Up ’til now I have been a little reticent on the subject of clothes, or at least the details of what everyone was going to wear. This was a deliberate ploy not to spoil the surprises for people on the day, but now it’s all over I can come clean at last and reveal all.

Before I scare off the remaining readers I am going to tell you a bit more about the outfits worn on the day so the fashionistas can learn more about what is a la mode for nuptial events in East Yorkshire.

As you’ve already been party to many of the trials and tribulations of B in the selection and fitting of her wedding dress I can now reveal that she went for a creation with a tight buttoned bodice and full skirt with modest train by Andrea Bambridge of York, with Vivienne Westwood, Lady Dragon Heart shoes (and later pink Hunter Wellington boots).

I think I was fortunate enough to miss the wedding day trauma when she put her dress on.

At an earlier fitting MOB had asked the designer what would happen if B either put on or lost weight before the wedding. “The dress won’t fit” was the curt response. This was true so when B put the dress on she had lost enough weight for the dress to collapse around her knees and produce wails of despair. Fortunately MOB was on hand with boxes of tissues. So with some hurriedly improvised padding all was mended and the dress stayed up.

Well before the wedding MOB had searched high and low for an appropriate “Mother of the Bride” outfit that would match the occasion. This search was fruitless as MOB concluded that she hated every “Mother of the Bride” outfit and these were just another excuse to wring money out of people by attaching a wedding label to garments that were neither well made nor practical enough to wear on any other occasion.

Having failed to find anything appropriate MOB decided that she would wear what she wanted instead – even if others might think it inappropriate. Personally I approve of this approach. So the mother of the bride wore a striking red Vivienne Westwood Anglomania dress, set off with a pair of Iron Fist, Wolfbeater shoes and a hat from William Chambers of Glasgow. Actually the shoes were chosen for the evening celebrations, but an injury sustained a few days before the wedding meant that B’s foot had swollen so much she couldn’t put the Vivienne Westwood, Lady Dragon Wax Seal shoes on.

For my part I wore a striped Paul Smith suit, red tie from TM Lewin (one of a 3 for £66 “bargain” – does anyone ever buy a single tie from there?) and shirt & shoes from the FOB’s own collection. Oh and a Philip Treacy hat from MOB’s collection

And just to complete the entourage the BM’s wore Joules Phyllis polka dot outfits and C and best man wore suits for hire.

You will all be glad to know that I am approaching the end of my post-wedding traumatic stress therapy and hope to resume posting very shortly.

As the traumatic stress levels die down at work, my time on the project at the bank in London is drawing to a close and I will soon have the novelty of seeing my family again for more than a 48 hour weekend burst. I may even manage to catch up with B now that she has been released from hospital… but you’ll have to read my post on that.

Flower power


One of the defining components of a wedding is the beautiful flower arrangements, which is why the day before B’s wedding I was standing in the rain in a garden in Sheffield cutting the flowers off a large hydrangea bush.

For some time the types and colours and arrangements of flowers were in a state of flux. B was adamant about a few things floral such as her bouquet, but undecided about what should decorate the tipis and the church. These problems were only compounded by visits to the florists, discussions about what was in season, what might be the right colours and what would be in keeping with her “Alice in a country cottage wonderland” theme.

At one point in the preceedings B was extolling the merits of topiary – “But it’s only £1,000 to hire them for the weekend”.

Cost and pragmatism became a defining feature of the floral arrangements – mainly the “It costs how much!” exclamations from MOB, which were commonly followed by “It would be cheaper to grow it myself.”

Thus the rules for the floral arrangements were drawn up.

B would engage a florist to prepare her bouquet, corsages and buttonholes for the wedding party and the flowers to go in the large stone (concrete) urn which MOB had encouraged us to buy in Costco and then had to travel the 85 miles home with it in the front footwell while she folded her legs like origami because we were in the sports car.

The flower of choice was to be the Hydrangea.

MOB and I would obtain and supply topiary and flowers for the reception, both ones to go outside the tipi and arrangements for the tables.

So last year as the unloved garden centre plants appeared in the autumn sales at less than half price, especially if they looked appropriately large or topiary-like and could be found in pairs we purchased them, plonked them in a quiet corner of the garden and let them spend the winter and spring thinking about flourishing.

MOB scoured the seed catalogues and on-line gardening sites so that in spring boxes of tiny flowers started to arrive. Armed only with a bag of compost, dibber and assortment of large flowerpots MOB created a number of planters which stretch in a double row from our front door to the garden gate.

When the time came these and the topiary were all duly lifted into the horsebox and conveyed to the farm to be arranged in pairs alongside the path to the tipi, or strategically placed around the perimeter of the field.

This only left the interior displays and table arrangements for the tipi. I was becoming adept at spotting hydrangeas, and noticing those which were more out of the way, where a few flowers might be discretely snipped off. MOB however had other plans.

So the day before the wedding we headed to Sheffield for MOBs hair appointment. Leaving home early ensured that we arrived at Morrisons just after the doors opened. MOB had already determined that it was here that the best flowers could be found at an affordable price. We filled a shopping trolley with flowers and received some stares as we wheeled it through the store. What surprised me more was that the lady at the checkout acted as if every Friday morning a couple buy a trolley full of flowers.

This was not enough, and MOB had already secured additional blooms from friends, relatives and neighbours of relatives which is why I spent most of Saturday with wet arms. Later in the day a visit to a friends allotment secured a bucketful of Marigolds and Alliums (should that be Allia?) – in reality these were leeks which had started to flower. On returning home I also noticed that one of my artichokes had blown over, and as this was in flower I just cut off the leaves and surreptitiously added it to the flower assortment.

On the morning of the wedding MOB skillfully arranged the flowers into receptacles large and small (some of which incidentally never made it to the tipi) these displays were conveyed to the farm and set out on the tables.

I wonder if B realises that the structural elements of the floral arrangements were actually vegetables?

Coming clean


Preparing for a wedding is not a trivial undertaking.

Preparing for any kind of visitors is not a trivial undertaking in our house, and this would be an occasion when we would be entertaining friends we had not seen for over ten years.

So the house needed to be tidy; extra special tidy.

Meanwhile other wedding preparations had to continue, so as I mentioned earlier each of us were allocated three rooms to tidy; I got the utility room, kitchen offshot and study.


So I started by blitzing the utility room, throwing away, putting away, washing every surface and creating clean worktops and illusions of space. I don’t have a “before” picture, but maybe that’s just as well because it would only make you shudder and exclaim about how people can bear to live with such mess.

Unfortunately I did too good a job so I got our bedroom and the shower room added to my list.

Fortunately for the BOBs, the day before the wedding MOB and I had to go to Sheffield, and this allowed them enough space and time to do their bit (under threat of severe pain from MOB).

Encouraging BOBajob

I have to admit that I was amazed and pleased at what greeted us on our return. The house was immaculate, floors clean, surfaces clear with no (obvious) dust in sight. The BOBs had obviously been busy, hard at work all day on the cleaning and clearing.

I was impressed. While I knew that SpongeBOB would make an effort I was more sceptical that BOBajob would do the same, but I was wrong and he had done his bit to make the house presentable.

Fortunately for BOBajob I didn’t open the door to the understairs cupboard until the day after the wedding.

It was plain to see how the house had been magically transformed, but it was now impossible to get anything into or out of the cupboard. I sighed, closed the door and decided not to think about it; I would try again the next day when I have more energy.

I am sure that everyone will be delighted to hear that it is now over, and that both the wedding ceremony and subsequent celebrations appear to have been a great success.

The bride accompanied by Bridefather arrived fashionably late and the wedding ceremony took place without stumbled lines, fainting or cries of “Yes – I know why they should not be wed…”

Everyone then managed to get back from the church to the farm, the meal was eaten, drinks consumed, speeches made and the party went on into the night, long after MOB and I had taken our leave of the proceedings.

But rather than terminate this blog so abruptly I shall tell you all about it in snippets…

And of course, it isn’t really over because I am sure you will also be intrigued to know what we will do with the 300 teacups, mile of bunting, tonne of confectionery, two dozen cake plates, 100 assorted candlesticks/tealight holders/lanterns and dozen ancient cameras which are now stored in the centre of the utility room, kitchen, dining room, living room, study and hallway.

I think it’s arrived about a week too early.

MOB is preparing flowers, continuing from yesterday’s late-night burst of cupcake and pew-end poesy making. B and BM1 are surveying things, the BOBs have spent the night in the tipi and I am about to go and see if the recalcitrant ancient automobile will choose to start after a night on the battery charger.

If it doesn’t MOB is not going to be happy.

And in an hour and a half the house will be invaded by strangers – making up, hair dressing, photographing.

Busy busy busy


Since getting home it’s been a continuous round of tidying and getting things ready – and I’m tired so instead of eleven thousand words…

A present from B

Got the T-shirt




tipi construction

tipi construction 2


tipi filling

setting up

teacups on tables

New starts


Four days to go.

It’s obviously a week for new beginnings, so I’m rewriting my speech and finding new ties.

Having carefully prepared my speech I delivered it to MOB and didn’t get the response I was expecting. I’m not sure what response I was expecting, but it wasn’t “It’s a bit dull”. I think MOB had feared that I might insult her, the bride, the guests, the in-laws to be, the population of East Yorkshire… But no, she said that my speech was not objectionable, it just isn’t very interesting – and sounds insincere.

So I’m busy reworking it… well wielding a large cut and paste scalpel excising large parts of it and replacing them with other bits. Although I’m not quite sure how to overcome the sincerity bit – maybe it’s something in the delivery.

She’s made me think though, maybe the talks I give at conferences are also dull. On the other hand I think something like “strategies for adopting cloud computing” would be dull for at least 99% of the wedding guests.

Also starting again is selecting a red tie. MOB was right, the colour of her dress is a difficult shade of red to match, especially if one wishes to spend less than £59.99.

Fortunately it’s quickly obvious if a tie will match of not. So far none of the ties I have in my current wardrobe match it, neither do the two ties I bought last week. They were close, but not good enough, so I’m trying again. I’m being very selective about where I choose to shop for this, I make sure that it will be possible to return the item should it not match the dress.

And now while I’m out shopping for red things I am told I also need to buy a red bra.

My daughter causes me great pain and suffering on occasions – see!

With only one week left until the wedding (what wedding I hear you cry) last weekend was to be the Great Tidy. This was the opportunity to get the house shipshape and ready to greet the hordes invited to descend upon us the morning after.

But I have a small problem, well 105 small problems to be exact. I am the designated “eat me” maker and I’ve not made anything to eat.

The wedding guests will receive a small token or keepsake to remind them of the best day of B’s life. They will each get an “eat me” and a “drink me” (in keeping with the Alice in the wondrous Yorkshire vintage countryside theme) and I am making the “eat me”.

As the day approaches and the stress levels rise I haven’t bother to mention to B my view that presenting such items labelled “eat me” and “drink me” to the assembled guests may not obvious as wedding favours and run the risk of being considered condiments or amuse bouche for the wedding feast.

The “eat me” will be a small pot of confit de vin. I’ve been practising my recipes and a couple of months ago having produced on red and one white version decided that I’d cracked it. So I made up my first batch on Friday night with 1.5 litres of wine (Semillon Blanc), potted (or jarred it) and went to bed.

On Saturday morning MOB and the jam were not happy. MOB demonstrated the unhappiness by pouring the liquid contents of a jar of what by all rights (and recipe following) should have been a thick set jelly. Then she tasted the runny, gooey concoction and declared that it tasted funny. She also insisted that Aunty Annie from next door, should also try it, and Aunty Annie concluded that it was far too sweet.

So I tried again after a “quick” trip to the local store, as of course I now needed more wine, jam sugar and some extra pectin, just in case. This time I was cautious and only used 750ml of wine (Pinot Grigio this time, in a wine box, if you were wondering). I managed to ensure the entire bottle of wine, sugar and gelling compounds turned into a thick syrup.

By this time, of course, word had spread like wildfire through the local wasp population that I was making jam and there were treats to be had. So my second batch of jam was not entirely wasted, it proved a useful diversionary sugar bath for local insects while I cracked on with a third and potentially final batch.

Just for good measure with this version I added extra pectin to the wine and lemon juice mixture and brought it to a boil. Then followed the most exciting bit – setting the evaporating alcohol alight. A few minutes later and the flames were starting to die down so I added sugar and did some rolling boiling stuff.

In retrospect creating a flambé was obviously the key event missing from previous attempts, because this time the jelly set, the little pots can be inverted and everything stays-put. So I repeated the exercise twice more and created 105 little pots of confit de vin, of which 104 remain.

The last pot? – that was the taster/tester pot which got passed around for everyone to declare a success.

As for the injury – no it’s not a jam-maker’s burn, it’s the remains of a burst blister acquired securing the lids of the little pots.

Not only was my train cancelled because the incoming service had developed “emergency engineering works at Newark” but every other train leaving London for Yorkshire was not running because of a euphemistic “Police Incident” displayed on the screens but a “Person struck by a train” on the station announcements.

At least an hour’s worth of trains were delayed and although not in the middle of rush hour, the station was still very busy. I started to estimate the cost of the incident in terms of wasted time, lost productivity and monetary cost. However I quickly realised that I could use the extra hour of non-productivity to think a bit more about my speech, and especially how I might begin.

While pacing the station concourse and queing for a coffee, here are a few of the options that I considered.

“Hello, good afternoon and welcome…”

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the birth of a marriage…”

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy…”

“As B awoke from a night of uneasy dreaming…”

“It is a truth universally acknowledged…”

“I’ll start at the very beginning…”

“Once upon a time…”

“Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”

“’twas brillig…”

“Welcome to just a couple of minutes…”

“Yo dudes…”

“Hey – it’s nearly all over…”

“Stop fighting and listen…”

“I’ve started, so I’ll finish…”

Or maybe I’ll think of something different while I wait for a connection in Doncaster.