Early on Saturday morning we hopped on the tube to Paddington, purchased coffees, and then jumped onto a train which was taking us to sunny Devon. That afternoon, we were invited to the blessing and wedding celebrations of my very dear friends Hannah and Jamie, in a tiny village near to the stunning Devonshire moors.
For the journey
I spent much of the journey worrying about my little part in the wedding….I was to present a reading as part of the service, which I’ve never done before. Still, snacking all the way and staring out of the window at the glorious countryside around us, it wasn’t too bad a train journey.
We arrived at a little out-of-the-way train station, which it transpired was miles away from the nearest less-out-of-the-way-place (although a jolly cab driver and a couple of horse drawn caravans made the journey very pleasant). Once in Tiverton, the nearest town to the wedding, we realised that we were yet further from our extremely-out-of-the-way destination, and so had to make an SOS call to our lovely friend Lou to come and rescue us. Our journey from Tiverton Parkway station ended up taking us longer than the journey from home *to* that station, but it did take us to the charming Sampson Barton Guest House.
It was a bit of a rush once we arrived, to get ready and head over to the wedding, but I did enjoy calming my nerves with the lovely pot of tea and plate of cake that welcomed us to the guest house. We didn’t get much chance to take in our stunning surroundings before jumping back in Lou’s car to drive to the tiny village of Knowstone, where at the little church and village hall the wedding was to take place.
I was keen to be there in plenty of time, as I’d made one of my little jam jar scenes as a wedding cake topper and wanted to ensure it got set up nicely on the cake….and I wanted to get a seat nice and close to where I was reading so that I had less of a chance of stacking it on the walk up to the lectern! I managed both in plenty of time to sit and wind myself up further whilst waiting for the wedding party to arrive…. and by the time they did, and walked down the isle to Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”, I was a blubbing wreck!
Hannah and Jamie had already gotten married earlier in the day, with a civil ceremony attended by just their very closest friends and family. So everyone seemed wonderfully relaxed as they came into the church, and it seemed very much as though they could now all just enjoy the blessing service and the rest of the day. There was lots of beautiful singing from the choir (brought in specially, and the same choir that Hannah used to sing in, and her mum still does). Before my reading, our friend Chris read a wonderful piece by Dr Seuss, and Hannah’s Godmother ready one of my favourite Sonnets, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.
But after we all sang a hymn together, it was my turn to get up, and with hands shaking I read an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It was all I could do not to burst into tears whilst reading it, but I tried very hard not to rush it and to ensure I didn’t look at Hannah who I knew would be weeping too! I managed quite well until the last line (about ‘people who don’t understand’), then caught sight of Hannah and heard my voice crack as I finally succumbed to the tears.
After that came their blessing, and then it was time to leave the church again, out into the amazing sunshine. The couple looked so very happy (and stunning to boot!) as everyone took photos outside the church in the gorgeous bright light, and they continued to pose for the professional pictures as we all drank Champagne outside the village hall which is right next door.
It was great to catch up with so many people we’ve not seen for ages, and to soak up some of the sun! There was giant Jenga to entertain us also, and Jamie had made an amazing skittle run and coconut shy which were super popular too. It was no time at all though til we were heading inside for more drinks and the highly anticipated Hog Roast buffet! Inside the little village hall, Jamie had swagged white satin all the way across the ceiling, with pretty coloured lights and fairy lights inside…. it all looked so charming, and I especially liked the ribboned jam jars filled with bonbons on each table, as well as the personalised stickers holding the napkins in place.
The caterers had done a smashing job, and I devoured a plate full of absolutely delicious food…. the pork was Free Range so Adam and I had the rare joy of enjoying the full menu (and wading through all the Weight Watchers points we’d saved up for the week too!). Once we’d all filled our faces, Hannah’s Dad kicked off the speeches, and we toasted the couple lots with plenty of yummy Champagne. After that, Hannah’s Mum and Dad, along with a couple of other members of the village, got together to perform a few songs….it was so lovely to have people close to the couple as entertainment, and they got us rearing to go for the first dance!
I didn’t manage to get many good photos on my digital camera whilst inside at all, so I’m rather hoping that my analogue ones come out ok….but I was rather pleased with this rather grainy Instagram snap of Hannah and Jamie dancing their first dance…..
After that, we were up and dancing for most of the evening……. along with our RSVPs we’d all been asked to choose three songs to add to the playlist, and so we all took it in turns to get excited about hearing our choices come on! After a late supper of cheese, pork rolls and cake, we were rather whacked….probably a little to do with all the travelling and fresh air too! But we finished the night dancing to New York New York, swaying in a circle and kicking in time to the music as is tradition, and then made our sleepy ways back to the guest house.
Shockingly, we were up in plenty of time to get downstairs for breakfast at a reasonable hour….. We yummed up a bowl each of fresh fruit before our Full English breakfasts were served up…. it was all super delish, especially the mushrooms and black pudding. After that, we walked off a few of the calories whilst adventuring in the guest house’s gardens….. they seem to go on forever! We met a lovely ginger cat on the walk, found a swing in a tree, and spotted stacks of gorgeous plants and flowers.
A new friend
The Guest House itself is just delightful. The view from our room was incredible, and the house remarkable too. We received a lovely welcome from Bev and Neil, the owners, and I’d be delighted to go back again.
The view from our room at Sampson Barton Guest House
Pretty chintz in our room
Outside the Guest House
By late morning though it was time to check out, so lovely Lou drove us back to Knowstone to help out at the village hall. I had a wonderful time helping Jamie take down the satin ceiling, tidying up and coiling cables and whatnot. It was great to get to spend a bit more time with everyone, especially Hannah and Jamie, and I even got a tour of Hannah’s parents cottage. The village is so very idyllic…. I can’t think that I’ve ever been somewhere where everyone really does know each other, and it’s a credit to the little community that so many people from the village were around to help with the wedding too.
Once we’d gotten nearly everything done, and the village hall restored to its former state, we spent a while relaxing in the beautiful garden at the Masons Arms. The pub actually has a Michelin star and is well known for its amazing restaurant, so it was a shame we weren’t there long enough to discover it properly. Still, it was amazing just to sit and soak up the sun with a cold drink in hand, and to natter to folk a bit longer.
Before too long though, it was time to head back to the station, and homeward. Our friend Timmy gave us company on the train journey home, and despite delays it didn’t seem any time at all before we were home and passed out in bed!
The garden at the Masons Arms