Shendish Manor: Saturday -- link to Shendish
We slept in till 8, then we snitched some milk from the breakfast bar. (As with most hotels, they didn’t have a whole lot available for breakfast unless you ordered something from the kitchen. They did have some cornflakes, but I had my own cereal back in the room so we just grabbed milk for cereal and tea. Unfortunately they didn’t have enough milk out for anyone to have cereal, even though there were a few boxes of cornflakes out. I suppose cereal isn’t very British.)
We then took a walk down the hill and tried to find the magic round-a-bout so I could take a picture of the sign. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it and later when we passed it by car I realized we had gotten quite close. I don’t think we’ll have time tomorrow morning to catch it, though, since we have to leave by cab at 9.
We stopped in a coin and stamp shop to pick up a gift for a friend and while we were there the shop owner was thrilled to show us bank notes from the US. There were notes from the 1770’s that were Hand Written and had Three signatures on each one! They also had both pounds and dollars listed on them since the nation was switching over. There were some that were stamped from the confederacy, but they were signed and numbered by hand.
There were notes for as little as 3 cents and when we asked the guy about it he explained that all of the metal from the coins would have been needed to make cannons and bullets for the revolutionary war and later the civil war.
We got back to the manor in time to change into our wedding clothes and head down to the lobby to meet the couple that was going to drive us over to the church. After all of the beautiful old churches we’ve been in since we got here, it was a bit of a shock when I saw the church Roz and Alan were going to be married in. I’d say it was probably built in the 60s. Oh well.
During the wedding it was of course interesting to notice the difference between American and English weddings. The biggest difference, I think, was that Roz and Allen had to sign a church register During the ceremony. It’s apparently a big book that everyone that’s married in the church has to sign and it’s considered a legal document by the nation. I can only assume that it’s a result of the union of church and state. When I asked about it, it seems that this is done not only in Anglican churches (the state church) but in others as well. So in that way having a national church seems to also affect the other churches as well. (The whole church and state thing has been a regular topic of discussion between Rob and myself as we meet Christians in England and attend church services here. The Christian community here seems to have an over all rather different feel than the overall church community in America (and granted, that’s a huge chunk that covers many cultures within the church in each nation, but still I think there’s an underlying feeling or sense that is very different between the two).
We returned to Shendish at around 2 (the wedding started at 12) and there were appetizers and drinks available. Unfortunately there were no plates.... (Even one of the serving girls admitted that that was weird.)
There was a walnut and blue cheese paste wrapped in philo dough that Rocked! There was also asparagus, fresh veggies and chicken fingers. And though we saw other people drinking what looked like white wine, all we could locate was the mulled wine. It was good, but mulled wine has so much flavor that I really think it would have been better on it’s own, but I didn’t want to stop eating those lovely walnut pastries -- which presented quite a quandary. ;-)
At 3 we went through the receiving line and headed in for dinner. We started with watercress soup, which was fantastic. Apparently Hemel Hempstead area is known for their watercress (or at least it was back in the day). It apparently grew in a couple of the nearby rivers. (This according to the talk around the table as we ate our soup.)
I noticed, as we ate our soup, that as people neared the end of their bowl, they tipped it away from themselves and scooped out the last bits. Not wanting to be the crass American that tips my bowl toward myself (which is I think how we’d do it in the States, yes? I don’t think it’s just me.) I didn’t tip my bowl one way or the other.
When we finally got our food (turkey, gammon (ham), potatoes and veggies, though I got a puff pastry with mushroom sauce and asparagus since I don’t eat meat) I also noticed that all of the Brits (and the Bermudans) ate with their fork in their left hand and their knife in their right I’d seen that before and even eat that way on occasion when it suits the food (as in, I’ll be cutting it alot). But when I tried eating that way tonight I had a very hard time getting the puff pastry onto my fork. So I finally gave up. June, the vegetarian on my right, managed it just fine. I was quite impressed. She and her husband commented on the fact that we were using our right hands for our forks and said that when they were at a business dinner in the states once, they noticed that the Americans from the east coast ate like they did, but the Americans from the west coast ate like I did. Hmmm, perhaps I should do a poll on this at some point, eh?
I should add, at this point, that there was no clinking of glasses. Not only do I think it’s not a custom here, but since we were in an oddly shaped room, we wouldn’t have seen the bride and groom kiss even if there was that custom here. Oh well. It’s never been my favorite part of a reception anyway.
Pudding (dessert) was either chocolate covered pear, strawberries and pineapple, banana cream pie, or fruit crumble (what I’d call a cobbler). I chose fruit crumble (as did most people, it seems). There was also custard (I think we’d call it vanilla pudding) to pour over it. Again, this was really delicious. (All the food was quite wonderful. I wish they’d publish a recipe booklet for us at the end of the event.)
For the dessert, I noticed that again everyone had their forks in their left hand and this time they had a large spoon in their right which they used to scoop their food onto their forks. Rob just ate his with a spoon and I just ate mine with a fork. We both seemed to do fine with only using one utensil. ;-)
Then they passed out the wedding cake as well as served tea, coffee and champagne. (They scrunched this part all together because serving the meal had taken a bit longer than they had intended.) There was a toast by the father of the bride, Peter. Then Alan (the groom) got up and thanked people while Roz and her nephew handed out gifts to those who had helped out with the wedding. Then James, the best man got up to speak. A friend of his had gone around to all of the tables earlier and taken bets on how long James would speak. I went for 6.5 minutes, knowing from last night that he liked to talk. But when I heard him say that he wasn’t going to talk long because he hadn’t gotten a moment to prepare, I knew my guess had just been tossed out the window. Sure enough, he talked for 8 minutes and Alan (the groom) won the pot. (We had each put in 50p - the “p” stands for pence but people just say the “p”.)
After all that Roz told us that we were free to get a bit of fresh air or do whatever we wanted until 7:30 when there would be dancing. So Rob and I came up to our room (it IS nice to be staying in the same building as the reception) and called the kids. Then I typed most of this up knowing that I wanted to catch those little details like the soup bowls being tilted forward and I’m afraid that all that is going to run right out of my head as I experience all the other things coming up that are going to be utterly different than weddings in the States. ;-)
Shendish Manor: Sunday 2:45 am
(Rob woke me up when he got up to go to the bathroom, so here I am finishing off today’s entry. The wind seems to have come back. I hope it’s not like this when our plane is getting ready to leave later today.)
We went back downstairs in time for Rob to try yet another English beer. This was named after a person (John Smith?) and was labeled “extra smooth” which we decided might mean it’s not quite as hoppy as most of the other beers we’d tried. It turned out to be rather like a lighter version of Guinness.
Alan looked like he only made it through the first dance because Roz was with him, but he looked like he was hoping desperately to escape by the time he was dancing with his mum. Roz, of course, was having the time of her life. Once others joined the dance floor she took some time out to pass out glowing necklaces to any kids that were still around, which turned out to be only two young ones who were coaxed out to the dance floor. (OK, so it didn’t really take much coaxing.)
There was a cash bar and later another room was opened with snacks and tables to sit around and gab. The snacks were all very greasy, which fit with what we’d been told earlier by one of Roz’s friends. After drinking a lot people like to stop off at KFC or something like that for something a bit greasy. It seemed like a recipe for disaster too me, but what do I know?
After chatting with some more folks, Rob and I snuck off to pack up and get ready to go. (I’m an introvert, remember. So hanging out with that many people that I don’t know for that long gets a bit draining. Everyone was very nice to us, though.)
Instead of packing, however, I ended up reading the newspaper. ;-) The “Big Brother” show seems to be a hot topic this week. Also there was a horrid article about a serial killer in Vancouver.
I’m rather bummed that Shendish doesn’t have wifi. Being up in the middle of the night is a perfect time to catch up on multiply surfing. But considering that tomorrow is going to be a long day (we get to live 7 hours twice), I probably should try getting some sleep.