Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Back from Blightly
Well, hello again - it's good to be back! Believe it or not I did miss this little blog o' mine while I was gone. It's been a few days since I arrived home from England and I have just been getting back on track with laundry, paying bills and coping with some serious jet lag that has had me up at all hours of the night - but it has all been worth it because my trip overseas was, in one word, FANTASTIC!
I have so much to share with you all from my journey, but first, I have some really exciting news to share - well, exciting for me anyway. While in England I had my cell phone turned off the entire time and I barely touched a computer or had any real interaction with the outside world, which was JUST how I wanted it. However, because of my self-imposed hiding, I missed a very important call from our immigration lawyer. This phone call, had I taken it, would have made the goodbye at the airport much less teary and sad. Why, you ask? Well, because apparently the US government has decided that Dan and I are a legitimate couple and has APPROVED OUR VISA APPLICATION!!!! Whoo hoo! Yipee! I AM SO EXCITED!!! This is HUGE news for us as we were not expecting to hear anything until late October. Finally, after almost a year of being apart and constant worry, things are finally looking up for this Yank and Limey combo.
With this said, we still have a few more hoops to jump through as Dan will have to have an interview at the American consulate in London, but we see this as just the last few steps in our little visa journey. Hopefully, (knock on wood), my darling will be here in the next couple of months. What a great way to end my trip and start yet another period of separation. There is a light at the end of the tunnel which is in direct conjunction with the extra spring in my step.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Now - for my England experience - round three for the year. (Side note - had anyone told me 2 years ago that in 2009 I would go to England 3 times, I would have laughed in your face and told you that you were madder than a box of frogs - life is funny like that.)
My trip to England was sort-of divided into two parts: week one and week two. One of the main reasons I visited when I did was that, after 17 years together, Dan's Mom and now Step-Dad decided to tie the knot, so Wedding Fever was all around. Most of week one was spent helping get ready for the big day which was a lot of fun. I have always found times like that to be enjoyable, despite the inevitable chaos. There is so much to be done with little time, paired with excitement - I love it. I am a type-A personality - what can I say?
As is a trend in many weddings I have seen of late, and something that Dan and I are also doing, is to have a candy bar (no pun intended). A few days before the wedding, all of the candy (or "sweets" if you are English) was brought out onto the kitchen table and we organized them all into pretty dishes. The English are big on milk chocolate and it is so creamy and delicious - it blows American milk chocolate out of the water.
This is about the time when my pre-wedding diet took a nose dive. Actually, scratch that...it is when it crashed and burned.
This is the tent that was set up in the yard (garden...sorry - I can't help myself with these little translations - I like them and it's my blog so I can do what I want). The ceremony was to be held in a nearby Castle with the reception following back at the house. This picture was taken right after it was all set up and it was beautiful. I loved all the draping and the fact that there were two trees that the tent was set up around.
Here it is the next morning as the set-up was continuing. The area with the red chairs and balloons was the kids table which provided ample amounts of cuteness overload on the actual day.
See the tree in the tent? Isn't that super? Dan and I strung twinkle lights on them so they looked really pretty at night.
Right before everything got kicked off, I ran into the tent and snapped a couple photos with everything all set up. Sorry for the yellow hue in the photo - not quite sure what happened there. Anyway - It looked really pretty all set-up and at this point I was getting really excited. See the person in the photo? That was one of the catering staff who was setting up the cupcakes which they had in lieu of a traditional wedding cake.
Here is a closer look. Oh baby - come to Mama. These were insanely delicious. They came from a store called Selfridges which is like a department store made up of a bunch of department stores within it which is all separated by brand. For example, they have the Ralph Lauren section, the Armani section, the Guess section, etc, etc. But, in addition to clothing they sell all different kinds of liquor and food goods from around the world. It is a very cool place to check out if you visit England.
***Quick note - they had an "American Food" section which included corn bread mix, Kraft mac and cheese, Aunt Jemima maple syrup and Goober peanut butter and jelly mix. I was quite entertained with the "American" selection, but also hopeful that people did not judge our cuisine based on what was on those shelves***
Before we knew it, the big day had arrived. The morning was spent with everyone getting ready at the house and finishing up all the last minute details. Dan was running around like a crazy person fixing things and coordinating things - he is a very hard little worker and this wedding was no exception.
This is the courtyard in front of the house. That is Dan in the suit running around. Can I just point out how amazingly gorgeous the house is? Basically if I see brick with ivy running up it, I am in love.
By around 11am, everyone started to gather outside as we were ready to go. See the lovely lady in the purple dress? That is Dan's Mom and she looked beautiful. I love that she went for a color she loved instead of simply going with tradition. And...do I even need to mention the little flower girls? Those are Dan's nieces and they looked ridiculously adorable in those puffy little dresses.
This is the view from the road of the castle where the wedding was held. It was built in 1070 A.D. (wowzers) and is only a fragment of what it was in it's prime due to the fact that it is built from red sandstone, a material that erodes easily. However, what is still standing is magnificent and I was thrilled to get to go to a wedding at a castle.
As we pulled up, this is what I saw. The clouds were finally starting to break and the blue sky was the perfect backdrop for the lush green lawn and meticulously manicured flowers.
Every direction I looked there was a stunning view.
In this photo you can see what is left of some of the castle walls that used to surround the entire town of Shrewsbury. When I see all the castles in England, all I see is beauty and images of the royal life sweep through my mind - it is easy to forget that they were really built as massive fortresses designed to keep attackers out.
It is hard to believe that this has been standing since 1070.
Across from the main castle was a little tower that you could climb up and this little lovely was at the top of the tower. Like the sepia tone of this pic? I think I really missed my calling as a photographer :)
This is the view from the tower.
The ceremony itself was lovely. We were in a tiny little room in the castle and it was very intimate and very personal and just perfect. However, they asked we not take photos during that part, so I am a bit short on pics, which is probably good as this is turning into quite the lengthy post - sorry folks.
After the ceremony was over, there was the signing of the marriage license, which was assisted by a trio of little monkeys.
Once the signing was done and the couple officially betrothed, it was champagne and pictures in front of the castle. Here Dan's Mom and Step-Dad are trying to wrangle the little ones for photos - a task easier said than done. Don't they look fab though? I just love the purple - it really appeals to the 5 year old in me who is attracted to all things pink or purple.
Dan with the bride.
I quickly snapped this one as all of the other stuff was going on in front of the castle. These two had found a bench to sit on and big brother decided to give his sister a kiss on the cheek. Kids at weddings, all dressed up, are perhaps my favorite part of all weddings.
And here is me with my man. Me likey.
After the castle celebration, it was back to the house to get the party started. As we were pulling in the driveway, we came upon this little scene with the happy couple.
I LOVE IT!!! I didn't know men really did this anymore! Crap - I really need to get back on track with the old wedding diet.
And here they are - the Mr. and Mrs. It was great to see them finally able to just sit back and enjoy the party and to look so happy.
The entire night was a blast. Drink was drunk. Fun was funny. Laughter was laughed. And...most importantly in the minds of some 2 - 4 years olds, cupcakes were consumed. Here is Dan as he tries to explain why, oh why, the giant tower of cupcakes within a small hands reach could not yet be touched. This is not an easy concept for some. Why put them out, right near the kids table, if they were not to be eaten when desired? I know, little ones, I know...it is a cruel, cruel world we live in.
Well - I have hundreds of photos of the wedding, but seeing as this post now rivals the length of War and Peace, I think I will give it a rest. I have lots more to show you of my travels, but it is now time for me to check out all the blogs I missed while I was gone and catch up on what has been happening. I hope you all are well and it is good to be back.
Enjoy your day, wherever you may be.