Now that I have caught up with the backlog of emails etc., waiting for me when I returned, and all the other things that needed to be done, like the Prayer Guidelines for October that I draw up for the Northern section of this Methodist Circuit and the proof-reading in a Guatemalan language sent to me by Wycliffe Associates (UK) plus the storing of the apple harvest, etc., I think it is high time that I continued the story of my trip up North last month.
We awoke on the wedding morning to pouring rain, which showed no sign of easing. But we all had to carry on regardless. The bride’s aunt on her father’s side took me to the picturesque church on the outskirts of Newcastle where the couple worship, and we waited expectantly for the bride to arrive with her father. She looked radiant in her elegant white dress and carried a bouquet of white and lilac flowers. Her bridegroom, waiting for her at the altar, is a descendent of John Wesley – a fact that was of special interest and pride for the Methodist members of the family.
Since the vicar knew the couple so well, as he is their own pastor, the service was a very intimate and moving ceremony. It began with the hymn ‘One more step along the world I go’ and there were three readings. The vicar read the first from
I Corinthians, Chapter 13; the bride’s cousin read ‘I married my best friend’ (written by the bride); and the groom’s sister read ‘On your wedding day’. After the exchange of vows and rings, the ceremony ended with ‘The Lord of the Dance’, which ends with ‘I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.’
It was an unusual wedding in that all the bridal party were in black and white – the bridesmaid wore black dresses with white bouquets and all the men and little pageboy wore black suits with white waistcoats and cravats and many of the ladies at the wedding wore black and white dresses. Someone asked if they were Newcastle supporters, but he answer was ‘No’. The order of service booklets were black with white printing and the tables at the reception were decorated in black and white! All the photos had to be taken inside the church, at the altar, because of the torrential rain.
We then travelled several miles North to Morpeth in Northumbria for the reception at Longhirst Hall, which has magnificent grounds, ideal for wedding photographs. Alas, the rain made this impossible and there was disappointment, for a bridge in the grounds had earlier been decorated with flowers ready for the photographs. The majestic staircase of the Hall had to be substituted instead.
In his parental address, the bride’s father spoke of the way in which his daughter had had to grow up quickly, forgoing a normal childhood because her older brother, who had been born severely handicapped at birth, had needed so much attention, all day, every day, until he died just before his twenty-first birthday. When she saw how much had to be done for him that he could never do for himself, it had made his sister determined to spend her life helping others, and so today, after years of study, she is employed in research into new pharmaceutical treatments for the seriously ill.
Between the meal and the dancing, we watched TV in the lounge and there was a loud gasp when the weather forecast showed a big black cloud – ‘It’s right over us’, they said. On the TV next day, by which time we were safely back in Newcastle, there were dreadful pictures of Morpeth under flood, with a wedding ruined and people having to be rescued by boat and helicopter. It could have been us!
Then came the dancing and for the first time I wondered if I had been wise to travel so far for my great-niece’s wedding! I knew that I could not dance with both my ankles completely fused and the only people I knew would be busy looking after their guests. I needn’t have worried! A large group of ‘twenty-somethings’, friends of the bridal couple said, ‘Come on our table.’ The result was that we all had a wonderful time together, with much laughter and they were all calling me ‘Auntie Olive’. At one point in our conversation, I happened to say, ’I wrote about that on my blog last week.’ And there was a big chorus of ‘What’s a blog?’ This surprised me, so I got out my mobile on which I was able to bring up my blog for them to see. They had great fun, passing it round among them and scrolling up and down to see what I’d written. Finally we went to bed at 2am!
The next morning the bridal couple held an Open House in their home in Newcastle, which is a very unusual house - very tall and very narrow, with just one room on each floor and a winding staircase in between! So the kitchen is on the ground floor and you go up a floor to the sitting room, and so on, with only one room on each floor! It was from this house that I was collected by my nephew, who had not been at the wedding, for the start of the next stage of my exciting visit to the North-East, which I will write about later.