On our third sight seeing day in London we did something a little different. We spent most of the day searching for elephants in the great london elephant parade! We only found about 40 of the 255 or so, but it was fun hunting!
We bought a Thames Clipper hop on/off pass to jet up and down the Thames river all day long as well. Traveling by boat was quite nice. A nice change from the tube.
We made our way to Greenwich and slowly but surely climbed the steepest hill in the world to get to the Greenwich Observatory. Seriously, this hill was so steep and with 105 year old lungs I had to stop... a lot. We even took the handicap route, which we hoped would lead us to a lift, but no luck. It was just paved instead of gravel. The funniest part was at the end of the handicap route there is a ridiculous two door gate to zig zag through, which was hard to do for a walker, I can't imagine in a wheelchair, and then it led to stairs. So much for equal access!
On the way back to central London on the Clipper I met a lovely gal that knew the city a bit. I asked her for recommendations on a good Thai place. Siam Central on Charlotte Street was awesome! Dare I say the Pad Kra Pow was better than Thai Basil? It was really really good.
On Thursday before we left the city we had to stop by Abbey Road studios for the big Beatles fan of our party. All the tourists were signing the cement wall with Sharpies that looked as if it had been painted over just about every month with fresh white paint. We didn't take part in the graffiti, but we did of course do the walk across the famous crosswalk outside the Beatles studio. The locals must be so tired of fans walking and taking pictures of one another, holding up traffic. Most didn't seem to mind, as there was no angry honking. We did see a delivery van cheering the tourists on as they walked and snapped photos though. It was great fun.
We made the long 2 hour trek to Grantham on Thursday afternoon. With a bazillion people inside Kings Cross station we were able to meet up with Paul's dad with enough time to catch an earlier than planned train up north. We stayed up late in the pub at Stoke Rochford Hall. Those crazy Brits sure do like to drink! Actually I think they were a bit intrigued by us "exotic" crazy North Americans that traveled 6000 miles for a wedding.
The wedding was Friday and it was an absolutely gorgeous day! I was a bit chilly in my strapless dress, as it was only about 60 degrees, so it's a good thing I had my fancy trench coat. But it was nothing but clear blue skies with the occasional cloud blocking the sun and a slight breeze during the champagne hour. Or should I say two! Like I mentioned before, they sure do like to drink!
Ah, but first the church. So the wedding ceremony was actually in the bride's home town....er, home village of Syston. It's a tiny farm village and the whole village came together to beautify the church. There hadn't been a wedding there for 7 years! It's a tiny church with a parish registry dating back to 1562. There is a small wrought iron gate to the entrance which had peeling paint before the wedding. Some residents of the village came together to re-paint the gate, cut the grass and wash the street signs, all in honor of Sarah's wedding.
As we packed into the tiny church we squished 4 people per pew to watch the ceremony. We were under strict instructions not to photograph during the ceremony. I never heard "Now you may kiss the bride." and I'm not sure if it was because the bride and groom just kissed immediately after they were officially husband and wife or if it's not a British tradition to say so.
We joked that the "Wedding Breakfast" (dinner), was made fresh from lamb at the Stoke Rochford mansion farm as there were plenty of farm animals wandering the grounds. The food was most excellent and ended with a creme brulee dessert.
The night before the wedding we had met the groom and the best man at the Stoke pub for some late night drinks. Somehow the idea came about to put a sweepstake on the best man's speech. For £1 in you could bet how long the speech would take. He promised it to be 8 minutes and it ended up being 20! The highest bid was 24 minutes. The winner was sitting at the bookie's table, which I found highly suspect! Half the money went to charity and the other half went to the winner, which I'm sure ended up at the Stoke bar later that night.
After the cake cutting I kept waiting for the servers to appear with cake plates in the ballroom, but that never happened. About an hour later there was fruit, bread and cheese served, with cake as the dessert in the library. Ah! Cake! Finally! One difference with English weddings is the cake. There were 3 layers. 2 layers of traditional wedding cake, or Christmas cake, aka fruit cake and one sponge cake layer, thank goodness for me. I love me some sponge cake! It was served in teeny tiny pieces you were meant to eat with your hands.
Considering the ceremony started at 2:30PM and the partying continued until 2AM it was quite a day! We had loads of fun and I'm totally glad we got to make the trip! I'll leave you with these few pictures, as I'm sure Paul will upload a ton of them to Flickr soon. hint... hint...
Congratulations to the bride and groom, Mark and Sarah!