She’s a chatty, friendly, sociable girl who has sooooo much love to share.

Alice the Princess!

We enjoyed a fabulous day of fourth Birthday celebrations with her over the weekend; from a morning of present opening and playing, to an afternoon of splashing in the swimming pool, running on the beach and finishing up with Birthday cake. Nothing was planned, everything just flowed.

She loved her special day and kept asking, again and again, ‘Am I really four now?’.

She kept checking to see if anything about herself had changed, along with her age. She thought that she’d be a different size or have to sleep in a different bed. I recall her older sisters asking similar questions around this age. She was almost a little worried about turning four, saying, ‘I’m happy being three, but I do like Birthdays!’.

It was hilarious when the man of the house got the kayak in the swimming pool and she togged up in a life-jacket for a ‘high sea adventure’! She loves the water and her biggest accomplishment this year has been learning to swim.

High sea adventure in the swimming pool with Daddy!

Her energy throughout the day was wonderful and she just about managed to stay awake for some Birthday cake, after meeting me on the beach, after my jog, for a little workout of her own! We drove back home, with the top open on the VW, to keep her awake. She crashed pretty soon after blowing out her candles and devouring the icing off her Birthday cake!

Her good friend here, Ollie, couldn’t make her actual Birthday – but we are looking forward to a bit of party fun, pirate style, this coming weekend with him!

Miss 4 lives in a world of imagination and creativity.

On any given day she could be a princess, a vet, a doctor, a zombie (older sister’s & Minecraft!)

Face paint is frequently requested and she asked me to turn her into a puppy dog the other day – to surprise her Daddy on his return from a three day business trip away (she wanted to ‘pretend’ she was a new pet in the house).

Alice puppy dog facepaint

She plays with her toys in such creative, imaginary ways, making up stories with her dolls, or dinosaurs, cars, trains… she’ll pick up sticks, leaves and acorns for various props, anything to hand makes a story really!

It’s such a joy to have her around. Formal schooling is not something in her mind or ours right now. To be honest, there’s little need, as she’s thriving with natural learning of numbers, letters, art and the beginning of writing. She joins in science experiments with her sisters, builds and creates with blocks, lego, magnets and connecting rods, she sings and dances every day and is always on the go physically. Everything she needs in life is here, at home, with family and friends. This time in her life is full of magic, limitless possibilities in her imaginary worlds and living in the moment. We love you Alice Rose xxxx

Happy Birthday Alice!

Let’s get physical! Keeping fit, & keeping up, with the children…

I’m on my feet most of the day, with three active children unschooling this year and a house to keep in order. It would be easy to flop at any given moment, instead of pushing on and seeking out more physical activity – but it’s true what ‘they’ say, ‘Exercise gives you energy’. Besides, I want to keep fit enough to keep up with my children – and take them on the amazing tramps of New Zealand’s National Parks that hubbie and I did in those ‘before children’ days. So, when they say, ‘Play tag Mum!’, ‘Come chase me!’, or invite me to head off on a roller blade session on the waterfront, I push any excuses to the back of my mind, and say, ‘Yes’. It’s almost like I’ve trained my tongue to say, ‘Yes’; regardless of whether my mind and body really wants to. Once the ‘Yes’ word is spoken out loud it’s like magic, there’s no going back.

Chasing Miss 8 on her rollerblades

And when it comes to exercising for myself, without the children joining in, it’s very much for my mental health, more than anything else (and perhaps a little guilt at the extra few wines I may have drunk in the past week and that chocolate cake that was begging to be finished and those left-over snacks…and, and, and…). So, when hubbie comes home from work, whilst the sun is still in the sky, and says, ‘Go on love, get your kit on and head out for a run!’, I say, ‘Yes’ (thinking, the wine can wait till later and will be even more deserved!).  I often time my jog to finish on a beach, close to sunset, where hubbie can bring any willing children down to meet me (usually it’s Miss recently turned 4 that keenly volunteers).

There’s nothing like young children to put an adult through their paces. She springs from one stretch into the next with the ease of a Royal Ballet dancer, instructing me with positive encouragement to, ‘Copy me Mummy!’.

I call her my personal trainer, as she has a look that’s hard to turn away from and such an infectious zest of positive energy. She’ll have me stretching, doing squats, jumping jacks and tree poses at random intervals throughout the day. She keeps me on my toes and frequently surprises me with impromptu workouts whilst I’m waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning, or the eggs to boil. In her mind every moment counts and there’s no excuse.

We have yoga mats and a deck of cards with yoga poses within reach in the living room – it’s not yoga like you’d expect in a dedicated class, there’s rarely much deep breathing relaxation at the end – at least not without Mummy being climbed on – and the sequence of poses is random, but nevertheless it makes us all feel better to spend five, ten or thirty minutes (if I’m lucky) stretching and breathing.

Then there’s the more fast paced kind of exercise, when we take a few bats and balls to a park or head out for some roller blading along the waterfront in Santa Barbara. At the playground I am asked to have a go on the monkey bars and try a few chin ups… let’s just say I need to practice! There’s opportunities in any day to exercise and keep fit – it’s just down to being open to it and getting involved. The more I say, ‘Yes’ to my children, the better I feel – and the more we all end up exercising! Just got to keep on going, and going, and going… (surely it must be wine o’clock time by now?!). xx

Waterfront fun with my daughters in Santa Barbara

Birthday celebrations for the man of the house in Santa Barbara!

The first half of this week saw the girls and I home alone, with the man of the house away on business. We kept busy – as always – with a blend of rainbow looming, baking, roller blading, swimming and yoga. We treated ourselves to a meal out in Santa Barbara, prepared a few surprises for the man of the house on his return (he was away on his actual Birthday) and we were so happy to hear he’d got himself Thursday off work to spend with us! So, a belated day of Birthday celebrations we enjoyed! We kicked off with a Birthday breakfast at the Summerland Beach Cafe. Delicious!

Breakfast at the Summerland Cafe

After a cheery feast we headed over to ‘Lookout Park‘ in Summerland. It’s a lovely park, with a playground, volley ball pitch, BBQ areas and a stunning lookout over the coast, with easy access to the beach.

Lookout Park, Summerland

Our visit was a little short-lived, after an accidental collision of heads between two our of girls, but happiness was soon restored at home, with a rest for some, and some dive-bombing in the pool for others, before we headed out for an afternoon of activities at ‘Golf and Stuff‘ in Ventura.

Golf and Stuff, Ventura

Our man of the house enjoyed some game play, whist his daughters danced and played.

Golf n Stuff, Arcade, Ventura

We rounded up the day with cake, of course, and a few good beers (thanks Grandma & Grandad). A happy man of the house indeed and us girls were so delighted to have him home. We love you our dear ‘Man of the House’ xxxx

Birthday celebrations for the man of the house!

Can’t wait for the man of the house to be home!

He’s been away three days, but that feels like ages when we’re living overseas and all in the house together every day. The girls and I have kept ourselves busy and are thrilled that he’s coming home tonight (though we’ll be fast asleep when he creeps in around 1am!). It’s his Birthday today and the first one we’ve never celebrated together as a family, on his actual Birthday. The good news is he has all day tomorrow off to celebrate! So, until then, whilst you are driving home to us, here’s a little pre-Birthday greeting…

Away to the Peak District & pause for thought | Part 3

Every since I became a parent I felt grateful; grateful because as a couple we could afford for me to stay at home and be with our children in their early childhood. I have loved it, appreciated it, immersed myself in their world and learned so much from it. On the flip side – I’ve followed my husband’s career – wherever it’s taken us. From England, to New Zealand, from New Zealand to California, USA, and now – who knows? Giving up a paid career, meant saying ‘Yes’ to wherever my husband’s career took us. I lost the right to say, ‘I need to stay here, this is where my work is.’ I have, on the whole, been happy to go where the river has taken me, but this latest journey to live in California, and my recent visit to my birth country, of England, has given me time for reflection.

Peak District

A big part of me would love to return to my home of England. I would love to live in Hampshire, near my parents (and be there for them in their later years), or maybe the Peak District, near my sister. It was a highlight of my short, four-day visit, to travel up to see her. It had been two years since we were last together – when she visited my family and I in Wellington, New Zealand. I was so delighted to finally see her home in the Peak District and catch up with her fantastic partner – who I hadn’t seen in some six years!

My sister at home in the Peak District

We rendezvoused in Bakewell, meeting up for lunch, before driving on to her home in the Peak District. My dear Mum and Dad were with me. They’d stopped the previous night at ‘The Grove’ in Hertfordshire with me – where I’d attended the amazing wedding of an old friend from University days. I was very well looked after (and they kept me so busy that there was little time for me to be anxious about how my caring hubbie was faring back in California – looking after our three daughters). It felt amazing to be reunited with my sister, along with our parents. It was like the old days; just the four of us. I felt so light and energised to be there as a daughter and a sister, without the added responsibility of motherhood.

Wintery weather in Bakewell

We wondered the streets of Bakewell at leisure, without needing to meet the demands of three children in tow. We ate a relaxed lunch and took our time to choose a Bakewell Pie to take back to my sister’s house for pudding.

Bakewell

I have always loved England. I love the history, the landscapes, the people and above all my family. Just recently, with all the crazy floods and storms, they’ve unearthed footprints dating back over 800,000 years – the oldest evidence of humans, outside of Africa! I  love that the UK has the ‘right to roam’. The land, as far as the eye can see, is accessible to the body. Those ancient rights of way are still in place and beg to be explored, in all seasons, just like people have done for hundreds of thousands of years.

I’ve never been a begrudging British expat, wishing away my life in England. I’ve always been partly homesick for it and nostalgic. I never cared a damn about the weather when I was there (apart from January and February – the dark months – I definitely need light – not warmth – but light!). I was brought up to wrap up warm and embrace the elements. To make the most of a sunny day. I fondly remember the feeling of a walk in the cold and returning to my home, or the pub, with cold, pink cheeks, feeling tingling and alive. There is nothing like ‘real weather’ to make a person feel alive! In fact, after six months of living in Southern California – with mostly blue sky and sunshine every day – I was absolutely ecstatic to see clouds, rain, even a flurry of snow on the drive from Bakewell to my sister’s house. I hung out the window of my sister’s car with my camera, trying to capture an approaching snow cloud, loving the feel of my face being chilled by the cold air whizzing past!

Driving through real weather in the Peak District

When we arrived at my sister’s house we snuggled in for a lovely catch up, dinner and a slide show; of my sister’s recent trip to Colorado with her partner, Mike Hutton (who is an incredible outdoor photographer and it was such a delight to see his incredible photographs of Utah, USA). After hearing about their trip we plugged in my Dad’s camera and shared their recent trip to see us and their granddaughters in California. So great to catch up, properly, in person.

My sister, her beloved, and my parents, in her home, in the Peak District

It was such a fantastic evening that I couldn’t sleep that night for thinking. Thinking about how different my life would be if I hadn’t ended up living so far away from my dearest sister, Mum and Dad. I followed the man I’d met at University. I followed his career. I followed him to a beautiful country, New Zealand, that seriously captured my heart.

Looking back, now, it was the classic want of ‘youth’ – for something ‘else’.

So, I married the man I knew, followed his career path, had his children and have, seriously, loved it all. But, I have wondered, over the years,  in those moments of the overwhelming responsibility of parenting, whether it was the right choice: Especially seeing my dear sister, for the first time in two years, with the love of her life, in the home they share, in the Peak District, England.

Peak District

Isn’t this normal? Surely there’s plenty of forty year olds (or nearly forty year olds – yes, it’s THAT year for me) that ask this? I am probably just having one of those ‘mid-life’ moments. There’s too much questioning, analysis and pondering. It’s not at all healthy and, if I’m honest, everything right now in my immediate focus is just fine.

I am lucky to have a husband that’s used to my questioning, analytical nature. I have always been open and honest with him. I do believe that an open relationship, where both partners feel confident to voice everything they think and feel, makes for a lasting relationship. My husband is loving, attentive, caring and wonderful. He is an amazing husband, father and friend. We live life well and do, seriously, have much affection and love for one another. He has walked back and forth, past me, whilst I write this post, and I haven’t felt the need to close the lid on my lap-top. He knows, and trusts, that my ramblings are part of my nature. He lets me be. He loves me, all the same. God, I am a lucky woman! He lets me head out for a run when he knows I need it most. He picks up the phone when I call him. He answers. He’s there. He meets me on the beach, with our youngest. He is always there, whenever he can be, whilst supporting his family in a successful career. He is always there. Writing this post makes me see this all so clearly… and that’s why he lets me write, lets me question, lets me be – open, honest, real.

My husband. My Miss 3. My love.

On that note I shall finish up this questioning post of my own future. I share this, because I can. I have a husband I do deeply love. I am so, so fortunate that he married me knowing I was a looney! He knew I was crazy when we met. He lives with my craziness. We are, together, a unit, and have three crazy, yet wonderful, lively, energetic, inspiring children.

It’s normal to question. It’s normal to wonder, ‘What might have been’. It’s normal to want to stay in touch with people that have touched our lives in the past. We are all living this live, in some kind of ‘oneness’. Let’s be kind to one another. We are never really, ever, ‘grown-up’. We are all just trying to figure out life, the best we can, and let’s be kind to one another and spread the love the best our hearts see fit!

I have a husband who listens, who tries, with all his genuine heart and soul to understand. In the words of the trolls from the latest Disney movie ‘Frozen’, he truly is, ‘a fixer upper’ when it comes to life.

I started writing this post after too many wines, and have since edited it – but the words I’ve left out felt good to write at the time. After those wines I had a good cry and my dear husband hugged me, listened to me, answered my questions, made suggestions that sound right, and understood me. I am so grateful for him. Yes, I have followed him for eleven years. I have given up a career of my own. I have been, above all else, a mother. I have given my heart and soul to my children. I have tried, in all those years, to be supportive, caring, attentive and ‘sexy’ to my husband. I have worked to keep our love and relationship alive. I have had moments of self-doubt and wondered, ‘What if…’, but I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right man.

I love that he ‘let me go’ on a solo trip to the UK. He was amazing, as I knew in my heart he would be, with our three daughters, for the six days and four night’s I was away. It was the first time, in over ten years, I’d been away on my own.

He knew there would be a need for me to process the trip away in my own time, to decompress and put it all in perspective. I love him for his understanding.

Lots of love, Sarah xx (with special thanks to my husband for understanding me and standing by me in all my ramblings!) x

The final part of my trip I’ll write about in due course. The last day we travelled back from the Peak District to Hampshire, enjoying the scenery and finished up with a delightful evening watching ‘Giselle’, the ballet, at a cinema theatre in Camberley, screened live from the Royal Opera House in London.

Read ‘Part 1′ of my trip here: ‘LA to UK for 4 days, sans children. A once in a decade trip!

Read ‘Part 2’ here: An English wedding and a reunion of old friends

Things I’m Loving: Sisterhood & natural learning

It’s my first full week back after my solo trip, sans children, to the UK (which now seems in the very distant past!). I’m taking my time to write about the four day’s I was away; so as to relive it and let the feelings linger on for as long as possible (wishful thinking!). Since I have returned the evenings have begun to get a little lighter, hubbie has made a kind effort to return home from work a little earlier some nights – so I can escape out for a quick 5K run and my daughters have given me lots to smile about.

My three daughters and I

The weather has been a little cooler too – which I much prefer, prompting the girls and I to get out with balls, bats and frisbees.

Goleta playground

And our annual membership to the local Zoo is being well used, as it’s a great space to run around and play, regardless of whether or not we see any animals!

At Santa Barbara Zoo

The older girls are continuing with their obsession of rainbow looming and coming up with headbands, skipping ropes, key rings and more and more complex bracelets. My oldest daughter gifted me a necklace to remember my UK trip with, which I’m wearing next to the double-twist greenstone from New Zealand – that hubbie gifted to me some eighteen years ago!

rainbow loom creations

Elastic bands are taking over the house (I’m forever picking them up…) and having an influence on their natural learning too, with impromptu ‘experiments’ (games and play for them – but it’s all ‘learning’ – they just don’t see it like that!)…

Elasticity

And the elastic bands are even creating impromptu workouts, as they are transformed into skipping ropes!

Skipping ropes made from elastic bands

Loving their creativity and natural learning! There’s so much happening in the house all the time. The ‘Frozen‘ movie and soundtrack is continuing to feature in a BIG way – especially since we went to a ‘Sing a long’ screening of the movie at a local cinema theatre! The girls have been putting on shows in the garage for us, over and over again…!

So long as I get a chance to take a break, I’m all good too! Love a good run at sunset.

A run at sunset

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Linking up with the wonderful Meghan…

The Photo Gallery | Food

Mousetraps. A favourite snack, anytime of day, for two of my three daughters. Simply spread Marmite on toast, sprinkle with grated cheese and pop under the grill till the cheese melts on top.

If you feel inclined, like my Miss 3, share with dinosaurs (or any toy that happens to be at hand!).

Mousetraps

Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ on the theme of ‘Food’ this week!

An English Wedding & a reunion of old friends (Part 2 of my trip to the UK)

I have missed so many weddings in England over the past fifteen years living in New Zealand. My dearest friends from school, college and University days have met their sweethearts, walked down the aisle, partied like there’s no tomorrow, all whilst I’ve been wishing for someone to invent instant travel through time. Unfortunately, often laden with a child, and the cost of travelling some 36 hours across the world, the feasibility of me managing to materialise for those weddings has been zero to impossible. But, in this one instance, placed a little closer around the globe to England (on the Californian Coast of the USA, as opposed to Wellington, New Zealand) I felt better placed (and granted more well financed, with children not in babyhood) to make the journey.

This was to be the wedding of the century to date (bearing in mind that I was married last century, ha, ha, and I have three daughters that may, or may not, get married one day… but I am SO not ready to think about the latter just yet!).

It was the wedding of one of my dearest University pals to her long time sweetheart.

Wedding of Alice and Mike

At the wedding were several University pals – making it quite the reunion, some twenty years since we graduated – or there about. It was an opportunity to finally meet the respective other halves that I’d heard my Uni pals dream about in drunken stupor at the University of Southampton, to hear about their off spring, to discuss life on the cusp – or having just turned – forty… and to compare smile lines. It was one of the last friends, of my close buddies from Uni days, to walk down the aisle and the timing was perfect. I wasn’t going to miss this wedding for all the tea in China (or, more apt to my personal circumstances, all the potential wedding YouTube video takes of the wedding). I had to be there.

Surprisingly, my usual instinct to capture every moment on camera totally evaded me at the wedding (and the photographs I did take, later in the evening when the dancing got going… are probably best not shared here – lest I risk ending those very long, special friendships!). I was so caught up in the moment, and literally shaking with excitement at being there, that it felt totally inane to get out my camera. I wanted to embrace the moment heart and soul and, during the service especially, didn’t feel right intervening on the magic of the moment (besides, there were professionals employed to do that already!).

And magical moments there were indeed… The dear youngest son of the bride and groom walked down the aisle, at the tender age of four, holding a sign reading, ‘Daddy, here comes your Bride’! He walked with  a strong step, but bashfully hid behind the sign; the perfect blend of confidence and innocent shyness. He continued, throughout the wedding, past the dinner, speeches and first dance, with equal perfection of character, finishing up with a party building dance of ‘Gangman Style’ on the dance floor!

After the service, at the historic house of ‘The Grove‘, in Hertfordshire, England (where the presence of early man on the land dates back to 7,000 BC!) we were treated to champagne and canapes (which I can never manage to eat without making a mess and general fool of myself – so passed on several times, whilst trying to sip s.l.o.w.l.y. on the champagne!). Whilst we caught up with one another and marvelled at the gorgeous Mr & Mrs in their finery (and pondered on sharing the same space that, once upon a time, Queen Victoria, King Edward, Tiger Woods and many more illustrious guests have stayed, played and partied) roving entertainers kept us all amused (not that we really needed anything extra, but they certainly left an impression… a magician, a pick-pocket and caricature artists!).

Feeling pleasantly relaxed the bell was rung for dinner and we all made our way to our tables for the dinner and speeches  (little did we all know, there were some ‘singing waiters’ to keep us all in high spirits, no chance of a post dinner snooze! By the time the singing waiters had finished with us, we were all ears for the speeches and feeling pumped up for an evening’s dancing.).

I have to mention here how particularly special this dear friend of mine is. I’ve only ever known her to be smiling, positive, caring and thinking of others. Life has dealt her a tough hand; with the unexpected and sudden death of her father to a brain tumour and, a few year’s later, her dear sister, Lauren, also passed away due to brain cancer.  Both her and dear Mum have been absolute troupers. My friend, Alice, raised nearly £40,000 for Cancer Research UK and carried the Olympic Torch through Hatfield, UK, on Sunday July 8 2012;

“Thanks to support of Lauren’s friends and family and the very generous donations, inspired by Lauren’s story. A big honour for me, and a huge source of amusement for Lauren, I’m sure!” (Alice Breheny)

And so, as anyone reading this will imagine, this wedding was extremely touching in so many ways, not just on the happy union of two incredible people, but in memory of two very special people, taken too soon. It was a wedding filled with happiness, tears, laughter, memories and positive thoughts to the future – the full roller coaster of emotions!

As the official photographer rightly puts it (and you simply MUST check out the incredible photographs!);

“Anyone who was bored at Alice and Mike’s wedding at the Grove last weekend deserved to be thrown out.  They were determined to give their guests a great time and every minute of the day was filled.  In no particular order they had … the beautiful setting of The Grove, candy floss, a photobooth, a caricaturist, Keith the Thief (a pickpocket), a magician (amazing), hilarious and very talented singing waiters, a spectacular evening disco, a dancing competition and air guitars.  And best of all a great crowd of friends and family who lapped it up and rocked the night away.  Add to that a fantastic couple and their four much loved children to welcome everyone and it all adds up to quite some wedding.”

It really was one of the best weddings I have ever attended. There was such a positive vibe amongst everyone and it was definitely worth the flight to be there! Alice, ever thoughtful and caring, left a surprise waiting for me on the dinner table at the wedding, which brought a tear to my eye…

A beautiful gift from my friend

I danced the night away with my Uni friends and finally got to sleep about 2am ish… only to be woken around 8.30 am isn for a drive up to the Peak District to see my dear sister and her man! Thankfully I wasn’t driving – my dear folks had stayed the night at The Grove too, and joined in the dancing (but turned in at a more sensible hour!).

What a wedding! I wish Mike and Alice very many happy, wonderful years together and Mike, you are indeed ‘A very lucky man!’…

A very lucky man!

 

Read ‘Part 1’ of my trip here: ‘LA to UK for 4 days, sans children. A once in a decade trip!